Class AA blog: Round 1 games to watch

Friday and Saturday mark the first round of the Class AA tournament for both the boys and girls. Below are some of the games to keep an eye on this weekend.

(For tournament predictions, go here. For the most-updated version of the official GHSA brackets, go here for boys and here for girls.)

Boys

Jefferson County Warriors (15-13) at Swainsboro Tigers (25-2)

When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday

Rankings, seeds: Jefferson County is unranked and the No. 4 seed from Region 4; Swainsboro is No. 1 and the No. 1 seed from Region 2.

Krohn’s pick: Swainsboro

Notes: As I stated on Tuesday, I’ve pegged the Tigers to win it all. But they can’t afford to think past Saturday, where they’ll face a familiar Warriors team. Regardless of the opponent, it’s always tough to beat the same team three times in one season — especially if one of the matchups is an elimination game. These teams opened their seasons against each other, with the Tigers winning 69-53 on Nov. 23. The Tigers beat them again, 69-50, on Jan. 25.

Jeff Davis Yellow Jackets (18-8) at Laney Wildcats (20-8)

When: 4:30 p.m. Saturday

Rankings, seeds: Jeff Davis is No. 6 and the No. 3 seed from Region 2; Laney is No. 8 and the No. 2 seed from Region 4. 

Krohn’s pick: Laney

Notes: I have the Wildcats advancing all the way to the title game, but getting out of Round 1 won’t be easy. The reason I have them going so far is they have a plethora of experience playing in close games — and winning close games. They also beat No. 2 Glenn Hills on Dec. 28. They beat Butler in overtime on Jan. 10, then beat Westside in overtime two weeks later. They beat No. 5 Butler to get to the region championship and almost beat Glenn Hills again for the No. 1 seed. However, Jeff Davis is ranked for a reason — most notably beating No. 1 Swainsboro on Dec. 13.

Putnam County War Eagles (9-19) at Therrell Panthers (21-7)

When: 4 p.m. Saturday

Rankings, seeds: Putnam County is unranked and the No. 4 seed from Region 8; Therrell is No. 3 and the No. 1 seed from Region 6.

Krohn’s pick: Therrell

Notes: This probably won’t be a close game — the Panthers should win easily — but the reason it will be important to watch is because the Panthers will likely be without their best player. Robbie Armbrester has played just one game since No. 30 due to injury, and that was over the holidays. He’s missed most of the season with a nagging wrist injury, which is the reason the Panthers suffered an uncharacteristic two-game skid against region rivals Hapeville Charter and Douglass in late-January. I’m being told Armbrester should be ready for Round 2 assuming the Panthers advance, and his health is the key to how far the defending state champs go.

Girls

Gordon Central Lady Warriors (17-9) at Bremen Lady Blue Devils (14-13)

When: 6 p.m. Friday

Rankings, seeds: Gordon Central is unranked and the No. 4 seed from Region 7; Bremen is 14-13 and the No. 1 seed from Region 5.

Krohn’s pick: Bremen

Notes: I picked the Lady Blue Devils in an upset because of how they’ve been playing late, including their run through the region tournament. Since Jan. 21, they are 6-1, with the loss coming by one point to Callaway on Jan. 25. To win the 5-AA title game, they beat a Lamar County team that twice beat them in the regular season by double digits. However, if there’s a No. 4 seed to down a No. 1 seed this year, the Lady Warriors are probably the most likely team to do it. They have one of AA’s best players in junior Mercedes Coleman, but they come into the state tournament having lost three of their last four.

Northeast-Macon Lady Raiders (19-9) at Early County Lady Bobcats (23-4)

When: 6 p.m. Friday

Rankings, seeds: Northeast is unranked and the No. 4 seed from Region 3; Early County is No. 2 and the No. 1 seed from Region 1.

Krohn’s pick: Early County

Notes: The Lady Raiders come in with a strong record and are led by sophomore sensation Jakia Little, who is averaging 21.5 points, five rebounds and 3.6 steals. She’ll be the focus of the Lady Bobcats’ defense. The Lady Raiders will have to game plan for one of the country’s top recruited players in four-star Makayla Timpson (23.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, five blocks, 4.4 steals), who I have leading Early County to a second straight AA title game.

Jeff Davis Lady Jackets (19-9) at Josey Lady Eagles (22-5)

When: 6 p.m. Friday

Rankings, seeds: Jeff Davis is unranked and the No. 3 seed from Region 2; Josey is No. 8 and the No. 2 seed from Region 4.

Krohn’s pick: Josey

Notes: The Lady Jackets don’t have a double-digit scorer on their roster — senior Kendrianna McDuffie leads the team, averaging eight points — but they’ve compiled an impressive record and have shown the capability to compete with the state’s best teams, losing 45-42 to No. 6 Vidalia on Jan. 21. They went on a five-game win streak after that, which is part of their 6-1 run heading into the playoffs. Josey is the better team — there’s no telling how many region championships they’d have if Laney wasn’t in 4-AA — but they’ll have to fend off a Lady Jackets team playing its best basketball.

Rabun County Lady Wildcats (23-4) at Douglass Lady Astros (20-5)

When: 6 p.m. Friday

Rankings, seeds: Rabun County is No. 3 and the No. 4 seed from Region 8; Douglass is No. 5 and the No. 1 seed from Region 6.

Krohn’s pick: Douglass

Notes: It’s not every year you see a top-five matchup in the first round. But then again, the AJC didn’t release updated rankings after the region tournaments so in reality, the Lady Wildcats probably aren’t a top-five team. It seemed unfathomable in January that they’d end up a No. 4 seed because they’d opened the season on a 16-game win streak and were eyeing a perfect regular season. But they struggled in the region tournament, losing to Banks County and Putnam County for an 0-2 finish and the No. 4 seed. Now they face the defending state champion Lady Astros on the road.

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