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Prep basketball: 7-AAA's teams tightly packed heading into final stretch
Chestatee High’s Drew Cain (10) and Parker Smith, left, squeeze East Hall’s Tracey Gardner (40) out of a rebound during the first half of last Thursday night’s game at the East Hall High gymnasium. - photo by Scott Rogers | The Times

Parity in sports — is it a product of a down year for the usually dominant teams or a result of the other teams catching up in regards to talent?

Whatever the reason, the equality of the teams in Region 7-AAA this year has made for an unpredictable season and, with each subregion having more than one team in contention for a No. 1 seed heading into the region tournament, it could make for a competitive and interesting final two weeks of the regular season.

In recent years at this point in the season certain teams had already emerged from the pack and sealed their fate where subregion standings, region standings and tournament seedings were concerned.

Take for instance subregion 7A-AAA which houses North Hall, East Hall, Chestatee, White County, Gilmer and Lumpkin County.

It’s no secret that the East Hall boys have been a perennial powerhouse and have often rolled into the region tournament with a virtual free pass to the state playoffs.

Not the case this year.

The dominant team so far has been North Hall, which comes into the home stretch of the regular season with an undefeated subregion record and the No. 1 spot in the standings.

This week will either make or break the Trojans (13-4, 6-0) as they play Chestatee — the current No. 3 seed and a team they beat by only eight points at home Jan. 11 — at Chestatee and East Hall at home.

East Hall (15-5, 5-1), as it stands right now, holds the No. 2 spot in the subregion standings with one subregion loss coming at the hands of North Hall, a two-point loss at home.

Over the next two weeks East Hall will play North Hall and Chestatee (16-5, 4-2), both games at the opponent’s gym and, if North Hall beats Chestatee at Chestatee tonight, the subregion champion could be determined by the North Hall-East Hall game Friday.

If Chestatee wins out, which would mean wins against both the Trojans and Vikings, and North Hall loses to East Hall on Friday night and subregion 7A-AAA will have a three-way tie for the No. 1 spot in the standings.

See what’s meant by parity?

The usual Gainesville-dominated subregion 7B-AAA is led this year by Flowery Branch (17-3, 6-0), which is currently undefeated in subregion play and barring a catastrophe of some sort, should stay that way.

The parity in this particular subregion comes in the three, four and five spots in the standings.

Johnson (9-8, 3-2), Gainesville (11-9, 3-2) and West Hall (9-9, 2-3) will battle it out for the No. 2 spot in the subregion standings over the course of the next two weeks with each team playing the other one more time.

It should be noted here that in the three teams’ previous meetings this season, Gainesville beat Johnson by three and lost to West Hall by one, and Johnson beat West Hall by four.

The equality of teams in Region 7-AAA doesn’t stop with the boys and, in fact, the most intriguing battle for subregion supremacy may take place in subregion 7A-AAA on the girls side.

Four teams will spend the final two weeks duking it out for the top spot in the standings — Gilmer (17-4, 5-2), North Hall (14-6, 4-2), Chestatee (9-11, 4-2) and East Hall (13-5, 4-2).

Before last week, the Lady Bobcats were looking like the dominant team with an undefeated subregion record.

However, back-to-back losses to subregion opponents North Hall, on Tuesday, and East Hall, on Friday, brought Gilmer down off the mountain.

If the Lady Bobcats can win out, which will be hard with the Lady Trojans staring them in the face in the last game of the season, they’ll take the subregion’s top spot.

The Lady Vikings, however, look as though they have the momentum going into the last two weeks, despite a loss to White County on Jan. 18.

East Hall will have to get past North Hall at North Hall, a White County team it lost to by four, and Chestatee at Chestatee over the course of the next two weeks to stay in contention for the top spot.

The Lady Trojans, along with their subregion counterparts, has a tough roe to how to stay atop the standings.

North Hall’s fight for the top spot begins tonight when they play Chestatee at Chestatee and ends with Gilmer in Ellijay.

A game against East Hall at home will take place Friday.

Much like their male counterparts, the ladies in subregion 7B-AAA have one dominant team with the parity becoming visible with the two through four spots.

Again, like the boys side of the subregion, the four teams will play each other one more time over the course of the next two weeks.

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