Here’s a region-by-region look at boys basketball in the high class.
First, the short version:
*No. 2 Norcross (18-3, 8-1) plays at No. 6 Meadowcreek (15-4, 7-1) on Friday in Region 7.
*No. 3 Newton (18-3, 5-1) edged No. 7 Grayson (16-4, 5-2) by two on Tuesday in Region 8. Grayson played without its leading scorer, but Newton is playing awfully well right now.
*West Forsyth, a team that went 5-24 last season, has won eight straight games and leads Region 5.
*Region 6 is knotted with three teams tied for first with two losses while 10th-ranked Collins Hill was tagged with a third region loss Tuesday. That came after the GHSA forced a replay of the final second of a game the Eagles thought they’d won on Saturday.
For more, here you go …
Region 1 – Tift County, the defending champion but unranked, is 15-6 overall, 4-0 in region play. The Blue Devils clinch the No. 1 seed for the region tournament with a win against Colquitt County (12-6, 2-2) on Friday. Under new coach Chris Wade, Tift has a good team again, but it’s not shown to be state-title worthy. A loss at unranked Lee County last week was an example of that.
Region 2 – This is a two-team race between No. 3 Pebblebrook (19-2, 7-0) and No. 9 Wheeler (14-7, 6-1). They will meet again at Pebblebrook on Feb. 2. Pebblebrook won at Wheeler 71-68 on Dec. 16. Wheeler beat Westlake 54-49 on Tuesday. Westlake is pretty good, but down from its typical state-contender status.
Region 3 – No. 1 McEachern (17-2, 6-0) – still ranked in the top 12 of a couple of national polls - defeated Hillgrove 102-71 in a makeup game Wednesday. Sophomore point guard Sharife Cooper had a triple double, the first of his career, with 26 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds and five steals. McEachern plays second-place North Cobb (12-7, 4-1) on Saturday. North Cobb has won six straight games. McEachern beat North Cobb by 12 on Dec. 15.
Region 4 – Unranked Etowah (17-2, 5-1) has some good wins (No. 4 Peachtree Ridge in AAAAAAA and No. 4 Lithonia and No. 6 Southwest DeKalb in AAAAA) and would be ranked except for a home loss Jan. 12 to mediocre Walton (10-9, 3-2). Etowah gets another crack at the Raiders in the season finale Feb. 2. Meanwhile, Etowah faces a decent test on Saturday against county rival Woodstock (11-9, 3-2).
Region 5 – After a 5-9 start, West Forsyth (13-9, 5-1) is now the region’s hottest team as the Wolverines have won eight straight games. With an 85-81 victory Tuesday, West completed a season sweep of Lambert (16-5, 5-2) to gain a virtual share of first place with Milton (11-9, 5-1), the defending region tournament champion. Milton plays at Lambert on Friday. West and Milton meet next Wednesday, perhaps with the tournament’s No. 1 seed on the line. West Forsyth was 5-24 last season and has never won a state-playoff game. The turnaround has come under coach Fredrick Hurt, in his second season. Hurt led Alpharetta to the semifinals in 2012.
Region 6 – Lots of news to report in the most suspenseful region race in the high class. Tenth-ranked Collins Hill (18-3, 6-3) is now in fourth place in large part to its stunning loss to Discovery (10-12, 3-6). Grayson thought it had won the game, only to get news that the GHSA upheld Discovery’s protest of the game-winning free throws. Officials had misapplied a rule. So the final second of the game was replayed Tuesday, and Discovery held on for a 45-44 win. Collins Hill now travels to No. 5 Mountain View (17-3, 7-2) on Friday. Mountain View is coming off a critical 56-48 win over No. 8 Peachtree Ridge (16-4, 6-2) and must play Peachtree Ridge again on Saturday. So that’s a crucial gantlet of Collins Hill-Peachtree Ridge this weekend for Mountain View. And then there’s unranked Duluth (15-6, 6-2). The Falcons’ 63-61 double-overtime win over Mountain View last week put them in sudden contention under coach Cabral Huff, in his second season. Huff was the head coach of St. Francis’ 2014 Class A private-school championship team. Remember that this is the region in which a No. 6 seed (Mountain View) won the region tournament a year ago.
Region 7 – Game of the weekend in the high class takes place Friday, when No. 2 Norcross (18-3, 8-1) travels to No. 6 Meadowcreek (15-4, 7-1). Norcross won the first meeting between the two 65-52 on Dec. 12. Meadowcreek hasn’t lost a game in regulation since then as losses to Paul VI of Virginia and Morgan County were in overtime. Norcross on Tuesday avenged its only region loss with a 68-53 win against Lakeside. Norcross and Meadowcreek have separated themselves in the region, although Berkmar (14-8, 6-3) is a solid spoiler candidate.
Region 8 – No. 3 Newton (18-3, 5-1) scored a 71-69 victory over No. 7 Grayson (16-4, 5-2) on Tuesday to take the region lead. Newton (18-3, 5-1). The difference was free-throw shooting, as the Gwinnett Daily Post's account pointed out. Newton made 15 of 16 while Grayson was 14-of-26. Newton led by as many as 13 in the fourth quarter and had to hold on. Grayson’s leading scorer, Travis Anderson, didn’t play because of a finger injury. Ashton Hagans, the five-star point guard who is committed to Georgia, had 19 points, five assists and five rebounds.