Class 2A blog: Playoff predictions

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The state playoffs have arrived, which means it’s time for my annual predictions.

The games tip off Tuesday and run until Thursday, March 11, when the 2A girls title game will be played at noon, followed by the 2A boys, tentatively scheduled for 2:30 p.m. All championship games, which will be played from March 10-12, will be played at the Macon Centreplex.

Note that the semifinals will not be hosted at a neutral site this year for the first time since 2012. Beginning with the quarterfinals, a GHSA universal coin toss will determine home-court advantage in the event like-seeded teams meet.

Also...the 2A playoffs are previewed in Episode 22 of The Class 2A Blogcast, which is now live! Guests include editor-in-chief of HoopSeen Justin Young, espnW/Premier Basketball Report director Shane Laflin and Rose Scoggins, reporter for The Elberton Star.

Topics include the Lovett and Pace Academy boys, Elbert County’s girls and Early County’s MaKayla Timpson.

(See bottom of page for links referenced in Episode 22)

In addition to the embedded player above, you can listen and subscribe here or anywhere podcasts are available.

Before we get to my picks, let’s take a look at the final boys and girls rankings before champions are crowned. They were released upon the completion of region tournaments.

Boys

1. Pace Academy (23-1)

2. Swainsboro (17-1)

3. Washington County (14-1)

4. Lovett (17-7)

5. Thomasville (15-1)

6. Chattooga (17-3)

7. Columbia (17-6)

8. Butler (18-4)

9. Banks County (18-8)

10. Westside-Augusta (16-6)

Girls

1. Elbert County (21-2)

2. Early County (14-0)

3. East Laurens (15-2)

4. Washington County (14-1)

5. Rabun County (18-6)

6. Fannin County (19-4)

7. Butler (18-4)

8. Lamar County (17-5)

9. Woodville-Tompkins (15-4)

10. Columbia (15-7)

Now, time for the predictions...

Boys

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Credit: Predictions by Adam Krohn

If it weren’t for this being a reclassification year, I’d say the No. 2-ranked Swainsboro Tigers would be favorites to repeat as champions for the first time in school history, taking home their third title. However, with both the Pace Academy Knights and Lovett Lions coming to Region 6 from 3A, both of them supplant the Tigers on the 2A depth chart, in my opinion.

The Knights won 3A last year.

I’ve carried out my thought process on the bracket by having the Lions and Knights meet in the title game. They’ve been region rivals dating back to their first stint in 2A in 2014, both competing in 5-3A from 2016-19. The Knights have owned the series as of late, winning seven straight dating back to 2019. They were 3-0 over Lovett this season, including 60-57 in the 6-2A championship last week.

For me, Pace Academy is the clearcut favorite to win. They’re too good, too deep and too well coached not to come away with the hardware. Matthew Cleveland, 6-foot-6, is a 5-star wing signed with Florida State and one of the top players in the country. Madison Durr, their 6-foot-5 point guard, holds mid-major offers. Forward Cole Middleton, 6-foot-6, signed with Cleveland State. Josh Reed, another 6-foot-6 forward, holds an offer from Boston College. And then there’s coach Sharman White, who won seven state titles for Miller Grove — including six in a row — in addition to his title with the Knights last season.

The Lions are led by Georgetown signee Ryan Mutombo, a 6-foot-11 center. Should they reach the championship, it would be the first time in school history. The furthest they’ve been is the 2A semifinals in 2007 under coach Chuck Melito, who also took the Lions to the quarterfinals in 2006 and 2008 — the best three-year run in program history. They lost in the first round last year and made the quarterfinals in consecutive seasons before that.

All that said, it’s still very possible that Swainsboro takes the quadrant over Lovett, and I’d be shocked if one of those two didn’t get into the semis.

The upper-left quadrant might be the hardest to predict, so I decided to go bold here and roll with a No. 3 seed in the No. 10 Westside Patriots. They were ranked as high as No. 7 in Week 10 and currently hold a No. 6 ranking in MaxPrep’s 2A computer rankings. However, Washington County, Columbia and Chattooga could also win the quadrant. The Columbia at Chattooga matchup is the best first round game in all of 2A.

In the upper-right quadrant, keep an eye on Woodville-Tompkins. They’re a No. 3 seed only because they had to forfeit their semifinals matchup in the 2-2A tournament last week due to COVID-19 protocols. They have a first-round matchup against the Northeast Raiders that I peg as the second-best first round game. One of those two teams, or Thomasville, should win that quadrant.

Girls

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Credit: Predictions by Adam Krohn

The Douglass Lady Astros are 2A’s two-time defending champions, but they’ve reclassified to 3A. Now 2A is wide open. The Elbert County Lady Blue Devils are ranked No. 1 heading in, and they are a promising, up-and-coming, sophomore-laden group. They have the talent to win state, but are they ready this young? While I think this group will win a title together before its all said and done, this year I have them exiting in the quarterfinals to a tough East Laurens team that wins the lower-left quadrant.

To win state, I’ll pick the undefeated Early County Lady Bobcats, who have the most-recruited player in 2A in 4-star forward Makayla Timpson, a 6-foot-2 senior signed to play for Florida State. They’ve been in the 2A title game and semifinals in the past two seasons, and I think their experience and talent prevails this time.

If there’s a team that could stand in the Lady Bobcats’ way in the upper-right quadrant, it’s the Fannin County Lady Rebels.

The lower-right quadrant is the tournament’s deepest with Butler, Columbia, Rabun County and Woodville — all of whom are ranked. Flip a coin for that quadrant. I did and got Woodville.

Then there’s Washington County, whom I have reaching the title game. They were in the quarterfinals last year and have been in the state playoffs every year since 2009, winning 3A in 2011 and reaching the title game in 2012. They are led by senior guard Miracle Parker.

Links referenced in Episode 22

Correction: Westside’s boys were previously listed as unranked.

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