It’s finally here.
As the high school basketball season winds its way to a close, we’ve reached the pinnacle of each state tournament bracket: the Final Four. Games for each class will be played on March 2, and with the semifinal matchups quickly approaching, teams from all around Georgia are preparing for their shot at making a state title game.
It’s crunch time for the players and coaches who survived this week’s quarterfinal games, as they get ready to put everything on the line this weekend. But for prospective spectators, it’s time to get informed and up to date on the goings on of local basketball teams leading up to the semifinal action.
Here are five things to know about state semifinals in advance of the weekend’s opening tips.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
In an effort to make sure each team is on even footing, Final Four games for each GHSA class will be held on neutral courts. Semifinal competition will be held at a variety of sites around Georgia.
Below are the locations of Final Four games for each class.
- A-Public: Valdosta State University
- A-Private: University of North Georgia, Dahlonega
- 2A: Georgia College and State, Milledgeville
- 3A: Georgia Southern University-Savannah
- 4A: Fort Valley State University
- 5A: Columbus State University
- 6A: University of West Georgia, Carrollton
- 7A: Buford City Arena
HALL COUNTY’S LAST SQUAD
With Gainesville’s loss to Tucker on Wednesday, the Flowery Branch girls team — 4A’s No. 3 team according to ScoreAtl.com — became the lone group still alive in its state tournament among the nine Hall County schools. Riverside Military Academy and the Lakeview Academy girls (along with Gainesville) made it as far as quarterfinals, but all three squads were eliminated this week.
The Lady Falcons took down Henry County — the No. 2 team in 4A — on Tuesday. Flowery Branch is one of the hottest teams in the state at any classification, having won 20 straight games, with all but two of those victories coming by double-digit margins.
FLOWERY BRANCH FACES TOUGH ROAD TO FINALS
Speaking of those Lady Falcons, things are going to get harder before they get easier. While it stands to reason that every semifinal matchup will be a heated one, Flowery Branch has about as hard a path to the championship game as anyone in the state.
Although the Lady Falcons entered the postseason as the state’s No. 3 team, they were forced to play No. 2 Henry County in the quarterfinals and will square off with No. 1 Carver-Columbus in this Saturday’s semifinal contest.
Flowery Branch’s matchup against the undefeated Lady Tigers could very well decide who will claim the 4A girls title.
BUFORD SEEING DOUBLE
It’s no surprise that both Buford’s boys and girls teams have survived this far into the playoffs. It’s a bit more unexpected that both will be meeting Southwest DeKalb in their semifinal bouts.
The Wolves and the Lady Wolves squads will both be favored to win their matchups, as each was in the top spot of ScoreAtl.com’s postseason rankings, but wins are far from guaranteed. Southwest DeKalb’s boys and girls teams each fall into the top five, and should pose a legitimate challenge to the Buford teams that have combined to drop only four games all season.
DAWSON COUNTY ON THE GO
The honor of longest road trip for an area team traveling to semifinals this weekend falls to a Dawson County squad that will have to go all the way to Savannah to take on Hart County. The third-ranked Tigers have won 10 straight, and have lost only one game since the start of 2019.
They will go toe to toe with a Hart County team that has already upset a top six opponent in these playoffs when it took down Pace Academy on the road in the round of 16.