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This time for certain: High school region basketball tournaments ready to commence

After 7-days for most since last playing, everyone eager to get back on the court

POSTED: February 14, 2014 8:59 p.m.

The waiting game for region basketball tournaments to begin has finally ended, as the snow and ice that caused the delay has turned to slush.

After seven days since last playing a regular season basketball game, the bulk of Northeast Georgia programs kick off the region tournament Saturday.

It was not an ideal time for such a hiatus from the court, but everyone was in the same boat when snow started falling Tuesday and piled up to about five or six inches in most spots, making roads dangerous for travel.

Friday was the first day most basketball programs were able to get back in the gym to practice and shake off any rust since last running the floor four days earlier.

“I’m just looking forward to getting this thing started and finished next week,” said Johnson boys coach Jeff Steele, who opens the Region 8-AAAA tournament against Stephens County at 4 p.m. Saturday at Lanier High.

To accommodate the delay, the Georgia High School Association pushed back the start of the state playoffs to Feb. 21-22, allowing region tournaments until Wednesday to wrap up.

Among local regions, they had the discretion to come up with their own plans to get all the games complete.

After the first four games on Friday, Region 8-A will play the remaining eight games in the quarterfinal round Saturday at tournament host site Commerce.

Region 7-AAA has split up first-round games between Dawson County, North Hall and semifinal and championship round host Buford.

Region 8-AAAAA opted to play half of the games at Apalachee to ease the burden on host Loganville. The Region 8-AAAA boys quarterfinal games are scheduled for Saturday at Lanier High, after girls quarterfinal games were played on time in Sugar Hill on Monday.

“We’ve all been in the same boat, so it makes it easier to deal with,” said Lakeview Academy boys coach Todd Cottrell, who opens Region 8-A play against Providence Christian at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

The Lions’ coach likes that the entire tournament remained intact at one central location for the sake of fairness to all, given the wide geographic spread for the region schools.

The Chestatee girls are the only Hall County program that has secured a playoff spot after a first-round win against Monroe Area in Region 8-AAAA on Monday at Lanier.

The top-seeded Lady War Eagles face No. 4 Stephens County in the tournament semifinals at 7 p.m. Monday at Lanier.

One thing every region shared in common was devising a plan that was fair to all schools and made sure not to try and play games before roads were safe for travel, particularly the schools most adversely impacted by snow and sleet in the mountains.

Even though playing two games in one day was an option, all local regions made sure to steer clear of that scenario.

However, some time apart may be like a much-needed vacation, according to Lakeview Academy girls coach John Carrick.

“This time of year, they’re probably sick and tired of seeing me every day and a little time away may be a good thing,” said Carrick about the Lady Lions, who open against the Hebron Christian/Tallulah Falls winner at 1 p.m. Saturday in Commerce.

Region 7-AAA has the most spread-out first-round of games in order to have them all played Saturday. Instead of only two first-round hosts, a third was added in order to be ready for the semifinals Monday and finals on Tuesday at Buford.

To deal with the days off, North Hall girls coach Kristi House had players watch film to stay mentally sharp and on track.

The Lady Trojans’ coach said the only downside on 7-AAA games so spread out is that they won’t be able to see their boys program play.

North Hall’s girls are hosting White County at 5:30 p.m., which is the same time the Trojans boys are facing Dawson County in Dawsonville.

Saturday, Buford added the Dawson County girls vs. Fannin County game to start the day at 2:30 p.m. Then at 4 p.m., the Buford boys host Fannin County, and at 5:30 p.m. the Lady Wolves host West Hall.

“The coaches and principals in our region did a great job of working together and coming up with a plan that worked for everyone,” Buford athletic director Dexter Wood said.

In Region 8-AAAAA, the Gainesville boys and girls, along with the Flowery Branch girls all play quarterfinal games on Monday at Loganville.

Region semifinal games are Tuesday, followed by championship games Wednesday in Loganville.

Gainesville boys coach Benjie Wood was encouraged by a strong practice Friday after the winter-weather break, knowing it will be a battle for a playoff spot with a quarterfinal game next week against No. 4 seed Cedar Shoals.

“I’m the new kid on the block in this region,” said the first-year Red Elephants’ coach. “So when they tell me to show up to play, we have to be ready.”


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