Hoops: State tournament predictions

Tuesday marks the start of the Class AA state playoffs, a march that will continue to Georgia College (Milledgeville) for the quarterfinals and semifinals and end at the Macon

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Credit: Stan Awtrey

Centerplex, where the boys and girls championship games will be held on March 4.

In a state tournament primer written by colleague Todd Holcomb, title favorites for all classifications are listed based on which team holds the No. 1 ranking heading into the state playoffs. That can be read here.

For the sake of discussion, below are my predictions for how the AA boys and girls tournaments will play out.

Boys

As Holcomb has already pointed out in his primer, Crawford County will host Seminole County in the first round in a rematch of last year's championship, which Seminole County won. I'm predicting the Indians to again prevail in an opening round upset as a No. 4 seed. I expect them to carry that momentum all the way to the semifinals.

In another upset that's probably not a popular pick, I have Pace Academy knocking off top-ranked Thomasville in the quarterfinals. Had the two teams met in the second round, I would have gone with Thomasville playing in front of the home crowd. But this matchup will be at a neutral site in Milledgeville, so I'll give the edge to the Knights because I believe they've endured a tougher schedule this season. I believe the winner of this game wins the state title, which is why I have the Knights going all the way.

I also have unranked Chattooga making an impressive run to the semifinals, knocking off No. 6 GAC in the process.

Other tidbits: despite playing in different regions, Vidalia and Swainsboro met twice in the regular season and again face off in the opening round at Swainsboro. Both games were close, decided by an average of 2.5 points and with the road team winning each time.

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Credit: Adam Krohn

Girls

As the regular season progressed, it appeared Wesleyan would be the team to beat. The Lady Wolves held the No. 1 ranking through the regular season and put up an impressive showing at the Nike Tournament of Champions, a national invite-only event held in Phoenix. But the No. 2-ranked Holy Innocents' Golden Bears closed out strong, beating Wesleyan twice in the span of a week, including in the Region 6 championship.

Of course, the Lady Golden Bears went 3-0 against Wesleyan last regular season only to lose to the Lady Wolves rather convincingly in the state championship. This year, however, Holy Innocents' appears to be in a redemption mode that should be enough to push the over the top this season. That's why I have them winning the state title.

Other noteworthy tidbits: Model is the only undefeated team in the tournament (25-0) and has earned the No. 1 seed out of Region 7. However, the Lady Blue Devils' strength of schedule left a lot to be desired - they didn't play a ranked team all season. The battle-tested Lovett Lady Lions are coming out of Region 6 and I have them upsetting Model as a No. 4 seed.

Though I have Holy Innocents' winning it all, without a doubt the best story would be the Vidalia Lady Indians being crowned as champions. Were they to do that, it would not only be the first state title for coach Chunk Reid, who began coaching the Lady Indians the 1970-71 season, but the title game win would give him 863 all-time wins, which would be the state record for most wins by a girls coach. However, the Lady Indians - a No. 1 seed from Region 2 - would face Wesleyan in the second round should both of those teams advance.

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Credit: Adam Krohn