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Region rivals ready to battle it out for supremacy
Area teams begin region tournaments today
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Region 7-AAA tournament

Today’s games

at East Hall

Flowery Branch boys vs. Lumpkin County, 5 p.m.

Pickens boys vs. Lambert, 6:30 p.m.

East Hall boys vs. Gilmer, 8 p.m.

at Creekview

White County boys vs. West Hall, 5 p.m.

Johnson boys vs. Chestatee, 6:30 p.m.

Creekview boys vs. West Forsyth, 8 p.m.
For complete list of all region tournament games, see Page 2B

When the brackets for the Region 7-AAA basketball tournament were released Tuesday, East Hall girls coach Joey Rider noticed right away that there wasn’t going to be an easy road for his team, or any other program for that matter. The Lady Vikings (19-5) enter as a No. 1 seed and could be faced with a playoff-qualifier game against the Lanierland champion and No. 4 seed North Hall (15-9), should the Lady Trojans knock off fifth-seed Lambert in Thursday’s first round at Creekview.

“The biggest thing I noticed is that there are so many good games all the way around,” Rider said. “I really feel like there are 8-10 teams that could win it all (in the region).

“It’s going to be a tough road to make it into the semifinals and the finals.”Of course, holding that No. 1 seed does come with three distinct advantages: two-days more preparation time before the first game, playing at home in the all-important state qualifier game, and only one win instead of two needed to make it into the Class AAA state field.

On the other side, Chestatee’s girls (20-4) also hold a No. 1 seed and face the Flowery Branch (13-9)/Gilmer (9-16) winner to qualify for the playoffs. Lady War Eagles coach Web Daniel says that playing only two games in the past 12 days, plus a first-round bye and two more days off puts his team at a bit of a disadvantage.

“That’s tough to deal with,” Daniel said. “We’re just trying to stay in game mode.”

For the boys, North Hall (21-4) and Gainesville (14-9) both hold the No. 1 seeds. The Trojans have five straight wins heading into the region tournament, and the Red Elephants won seven straight before losing the regular season finale against Lambert.

“You would rather keep playing to stay sharp but we’ll be practicing hard and be ready when Friday comes around,” said North Hall coach Benjie Wood after Tuesday’s win against Chestatee. “It doesn’t matter who we play because we know it will be a good team.”

The Trojans will have to beat the Flowery Branch (13-11)/Lumpkin County (10-12) winner to make it to the state playoffs.
Gainesville faces the White County (11-12)/West Hall (15-10) winner in the second round.

In Region 8-AA, Riverside Military coach Rico Zackery downright hates the thought of carrying the No. 1 seed in the tournament. He says it puts a target on their backs, and could lead to complacency from his Eagles program.

Riverside opens with the Walnut Grove/Banks County winner in the second round at 8:30 p.m. Friday at Dawson County. Dawson County’s and Jefferson’s boys also get a first-round bye in the 8-AA tournament.

“I think the games are going to be very close in our region tournament,” Zackery said. “Our side is really close.”

In Region 6-AA, the No. 2 seeded Buford girls (22-3) face No. 7 Avondale in the opening round at 7 p.m. Friday at Greater
Atlanta Christian. The fifth-seeded Buford boys (9-15) face No. 4 seed Westminster (12-12) at 5:30 Thursday at GAC.

In Region 8-A, the region tournament brackets are still to be determined pending the results of the final regular season games.
Regional events