Teams don’t earn spots in the state basketball tournament until the region tournaments, but winning a regular-season region championship can make that task a lot easier because it brings a more favorable draw. Here are some of the tightest races worth watching as the regular season heads into the final week:
- 6-AAAAA: Both subregions in the state’s toughest region will go down to the wire. No. 4 Wheeler leads Division A with an 8-2 region record, followed by No. 6 Walton (7-3) and unranked Campbell (6-3). Wheeler plays at Campbell on Tuesday and at home against Walton on Feb. 12. In Division B, top-ranked Milton and No. 3 Centennial are 8-1 in the region. Milton won the first meeting 73-66 on Tuesday and the teams meet again Saturday at Centennial.
- 8-AAAAA: Meadowcreek and Central Gwinnett have pulled away from the pack. They split their two meetings this season, giving each team its only region loss. Central Gwinnett has the tougher road, with four region games remaining to Meadowcreek’s two. However, none of its final opponents has a winning record in region play.
- 2-AAAA: No. 10 Statesboro and unranked Glynn Academy, both 8-1 in the region, meet Saturday night in Brunswick for what probably will determine the regular-season champion. Statesboro beat Glynn Academy 47-38 on Dec. 11.
- 8-AAAA Division A: Top-ranked Rockdale County has wrapped up first place in Division B, so the real race is in the other subregion, where Madison County, Clarke Central and Winder-Barrow head down the stretch with three losses each in region play. Winder-Barrow went 1-1 against both teams. Clarke Central lost the first meeting against Madison County but gets a chance for revenge tonight in Danielsville.
- 1-AAAAA: This is a two-team race between Northside-Warner Robins (19-2 overall, 10-0 in the region) and Lowndes (19-3, 10-1). Northside, which defeated Lowndes 49-46 in overtime on Jan. 15, can all but wrap up the regular-season championship by beating the Vikings again tonight at home. Lowndes led 38-30 with less than four minutes to play before losing the teams’ first meeting.
- 5-AAAAA: No. 8 North Cobb and No. 9 McEachern are tied at the top with two region losses each, but both of McEachern’s came against North Cobb. Etowah is one game back in third place but has the toughest remaining schedule. The Eagles play fourth-place Marietta twice this weekend, then finish with games at North Cobb on Tuesday and at home against McEachern next Friday.
- 7-AAAAA: No. 4 Norcross controls its fate despite suffering its first region loss last week to No. 3 Mill Creek, which has two region losses. Norcross plays third-place Chattahoochee at home on Saturday, but its other four opponents are in the bottom half of the region standings. Mill Creek will be favored in the rest of its games but will need help to catch Norcross.
- 4-AAAA: Dutchtown and No. 9 Forest Park appear headed for a showdown on Tuesday at Forest Park that could determine the regular-season winner. Forest Park is undefeated in region play and its 74-55 victory against Dutchtown on Jan. 12 was the Bulldogs’ only region loss.
- 7-AAAA: Second-ranked Rome and No. 4 Northwest Whitfield are undefeated in region play and No. 8 Osborne has lost just once, 57-50, to Rome on Dec. 5. If Northwest Whitfield wins at Osborne tonight, its meeting with Rome on Tuesday likely determines the regular-season champion, although Rome still has tough games remaining against Sequoyah tonight and Dalton on Saturday.