Class AAA blog: Ranked teams face big challenges in second round

The second round of the basketball state playoffs features two games between ranked programs -- the No. 9 Greater Atlanta Christian boys travel to No. 5 Monroe, and the No. 10 Pierce County girls travel to No. 2 Jefferson – as a part of a 16-game schedule Wednesday and Thursday.

Four other ranked programs will have to win on the road as they attempt to advance to the quarterfinals.

Here's the breakdown:

Boys

-- No. 6 Johnson-Savannah will travel to Cedar Grove after the Saints, the No. 4 seed from Region 5, defeated No. 3 Dawson County, the No. 1 seed from Region 7, in the first round, 72-69. Johnson advanced to the second round with a 52-44 victory against Crisp County. The Atomsmashers are the only ranked boys program that will travel to face an unranked opponent in the second round.

-- Other top boys games include: Beach, unranked and the No. 2 seed from Region 3, will try for an upset when it faces top-ranked Pace Academy. The Bulldogs had little trouble in a 67-49 first-round victory against Worth County. But Pace seems to be peaking at the right time, as shown during its 80-37 first-round victory against North Hall. Junior Matthew Cleveland leads the Knights with 22.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, three assists and three steals per game. ... Hart County, the No. 4 seed from Region 8, defeated Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe 53-31 in the first round and will travel to Central-Macon. The Bulldogs lost to Morgan County, 68-54, in the championship game last season.

Girls

-- Three ranked teams will travel for second-round games against unranked opponents. No. 8 Ringgold will travel to Macon to face Rutland, the No. 1 seed from Region 4. Third-ranked Beach, the No. 2 seed from Region 4, will travel to Cedar Grove, the No. 1 seed from Region 5. Greater Atlanta Christian, the No. 2 seed from Region 7, is ranked sixth in the class and will travel to Monroe, the No. 1 seed from Region 1.

-- Other top girls games to watch include: No. 10 Pierce County, the No. 2 seed from Region 2, will look to carry momentum from its 50-41 victory against Kendrick to its second-round meeting with No. 2 Jefferson, the No. 1 seed from Region 8. Jefferson is riding a seven-game winning streak since its 44-36 loss to Class AAAAA No. 1 Buford on Jan. 18. ... Top-ranked Johnson-Savannah, the No. 1 seed from Region 3, will play host to Fannin County, the No. 3 seed from Region 7. Fannin defeated Region 5 No. 2 Westminster 54-45 in the first round. Johnson has won 21 consecutive games since its loss to higher-class Glynn Academy on Nov. 25. Johnson has four players averaging double figures in scoring – Jaida Burgess (14 points), Amani Hamilton (12 points), Antalazia Baker (11 points) and K’yla Hankerson (10 points).

Boys Class AAA second-round schedule (Feb. 19-20)

R8 #3 Monroe Area vs. R4 #1 Westside-Macon

R3 #2 Beach vs. R5 #1 Pace Academy (No. 1)

R8 #2 Franklin County vs. R2 #1 Long County (No. 10)

R3 #3 Johnson-Savannah (No. 6) vs. R5 #4 Cedar Grove

R2 #2 Pierce County vs. R8 #1 Jefferson (No. 4)

R7 #2 GAC (No. 9) vs. R1 #1 Monroe (No. 5)

R4 #2 Central-Macon vs. R8 #4 Hart County

R7 #3 Cherokee Bluff vs. R3 #1 Windsor Forest (No. 2)

Girls Class AAA second-round schedule (Feb. 19-20)

R6 #2 Ringgold (No. 8) vs. R4 #1 Rutland

R3 #2 Beach (No. 3) vs. R5 #1 Cedar Grove

R8 #2 Morgan County vs. R2 #1 Tattnall County

R3 #3 Savannah vs. R7 #1 North Hall (No. 7)

R2 #2 Pierce County (No. 10) vs. R8 #1 Jefferson (No. 2)

R7 #2 GAC (No. 6) vs. R1 #1 Monroe

R4 #2 Jackson vs. R6 #1 Sonoraville (No. 5)

R7 #3 Fannin County vs. R3 #1 Johnson-Savannah (No. 1)

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