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The Week Ahead: Tourney time and time to play ball
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As basketball teams from around the state inch closer to the end goal of winning a state title this week, another set of teams take to the field for the first time with a championship on the mind.

High school baseball season begins today with eight local games, including defending Region 8-A champion Jefferson taking the field for the first time in Class AA when it visits Riverside Military Academy, which is also new to not only Class AA, but the GHSA as well.

The Eagles begin their GHSA life against one of the toughest team’s in the state in the Dragons, who boast solid pitching and outstanding hitting. The first pitch is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

The Jefferson/Riverside game isn’t the only big matchup on opening day, as North Hall takes on Buford, Gainesville travels to Central Gwinnett and Johnson plays host to Clarke Central.

While baseball season begins, basketball season is coming to a close.

Twelve local teams begin their quest for a state title this week, with the girls state basketball tournament beginning Friday and the boys tournament starting Saturday.
Region 7-AAA teams have a tough matchup against the squads from Region 8-AAA, most notably the Chestatee Lady War Eagles, who finished as the No. 4 seed and have to travel to Franklin County to take on the top-seeded Lady Lions (25-3). The two schools haven’t played each other this year, but Franklin County beat Gainesville twice during the regular season and the Lady Red Elephants easily dispatched Chestatee during the Region 7-AAA tournament.

Speaking of Big Red, the newly crowned Region 7-AAA champs open the tournament playing host to Hart County (17-11), while East Hall’s girls also open the tournament at home, playing host to Elbert County (20-8).

On the boys’ side, top-seeded Gainesville plays host to Eastside, the No. 2 seed West Hall plays host to Hart County, the No. 3 seed Flowery Branch travels to Elbert County (22-5) and the fourth seeded North Hall Trojans visit Franklin County (23-5).

None of those teams have played each other this year, but there is history between the two regions. Gainesville split the season series with Franklin County, and Hart County eliminated East Hall from last year’s state tournament during the elite eight.

In Class AA, the top-seeded Buford Lady Wolves take their 25 game winning streak to the playoffs where they will open by playing host to Callaway. On the boys’ side, the champions of Region 8-AA, Riverside Military play host to Pepperell and the Region 8-AA runner-up Dawson County Tigers play host to Chattooga.

In Class A, the Lady Lions of Lakeview Academy avoided a sure-fire one-and-out by beating Athens Christian in the Region 8-A third-place game. The win sends Lakeview on the round to play Paideia, but the Lady Lions can take solace knowing that they do not have to play the top-ranked Wesleyan Lady Wolves in round one.

Lakeview’s boys will also take court during the Class A state playoffs, as the Lions open the tournament on the road against Region 7-A champion Greenforest Christian in Decatur.

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