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This week's focus is on region, state tournaments
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End-of-season tournaments highlight this week’s action in local sports, as basketball teams begin region tournaments and wrestlers take to the Gwinnett Arena for the state meet.

The basketball tournaments were supposed to begin today for several regions, but due to cancellations Friday, were postponed until later this week.

Instead of the tournaments tipping off, today will feature the finale of the regular season with Johnson playing host to Lambert, Chestatee playing host to North Hall, East Hall playing host to West Hall, Buford visiting Lovett and Flowery Branch visiting West Forsyth. These games could be pushed back another day if weather once again cancels today’s events.

What that would do to the proposed Wednesday start of the region tournaments is still to be determined.

While area basketball teams are still a few weeks away from the conclusion of the season, local wrestlers will take to the mat for the final time this year during the state championships this weekend at the Gwinnett Arena in Duluth.

Initially, these wrestlers were supposed to take part in sectionals Friday and Saturday, but weather postponed those events until today, and then cancelled them all together once snow appeared in the forecast for Sunday night.

One wrestler that won’t mind the change is Flowery Branch’s Danny Bell, who has a chance to become Hall County’s all-time winningest wrestler this weekend. Bell (112 pounds) is a four-time Hall County champion, three-time Area 7-AAA champion and is in the running for his second straight state title. With his 208 career wins, Bell needs six wins to pass West Hall’s Colby Yates (213 in 2008) for most wins in Hall County history.

“Danny is dedicated and a hard worker,” Falcons coach Shane Lancaster said. “He never questions what the coaches say or ask of him.”

Lumpkin County is sending six wrestlers to the state meet, including area champions Jake McClure (189) and Travis Burton (215). White County senior Tyler Hamilton, who won the area in the heavyweight division is leading a group of five state qualifiers. In Class AA, Jefferson managed to qualify all 14 wrestlers for the state tournament.

Play ball

Basketball and wrestling season may be coming to a close, but for area baseball fans, this is the week you’ve all been waiting for.

Pitchers and catchers for the Atlanta Braves report to Spring Training on Thursday, meaning that the start of the 2010 baseball season is almost here. The Braves welcome a few new pitchers to Spring Training this year in Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito, but all eyes will be on Tim Hudson, who the Braves re-signed despite coming off a season filled with arm problems. Hudson’s signing allowed the Braves to trade starter Javier Vazquez to the New York Yankees for outfielder Melky Cabrera and a pair of pitching prospects.

Braves fans can get their first look at Cabrera, as well as the rest of the position players when Spring Training officially opens Feb. 23 in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

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