There have been some upsets in the girls state basketball tournament, but upon close inspection, there are really only two real surprises in the semifinals.
Those are South Forsyth and Lowndes, both from Class AAAAAA.
South Forsyth became the first Forsyth County girls team to reach the semifinals since Forsyth Central in 1970. South Forsyth was ranked No. 8, but the road to the semifinals went through defending champion Norcross on the road and then third-ranked Parkview at home. South Forsyth aced both.
Lowndes (22-8) hasn’t been ranked all season but has won seven straight games. That includes an upset of Brunswick in the Region 1-AAAAAA tournament, a 78-77 win over fourth-ranked Hillgrove and Wednesday’s overtime win against Marietta. ‘’Something inside them just refuses to lose,’’ coach Brittany Ferguson told the Valdosta Daily Times. The only unranked team outside of Class A to get this far, Lowndes is in the semis for the first time since 2001.
That doesn’t mean there haven’t been upsets. Beach ended the season of No. 1-ranked Washington County, which entered undefeated, but Beach is 29-1 and ranked No. 4, its only loss to Tattnall County. Beach senior guard Irie Spann was a hero. She hit a 3-point shot off the backboard for the winning points, according to the Savannah Morning News. Washington County got three shots in the final 20 seconds but failed to make one.
Other lower-ranked teams that made the semifinals might’ve looked unexpected, but usually they weren’t. For example, Forest Park (23-8) is ranked only eighth but was the highest-ranked team in its quarter of the draw in AAAAA. Pike County is ranked only ninth in AAA but was the highest-ranked team in its quarter of the draw in AAA.
Darlington, ranked No. 9 in Class A, scored a 57-38 upset over No. 6 Calvary Day. But Darlington was rated higher by the Maxwell Ratings. Unranked Greenville, a semifinalist in the Class A public division, has yet to face a ranked opponent.
There was one other game worth noting on Wendesday. Kendrick's No. 1-ranked girls team (27-0) pulled out a 65-62 victory over fifth-ranked Greater Atlanta Christian. Kendrick's best player, Kahlia Lawrence, fouled out with seven minutes left in regulation of the overtime game. ''I walked to the bench and couldn’t do anything but cry,'' she told the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. "But I put my head in my hands, thought about it and said, ‘They got it.’ ''
Apparently, they did.
3 p.m. - No. 2 Archer (28-3) vs. Lowndes
6:30 p.m. - No. 1 McEachern (25-2) vs. No. 9 South Forsyth (27-5)
Fort Valley State
3 p.m. - No. 8 Forest Park (23-8) vs. No. 1 Southwest DeKalb (29-2)
8:15 p.m. - No. 3 Drew (26-3) vs. No. 2 Tucker (27-4)
3 p.m. - No. 5 South Effingham (27-4) vs. No. 1 Redan (31-0)
6:30 p.m. - No. 8 Woodland-Stockbridge (27-4) vs. No. 2 Columbus (29-1)
4:45 p.m. - No. 9 Pike County (24-7) vs. No. 3 Buford (29-2)
8:15 p.m. - No. 4 Beach (29-1) vs. No. 2 St. Pius (28-3)
3 p.m. - No. 7 Putnam County (29-2) vs. No. 1 Kendrick (27-0)
6:30 p.m. - No.3 Laney (29-1) vs. No.2 Wesleyan (26-3)
Class A Public
3 p.m. - No. 5 Randolph-Clay (25-4) vs. No. 7 Claxton (25-5)
6:30 p.m. - Greenville vs. No. 8 Mitchell County (24-6)
3 p.m. - No. 2 St. Francis (25-2) vs. No. 3 Southwest Atlanta Christian (24-5)
6:30 p.m. - No. 9 Darlington (19-8) vs. No. 1 Holy Innocents' (28-0)