The Allatoona boys basketball team won’t head into the postseason with the glowing record, lofty ranking or high expectations it has had the past couple of seasons, but the Buccaneers don’t figure to be an easy out in the playoffs.
Allatoona returned just one starter from the team that was the Class AAAAA runner-up in 2016, its second consecutive appearance in the state final. The unranked Buccaneers have lost a region game for the first time since 2010, and they are just 15-8 overall.
“We have graduated 10 kids in two years, so that is a lot for our upcoming young kids to replace,” Allatoona coach Markus Hood said. “Trey Doomes is our one returning starter. Trey just went over 1,000 points last Tuesday, and he is only a junior. We are leaning on him and Michael Johnson a lot.”
The good news for the Buccaneers is that they are playing their best basketball of the season at just the right time, having won eight consecutive games heading into the regular-season finale. At 13-2 in region play, a victory against Sprayberry would give them the No. 1 seed in the Region 6-AAAAAA tournament.
“If we can beat Sprayberry, I will feel really good heading into the region tournament,” Hood said. “I am just not sure that we have the firepower to compete with Jonesboro, Gainesville or South Paulding. However, we will go play anybody.”
As for those eight overall losses? All of them came against teams that were ranked in the top 10 in their classifications at the time, and half of those were by five points or less.
“We have played the toughest schedule this year by far since opening up this school,” Hood said. “We think whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and I hope that is the case with our schedule. We are still fairly young but have grown up a lot this year. We are playing really well at times but still lacking overall consistency. I think we’re starting to play our best ball of the year, and that is important at this time of the year. My hopes are that we can put together a good run for the playoffs. We have to be able to overcome our youthful mistakes.”
*Rough night for the boys: Nine of the top-10 boys teams in Class AAAAAA played on Tuesday, and five suffered losses. No. 4 Hughes lost to No. 1 South Paulding 66-64. It was the third consecutive victory by four points or less for South Paulding, which closes the regular season Thursday against No. 6 Alexander. No. 5 Alpharetta was upset 51-48 by Northview. It was the second region loss for Alpharetta and just the second region victory for Northview. No. 7 Heritage-Conyers lost 74-71 to Lakeside-Evans, which wrapped up the top seed in Region 3. No. 9 South Cobb lost to Dalton 83-70, and No. 10 Richmond Hill lost to Brunswick 71-56.
*On the girls schedule: Some of the top Class AAAAAA girls games this weekend won’t have a huge impact on the region-tournament seedings, but they should provide good final tune-ups for top-10 teams. Second-ranked Harrison, the first-place team in Region 6, will travel to Sequoyah on Friday in a rematch of their Jan. 5 game, which Harrison won 73-60. Also Friday, the top two teams in Region 4 will meet when No. 6 Lovejoy plays at No. 8 Stephenson. Lovejoy beat the Jaguars 40-37 in the teams’ first meeting on Jan. 18. Fourth-ranked Winder-Barrow will try to complete a perfect season in Region 8 when it hosts Habersham Central (Friday) and Lanier (Saturday), both of which have spent time in the top 10 this season.