The Class AAA quarterfinals will be played Tuesday and Wednesday at sites across the state before the final four girls and boys teams head to Georgia Southern for Saturday's semifinals. Here's a game-by-game look at the quarterfinal matchups:
Tattnall County at Morgan County
-- Morgan County is in a familiar spot; Tattnall County is charting unfamiliar waters. Morgan won the 2015-16 AAA title and has been a playoff contender each of the past four seasons. Last year, Morgan lost to eventual champion GAC in the semis. Tattnall County didn't advance past the first round last year, but the Warriors have had little trouble advancing through this year's bracket. In the first round, Tattnall County defeated Groves 77-72 before beating Worth County 72-58 to reach the quarterfinals.
Windsor Forest at Cedar Grove
-- Windsor Forest did not make the tournament last year. Cedar Grove lost in the quarterfinals to eventual runner-up Jenkins. After beating Long County 71-62 in the first round this season, Windsor Forest survived a 67-63 battle with Westside-Macon to earn its quarterfinal berth. The Knights are led by senior Zimbabwe Field, who is averaging 19.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game. Shamar Norman added 16.1 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. Cedar Grove moved through Monroe Area 67-56 in the first round and Calhoun 68-51 in the second round.
Franklin County at Dawson County
-- At-large seed Franklin County is making the best of its opportunity after placing fifth in Region 8. The Lions are 15-13 after winning against Central-Macon 45-43 in the first round and upending Beach in the second round, 62-57. Dawson County exited last year's tournament in the second round after losing to Cedar Grove. This year, the Tigers beat Rutland 58-27 in the first round and Westminster 52-40 in the second round.
Hart County at Johnson-Savannah
-- Hart County has survived closely contested games in the first two rounds. The Bulldogs, a quarterfinalist last year before losing to Westside-Macon 55-53, beat Pace Academy 54-50 in the first round and survived a second-round scare against North Murray, 56-54. Johnson-Savannah lost to eventual-champion GAC in last year's quarterfinals, 75-61. This year, the Atomsmashers will need their scoring leaders – Emondre Bowles (17.4 points) and Brandon Harris (11.5 points) – to lead them to the semis. Johnson routed Liberty County 75-55 in the first round before beating Crisp County 47-44 in the second.
Johnson-Savannah at Jefferson
Johnson-Savannah has three players – Antalazia Baker (15.6 points), J'Mya Cutter (15.1 points) and Jasmine Thompson (13.6 points) – averaging double figures. The defending state champs have not struggled this year after beating Liberty County 84-28 and Morgan County 66-44 in the first two rounds. Jefferson features a young but experienced team that defeated Cedar Grove 53-40 and Greater Atlanta Christian 84-68 in the first two rounds. Livi Blackstock, a 5-foot-7 senior guard, will be one of the floor leaders for the Dragons.
Tattnall County at Hart County
Tattnall County hasn't had the most difficult path to the quarterfinals after beating Southeast Bulloch 60-24 and Peach County 57-42 in the first two rounds. The Warriors advanced to the semifinals of last year's bracket before losing to Johnson-Savannah, the eventual champion. Hart County lost to East Hall in the first round last year. This year, the Bulldogs are showing they belong, defeating Redan 75-21 in the first round and North Hall 73-66 in the second.
Dawson County at Beach
Dawson County staked its claim to this year's quarterfinals with victories against Coahulla Creek, 71-60, and Lovett, 62-55. Last year, the Tigers failed to advance past the first round. Beach has not been challenged in its run through the bracket after beating Brantley County 60-23 and Central-Macon 50-28 in the first two rounds. The Bulldogs reach the quarterfinals last season and lost to runner-up GAC 55-45.
Rutland at Sonoraville
Rutland is led by BreAsia Davis, who's averaging 15.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists. Kayla Shines has added 11 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. The Hurricanes outlasted Cook County 58-53 in the first round and defeated Pierce County 58-50 in the second round. Sonoraville earned its quarterfinal berth with a 63-40 rout of Cherokee Bluff in the first round and a 61-47 victory against Pace in the second.
About the Author
Credit: Jess Rapfogel/AP