There will be a new boys basketball champion in Class AAAAAA after ninth-ranked Hughes, the two-time defending champ, lost to Gainesville 73-69 Saturday night.
Gainesville avenged losses to Hughes in the previous two state tournaments – 85-78 in the championship game last season and 72-69 in the 2017 quarterfinals.
Gainesville, the No. 2 seed from Region 8, built a 10-point lead in the third quarter. Hughes took its first lead of the game with an 11-0 run to end the period, and it was tight the rest of the way. Senior guard Brent Kelly was 5-for-6 from the free-throw line in the closing minutes to help the Red Elephants put it away. Kelly scored 14 of his 17 points in the second half, according to the Gainesville Times.
Hughes was 5-9 heading into January but found its footing in the heart of region play, going 11-4 the rest of the way to finish 16-13. The Panthers were the No. 3 seed from Region 5.
Gainesville will take on seventh-ranked Cambridge, the Region 7 champion, at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Here are some of the other top stories from Class AAAAAA from the first round and beyond:
*How the top 10s fared: Hughes was one of three ranked Class AAAAAA teams to lose in the first round. The fourth-ranked Sprayberry boys team lost 78-62 to eighth-ranked Chattahoochee in the only first-round matchup between top 10 teams. Douglas County’s girls, ranked seventh, lost at home against Dacula 60-55. Douglas County went undefeated in Region 5 during the regular season but was upset by Hughes in the tournament final and settled for the No. 2 seed. Dacula was ranked No. 7 in mid-January.
*How the top seeds fared: Thirteen of the 16 No. 1 seeds survived the first round, leaving just three No. 4 seeds remaining in the field. They are the Douglas County boys (beat Region 8 champion Apalachee), Bradwell Institute boys (beat Region 3 champion Greenbrier) and Richmond Hill girls (beat Region 3 champion Heritage-Conyers). The games between No. 2 and No. 3 seeds were basically a tossup, with the No. 2 seeds going 9-7. Overall, higher-seeded teams were 22-10 (11-5 for both the boys and girls).
*How the regions fared: No regions swept in the first round, meaning that all eight regions have at least one boys team and one girls team left in the tournament. Only one region went 3-1 in boys play. Region 5 got victories from Tri-Cities, Alexander and Douglas County, leaving Gainesville as the only remaining Region 8 team. Three regions went 3-1 in girls play – Region 2 (Glynn Academy, Richmond Hill, Bradwell Institute), Region 4 (Lovejoy, Forest Park, Stephenson) and Region 6 (Sequoyah, Creekview, Harrison).
*Twice is nice: Nineteen schools sent their boys and girls teams to the state tournament, but only two – Bradwell Institute and Sequoyah – managed to get both into the second round. Bradwell’s boys, seeded fourth from Region 2, went on the road and rallied to beat Region 3 champion Greenbrier 64-60, while the second-seeded girls took care of Lakeside-Evans 65-43. Sequoyah’s boys, seeded third from Region 6, won at North Atlanta 57-56. The Sequoyah girls, also seeded third, beat Region 7 runner-up Alpharetta 60-46.
*Best second-round games: The eighth-ranked Chattahoochee boys beat a top-10 team in the first round and will face an even bigger test in Round 2 when they travel to No. 1 Tri-Cities. No. 2 Alexander, the runner-up to Tri-Cities in the Region 5 tournament, will face No. 3 South Cobb in the other matchup of top-10 boys teams. There are no top-10 girls matchups, but No. 3 Northview (vs. New Manchester), No. 4 Lanier (vs. Sequoyah) and No. 10 Harrison (vs. Dacula) face teams that have been ranked this season.
Coffee 75, Morrow 61
Brunswick 65, Lakeside-Evans 54
Sequoyah 67, North Atlanta 56
Douglas County 80, Apalachee 62
Mundy’s Mill 73, Lee County 69
Bradwell Institute 64, Greenbrier 60
Chattahoochee 78, Sprayberry 62
Tri-Cities 84, Lanier 68
Evans 72, Glynn Academy 61
Tucker 65, Valdosta 49
Gainesville 73, Hughes 69
Cambridge 80, Creekview 65
Heritage-Conyers 71, Richmond Hill 64
Houston County 55, Mt. Zion-Jonesboro 54
Alexander 66, Dacula 54
South Cobb 82, Pope 71
(R1 #2) Coffee at (R2 #1) Brunswick, 7 p.m. Thursday
(R5 #4) Douglas County at (R6 #3) Sequoyah, 7 p.m. Thursday
(R2 #4) Bradwell Institute at (R4 #2) Mundy’s Mill, 6 p.m. Wednesday
(R7 #3) Chattahoochee at (R5 #1) Tri-Cities, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
(R3 #2) Evans at (R4 #1) Tucker, 6:30 p.m. Thursday
(R8 #2) Gainesville at (R7 #1) Cambridge, 7 p.m. Thursday
(R3 #3) Heritage-Conyers at (R1 #1) Houston County, 6 p.m. Thursday
(R5 #2) Alexander at (R6 #1) South Cobb, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday
Stephenson 48, Northside-Warner Robins 37
Glynn Academy 61, Evans 22
Sequoyah 60, Alpharetta 46
Lanier 67, Alexander 35
Forest Park 49, Lee County 22
Richmond Hill 40, Heritage-Conyers 38
Creekview 50, Pope 43
Hughes 67, Gainesville 37
Grovetown 51, Brunswick 47
Lovejoy 62, Houston County 15
New Manchester 54, Winder-Barrow 52
Northview 56, Dalton 37
Bradwell Institute 65, Lakeside-Evans 43
Valdosta 64, M.L. King 42
Dacula 60, Douglas County 55
Harrison 75, Johns Creek 50
(R4 #3) Stephenson at (R2 #1) Glynn Academy, 6 p.m. Wednesday
(R6 #3) Sequoyah at (R8 #1) Lanier, 7 p.m. Wednesday
(R2 #4) Richmond Hill at (R4 #2) Forest Park, 6 p.m. Wednesday
(R6 #2) Creekview at (R5 #1) Hughes, 6 p.m. Wednesday
(R3 #2) Grovetown at (R4 #1) Lovejoy, 6 p.m. Wednesday
(R5 #3) New Manchester at (R7 #1) Northview, 7 p.m. Wednesday
(R2 #2) Bradwell Institute at (R1 #1) Valdosta, 6 p.m. Thursday
(R8 #3) Dacula at (R6 #1) Harrison, 6 p.m. Wednesday
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