The new year is underway and there are three programs that are represented in both the boys and girls polls: Baldwin, Marist and Jefferson. As a result, opponents and the fans attending these games will get the opportunity to see a double-dose of ranked squads taking the court as region play heats up and the back half of the season unfolds. As January plays out, there are several big-time matchups to keep an eye on. Closing out this week, Jefferson will take on East Hall on the road Jan. 7 in a great county and Region 8 showdown. East Hall is currently 13-2 overall and 2-1 in Region play, but the Vikings are yet to take on Jefferson. Cedar Shoals served East Hall a massive 60-37 defeat back on Dec. 10 and so this will be a good opportunity to see if East Hall can stack up against Jefferson—which is 13-1 overall and 3-0 in Region 8. Jefferson previously defeated Cedar Shoals 74-53 on the road, so a Dragons win would solidify their status as the team to beat in Region 8. Next week will have more big boys matchups to prepare for. On Jan. 11, No. 8 Fayette County will visit No. 1 ranked McDonough and No. 2 Westover will visit No. 7 Bainbridge. The McDonough boys ascended to the top of the Class 4A polls over the Holidays with a 34-29 win over previous No. 1 ranked Baldwin. Since that victory, McDonough has won four-straight to improve to 12-1 and captured the Morris Bank Holiday Classic Championship. Even more notable, Westover scored a 65-56 win over Baldwin and that win and Thursday’s 54-46 victory over Perry improved the Patriots’ record to 10-0. Baldwin’s two recent defeats showcase the depth and excitement within 4A and there is a long list of contenders loading the current poll. Four of McDonough’s top 5 scorers are underclassmen—including junior Amon McDowell (16.5 ppg), junior Daavion Thomas (14.5 ppg), sophomore Keenan Gray (9.8 ppg) and junior Avante Nichols (7.9 ppg). Nichols transferred in from New Creation Christian this offseason and is a 6-foot-3 wing player. Westover’s Kemari Leverette made four 3-pointers in the win over Baldwin and finished with 12 points and teammates Effrin Smith (16), Keshay Walton (11) and Cameron Cromer (10) also finished in double-figures. Baldwin’s Rudolph Satcher has led the Bravves with 16.4 ppg this season and he is the team’s most reliable free-throw shooter as well.