So the upper-left section of my bracket took a beating. While the KIPP-Jordan game could have gone either way, perhaps I should have seen Vidalia beating Early County. After all, the Indians, with their win over Swainsboro in the 2-AA consolation game, are the reason the Tigers entered the playoffs as a No. 4 seed despite being undefeated heading into the region tournament. Now the Indians face a Washington County team I’ve picked to advance to the championship game. The Golden Hawks had a much tougher time against Butler than I expected, escaping with an 80-74 win.
Then there’s Chattooga. Last year, I dismissed them when making my predictions because I assumed they had a propped-up record — the Indians had just one loss heading into the state playoffs — due to playing in a dreadfully weak Region 7-AA. Then they upset Thomasville in Thomasville in the second round, which changed my perception of them. This year, I had them advancing to the quarterfinals, but they fell at home to No. 4 seed Monticello. Though the Hurricanes winning was never on my radar in the scenarios where a No. 1 seed lost in the first round — I thought Thomasville and Spencer were the most vulnerable — in hindsight it’s not that much of a shock. The Hurricanes are perennial playoff qualifiers and have advanced in each of the past two seasons, including to the semifinals in 2016.
On the bottom-left section, I only missed Metter beating Berrien, though the score was close at 64-61. Defending state champions South Atlanta looked as though it’s ready to repeat by putting up an opening-round high of 90 points on Temple, which mustered just 44. Laney and Banks County also posted double-digit wins.
The upper-right section went unscathed, though I had warned that Hapeville Charter had a shot at upsetting top-seeded Spencer. That almost happened, but Spencer escaped with a 67-65 win. I also thought Swainsboro had a chance against top-seeded Thomasville, but the Bulldogs survived perhaps the toughest No. 4 seed of the tournament — along with Monticello, of course — with a 56-50 win.
The bottom-right section would have also been without a blemish had I not made a simple mistake with Elbert County — I somehow mistook the boys team’s record and place in the 8-AA standings with that of the girls’ team. I also overlooked how 7-AA only had one team — Chattooga — considered as a legitimate threat. Elbert County now faces Therrell, the team I have winning it all. Therrell looked strong with a 73-41 win over Heard County. Glenn Hills had a dominant showing as well with an 80-47 win over Northeast-Macon.
Top Round 2 games:
- Vidalia (20-8; No. 3, Region 2) at No. 8 Washington County (18-8; No. 1, Region 3); Thursday, 6 p.m.
- No. 4 Dublin (23-3; No. 2, Region 3) at No. 3 Thomasville (24-3; No. 1, Region 1); Thursday, 6:30 p.m.
- No. 6 South Atlanta (24-4; No. 2, Region 6) at No. 9 Banks County (25-4; No. 1, Region 8); Thursday, 6 p.m.
This bracket is looking much cleaner with only two misses, both in games involving No. 2 vs. No. 3 seeds and teams from Region 6. Callaway beat South Atlanta and Heard County beat KIPP. Both games were close and decided by five points or fewer. The damage of missing on these games will be limited, though, as long as Model and Banks County win in Round 2 as expected.
Model had a tough test — a rematch with Putnam County of the 2016 semifinals which Putnam County won — and survived with a 70-64 win. All other No. 1 seeds, except for Metter, won by double digits. Metter received a scare from Brooks County but managed a 63-61 win — Brooks County missed a game-winning 3-point attempt at the buzzer — in what was the tournament's closest opening-round game.
The two teams I’ve predicted to meet in the finals — Region 4 rivals Laney and Josey — both posted wins of more than 30 points, with Laney beating Northeast-Macon 80-41 and Josey beating Bleckley County 63-31.
Top Round 2 games:
- No. 5 Swainsboro (23-4; No. 2, Region 2) at No. 1 Laney (28-0; No. 1, Region 4); Wednesday, 5:30 p.m.
- No. 9 Washington County (20-7; No. 3, Region 2) at No. 10 Fitzgerald (15-5; No. 1, Region 1); Wednesday, 6 p.m.
Stats, records and game times are sourced from MaxPreps. Follow the AJC’s Class AA coverage on Twitter.