The top-ranked boys and girls basketball teams in Class AAAAAA managed to hold on to the No. 1 spots in the rankings despite losing games last week.
The Tucker boys (21-3) and Lovejoy girls (20-3) lost a combined three games, all of which came against highly ranked teams from other states.
Tucker lost 69-66 to LaFayette, a 24-0 team from Alabama, on the M.L. King Jr. holiday. That was Tucker’s only loss in a stretch of five games in six days. The Tigers’ only other losses this season came against Norcross and Dutchtown in consecutive games in December.
Lovejoy’s losses last week came against Hoover (the No. 1-ranked team in Alabama, according to MaxPreps) and National Christian Academy (No. 9 in Maryland) by a combined eight points. Lovejoy’s other loss this season was against Class AAAAAAA No. 1 Westlake, 55-52 on Dec. 14.
Tucker and Lovejoy, both from Region 4, were state runners-up last season. Tucker has wrapped up the No. 1 seed for the upcoming region tournament. Lovejoy can clinch the No. 1 seed with a victory Tuesday night against second-place Forest Park, which is ranked No. 3.
Here are some of the other stories to watch in the final week of the regular season:
*Back in the race: Defending girls state champion Lanier (14-9), which went 5-8 in the first two months of the season, continued its second-half surge with a 46-27 victory over then-No. 3 Dacula last week. The victory, their first in three tries against Dacula this season, was the Longhorns’ seventh straight and moved them into a tie with the Falcons for first place in Region 8. Lanier moved up to No. 12 in the most recent MaxPreps rankings. Dacula played without star sophomore Lazaria Spearman, who missed the game because of an illness in the family. “You never want to play a team without their best player, especially under these circumstances,” Lanier coach Tim Slater said after the game to Christine Troyke of the Gwinnett Daily Post. “We want to make sure she comes back and we see her in the region tournament. She's a great kid and we hate that she's not here.”
*Going for the sweep: Valdosta (Region 1), Grovetown (Region 3), Hughes (Region 5) and Lanier (Region 8) all enter the final week of the regular season with both their boys and girls teams in first place, or at least tied for first, in the case of Lanier’s girls. First-place teams from the regular season earn the No. 1 seeds in the region tournaments and, in most cases, an automatic berth to the state playoffs. Other teams not currently in first place that still have a shot at both No. 1 seeds include Alexander of Region 5, Sequoyah of Region 6 and Cambridge of Region 7. Last year, Lanier was the only Class AAAAAA school to secure No. 1 seeds in the region tournament for both of its teams.
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