Championship previews

On Wednesday, the boys and girls Class AA championship games will be played at the Macon Centreplex, with the girls tipping off at 2 p.m. and the boys scheduled for 4 p.m.

Below we will breakdown those games but first, here are some relevant links:

Boys

Vidalia Indians (23-8; No. 3 seed, Region 2) vs. No. 3 Thomasville Bulldogs (27-3; No. 1, Region 1)

The Indians, on the other hand, have zero titles. They have, however, been treading toward at title in recent years, reaching the semifinals in four of the last six seasons. They finally broke through to the championship game, which they reached just once before in 1982, when they played in the AA title game, according to GHSBP.com. They lost that game to Crawford County.

This season’s Indians are playing the role of bracket busters, having knocked off Region 1’s No. 2 seed Early County (60-49), No. 8 Washington County — Region 3’s top seed — (52-46), Jordan (84-49) and top-ranked Laney, the top seed from Region 4, 49-45.

The Indians are led by senior guard Tahj Jones (19.9 points, 2.0 steals) and junior guard Anthony Jones (9.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.0 steals).

The Bulldogs are in a similar boat with Vidalia in that they’ve been in the mix for a title recently but have never won it. They reached the quarters consecutive years from 2015-16, including a 28-2 record in ‘16. They’ve been a fixture in the rankings all season and, as a No. 1 seed, appear to have finally realized their potential after a disappointing second-round exit from the tournament last year.

They’ve had a tough road to the title game, facing a ranked Swainsboro team in the opening round, followed by No. 4 Dublin in the second round. After a breather against unranked Spencer — they won 84-45 — they beat a Glenn Hills team ranked No. 1 most of the season by a score of 74-57.

The Bulldogs have one of the country’s top high school players in 6-foot-9 power forward Reggie Perry, who is the No. 23 player in the country according to ESPN — a five-star recruit signed to play for Mississippi State. He had a game-high 27 points in the semifinals.

No. 4 Josey Lady Eagles (27-4; No. 2, Region 4) vs. No. 1 Laney Lady Wildcats (31-0; No. 1, Region 4)

It’s only fitting that one of AA’s best rivalries determine the championship. The campuses of Josey and Laney are just two miles apart in Augusta, and the teams played four times during this season — during a holiday tournament, twice in 4-AA regular season play and in the region title game.

The Lady Wildcats are undefeated and the Lady Eagles are undefeated against everyone except Laney.

In their four losses to Laney, the closest the Lady Eagles got was in the second meeting, when they lost 68-62 at Laney on Feb. 2. Two weeks earlier, Laney won 67-60 at Josey. The other two games were double-digit Lady Wildcats wins, with Laney saving its most lopsided win over Josey for the 4-AA championship — the Lady Wildcats won 66-41.

In all likelihood, the only team that will be able to stop Laney is Laney itself. The Lady Wildcats will have to come out on Wednesday unprepared, or with injuries or sickness to a key player or players, or get in early foul trouble or just flat out play far worse than they have to date. Given that they’ve won championships in two of their last three seasons and haven’t lost a game since Nov. 21, 2016 — that’s a win streak of 61 games — laying an egg in the title game against a familiar foe seems unlikely.

The Lady Wildcats are led by the trio of senior De’sha Benjamin (22.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.7 steals, 2.5 assists, 1.9 blocks), senior Jhessyka Williams (16.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 5.0 steals, 4.0 assists, 1.2 blocks) and junior Jaiden Hamilton (15.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 3.1 steals).

For Josey to win its second title in 20 years — the Lady Eagles won AAA in 1998 for the program’s only championship in school history — it will need the Rolland twins to play the game of their lives. The juniors lead the team, with Tykedra Rollins averaging 16.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.7 steals, 1.2 blocks and 1.2 assists and Rhykeria Rollins avering 11.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.4 steals.

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