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This week: HS football state championships, Lanierland coming up
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HS football state finals

Friday

Class A private: Prince Avenue Christian vs. Eagle’s Landing Christian, 2:30 p.m.

Class AAA: Buford vs. St. Pius X, 5:30 p.m.

Class AAAAA: Gainesville vs. Ware County, 8:30 p.m.

Saturday

Class A public: Dooly County vs. ECI, 11:30 a.m.

Class AA: Jefferson vs. Calhoun, 2:30 p.m.

Class AAAA: Ridgeland vs. Sandy Creek, 5:30 p.m.

Class AAAAAA: Norcross vs. Lovejoy, 8:30 p.m.

Tickets are $18 on presale through the schools and $20 at the Georgia Dome.

Area high school sports fans look to be busy this week.

On Friday, Gainesville plays in the Georgia High School Association Class AAAAA state championship game at 8:30 p.m. in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta — following Buford’s sixth consecutive Georgia Dome appearance at 5:30 p.m. in the Class AAA final — and at 10 a.m. Saturday, the annual Lanierland basketball tournament begins at Gainesville High.

Not to be outdone, the Dragons will be in Atlanta at 2:30 p.m. Saturday for the Class AA state football title game.

Gainesville (11-3) is back in the state championship game for the first time since 2009, when the Red Elephants fell to Peach County 13-12 after coming up short on a two-point conversion to win the game.

Gainesville is making its seventh trip overall to the state finals, according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association, but is still looking for its first state title, as is finals opponent Ware County (13-1), which is making its third trip overall. The Red Elephants reached the finals after a fourth consecutive double-digit victory, 28-14 over Whitewater, while the Gators slipped by top-ranked Northside-Warner Robins 24-17 in overtime in the semifinals.

Buford (11-3) is making its sixth consecutive state final appearance — first in AAA — after a 21-10 win against Cartersville in the semifinals. The Wolves take on St. Pius X (12-2) which ended North Hall’s run 31-6 in the semifinals.

Jefferson (13-1) might have the toughest task of the three area teams with a finals matchup against defending Class AA state champs Calhoun (14-0). Of course, the Dragons look to be a touch matchup for the Yellow Jackets as well, having run past Greater Atlanta Christian 42-14 in the semifinals. Calhoun held off Lamar 21-14 to return to the Georgia Dome.

HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: The 53rd annual Lanierland basketball tournament, featuring nearly all of the Hall County schools, tips off Saturday at 10 a.m. at Gainesville High when the No. 4-seed Lady Red Elephants play No. 5 Flowery Branch.

It’s the first of eight Round 1 games, each played one after the other, in a tournament that ends a week later at North Hall High.

Following the tournament opener, the No. 4 North Hall boys play No. 5 Lakeview at 11:30 a.m.; No. 3 Chestatee girls play No. 6 West Hall at 1 p.m.; No. 3 Flowery Branch boys play No. 6 West Hall at 2:30 p.m.; No. 2 North Hall girls play No. 7 Johnson at 4 p.m., No. 2 East Hall boys play No. 7 Johnson at 5:30 p.m., No. 1 East Hall girls play No. 8 Lakeview at 7 p.m.; and No. 1 Gainesville boys play No. 8 Chestatee at 8:30 p.m. to wrap up the opening day.

The tournament resumes Dec. 20 at Gainesville High, where girls second round games and the first round of the boys consolation bracket will be played. The Red Elephants and Lady Vikings won the tournament last season, and the Lady Lions are back in the tournament after not playing the last few seasons.

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