When: Games begin at 4 p.m.
Where: North Hall High
Who: Chestatee girls vs. West Hall; Chesatee boys vs. Flowery Branch; Johnson girls vs. Lakeview; Gainesville boys vs. East Hall
Parity is a popular word in the sports world, but an even more popular state of being.
Sports fans make it such because they crave competition, not domination.
Since its inception 49 years ago, parity has had no place on the boys’ side of the Lanierland Tournament.
No team other than Gainesville or East Hall has hoisted the championship trophy since North Hall won it in 1993. In fact, the Trojans’ five wins and Johnson’s three are the only eight times a team other than Gainesville or East Hall has won.
If that isn’t proof enough, the Vikings alone have won the last six titles and 13 of the last 14.
While both East Hall and Gainesville should be, and have been, commended for sustaining a level of play that has allowed for such a stranglehold on the competition, foregone conclusions don’t pique the interest as much as suspense.
Since the Lanierland Tournament went to eight teams a few years ago, predictability was the name of the game: Gainesville and East Hall would at least be in the semifinals.
No suspense, little parity.
Last Friday night in the first round of Lanierland that all changed.
First, North Hall beat East Hall by 14. Second, West Hall beat Gainesville by seven.
Yes Virginia, there is parity at Lanierland.
And it was exemplified even moreso the following night when Region 8-A Lakeview beat defending Region 7-AAA champion Flowery Branch by 16 points.
This year’s semifinals include West Hall, North Hall, Lakeview and Johnson and the only foregone conclusion is that there will be a different champion crowned.
Ironically, Gainesville and East Hall now play each other in the final game of the consolation round at 8:30 tonight.
The girls side has, despite East Hall winning 15 championships, been incredibly competitive since Lanierland began.
This year has been no different so far as the four girls games played in the first round were decided by an average of 11 points.
Overall, the girls’ Lanierland titles have been more evenly spread out with Gainesville and Johnson winning eight titles and North Hall 10.
While the semifinals, which include North Hall, East Hall, Flowery Branch and Gainesville, will once again mirror years’ past in competitiveness, one of the best matchups will take place at 4 p.m. today in the consolation round when Chestatee plays West Hall.
The two teams boast two of the top post players in North Georgia in Jayla Moon and Peyton Robertson. Combine that the play of those two with the solid perimeter shooting and a good game should be had.