Eagle’s Landing, the No. 1-ranked boys team in Class AAAAA, and No. 2 Shiloh of AAAAAAA are out of the state basketball tournament, representing the two major casualties in a second round that more often played out as expected.
Also eliminated were Douglass’s boys and Cedar Grove’s girls, each ranked No. 4 in their classifications, both the victims of onerous draws.
Unranked Clarke Central scored the upset of the tournament so far with a 55-50 victory Thursday night on Eagle’s Landing’s home floor, where the Eagles (25-4) hadn’t lost this season. Eagle’s Landing has tripped in the round of 16 four straight seasons, three times at home.
"Of course I think the season ended early," Eagle's Landing head coach Elliott Montgomery told Darius Goodman of the Henry Herald. "Three years in a row [actually four, but three times at home]. First year, we lose to Riverwood and we blew it late. Last year, we lost to Fayette County; we blew it late. And this year we played a team that I wouldn't say wanted it more. We wanted it. They went about it a totally different way. And we lost."
The fourth loss, in 2018, was on the road against eventual state champion Warner Robins.
Eagle’s Landing had taken the No. 1 rankings for the first time this season after winning the Region 4-AAAAA tournament against Henry County rival Dutchtown, which is ranked No. 2. Dutchtown beat Region 6 champion Riverwood 59-55 on Wednesday and advanced to the quarterfinals.
The previous No. 1 team in AAAAA, Lithonia, suffered two region-tournament losses and dropped to No. 6 but righted itself in the playoffs, winning twice on the road, including a 78-68 victory Thursday over No. 7 Veterans in the second round.
Shiloh’s loss – to Wheeler 65-64 on the road in overtime – was less surprising, though premature given the Generals’ successes this season. Shiloh has seven wins over current top-10 teams in AAAAAAA and has suffered all three of its losses to No. 1-ranked Grayson, a team also ranked No. 2 and No. 3 in major national polls. But Shiloh was stuck in the same Region 8-AAAAAAA as Grayson so wound up with a No. 2 seed, prompting the early road trip to Region 2 champion Wheeler, a traditional state power ranked No. 6.
Wheeler scored the first seven points in overtime, and Sam Hines Jr., a University of Denver signee, scored 23 points.
Otherwise, not many upsets were registered in the second round.
Clarke Central was one of only six unranked teams that beat a top-10 opponent. In fact, ranked boys teams wre 40-3 when not playing each other, and when paired against one another, the higher-ranked team went 11-3.
It was a similar story with the girls. Ranked teams were 33-3 vs. the unranked, and the higher-ranked team was 14-2 when two faced off.
Brookwood’s girls, unranked all season, were notable in their victory over No. 7 Tift County in AAAAAAA. That put the Broncos in the quarterfinals for the first time in the 39-year history of the school.
The rest of those upsets were mildly flavored and took place in Class A. Those included Lincoln County’s boys over No. 8 Lanier County, North Cobb Christian’s boys over No. 10 Riverside Military, Turner County’s girls over No. 7 Pelham and Eagle’s Landing Christian over No. 8 Calvary Day.
Beyond Eagle’s Landing and Shiloh, two other top-four teams lost, neither in an upset. Glenn Hills, ranked No. 2 in AA, beat Douglass 74-62 in a boys game, and No. 3 Beach beat Cedar Grove 50-43.
The quarterfinals are Tuesday and Wednesday.
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