Class 4A Blog: Second-Round Takeaways; Quarterfinals Primer

The No. 1 seeded Holy Innocents’ boys eliminated defending state champion Pace Academy at home 62-58 and extended its win-streak to 13-straight games, while improving to 24-6 overall. The Golden Bears were eliminated in the first round last year to McDonough—the team that topped the Knights in the Region 5 championship to give Pace a No. 2 seed and send them to red-hot Holy Innocents’. The Golden Bears trailed early before sparking a 13-0 scoring run to take a 15-7 lead after the first quarter. Holy Innocents’ grew its lead to 17 points before taking a 33-24 advantage into the break and were fueled by Devin Hutchinson’s 13 points and Caleb Wilson’s 10 points and four blocked shots in the first half. Hutchinson continued to keep the Golden Bears out front and poured on 16 points in the second half to finish with a game-high 29 points. Holy Innocents’ led 47-37 heading into the final frame before securing the victory.

In addition to Pace Academy falling, moments later, Visiting Westminster outscored No. 1 ranked McDonough 18-3 in the fourth quarter to punch its ticket to the Elite 8 with a 58-50 win. Westminster jumped out to a 16-11 lead after the first quarter, but McDonough took a 27-21 lead after stacking up a 16-5 edge in the second quarter. The Wildcats will take on No. 1 seed Baldwin in the Elite 8 after the Braves advanced past Riverdale 66-46.

Pace Academy and McDonough were the only two teams that topped the boys poll during this season and now both are eliminated—setting up a high-stakes opportunity in the quarterfinals for history to be made. Top-seeded New Hampstead jumped out to a 34-21 lead and secured the first quarterfinal appearance in school history, while extending its win-streak to 16-straight victories following its 66-46 win over Cairo. The Phoenix will take on North Oconee in the Elite Eight this Wednesday after the top-seeded Titans topped Central-Carroll 91-66 to also grow its win-streak to 16-straight. No. 4 seed Whitewater stunned host Spalding and went into the half with a 43-31 lead. The Wildcats secured their first quarterfinal berth in school history and had four Wildcats notch double-figure scoring with Kamiron Jones (23), Ashtain Preston (20), Seyi Daramola (13) and Kaden Thomas (11).

Westover was eliminated by the host Cadets after upsetting last year’s state runner-up Fayette County. Benedictine will host Seckinger this Wednesday with an opportunity to return to the semifinals for consecutive years as the Jags make their first-ever quarterfinal appearance after Saturday’s road win over top-seeded Sonoraville. Second-year program Seckinger made history on Saturday with a 62-49 road win over No. 1 seed Sonoraville to advance to the quarterfinals. The Jags were led by KJ Banks (19), Carter Watkins (13), Braxton Miller (12) and Tony Wells (8).

On the girls side, No. 1 ranked Baldwin punched its ticket to the quarterfinals with a 62-42 win over Trinity Christian and remains undefeated within Class 4A this season. Janaye Walker notched a double-double with a game-high 20 points and 14 rebounds, Madison Ruff added 17 points, seven assists and six rebounds and teammates Kassidy Neal and Jasmine Williams each finished with eight points. Fayette County pulled away late from Burke County in the second round of the playoffs. Burke County led for much of the first half and went into the half with a 16-15 lead over the Tigers. The second half was dominated by Fayette County and their suffocating defense, giving up only ten points the rest of the game while being led on offense by Deyla McCoy with 17 points and Megan Ohonde with 17 points, securing the 53-26 victory.

Chestatee fought back from adversity early in their first-round victory over Heritage-Catoosa. The War Eagles fell behind early as Heritage ended the first quarter up 16-7. Chestatee battled back through the rest of the first half, taking a 24-23 lead into the break. Led by Riley Black’s 30 points and 18 rebounds, the War Eagles pulled out the victory over the upset minded Generals, 61-55. Stockbridge escaped an upset minded Southwest DeKalb team 63-61 to advance to the third round of the GHSA state tournament. Led by the scoring output of CJ Wilson with 23 points and Kahli Ingram with 13 points, the top-seeded Tigers needed every point to move on to the next round, defeating Southwest DeKalb 63-61. Second ranked Holy Innocents rolled past Luella 76-59 into the Elite Eight. The Golden Bears dominated the majority of the game while Luella put up a fight, with the Lions’ Milani Smith leading all players in scoring with 27 points. However, it wasn’t enough to overcome Holy Innocents and its quest to bring coach Nichole Dixon her fifth state title.

North Oconee went on the road and cruised past top seeded Sonoraville 64-36 as the Titans advanced to the quarterfinals. North Oconee dominated the Phoenix, led by three double digit scorers Aiyanna Peavy who scored 20 points, Laura Willis who scored 14 points along with 11 rebounds, and Kendall Wells who scored 13 points and brought down 19 rebounds in their 64-36 win. Finally, Hardaway routed Griffin as the Hawks made a statement in their second-round win. Hardaway led the game from start to finish, amassing a double-digit lead by the end of the first period. The Hawks would continue to grow their lead eventually winning 64-33.