FROM THE PREP ZONE BLOGS AT AJC.COM

The high school bloggers at ajc.com include Todd Holcomb (Class AAAAAA), Chip Saye (AAAAA), David Purdum (AAAA), Stan Awtrey (AAA), Adam Krohn (AA) and S. Thomas Coleman (A).

Class AAAAAA

Pebblebrook’s boys (18-3, 12-2) have been one of the best stories of the high school basketball season in AAAAAA.

The Falcons were 12-14 last season, 4-21 the season before. Now, they’re on the verge of a first-place finish in a region that has had as many as four ranked teams this season. They upset No. 6 Hillgrove 48-42 on Wednesday in Region 8 and control their fate.

The Falcons must beat Marietta (17-7, 8-7) on Friday and Campbell (9-14, 4-10) on Saturday to wrap up the No. 1 seed for the tournament. Hillgrove (19-5, 12-3) would own the tiebreaker in a three-way tie with McEachern (18-4, 11-3).

In the final weekend of the regular season, here are other top games in AAAAAA and the other classifications:

  • Seventh-ranked Walton's boys (20-3, 11-2) picked up two nice victories this week, against eighth-ranked Milton 68-63 and at Cherokee 56-48. On Friday, the opponent is Doug Lipscomb's No. 1-ranked Wheeler (19-4, 12-0), which beat the Raiders 76-73 on Jan. 14. Walton trailed by 15 in the fourth quarter, but had an open 3-point attempt at the buzzer that was missed.
  • Westlake's girls (19-4, 7-1), ranked No. 6, can clinch first place in Region 3 with a victory Friday against 10th-ranked Hughes (20-3, 6-2). A loss would force a three-way tie that includes eighth-ranked Douglas County (19-3, 7-2), and coin flips would determine seeding. Westlake routed Hughes 78-58 on Jan. 10. All three teams have been ranked at some point this season.

Class AAAAA

  • The Region 4 tournament gets under way Saturday with six play-in games at Whitewater involving the third through sixth seeds from the two subregions. Fourth-ranked Drew, No. 9 Forest Park, Starr's Mill and Whitewater will be the top seeds among the girls teams, while Drew, Union Grove, Whitewater and McIntosh will be the top boys seeds. The complete brackets will be finalized at a meeting Friday. The Whitewater boys and Forest Park girls are the defending region champions.
  • First place in subregion A of Region 6 likely will be settled when the sixth-ranked Stephenson boys and No. 3 Tucker meet Friday at Stephenson. Both teams have two losses in region play, but Stephenson beat the Tigers 55-47 Jan. 21. Miller Grove has clinched the No. 1 seed from subregion B. Miller Grove beat Stephenson 55-51 in the region championship game last season and went on to win its fifth consecutive state championship.
  • The No. 2 boys seed in the Region 8 tournament will be at stake when Heritage-Conyers travels to Apalachee on Friday for the regular-season finale. Heritage beat the Wildcats 80-74 in the teams' first meeting. Apalachee sophomore Kamar Baldwin, who averages 27.1 points per game, scored 38 against Heritage in that game, his best output in a region game this season. Fifth-ranked Clarke Central clinched the No. 1 seed.

Class AAAA

  • The Woodland-Stockbridge girls can lock up the top seed in the Region 4 tournament with victories against Stockbridge on Friday and Dutchtown on Saturday. The Region 4 tournament play-in games will be held Monday and Tuesday at Jonesboro. The rest of the tournament will take place Wednesday-Saturday at Griffin. Woodland is looking for its fourth consecutive trip to the state tournament. Last season, coach Ashley Maddox took a team that featured four seniors to the quarterfinals. This year's group is much younger, with freshman Vanessa Blagmon starting at point guard and three other freshmen playing key minutes. The Wolfpack's four losses came against two AAAAAA schools, Hughes and Newton, which are a combined 37-9.
  • Redan and Columbus, the top two ranked AAA girls teams, coast into their region tournaments as the teams to beat. No. 1 Redan has beaten teams by an average of 40.3 points and is making a run at its second undefeated season under coach Jerry Jackson. The Raiders did it in AAAAA in 2009. Redan finishes the regular season against Stone Mountain on Friday and at Chamblee on Saturday. No. 2 Columbus has been nearly as impressive, with the Blue Devils' only loss coming against AAAAA's Northside-Columbus in a holiday tournament. Columbus finishes the regular season against Troup on Friday and at Sandy Creek on Saturday.
  • The No. 1 Columbia boys have clinched the top seed in the Region 6 tournament from subregion A. It's good thing, too, because the Eagles need the rest. Winter weather caused Columbia to have to play six games in six days, a stretch that ended with Tuesday's victory at Marist. Columbia finishes the regular season Friday at Chamblee. The Eagles will be the host school for the region tournament. No. 5 South Atlanta needs to beat either Grady on Friday or Banneker on Saturday to earn the top seed from subregion B.

