Class AA blog: Round 2 recap; quarterfinals preview

Round 2 of the Class AA playoffs is in the books, with the quarterfinals resuming on Tuesday and Wednesday. Let’s break down all the action from last week’s games and compare them against my predictions heading in.

Boys

Predictions by Adam Krohn.

(For the official, updated GHSA bracket complete with scores, go here.)

With the exception of the upper-right bracket, I have correctly pegged the quarterfinals. We’ll start with that busted segment of the bracket, because I should have seen Laney coming. Even though the Wildcats entered the playoffs toward the backend of the rankings at No. 8, they had the No. 1 seed with home-court advantage on their side against No. 7 Washington County. That may have been a difference-maker in defeating the Golden Hawks 60-56.

However, the Wildcats also had pedigree on their side. With the win over Washington County, Laney has reached at least the quarterfinals 10 consecutive years. This is simply what the Wildcats do. Another win against Callaway and they’ll be in the semis for a second year in a row.

Speaking of the Cavaliers, I had them losing in the first round to Banks County. But they’ve proven me wrong, beating Chattooga 71-59 in the second round. They’re now in the quarters for the second time in the last three seasons. There’s no record of the program — established in 1961 — advancing any further.

All other quarterfinalists won by double digits save No. 3 Vidalia, which survived against No. 10 Early County with a 49-46 win.

The story continues to be top-ranked, undefeated Woodville-Tompkins which, perhaps symbolically, dethroned defending state champions Thomasville in demolishing fashion with an 86-54 win.

Here’s a look ahead to the quarterfinals matchups. Note that in the cases where same-seeded teams play each other, home-court advantage was determined by the GHSA’s universal coin toss.

Woodville-Tompkins Wolverines (29-0) at Elbert County Blue Devils (27-3)

When: 7 p.m. Tuesday

Rankings, seeds: Woodville-Tompkins is No. 1 and the No. 1 seed from Region 2; Elbert County is No. 5 and the No. 1 seed from Region 8.
Krohn’s pick: Woodville-Tompkins

Notes: The last time a team came to within single digits of the Wolverines was Jan. 18, when they beat Vidalia 53-50. However, despite dominating AA all season, they will have to take the 210-mile bus ride to Elberton. The Blue Devils are on an eight-game win streak since losing 63-51 to Banks County on Jan. 25. If they’re to stand a chance against the Wolverines, seniors Jamison Syphore (18 points a game) and Terrence Hester (15) must play out of their minds.

Therrell Panthers (23-7) at Northeast-Macon Raiders (23-5)

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday

Rankings, seeds: Therrell is No. 4 and the No. 2 seed from Region 6; Northeast-Macon is No. 6 and the No. 1 seed from Region 3.

Krohn’s pick: Therrell

Notes: The Panthers are looking to reach the semis for the first time since 1978 according to the Georgia High School Basketball Project. After stumbling into the state tournament and coughing up first place in Region 6, they’ve looked sharp in two double-digit playoff wins over Model (74-59) and Bremen (68-48). The Raiders are looking to return to the semis for the first time since 1977 and beat Toombs County (53-30) and Hephzibah (64-52) thus far. They have three double-digit scorers in Darius Dunn (17.1 points), Camrone Cherry (14.4) and Ty’ree Gilbert (10.2).

Callaway Cavaliers (13-10) at Laney Wildcats (22-8)

When: 6 p.m. Wednesday

Rankings, seeds: Callaway is unranked and the No. 3 seed from Region 5; Laney is No. 8 and the No. 1 seed from Region 4.

Krohn’s pick: Laney

Notes: The Cavaliers is the only No. 3 seed still alive in the tournament, and the only remaining from Region 5. Though it’s surprising they’ve made it this far, they’d send shockwaves across the state if they advance any further. In that even, they’d be in the semis for the first time since 2014. As mentioned earlier, the Wildcats have reached at least the quarters for 10 consecutive seasons now and are hoping to reach at least the semis for the eighth time in that span. They are led by seniors Tony Sandford (11 points) and Maurice Paige (10.3), and sophomore Dajuan Collins (10.1).

Vidalia Indians (24-4) at South Atlanta Hornets (25-4)

When: 8 p.m. Tuesday

Rankings, seeds: Vidalia is No. 3 and the No. 2 seed from Region 2; South Atlanta is No. 2 and the No. 1 seed from Region 6.

Krohn’s pick: Vidalia

Notes: This is the marquee matchup of the quarterfinals. Both programs boast recent state playoff success, with Vidalia finishing as state runner-ups last season and reaching the semis in four of the past six seasons. The Hornets won AA in 2017 and have reached at least the quarterfinals six straight seasons. The Hornets come in as one of the hottest teams in AA and haven’t lost this calendar year on the way to a 14-game win streak.

