Class AAAAAA blog: Players to watch as postseason draws near

The high school basketball regular season will be completed this weekend, and teams will turn their attention to the region tournaments that begin Monday.

Lovejoy and Forest Park will be the postseason favorites among the girls teams. The Region 4 rivals, who will meet Saturday night in their regular-season finale, have been the top two ranked teams for most of the season. Lovejoy is the defending state champion.

The boys field appears more wide open, as the top three ranked teams lost earlier this week. No. 1 Coffee, elevated to the top spot Sunday, lost to Class AAAAAAA Tift County 60-56. No. 2 Lakeside-Evans lost 56-55 to rival Evans, which was ranked No. 1 earlier this season but has recently fallen out of the top 10. No. 3 Chattahoochee lost to No. 10 Cambridge 78-72.

However, Coffee, Lakeside and Chattahoochee are among a number of teams that could make a run in the postseason. That list includes Tri-Cities, Alexander and Douglas County from Region 5, which has been among the state’s toughest this year.

Here are just a few of the players that could carry their teams a long way in the playoffs:


*Malik Battle, Alexander: The 6-foot-3 senior guard averaged 17.6 points and 3.1 assists for the seventh-ranked Cougars, who finished the regular season 18-7 overall and 11-5 in rugged Region 5. Battle, who recently picked up an offer from Fort Valley State, scored a season-high 29 points in a 75-67 victory over No. 6 Tri-Cities on Jan. 25. He was an honorable mention all-state selection last season at Douglas County.

*Jayce Moore, Coffee: The senior guard/small forward averages a team-best 19.5 points for the Trojans, who were ranked No. 1 last week but lost to Tift County on Tuesday. Moore also leads the team in rebounding (9.0 per game), despite his 6-foot, 170-pound size. Moore was a second-team all-state pick last season. The Trojans face Northside-Warner Robins and Valdosta this weekend and will be the top seed in next week's Region 1 tournament.

*Kamar Robertson, Cambridge: The 6-foot-1 senior guard helped the Bears go 7-1 in the final three weeks of the regular season, a streak that moved them into first place in Region 7. He averaged 23.4 points in the seven victories and had 20 in a win Monday against No. 3 Chattahoochee. Robertson was second-team all-state last season. He recently surpassed 100 career games and 1,500 career points, both records in the young program's history.


*Ashlee Austin, Northview: The 6-foot-2 senior power forward is averaging a team-leading 14.6 points and 8.5 rebounds for the Titans, a balanced team with four players scoring in double figures. The Rice signee was a first-team all-state pick last year. Third-ranked Northview (20-4) is 15-0 in Region 7 and will be the No. 1 seed in the region tournament next week. The Titans close out the regular season Friday at home against Dunwoody.

*Genesis Bryant, Lovejoy: Bryant, a 5-foot-7 junior guard, was named the Class AAAAAAA player of the year last season after leading the Wildcats to their first state championship. She and junior Anaya Boyd (second-team all-state last year) form perhaps the state's best guard combination. Lovejoy, ranked No. 1, is undefeated against Georgia opponents heading into key games against Stephenson and No. 2 Forest Park this weekend.

*Amari Robinson, Douglas County: The 6-foot forward recently became the all-time leading scorer among Douglas County schools. She is averaging 19.1 points this season for the fifth-ranked Tigers, who will be the No. 1 seed in the Region 5 tournament. Douglas County (19-4, 14-0) concludes the regular season at Tri-Cities and Hughes this weekend. Robinson, a Clemson signee, was a first-team all-state selection last season.