Region tournament brackets
Seedings are all but finalized for the basketball regions and a number of local teams have the inside lane for not only a state tournament berth, but a region championship.
The Lakeview Academy boys (8-A North), East Hall boys and girls (8-AA North), Buford girls (6A-AA), North Hall boys and girls (8-AAA North), Flowery Branch girls (8-AAAA North) and Habersham Central boys (8-AAAA North) all finished first in their respective subregions and will have a No. 1 seed heading into the region tournaments.
The top seed not only means a bye (only one win needed to qualify for state), but a home game as well for most.
One more area team could finish as subregion champs. The Jefferson boys, 10-1 in the subregion, are tied with Elbert County with one game left for each team on the schedule. The Dragons travel to Jackson County on Friday, while Elbert County travels to Hart County. The two teams split the season series.
In most cases the seeding was fairly simple to decipher, but in 8-AAAA North, four teams finished 5-5 in a six-team subregion, with the Raiders in first with a 6-4 subregion record and Madison County last at 4-6.
Based on tiebreakers, which included common opponent records, Flowery Branch finished No. 3 in the subregion, just behind Apalachee.
Flowery Branch will have to play in the opening round of the tournament, hosting No. 6 seed Madison County at 7:30 tonight. The Falcons beat Madison County 66-52 in the second meeting of the season, while the Red Raiders won 64-54 earlier in the season.
The winner advances to face South No. 2 Salem in the quarterfinals at 4 p.m. Monday.
CHESTATEE BOYS FINISH .500 IN SUBREGION PLAY: The team that started 0-17 this season started winning when it mattered most.
The War Eagles (5-20, 5-5) wrapped up the No. 4 seed in 8-AAA South, along with a 5-5 record in the subregion, with a 70-59 win over White County on Tuesday.
Starting with an 81-72 win over Lumpkin County on Jan. 17 to break the long losing streak, the War Eagles went 5-3 in the home stretch (5-2 in the subregion).
The finish validated the new style of play that coach Gary Barnes installed after last season.
This season the team played fast and scored in bunches, averaging a subregion-high 66 points per game.
“We’ve been playing fast all year. We’re not big but we shoot the ball well,” Barnes said after Tuesday’s win. “Running, passing and shooting is fun, so that’s why we did it.”
Barnes admitted that the non-region schedule might have been a little too challenging, but added that the War Eagles were resilient despite the lack of success early.
“We never felt good about what we were doing,” Barnes said. “But the kids responded.They’re just resilient, good kids and they work hard.”
And once subregion play began, all those early losses amounted to nothing in the standings. Now, Barnes said, even the subregion record is meaningless as the Region 8-AAA tournament approaches.
North No. 4 Chestatee will play South No. 5 Johnson (12-13, 4-8) at 6 p.m. Monday at Monroe Area High in a matchup of opposing styles. The Knights play a much slower, half-court game and run the offense through 6-foot-6 junior forward Montrell McKenzie, a defensive and offensive force in the paint.
GAINESVILLE BOYS STILL DEEP WITHOUT FRESHMAN: The Red Elephants (16-9, 10-2 8-AAA South), the No. 2 seed out of the South, could possibly play the region tournament without one of their deep threats, Kane Smith, who is currently suspended for violating team rules.
Even without the freshman sharpshooter, Gainesville still has one of the area’s deeper teams.
“We’ve got great balance and that’s something I really like because it gives us options,” Gainesville coach Todd Cottrell said. “Our team is confident in basically anyone scoring.”
Still, Cottrell knows his team is in for a challenge when it faces either Franklin County, Lanier or Oconee County at 6 p.m. Wednesday at North Hall, because with any of the teams it will be the third meeting of the year.