Class AAA

  • Region 2 boys: Central Macon and Carver-Columbus are tied atop the standings at 8-2, but Central holds the tiebreaker based on sweeping both regular-season games. But Central won't nail down first place unless it can beat third-place Peach County in the season finale. Peach County is coming off a victory against Carver and would like to avenge its earlier 16-point loss to Central. If Peach County beats Central, Carver will finish in first place.
  • Region 4 girls: Central-Carroll (22-2) and Chapel Hill (19-4) are tied for first at 11-1. They split during the regular season. Central, led by senior Sherae Bonner, finishes the regular season with a trip to Jackson. Chapel Hill is led by senior Erica Jones (16.7 points) and junior Alex Weems (13.1 points, 7.4 rebounds). The Panthers finish with a road game at Rockmart and a home game against Haralson County.
  • Region 4 boys: Douglass can win the regular-season title if it beats Jackson-Atlanta on Friday and Haralson County on Saturday. A loss could turn the league into a quagmire, since Chapel Hill, Callaway and B.E.S.T. Academy all trail by one game in the loss column. Part of the equation will be settled Friday when B.E.S.T. hosts Callaway.
  • Region 6 boys: Cedar Grove will finish as the No. 1 seed if it beats Woodward Academy on Friday. The Saints have won seven consecutive, but have two losses to Blessed Trinity and would lose the tiebreaker if they end up tied with the Titans.

Class AA

  • According to the latest standings on GHSA.net, the following boys teams will look to lock up first place and a No. 1 seed for the region tourneys: Pelham (leads Region 1 by 4 games); Vidalia (Region 2, 2 1/2 games), Laney (Region 3, 3 1/2 games); Crawford County (Region 4, 1 game); Manchester (Region 5, 1 game); Greater Atlanta Christian (Region 6, 3 games); Model (Region 7, 1 1/2 games); Jefferson (Region 8, 1 1/2 games).
  • The Greater Atlanta Christian Spartans and Vidalia Indians, ranked No. 1 and 2, remain undefeated. The defending state champion Spartans (25-0, 8-0) have won 43 in a row and 79 overall. They have finished their regular season, with their next game coming in the region tournament. The Indians (24-0, 10-0) close their regular season Friday at Toombs County. The Indians won the first game against Toombs County 91-34. The Indians' average victory is 41.8 points, and they've scored 80 or more points 14 times. The No. 3 Laney Wildcats (20-4, 7-0) are on a 12-game winning streak.
  • Region 6 on the girls' side became more interesting when GAC defeated the No. 1-ranked Wesleyan Lady Wolves 53-43 on Wednesday night. The Lady Wolves were coming off a 60-5 victory against Hapeville Charter, then the No. 5 ranked Lady Spartans upset them and ended Wesleyan's 57-game region winning streak.

Class A

  • No. 2 Aquinas boys at AA Josey: Aquinas senior Ahmed Hill, who signed with Marquette, will go up against Josey junior Darius Williams. Both have averaged more than 30 points per game. Earlier this season, Williams scored 44 points in a loss to Evans.
  • No. 4 St. Francis boys at No. 5 North Cobb Christian: It is the regular-season finale for both teams, neither of which has a shot at the region championship, which belongs to No. 1 Whitefield Academy. But the winner will claim significant points in the Class A power ratings, where North Cobb Christian sits at No. 2 and St. Francis at No. 7. The floor will be filled with Division I-caliber players. St. Francis is led by sophomore guard Kobi Jordan-Simmons, junior guard Malik Beasley, and junior center Josh Coleman, while North Cobb Christian is paced by senior guards Hunter Ware and Stephon Jelks and junior center Trey Kalina.