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Taylor: More than football to be affected by new region alignments
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It’s not all that different from the recent spate of conference realignment in college.

Whether at the high school or college level, football leads the way.

But the recent region realignment by the Georgia High School Association affects many of the other sports as well, including one of the strongest sports, historically, in Hall County: Basketball.

Chestatee athletic director Chip Underwood, whose school rose from Class AAA, and will now play in Region 8-AAAA, understands why football dominated the discussion.

“Naturally it’s going to happen that way because football is the one that happens first, so it’s the first schedule to be made and has the biggest gates,” Underwood said. “You have a little more time to look at basketball, baseball.”

It’s good that basketball coaches have more time, because many have a lot to consider when it comes to structuring their new regions.

Each region will have a chance to vote on just how the schedule looks — whether teams will play every other team in the region once, two subregion games each and then crossover games, or even just a subregion-only schedule, which would leave a large amount of games still to schedule.

For instance, Gainesville would only have six games already scheduled if playing only two games against each other subregion team.

Of course, right now the coaches are busy getting the most out of their teams on the court.

East Hall girls basketball coach Joey Rider, for one, is ready for whatever scenario presents itself.

“It doesn’t bother me,” the coach said Friday night after defeating future region opponent North Hall to improve to 3-0. “Whatever happens, we’ll play somebody.”

What the new Region 7-AAA decides to do for the basketball schedule could have a big impact on what looks to be a loaded region.

Rider and the Lady Vikings will be in subregion A, and North Hall in subregion B. Both teams were ranked in the top 10 entering Friday’s game, East Hall in Class AA and North Hall in Class AAA.

West Hall, Buford and Banks County round out subregion A; White County, Dawson County and Fannin County join North Hall in subregion B.

The three-time Class AA defending state champion Lady Wolves will immediately be a favorite to win the new region. Buford is currently the No. 1 team in Class AA.

The region in terms of boys basketball looks to be just as tough, with two current top-10 teams in AA — East Hall and Buford — joining the same subregion. North Hall, a team that just knocked off the Vikings on Friday night, will be on the other side.

The Wolves were the Class AA state runner-ups last season and the Vikings reached the Elite Eight.

It’s true that many of the teams will have to reload for next season after the departure of a number of talented senior classes, but it is also true that a number of the top basketball programs in the state will be battling it out for the next two seasons in Region 7-AAA.

There is more to look forward to in local basketball when the new regions come into play next season.

In Class AAAAA, new Gainesville girls coach Brenda Hill-Gilmore will be competing against former team Winder-Barrow in Region 8-AAAAA, subregion A. Hill-Gilmore went 45-51 in four seasons at the helm of the Bulldoggs.

Now she takes a program rich with history to a region with another strong program in Clarke Central.

The Lady Gladiators, which will be in subregion B, reached the Elite Eight last season and are currently ranked in the top 10 in Class AAAA.

It isn’t all change for local teams.

In Class A, the No. 7 Towns County girls and the surprising Lakeview boys (4-2) will be right back in the same region (8-A).

But for many of the other teams, the way the regions are aligned could have a big effect on how local teams fare in the upcoming seasons.

At least coaches can fall back on the knowledge that, unlike football, in most basketball regions, every team has a shot to make state if it can succeed in the region tournament.

First the local teams need to play toward the tournaments for their current regions. Like Rider at East Hall, the local basketball coaches are a little too busy to worry about reclassification right now.

So the football schedules can take center stage — the local basketball teams still have a lot of season ahead.