Best girls game, round two: Defending AA champion Laney (28-0) puts its 58-game winning streak on the line against No. 5 Swainsboro (23-4). It should be much closer than the 70-44 decision that Laney leveled on Swainsboro in the first round last season.
Other good girls games, round two: The Laney-Swainsboro game is one of two between top-five girls teams in the second round. The other is No. 5 Lanier at No. 3 Harrison in AAAAA. Laney also is also one of two No. 1 teams that will be tested by a ranked opponent. In AAAA, Carver-Columbus (27-1) faces No. 7 Baldwin (25-3). There are 16 games between top-10 girls teams this week. (See list below).
Historical trivia: Wilkinson County's boys can tie Savannah for the most tournament victories in history with a victory over Drew Charter in the second round. Savannah, which did not make the tournament this year, is 74-47 all-time. Wilkinson County is 73-24.
Top boys upset, round one: Lakeside of Evans, a No. 4 seed from Region 3-AAAAAA with a 13-12 record, had never won a state playoff game. Stephenson, ranked fifth and fresh off a 56-53 win over sixth-ranked Jonesboro in the Region 4 title game, carried a 20-5 record and an eight-game winning streak into their first-round game. But it is Lakeside that is moving on. The Panthers beat the Jaguars won 65-63.
More first-round surprises: Nine top-10 boys teams were picked off in the first round – four to other ranked teams. Those were No. 8 Creekview in AAAAAA (losing to No. 7 Douglas County), No. 5 Columbia in AAAAA (to No. 10 Jackson-Atlanta), No. 10 Mary Persons of AAAA (to No. 9 Carver-Columbus) and No. 10 Swainsboro in AA (to No. 3 Thomasville). In AAAAAA, No. 10 South Cobb lost to Tri-Cities, and No. 4 Cambridge lost to Lanier. But Tri-Cities (20-9) and Lanier (20-9) have been ranked at times this season, so those weren't shocking. The only upsets pulled by teams that have not been ranked, aside from Lakeside-Evans, were scored by Monticello (which beat No. 7 Chattooga in AA) and Flowery Branch (which beat No. 9 Villa Rica in AAAAA). Monticello is 20-9, and Flowery Branch is 18-11.
Top girls upset, round one: Ninth-ranked Lowndes, the Region 1-AAAAAAA champion, was dumped at home by Campbell 51-49 after failing to hold an early 14-point lead. Campbell, a No. 4 seed, hadn't won in the state playoffs since a 2011 run to the semifinals.
More first-round surprises: There really weren't any. Only two other top-10 girls teams lost. In Class AA, No. 7 Putnam County lost to No. 6 Model 70-64. In AAAAAA, No. 10 Heritage-Conyers lost to Stephenson 54-49. Stephenson (18-11) was unranked but hardly a stranger to big tournament wins. The girls' brackets are going as expected.
First-time boys winners at state: Nine boys teams won their first-ever state-playoff games last week. Two of those – Lakeside-Evans and Lanier – upset ranked teams. As noted, Lakeside beat Stephenson, and Lanier beat Cambridge. Other teams winning for the first time were Woodstock in AAAAAAA, Grovetown in AAAAAA and Brookstone, Drew Charter, Fulton Leadership, Mount Vernon Presbyterian and Savannah Christian in Class A.
More boys drought-breakers: Nine boys teams advanced for the first time in at least 10 years. The most notable was Georgia Military College, which hadn't won since 1929, going 0-8. GMC, ranked No. 9 in the Class A public-school division, defeated Claxton 60-46. Jeff Davis, which hadn't won since 1958, beat Brooks County 71-61 in AA. Bradwell Institute, which hadn't advanced since 1959, won at Valdosta 79-62 in AAAAAA. Therrell, which hadn't won since 1982, beat Heard County 73-41. Also breaking through were Wayne County (first win since 1995), Metter (2002), Walker (2003), Baldwin (2006) and Trion (2008).
First-time girls winners at state: Seven girls teams won their first-ever state-playoff games last week. Upson-Lee, opened in 1992, was the oldest. The Knights defeated Westover 67-62. Lanier, in winning for the first time, defeated Alpharetta 58-54. Opened in 2010, Lanier had not won a round in the state tournament, boys or girls, until last week, when both won. Other girls teams winning for the first time were New Manchester in AAAAAA, Coahulla Creek in AAA, KIPP Atlanta Collegiate in AA and Christian Heritage, Fellowship Christian and Galloway in Class A.
More girls drought-breakers: Cedar Grove and Lamar County had lost six straight first-round state-playoff games dating to the 1980s until last week. Cedar Grove defeated Sonoraville 40-39 in AAA, the Saints' first state win since 1983, and Lamar County beat Therrell 52-41 in AA, the Bulldogs' first state win since 1986. Other girls teams finally revisiting the winners circle were Harris County (2000), Athens Academy (2003), Callaway (2003), Grayson (2004), Coffee (2007), South Gwinnett (2007), Landmark Christian (2007) and Josey (2008).
What's next: The quarterfinals are Feb. 27-28. That's the first round in which region champions can meet, and home-court advantage is decided by a coin flip. Expect some blockbusters in that round. It might include No. 1 McEachern vs. No. 2 Norcross (boys) and No. 1 Westlake vs. No. 2 Collins Hill (girls). But they've got to win this week to advance.
Second-round boys games between top-10 teams:
No. 9 Wheeler at No. 10 Etowah
No. 7 Mountain View at No. 3 Newton
No. 8 Grayson at No. 5 Peachtree Ridge
No. 7 Douglas County at No. 9 North Atlanta
No. 6 Jonesboro at No. 3 Brunswick
No. 3 Miller Grove at No. 2 Buford
No. 8 Clarke Central at No. 10 Jackson-Atlanta
No. 5 Americus-Sumter at No. 6 Baldwin
No. 8 Salem at No. 1 Upson-Lee
No. 8 Pace Academy at No. 4 Greater Atlanta Christian
No. 9 Towers at No. 1 Morgan County
No. 6 South Atlanta at No. 8 Banks County
No. 4 Dublin at No. 3 Thomasville
Class A (Private)
No. 9 Lakeview Academy at No. 7 Holy Innocents’
No. 10 Mount Vernon Presbyterian at No. 2 Christian Heritage
No. 8 Stratford Academy at No. 6 Greenforest Christian
Class A (Public)
No. 10 Terrell County at No. 7 Macon County
No. 9 Georgia Military Academy at No. 5 Woodville-Tompkins
Second-round girls games between top-10 teams:
No. 8 South Gwinnett at No. 2 Collins Hill
No. 9 Creekview at No. 2 Winder-Barrow
No. 5 Lanier at No. 3 Harrison
No. 7 Arabia Mountain at No. 5 Villa Rica
No. 8 Bainbridge at No. 9 Fayette County
No. 7 Baldwin at No. 1 Carver-Columbus
No. 9 Madison County at No. 4 Northwest Whitfield
No. 8 Luella at No. 3 Spalding
No. 10 East Hall at No. 5 Lovett
No. 4 Central-Macon at No. 8 Tattnall County
No. 5 Swainsboro at No. 1 Laney
No. 9 Washington County at No. 10 Fitzgerald
Class A Private
No. 8 Athens Academy at No. 9 Christian Heritage
No. 10 Paideia at No. 7 Our Lady of Mercy
Class A Public
No. 10 Woodville-Tompkins at No. 8 Wheeler County
No. 7 Macon County at No. 4 Wilcox County