Region 4 has made its claim as the toughest girls basketball region in Class AAAAAA with four teams – No. 1 Lovejoy, No. 6 Forest Park, No. 9 Tucker and No. 10 Stephenson – ranked in the top 10 and within one game of each other in the standings.
The teams will continue to sort out the pecking order when Lovejoy travels to Forest Park for the biggest game on the AAAAAA schedule Friday night.
Lovejoy (16-1, 7-1) beat Forest Park (13-2, 5-1) 60-48 in the teams’ first meeting on Dec. 1 and is tied for first place with Stephenson (11-5, 7-1), which beat Lovejoy 56-53 on Dec. 16.
Stephenson and Tucker (12-5, 6-2) will try to keep pace in the region race when they take on M.L. King and Mundy’s Mill, respectively, Friday night.
The Stephenson boys team will also have a lot on the line Saturday when it hosts ninth-ranked Jonesboro in a battle for first place. Jonesboro won the first meeting 60-42 last and leads the Jaguars by one game.
Here are some of the other top games involving Class AAAAAA teams this weekend:
*Buford at Harrison (Saturday): Class AAAAA No. 1 Buford gets its second shot at one of the top teams in AAAAAA after losing to top-ranked Lovejoy 55-49 on Jan. 2. Second-ranked Harrison is 14-3, with two losses against top-five teams in AAAAAAA and the other coming against the No. 6 team in Kentucky (MaxPreps). Harrison plays at Creekview on Friday in a big Region 6 game.
*Winder-Barrow at Music City Classic (Saturday/Monday): The third-ranked Bulldoggs will join boys teams from Wheeler and Pace Academy as Georgia’s representatives in the holiday weekend event in Nashville. Winder-Barrow (12-3) will face Male (the No. 5 team in Kentucky, according to MaxPreps) at 8:30 p.m. Saturday and Riverdale (No. 1 in Tennessee) at noon on Monday.
*Cambridge at Pope (Friday): Third-ranked Cambridge has a two-game lead over Pope in the Region 7 standings, and the Grizzlies can grab total control of the region race by completing the season sweep of the Greyhounds. Since a loss to Class AAAAAAA Peachtree Ridge in mid-November, Cambridge has won 14 consecutive games, including 73-62 against Pope on Dec. 1.
*Bradwell Institute at Richmond Hill (Friday): Unranked Richmond Hill (No. 19 according to MaxPreps) missed a chance to take the lead in Region 2 when it lost to second-ranked Brunswick 58-57 Tuesday on a last-second shot by Marcus Scott, who scored 24 points. If the Wildcats can bounce back and beat No. 8 Bradwell Institute, they will have sole possession of second place in the region.
*Hughes at Tri-Cities (Friday): Top-ranked Hughes, playing without leading scorer Landers Nolley, suffered its first Region 5 loss Tuesday when it was upset by Alexander. Now it must recover quickly when it meets No. 7 Tri-Cities. A victory by Tri-Cities combined with an Alexander win over Mays would create a three-way tie for first place in one of the state’s most competitive regions.