The Class AAAAAAA region tournaments are in the books.
Congratulations to boys regions champions Tift County (1), Westlake (2), McEachern (3), Etowah (4), Milton (5), Discovery (6), Meadowcreek (7) and Grayson (8).
Congratulations to girls region champions Colquitt County (1), Westlake (2), McEachern (3), Cherokee (4), North Forsyth (5), Collins Hill (6), Brookwood (7) and Grayson (8).
Here are eight takeaways (four from the boys, and four from the girls) from those tournaments. Get ready for the state tournament, which begins with games Friday and Saturday at the home gyms of the higher-seeded teams.
Meanwhile, there was a little controversy surrounding the selection of the at-large playoff teams. Campbell’s boys and North Gwinnett’s girls got them, albeit a day after South Gwinnett’s boys and North Paulding’s boys thought they were the lucky ones. Click the link for that story.
* Meadowcreek vs. Norcross is now the best rivalry in the state. The two are cross-town rivals seven miles apart, and they played for the state title in the high class last season with Meadowcreek winning after going 0-3 vs. Norcross in the regular season and region tournament. This year, Meadowcreek holds a 2-1 edge, and the Mustangs won 46-44 on Friday night in the Region 7 final. Jammonie Watkins-Causey scored a layup as time expired in overtime. Norcross had beaten Meadowcreek three times at the buzzer of the past two seasons. The two are on opposite sides of the state draw, so they might meet again. Meadowcreek is ranked No. 2; Norcross No. 4.
*Westlake, a state champion just three seasons ago but just 15-10 and unranked entering the Region 2 tournament, emerged as a No. 1 seed after victories over Pebblebrook, 76-52, and Wheeler, 55-46. Westlake led Pebblebrook by 31 points entering the fourth quarter. The Lions start the state tournament ranked No. 7.
*East Coweta, the regular-season champion in Region 2 with a 9-1 record in region play, 24-1 overall, was two-and-done in the region tournament with losses to Wheeler and Pebblebrook. A program that hasn’t won a state-playoff game since the 1960s, East Coweta had been the Cinderella of the basketball season, but now the Indians are a No. 4 seed slotted to play No. 1 McEachern on the road in the first round.
*Grayson and Discover won their first region championships. Grayson beat Newton 64-56 in the Region 8 final. Deivon Smith scored 25 points. Outside of Region 2, this is probably the toughest boys league in the high class. Grayson went 9-1 in region play, 23-3 overall, and is ranked No. 3. A state semifinalist the past two seasons, Grayson is seeded to face fourth-ranked Norcross in the second round but first must get past Forsyth Central. Meanwhile, Discovery, a 3-year-old program, avenged a loss to Peachtree Ridge from the previous week in the final. Discovery has a sweet draw. The only ranked team the Titans would face before the semifinals is No. 10 Wheeler, and that would be played at Discovery.
*McEachern was unranked and just 14-9 in the regular season, but post-season is another story with this program, which has won four state titles in the past five seasons. The Indians won Region 3 by beating Marietta 41-40 in the semis and fifth-ranked North Cobb 45-39 in the final. McEachern is ranked now, at No. 7. McEachern is 33-3 in the state tournament since 2011.
* Westlake, the No. 1-ranked team and defending champ,is 27-0 and rolling toward what could be the first undefeated girls season in the highest class since McEachern’s 33-0 squad of 2012. Westlake won its region tournament games by 43 and 34 points.
*Grayson won its first region title, just as the boys did, and the school joined McEachern as the only ones to sweep their regions’ boys and girls championships. Grayson (25-2) beat Rockdale County 61-60 in two overtimes. Grayson’s Jazmin Robinson hit a free throw for a one-point lead with 1.6 seconds left. Grayson has never been a real factor at the state tournament but at 25-2 and ranked No. 3 should be a force this time around, although 10th-ranked Norcross will be a tough out in the second round.
*Brookwood has never advanced past the second round of the state tournament but has a fine chance now as the No. 1 seed from Region 7. The Broncos beat regular-season champ Norcross 50-48 in the final. With the game tied, freshman Shannon Niles drove the length of the court and found herself with a layup with two seconds left. It was sixth-ranked Brookwood’s first region-tournament title since 2011.