In just six days, the NFL season will conclude with the biggest game of the year and the crowning of a new champion in Super Bowl XLIII. But Sunday’s title tilt between the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers is not the only critical game that will be played this week, especially locally.
In boys basketball, Region 7B-AAA is as competitive as it has been in any year, with six teams vying for the subregion title, and with all six fully capable of winning the region.
For the girls, a showdown between two heavy hitters takes place Saturday, as Class AA’s No. 2-ranked Buford Lady Wolves travel to Norcross to take on their formal region rivals and three-time defending state champion Wesleyan.
In Class A, Lakeview Academy travels to Athens to take on Athens Christian on Friday, hoping to avenge the Lions’ only region loss of the year.
Get on your mark
The winter sports season is in full swing, but that doesn’t mean that the athletes involved in spring sports are sitting idly by. Today is the first day of boys track practice, and while some track stars are still involved with basketball and wrestling, the rest of them will be out on the track preparing for the rigourous season ahead.
Gainesville, Johnson, West Hall, East Hall, Flowery Branch and West Forsyth make up Region 7B-AAA, and all six are in a logjam in the standings. Tuesday’s games could bring forth a frontrunner. Currently Gainesville and Flowery Branch both sport 3-1 subregion records, and the Red Elephants face off with Johnson (2-2) tonight in Oakwood. East Hall (1-3) plays host to the suddenly human Spartans (1-3), who started the year 11-0 but have lost three of their last four. The Falcons and Wolverines (2-2) also meet up tonight.
Reaching for revenge
Both Lakeview Academy and Gainesville have lost only once in their respective regions, and both schools have a chance to avenge those losses Friday. Gainesville plays host to Flowery Branch, which beat the Red Elephants on a last second shot in the subregion opener. The game marks the second time that Gainesville coach Todd Cottrell will be facing his former team, and with the loss in Flowery Branch in the back of their minds, the Red Elephants will be playing at home with something to prove.
The Lakeview boys weren’t able to contain Athens Christian’s Raymond Higgs in an 82-66 loss on Dec. 19. Higgs, a 6-foot-3 world-class high jumper, scored 32 points in that game. The two teams stand first and second in the standings, and this game could be a preview of the Region 8-A title game.
Battle of the Lady Wolves
After battling for years in Class AA, Buford and Wesleyan are now in separate classifications — Wesleyan dropped to Class A this year — but still have a heated rivalry. Wesleyan currently holds a 12-game winning streak over Buford, and for the past three years, Buford has had to watch their rivals celebrate with a state championship. This game also features two of the best seniors in the state in Wesleyan guard and University of Georgia commit Anne-Marie Armstrong and Buford’s Blanche Alverson, who has verbally committed to Auburn. Next year those two will square off in the SEC, but Saturday they get one last time to go head-to-head in high school.
Put the beverages on ice, stock up on the chips and dip and get ready for the biggest football game of the year, a Super Bowl showdown between the surprising Arizona Cardinals and the five-time champion Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s the NFL’s top-ranked defense (Pittsburgh) against the league’s most prolific offense (Arizona). While Pittsburgh enters the game as seven-point favorites, recent history proves that anything can happen in the Super Bowl. This game may be closer than many people think, but if it does turn into a blowout at least there’s the $3 million commercials to keep viewers interested.