One of my predicted semifinalists, the Westside Patriots, have been eliminated. This was a bracket I felt had no obvious frontrunner, so I went with my darkhorse in the Pats, but it was the more obvious choice — a No. 1 seed — in the Washington County Golden Hawks eliminating them. I would not be surprised if Columbia beat Washington County and almost picked the Eagles to get that far originally, except that I didn’t feel confident in picking three of the four semifinalists from Region 6.
Elsewhere, the Rabun County Wildcats continue to impress. I have to be honest, at 7-20 heading into the playoffs, they were completely off my radar. I had them losing in the first round, but so far they’ve done well against unranked opponents, including in the second round against Model — a No. 1 seed I had making the quarterfinals. If the Wildcats beat Thomasville next, it would be the biggest upset of the 2A tournament so far, and by a long shot.
Boys quarterfinals capsules
Columbia Eagles (19-6) at Washington County Golden Hawks (16-1)
When: 6 p.m. Wednesday
Seeds, rankings: Columbia is the No. 3 seed from Region 6 and ranked No. 7; Washington County is the No. 1 seed from Region 3 and No. 3.
Notes: In perhaps a number of other regions, the Eagles would be a No. 1 seed. However, in Region 6, where they play in the shadows of Pace Academy and Lovett, they could be easy to overlook — but not so much anymore. In Round 2, they escaped with a 57-56 win at Callaway on a layup with 10 seconds left, reaching the quarters for a second year in a row after qualifying in 5A last season. The Golden Hawks won by double digits in their first two round matchups, beating Jeff Davis by 29 and Westside by 10. They also reached the quarters last season.
Lovett Lions (19-7) at Swainsboro Tigers (19-1)
When: 6 p.m. Wednesday
Seeds, rankings: Lovett is the No. 2 seed from Region 6 and ranked No. 4; Swainsboro is the No. 1 seed from Region 2 and ranked No. 2.
Notes: Though the Lions didn’t get much of a challenge in the first two rounds from Coosa and Elbert County, that will surely be different against the 2A defending state champions. Should Lovett win on the road they’ll be in the semis for the first time since 2007, and that’s the furthest the program has ever been. The Tigers are playing the role of defending champs well with only one loss on the season. However, they looked mortal in their second-round matchup against Laney though, eking out a 74-68 victory. This should be the best semifinal matchup in 2A.
Rabun County Wildcats (9-20) at Thomasville Bulldogs (17-1)
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
Seeds, rankings: Rabun County is the No. 3 seed from Region 8 and unranked; Thomasville is the No. 1 seed from Region 1 and No. 5.
Notes: Likely not too many outside of Tiger had the Wildcats advancing this far, but with wins over Heard County and once-ranked Model, they’re where they’re supposed to be. For context, the Wildcats are currently ranked No. 35 among the 54 schools in MaxPrep’s 2A computer rankings, and Model is ranked No. 12 that poll. Further, the Wildcats started 0-10 and had a separate six-game losing streak. Can they ride their current momentum to a win over the Bulldogs? Thomasville, which won 2A in 2018, is ranked No. 3 in the MaxPreps computer poll, for what it’s worth.
Butler Bulldogs (20-4) at Pace Academy Knights (25-1)
When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday
Seeds, rankings: Butler is the No. 1 seed from Region 4 and ranked No. 8; Pace Academy is the No. 1 seed from Region 6 and No. 1.
Notes: This is the only quarterfinal matchup where the GHSA’s universal coin toss came into play, but it probably doesn’t matter where this game is hosted. The Knights, who won a larger classification last year in 3A, have been playing on a different level from their peers in 2A all season and have a No. 18 national ranking to show for it. Factors outside of basketball — and injury or foul trouble — are likely about all that could stop the Knights from not only advancing past this round, but blowing through the tournament.
And now onto the girls. For the latest 2A girls bracket with scores, visit GHSA.net.
Credit: Predictions by Adam Krohn
I said going in that, with two-time defending champions Douglass reclassifying to 3A, this tournament was wide open. My bracket would appear to reflect that, as there were a lot of tough picks — especially in the lower-right quadrant. I prefer to call it “The Quadrant of Death” because four of its eight teams are ranked. Not surprisingly, all four ranked teams advanced, where two were eliminated in the second round. Unfortunately for my predictions, the two I picked to advance to the quarterfinals — Woodville and Rabun County — were the ones that lost.
