Colquitt County and Mountain View advanced in the boys state playoffs for the first time Saturday, and Duluth's boys and girls won on the road, making for that school's best post-season since 1970.
Here are more facts and observations from the first round of the basketball state playoffs in Class AAAAAAA.
BOYS BRACKET (click to view)
-Colquitt County won its first state-playoff game in history with a 64-51 victory over Kennesaw Mountain. The school opened in 1978 and had been 0-5 in the first round. Predecessor school Moultrie High did win one round in 1953. Colquitt will travel to No. 5 Norcross for the second round.
-Mountain View, a 7-year-old Gwinnett County school, also won its first state-playoff game. The Bears defeated South Gwinnett 65-52. Mountain View finished sixth in the regular season of Region 6 but won the tournament and wound up ranked No. 9 entering state. (The region title wasn’t a complete shock, as Region 6 features six very good and balanced teams.) Mountain View also is coming off its first winning season and playoff berth in football, fwiw.
-Although four road teams won, there were no significant upsets. No. 10 Collins Hill did lose at home to unranked Grayson 52-50, but Grayson had been ranked much of the season too, and this game was mentioned as the best matchup of the first round in a statewide preview of the tournament on ajc.com. Both teams are 19-9. Also winning on the road were No. 6 Wheeler (over Cherokee), Duluth (over Shiloh) and Brookwood (over Milton). Wheeler and Brookwood were picked to win in this blog last week, and Duluth-Shiloh was essentially a toss-up, although it was Duluth’s first playoff win since 1999. Brookwood’s win was the Broncos’ first in the state tournament since 2004 and second since 1999, when Eddie Martin was Brookwood’s head coach.
-No region swept another. Region 2’s Top 10 teams – Pebblebrook, Westlake and Wheeler – all won comfortably, as expected, but Region 4 tournament champion Etowah beat Region 2 #4 seed Campbell 70-62. Region 5 averted a sweep against Region 7 when Lambert, the regular-season champion but No. 2 seed, beat Region 7’s third seed, Meadowcreek 72-70. Region 5’s No. 1 seed, Milton, lost to Region 7’s fourth seed Brookwood 61-58.
-On to round two: Three second-round games match ranked teams. No. 5 Norcross will travel to No. 3 Newton; No. 8 Berkmar will play at No. 7 Tift County; and No. 9 Mountain View will play at No. 6 Wheeler. There are no ranked teams left in the top quarter of the draw, where Grayson, Etowah, Hillgrove or Brookwood will make the semifinals.
GIRLS BRACKET (click to view)
-Duluth’s 66-54 road victory over No. 7 Newton was the biggest upset. Duluth trailed 35-30 late in the third quarter but went on a 12-0 run and never looked back. Duluth’s boys and girls teams both won on the road. This is the furthest that both have advanced in the same season since 1970.
-Wheeler (over Etowah) and Marietta (over Lowndes) also won on the road, though neither was shocking. Marietta is ranked No. 10, and Wheeler was projected to win on the blog last week. Wheeler’s win was historic, though. It was the Wildcats’ first state-playoff victory since 2001, ending a six-game losing streak in the state tournament.
-The biggest near upset took place at Lambert, where the third-ranked Longhorns survived Central Gwinnett 58-51 in overtime. As a side note, Lambert coach Jaime Kruppa missed the game after giving birth to a son on Tuesday. Carolyn Whitney is the interim coach.
-Another near upset took place in Moultrie, where Region 1 champion Colquitt County beat North Cobb 49-48 in overtime. Colquitt’s Za’Nautica Downs’ 3-pointer sent the game into the extra period.
-On to round two: Two second-round games match ranked teams. No. 9 Brookwood travels to No. 8 Colquitt County, and No. 10 Marietta plays at No. 1 Norcross. The girls’ draw, with at least two ranked teams in every quarter, remains much more balanced than the boys’ draw.