Girls

Predictions by Adam Krohn.

(For the official, updated GHSA bracket complete with scores, go here.) 

No. 6 Douglass made me pay for overlooking them, doing what it was supposed to do in handling unranked Gordon Central and Banks County by double digits. However, a win against top-ranked Fitzgerald for the Lady Astros would be a shocker and bracket-buster. They’re hosting, so maybe that works in their favor.

My only other miss was unranked Josey over No. 3 Dodge County, 65-60. This is no doubt an upset — and props to Josey for pulling it off — because the Lady Indians spent most of the season ranked No. 1 and had just two losses heading into the playoffs. 

Fitzgerald, No. 5 Early County, No. 2 Rabun County and Model all won by double digits, while Rockmart beat Elbert County by eight. 

Now, onto the quarterfinals previews. As mentioned above with the boys, the GHSA’s universal coin toss determined home-court advantage in game’s where same-seeded teams play each other.

Early County Lady Bobcats (25-4) at Rabun County Lady Wildcats (28-1)

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday

Rankings, seeds: Early County is No. 5 and the No. 2 seed from Region 1; Rabun County is No. 2 and the No. 1 seed from Region 8.

Krohn’s pick: Early County

Notes: The Lady Bobcats are seeking their first trip tot he semis since 2003, when they won the AA championship. They’re coming of a dominant 62-41 win over a red-hot Woodville-Tompkins team, which was preceded by a 72-34 win over Jefferson County. Against Woodville-Tompkins, sophomore Makayla Timpson — one of the country’s top recruits for her class — finished with 25 points, 13 rebounds and 10 blocks. The Lady Wildcats are in the quarters for the fourth straight season and are two years removed from a runner-up finish. They have a pair of 40-point wins under their belts to start the playoffs, including over Heard County (83-43) in the first round and Chattooga (82-40) in the second round.

Model Lady Blue Devils (21-7) at Josey Lady Eagles (22-7)

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday

Rankings, seeds: Model is unranked and the No. 3 team from Region 7; Josey is unranked and the No. 2 seed from Region 4.

Krohn’s pick: Josey

Notes: The post-Victaria Saxton era at Model has gone surprisingly well this season. Saxton, one of the country’s top recruits for the class of ‘18, led the Lady Blue Devils to the semis in ‘17 and ‘18 and the quarters in ‘15 and ‘16. This marks the fifth straight season in at leas the quarterfinals and they’re the only No. 3 seed still alive. The Lady Eagles, who finished as state runner-ups last season, are seeking to advance to the semifinals for the second year in a row. Before that, they hadn’t advanced this far since 2008. They are led by the Rolland twins, seniors Tykedra (12.5 points) and Rhykeria (9.8).

Laney Lady Wildcats (27-2) at Rockmart Yellow Jackets (20-7)

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday

Rankings, seeds: Laney is ranked No. 4 and the No. 1 seed from Region 4; Rockmart is unranked and the No. 1 seed in Region 7.

Krohn’s pick: Laney

Notes: The Lady Wildcats dynasty is still intact and they are three wins from three straight titles and four in the last five seasons. This is their 14th straight trip to at least the quarterfinals, with the entirety of the run coming under the guidance of long-time coach Otis Smart, who took over Laney in 1984. They’re led by senior Jaiden Hamilton (18.1 points) and junior Rocquana Drayton (10.6). The Lady Yellow Jackets are rediscovering deep playoff runs, with their last trip this far coming in 1961 according to GHSBP. There is no record of them advancing further. They’ve looked strong thus far in wins over Washington in Round 1 (74-48) and Elbert County (63-55) in Round 2.

Fitzgerald Lady Purple Hurricane (27-0) at Douglass Lady Astros (24-6)

When: 6 p.m. Wednesday

Rankings, seeds: Fitzgerald is No. 1 and the No. 1 seed from Region 1; Douglass is No. 6 and the No. 1 seed from Region 6.

Krohn’s pick: Fitzgerald

Notes: The Lady Purple Hurricanes are in the quarters for a third straight year and are coming off a season in which they reached the semis for the first time in program history. They are the favorites to win the AA title but to advance to the semis again, they must first travel 187 miles to Atlanta and beat Douglass. They’re coming off a 76-66 win over a No. 8 Bryan County team that had previously lost just two games. Trinity Jones leads the Lady Purple Hurricanes with 20.9 points. The Lady Astros are in the quarters for the second year in a row and are seeking their first trip to the semis since 2007.

Follow the AJC’s Class AA coverage on Twitter.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

About the Author

X