I never knew what to make of Rabun County. I couldn’t tell if the Lady Wildcats were having a down year by their standards, or if they were having a really good year but Elbert County — their Region 8 rival which they were 0-3 against this season — is playing on a higher level than everyone else. The answer is probably somewhere between, but I had the Lady Wildcats advancing because of the perennial playoff appearances DeeDee Dillard-coached teams have made over the years. Further, Elbert County and Rabun County were Nos. 1-2 in the MaxPreps 2A rankings, respectively.
Also in “The Quadrant of Death”, I had Woodville meeting Rabun County in the quarters, but the Lady Wolverines lost to Butler. At this point I’ll take Columbia with the home court advantage, though Butler is ranked No. 5 in the MaxPreps 2A computer rankings, ahead of Columbia at No. 8.
In the lower-left quadrant, my pick of Elbert County getting eliminated in the quarterfinals is looking worse each round. No team in the tournament has been as dominant as the top-ranked Lady Blue Devils, who outscored Temple and South Atlanta a combined 114-42 in the first two rounds. They are unquestionably the team to beat at this point.
East Laurens — the team I had winning the quadrant over Elbert County — stumbled at home to unranked Josey.
My pick to win it all, the Early County Lady Bobcats, looked strong in a 67-47 win over Swainsboro and will now face a Fannin County Lady Rebels team that hasn’t lost this calendar year.
Despite the beating my bracket has taken, my championship matchup is still intact with Washington County alive. The Lady Golden Hawks held off playoff fixture Laney 56-50 in Round 2.
Girls quarterfinals capsules
Washington County Lady Golden Hawks (16-1) at Callaway Lady Cavaliers (15-6)
When: 6 p.m. Tuesday
Seeds, rankings: Washington County is the No. 1 seed from Region 3 and No. 4; Callaway is the No. 1 seed from Region 5 and unranked.
Notes: The Lady Golden Hawks are in the quarters for the second year in a row and seeking their first semifinal appearance since 2012, when they were runners-up in 3A. Though they only have one loss on the season — a 57-56 hiccup to Lamar County — they’ll be on the road thanks to the GHSA universal coin toss. The Lady Cavaliers are coming off a 66-61 overtime win over Chattooga, which put them in the quarterfinals for the first time in program history.
Elbert County Lady Blue Devils (24-2) at Josey Lady Eagles (17-6)
When: 6 p.m. Tuesday
Seeds, rankings: Elbert County is the No. 1 seed from Region 8 and ranked No. 1; Josey is the No. 1 seed from Region 4 and unranked.
Notes: Though the Lady Blue Devils are sophomore-laden, they’re playing like state champions. Their average margin of victory in the playoffs is 36 after beating Temple 52-14 and South Atlanta 62-28. They’re in the quarters for the first time since 2003. Though the Lady Eagles come in unranked, MaxPreps has them at No. 7 in 2A and their senior class has extensive playoff experience, reaching the 2A title game in 2018, the quarters in 2019 and the second round last season. This is the only 2A girls quarterfinal game where the universal coin toss didn’t come into play.
Fannin County Lady Rebels (21-4) at Early County Lady Bobcats (16-0)
When: 6 p.m. Tuesday
Seeds, rankings: Fannin County is the No. 1 seed from Region 8 and ranked No. 6; Early County is the No. 1 seed from Region 1 and No. 2.
Notes: The Lady Rebels are on a 15-game win streak that dates back to 2020 — their last loss came Dec. 30 to Rabun County, 66-43. They reached the second round of last season’s 3A tournament and are in the quarters for the first time since 2004. The Lady Bobcats are seeking a third consecutive trip to the semifinals with Makayla Timpson (32.2 points, 14.2 rebounds, 4.9 blocks, 3.3 steals) leading the way. She scored 42 of her team’s 67 points in a Round 2 win over Swainsboro, adding 15 rebounds and nine blocks.
Butler Lady Bulldogs (20-4) at Columbia Lady Eagles (17-7)
When: 2 p.m. Wednesday
Seeds, rankings: Butler is the No. 1 seed from Region 4 and No. 7; Columbia is the No. 1 seed from Region 6 and No. 10.
Notes: The Lady Eagles will go as far as India Terrell takes them. She scored 33 points in a 50-41 win over Rabun County in Round 2, and she’s averaging 30.5 points in the playoffs. Speaking of going far, they’re looking to reach the semis for the second time in three years. They also qualified in 2019 while competing in 5A. Butler is in the quarters for the first time since 2011 and hasn’t been to the semis since 1978.
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