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Region basketball tournaments at the mercy of Mother Nature

Winter weather expected to push games back a number of days across Northeast Georgia

POSTED: February 10, 2014 9:09 p.m.

Preparing for a region basketball tournament is hard enough for those involved without dealing with a winter storm that is expected to dump snow and ice throughout Northeast Georgia this week.

Now, everyone is scrambling to put contingency plans in place to get these games done in local regions before the Feb. 17 deadline.

With Hall County Schools cancelled today and the threat of snow and ice forecasted through Thursday, most coaches are not planning on playing their first region tournament game until as late as Friday.

That potentially moves region tournaments that were scheduled to open today back three days, but that is still at the mercy of Mother Nature.

“You’re always nervous for something like this happening,” said Johnson boys coach Jeff Steele, whose team owns the No. 2 spot in the Region 8-AAAA tournament. The Knights were scheduled to open the tournament Tuesday against No. 7 Stephens County at Lanier High in Gwinnett County.

Every region will handle catching up, if days are missed, differently.

In Region 8-AAAAA, for example, it’s possible to have teams play twice in one day.

The Georgia High School Association mandates that teams have at least four hours between games if they have to play twice in a day.

The main inequity, even with games likely postponed, is the fact that some schools will be able to make it to their gym to practice, while others will not with road conditions too bad.

On Monday, the GHSA announced that the start of the postseason has been moved back one day, giving a day off for everyone going to the playoffs, even if region tournaments don’t conclude until Feb. 17. The start basketball tournament for girls opens Feb. 19, while the boys open the playoffs Feb. 20.

However, everyone locally now is just trying to figure out how this region tournament schedule will work out. The first game is the most important since it secures a playoff spot.

“This is the time of year when you have to be ready to show up ready to play on that given day and be ready to handle the pressure,” said North Hall girls coach Kristi House, whose program earned the No. 2 spot to region and hosts a first-round game against White County in Gainesville.

The Lady Trojans (17-8, 9-5) have been led all season by the duo of sisters Sydney Cleveland (17 points, 8 rebounds per game) and Sadie Cleveland (10 ppg.).

In Region 7-AAA, the Buford boys and girls both secured the top spot after 14-0 records in league play for each.

The Dawson County boys are also hosting first-round games before the tournament shifts to Buford for both sides.

The Johnson boys have plenty of motivation in the region tournament, according to Steele, and that’s seeking revenge against Eastside. The Knights (7-1 in 8-AAAA) lost their only region contest to the Eagles, 62-57, on Jan. 24. Johnson is trying to repeat as region champions.

“We want to get back at Eastside, but at the same time aren’t going to take anyone for granted,” said Steele, whose program is led in scoring by James Hodges (19 points, 11 rebounds) and Ty Cockfield (17 ppg.). “I hope our team has a chip on their shoulder going into the region tournament. Eastside’s got a very good team, but we feel like we’re better.”

In Region 8-AAAAA, the Flowery Branch girls (13-11, 10-6) have the unique opportunity to beat Loganville for the third time this season. Led by leading scorer Breanna Locke at 10 points a game, the Lady Falcons held Loganville to a season-low 26 points in each outing this season.

“I’ve always heard that it’s hard to beat the same team three times in the same season,” said Flowery Branch coach Hazel Hall, who has led the program to four straight playoff appearances.

Also in the region, the Gainesville girls (19-6, 12-4) are poised to hopefully secure a playoff berth with the No. 3 seed and first-round game against No. 6 Winder-Barrow in Loganville. The Lady Red Elephants lost their final two in the region season, and lost a coin flip with Clarke Central for the second seed.

East Hall’s boys have one of the county’s leading players this season with junior Kyvon Davenport, who is averaging 19 points, 15 rebounds and three blocked shots a game. The third-seeded Vikings (14-11, 10-4) in Region 7-AAA, winner’s of back-to-back region games at the end of the regular season, open tournament play against West Hall.


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