Class 6A blog: Higher seeds dominate region tournaments, roll into state

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The higher-seeded teams dominated the Class 6A region basketball tournaments last week, sending them off to the state tournament with high hopes and home-court advantage, at least for one round.

The No. 1 or No. 2 seed won all six of the boys championships and five of the six girls titles. Of those 12 championship games, eight matched No. 1 against No. 2.

The one exception was the Lee County girls team, which entered the tournament as the No. 4 seed in the four-team region but knocked off Valdosta and Houston County by a total of six points to earn the region championship. The Trojans came into the tournament at 8-10 overall and are No. 22 in the current MaxPreps rankings, but they’ll be at home in the first round against Lakeside-DeKalb, the fourth seed from Region 4.

The most noteworthy victory on the boys’ side belonged to second-ranked Kell, which avenged two close regular-season losses to top-ranked Wheeler with a 78-71 victory in two overtimes to win the Region 6 title. Wheeler had beaten Kell 74-73 and 68-65 earlier this season.

Kell’s girls team also won the Region 6 title, making the Cobb County school one of only two in 6A to sweep the region tournament championships. Lee County was the other, as the Trojans’ boys team beat Valdosta 68-66 in the Region 1 final.

Westlake also won dual titles, although its Region 4 did not have a tournament. The Lions’ boys and girls teams got the No. 1 seeds for finishing in first place in the regular season.

Here’s a look at the state tournament, which begins Tuesday.

Girls

*The favorites: Class 6A was left with no defending champion after 2020 winner Forest Park moved to 5A during reclassification. However, reigning champions Westlake and Buford moved in. They are ranked Nos. 1 and 2 and have a combined record of 39-0. Westlake won the past three championships in Class 7A, and Buford won the past four in 5A. No. 3 Carrollton and No. 5 Kell, which also moved up from 5A, also are legitimate threats. Carrollton is 26-1, and Kell (23-3) lost to Buford 66-63 in last year’s 5A final.

*Best first-round game – Valdosta at Lovejoy, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday: Valdosta was the regular-season champion in Region 1, but a loss to Lee County in the tournament semifinals doomed the Wildcats to a No. 3 seed and a first-round trip to Lovejoy, the No. 4 team in 6A. Lovejoy reached at least the quarterfinals each of the past four seasons and won a state title in 2018. Lovejoy finished second in Region 4, which did not have a tournament, behind top-ranked Westlake. Valdosta is No. 17 in the most recent MaxPreps rankings.

*A look at the bracket: The bottom left quadrant of the bracket is loaded, as it contains four teams ranked in the top eight. If the higher-seeded teams win in the first round, the second-round games in that part of the bracket would match No. 7 Sprayberry against No. 2 Buford and No. 4 Lovejoy against No. 8 Statesboro. Tenth-ranked River Ridge appears to be in a good spot as the only ranked team in the top-right quadrant. If the Knights reach the semifinals, they could be matched up against No. 1 Westlake or No. 5 Kell

Boys

The favorites: Chattahoochee won its first state championship last season, and the Cougars enter this year’s playoffs 20-3 and ranked No. 3 after defeating Centennial 57-50 in the Region 7 tournament final. The Cougars are capable of repeating, but to do it they likely will have go through the Region 6 duo of Wheeler and Kell, who finished the regular season in the top two spots in the rankings. Wheeler won the Class 7A championship last season, its sixth state title since 2002 and seventh overall. Kell was a semifinalist in 5A.

*Best first-round game – South Cobb at Centennial, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday: South Cobb (16-11), the No. 3 seed from Region 6, has been overshadowed by Wheeler and Kell but is No. 12 in the MaxPreps rankings and handed Wheeler its only regular-season region loss. The Eagles went through a six-game losing streak midway though the season to fall to 6-8 but have since won 10 of 13. Centennial has been in the top 10 all season and enters the playoffs 21-4. The Knights are in the state tournament for the first time since 2015.

*A look at the bracket: The bottom right quadrant of the bracket is the rough one for the boys. It contains four top-10 teams, including two that come in as No. 2 seeds. No. 9 Westlake (15-3) earned a No. 1 seed in the regular season, and No. 2 Kell was the Region 6 tournament champion. No. 5 Shiloh lost in the Region 8 final and will face Dalton in the first round. No. 10 Statesboro lost in the Region 2 final and will take on Heritage-Conyers. On the left side, No. 1 Wheeler could meet No. 7 Lanier in the second round.

*First-round state tournament matchups:

Girls

(R4 #3) Hughes at (R1 #2) Houston County

(R2 #4) Glynn Academy at (R3 #1) Rockdale County

(R6 #3) Pope at (R7 #2) Sequoyah

(R8 #4) Lanier at (R5 #1) Carrollton

(R7 #3) Cambridge at (R6 #2) Sprayberry

(R5 #4) Alexander at (R8 #1) Buford

(R1 #3) Valdosta at (R4 #2) Lovejoy

(R3 #4) Heritage-Conyers at (R2 #1) Statesboro

(R8 #3) Dacula at (R5 #2) Rome

(R6 #4) Kennesaw Mountain at (R7 #1) River Ridge

(R2 #3) Richmond Hill at (R3 #2) Grovetown

(R4 #4) Lakeside-DeKalb at (R1 #1) Lee County

(R3 #3) Evans at (R2 #2) Brunswick

(R1 #4) Northside-Warner Robins at (R4 #1) Westlake

(R5 #3) Douglas County at (R8 #2) Habersham Central

(R7 #4) Creekview at (R6 #1) Kell

Boys

(R4 #3) Tucker at (R1 #2) Valdosta

(R2 #4) Effingham County at (R3 #1) Evans

(R6 #3) South Cobb at (R7 #2) Centennial

(R8 #4) Winder-Barrow at (R5 #1) Douglas County

(R7 #3) Sequoyah at (R6 #2) Wheeler

(R5 #4) South Paulding at (R8 #1) Lanier

(R1 #3) Houston County at (R4 #2) North Atlanta

(R3 #4) Rockdale County at (R2 #1) Richmond Hill

(R8 #3) Buford at (R5 #2) Alexander

(R6 #4) Pope at (R7 #1) Chattahoochee

(R2 #3) Brunswick at (R3 #2) Grovetown

(R4 #4) Hughes at (R1 #1) Lee County

(R3 #3) Heritage-Conyers at (R2 #2) Statesboro

(R1 #4) Northside-Warner Robins at (R4 #1) Westlake

(R5 #3) Dalton at (R8 #2) Shiloh

(R7 #4) River Ridge at (R6 #1) Kell

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