Seven boys teams off to fast starts (and one notable exception)

Here's a look at seven boys teams in Class AA that are off to hot starts this season ...

Pace Academy (7-1, 3-0 Region 6-AA)

The Knights' only loss came to Wasatch Academy (Utah) in the Holiday Hoopsgiving tournament in Atlanta. Other than that, Pace Academy has won every game by 14 points or more, including a 16-point win at defending state champ Greater Atlanta Christian.

Pace Academy missed the playoffs last year in Class A, but the addition of Wendell Carter has smoothed the transition to AA. Carter (6-foot-10), is considered one of the elite sophomores in the country and one of the top post players in the state regardless of classification. He's averaging 20 points per game this season and notched a season-high 26 rebounds in win over Columbia (Ala.).

The Knights are also getting solid contributions up and down the roster, notably from 6-3 senior shooting guard Elijah Holified and 6-6 junior small forward Zack Kaminsky. Watch for this team to be a factor in March.

Seminole County (5-1, 3-0 Region 1-AA)

The Seminoles are another newcomer to AA. Led by Jordan Harris, they went 20-4 last year in Class A, and have topped 90 points in half of their games so far this season. The average margin in their five victories is 32 points per game -- and was much higher before a 93-89 win over Early County on Tuesday.

Harris is a 6-4 junior shooting guard and the fifth-ranked member of the Class of 2016 in Georgia,  according to 247sports.com’s composite rankings.

Vidalia (8-0, 2-0)

The Indians lost only one game last season -- to Calhoun in the semifinals -- and despite losing eight seniors off that team, they're off to a strong start again.

They've had some relatively close calls -- the wins over Bacon County and Groves were tightly contested -- so it remains to be seen if this Indians team can be as dominant as the one that won by an average of 40 points per game. But the early returns are encouraging.

Model (7-0, 3-0)

The Blue Devils are one of the favorites in Region 7-AA after finishing as runner-up to Calhoun (now in Class AAA) last year.

After finishing as an All-State honorable mention last year, 6-4 forward VJ Saxton is back and serves as Model's go-to guy. He scored 22 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in Tuesday's 63-58 win over Pepperell. But in Thursday's win over Coosa in the semifinals of the Holiday Festival Tournament, it was guard Dwight Hall who stepped up with 28 points, six rebounds and three assists, while Saxton added 24 points and 11 rebounds.

The Blue Devils will face Rome in the tournament championship game Friday night at Berry College.

Bryan County (6-0, 3-0 Region 2-AA)

Led by a trio of seniors, the Redskins are well on their way to a remarkable one-season turnaround. After going 12-19 last season, they're already halfway to that win total this year. And only one of those wins (69-60 over Groves on Tuesday) came by less than 19 points.

Leading the way for Bryan County: 6-1 G Kajana Dixon (16.5 ppg); 6-5 C Alex Simmons (14.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg); 5-9 G Jeremy McClendon (11.8 ppg).

Harlem (11-1, 1-0 Region 3-AA)

Reggie Reid is back, and the Bulldogs are rolling again, averaging 82 points per game over their last three. Reid (a Florida Gulf Coast University signee) continues to be a triple-double threat each night, averaging  25.2 points, 9.9 rebounds and 9.2 assists per game.

Fellow senior Torien Beard is also stuffing the stat sheet: 13.4 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 5 apg, 2.4 spg, 2.1 bpg

Holy Innocents’ (7-1, 2-1 Region 6-AA)

Led by freshman point guard Travis Anderson’s 15.3 points per game, five Golden Bears are putting in at least eight points per game. Their only loss thus far came to GAC.

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Speaking of which, the Spartans are notably absent from this list. GAC, winners of four of the last five state championships, had their 52-game winning streak ended earlier this season and have lost twice more since then, including once to new Region 6-AA foe Pace Academy.

Nonetheless, it'd be a mistake to expect the Spartans (5-3, 2-1) to fall off the map. The team is still highly talented and will be battle-toughened when the season enters its homestretch.

MaxPreps.com's Class AA Power Rankings

1. Pace Academy (7-1)

2. Holy Innocents' (7-1)

3. GAC (5-3)

4. Vidalia (8-0)

5. Bryan County (6-0)

6. Thomasville (5-2)

7. Swainsboro (4-4)

8. Seminole County (5-1)

9. Model (7-0)

10. Early County (3-2)

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