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Area basketball teams eyeing state playoff spots as region tournaments begin
Teams vying for top 4 finish to advance
0209Basketball1
West Hall's Anna Mckendree (14) dribbles while being guarded by Dawson County's Katelynn Simpson (24) Friday at West Hall High School. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Tuesday’s games
REGION 8-AAAAA
at Gainesville

6 p.m. — Salem boys vs. Flowery Branch  
7:30 p.m. — Gainesville boys vs. Loganville

at Cedar Shoals

6 p.m. — Apalachee boys vs. Heritage
7:30 p.m. — Cedar Shoals boys vs. Lanier

REGION 8-A
at Athens Academy

4 p.m. — Lakeview girls vs. Athens Academy/Hebron Christian winner
5:30 p.m. — Lakeview boys vs. Athens Academy/Commerce winner
7 p.m. — Athens Christian girls vs. Towns County/Providence Christian winner

Wednesday’s games
REGION 8-AAAAA
at Flowery Branch

6 p.m. — Clarke Central girls vs. Winder-Barrow/Discovery winner
7:30 p.m. — Flowery Branch girls vs. Heritage/Salem winner

at Loganville

6 p.m. — Gainesville girls vs. Cedar Shoals
7:30 p.m. — Loganville girls vs. Lanier/Apalachee winner

REGION 8-AAAA
at North Hall

6 p.m. — White County boys vs. North Oconee
7:30 p.m. — North Hall boys vs. Johnson

at Buford

4 p.m. – Chestatee girls vs North Hall

5:30 p.m. – Monroe Area vs Stephens County

7 p.m. – White County girls vs Buford

8:30 p.m. Madison County boys vs Buford

at North Oconee

6 p.m. – Stephens County girls vs Madison County

7:30 p.m. Monroe Area girls vs North Oconee

REGION 7-AAA
at West Hall

4:30 p.m. — Banks County girls vs. Franklin County
6 p.m. — West Hall girls vs. Fannin County
7:30 p.m. — East Hall girls vs. Lumpkin County

Thursday’s games

Region 8-A

At Athens Academy

6 p.m. — Athens Christian boys vs. Towns County

Stay focused.

That is the mantra that Flowery Branch coach Courtney Newton is telling her girls as they prepare for the Region 8-AAAAA tournament.

The Lady Falcons have posted an impressive 24-1 regular season record, but Newton knows that all that gets thrown out the window come tournament time.

“That’s what makes this time of the year great,” she said. “Anything can happen.”

The only loss on Flowery Branch’s record was a tilt against Gainesville, which looks to be the Lady Falcons stiffest competition in the tournament, as well as Loganville and Winder-Barrow.

“It’s extremely important to win the region tournament,” Newton said. “You want to represent your region as the No. 1 seed in the state tournament.”

The Gainesville boys basketball team posted a perfect 15-0 region record behind the play of D’Marcus Simonds.

Gainesville’s primary hurdle, however, that honor goes to Cedar Shoals (23-2, 13-1).

Gainesville defeated Cedar Shoals 80-77 in double overtime on Dec. 8 in Athens.

REGION 7-AAA

Banks County (22-3, 11-1) has seen Zez Steeple lay down some huge point totals in games this season. Pair that with the double-double duo of Kahmal Wiley and Zac Orr and the Leopards sure look like the team to beat.

The Vikings (17-7, 10-2) aren’t just going to hand the title over to the Leopards, however, as they will be out to avenge the only two region losses on their record.

Other teams to look out for are West Hall, Lumpkin County and Dawson County. West Hall (12-12, 6-6) will look towards Tyquan Statham, Esteban Ulloa and Xzavier Reed to lead them on a deep tournament run.

“If all three play to their potential, we are tough to beat,” West Hall coach Zac Swansey said. “If two of the three play well, we are tough to beat, so we will be leaning on them heavily.”

Lumpkin County both enters the region tournament with an identical 6-6 record as West Hall, and Dawson County (13-12, 4-8) has been on a hot streak as of late.

The Lady Tigers have been strong this region the past few years and it was looking like it would be the same script this season. That was until East Hall derailed them 60-42 in Dawsonville on Jan.15, which followed a thrilling 62-55 double-overtime Dawson County victory a month earlier.

West Hall (16-8, 8-4) is no slouch either, as the Lady Spartans handed Dawson County their only other region loss just last week after beating East Hall in a double-overtime game three days earlier. West Hall is also coming into the tournament with seven straight victories, including going 6-0 in their second round of region play.

REGION 8-AAAA

The Buford Wolves (13-11, 8-0) boast an undefeated region record headed into the region tournament.

Their primary advisory will be a strong North Hall team (19-6, 7-1), whose only region loss was to Buford, 58-55, on the road.

North Hall and Buford will be on opposite ends of the bracket and will both host opening round games.

If the Buford boys are strong, the girls are even stronger. The Lady Wolves (20-4, 8-0) are ranked 19th in the state according to MaxPreps and defeated then No. 2 and No. 3 seeded North Oconee and North Hall by a combined 129-62.

REGION 8-A

The Lakeview Academy boys basketball team is as strong as ever. They are a perfect 13-0 in region play and are 21-4 overall.

The Lions have won some close games so they can be beaten if they are not careful.

No. 2-seed Hebron Christian narrowly lost 57-54 to Lakeview Academy on Friday.

The girls bracket is very top heavy with Lakeview Academy, Commerce and Athens Christian separating themselves from the herd.

The Lady Lions (19-6, 12-1) earned the top-seed, but Commerce (16-6, 11-2) and Athens Christian (16-7, 11-2) are nipping at their heels.

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