Prep Zone

Atlanta high school sports news from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

7A girls basketball: Lowndes, McEachern, Collins Hill win important games

Lowndes and McEachern have emerged as front-runners in their regions after significant victories last week, and Collins Hill reaffirmed its standing as one of the state's best in any class with a victory over St. Francis.

Here’s a region-by-region look at what’s happning in Class AAAAAAA girls basketball in the final week before region tournaments. Only regions 1, 3 and 8 appear winnable by a team that won't be seeded No. 1. Expect Westlake, Cherokee, North Forsyth, Collins Hill and Norcross to win big. We'll see about the rest.

Region 1 -- No. 10 Colquitt County (18-5, 4-1) has been ranked all year, but it’s Lowndes (17-5, 5-0) who leads the region with a game to play Friday night. That would be Lowndes at Colquitt for the No. 1 seed in the region tournament, which is next week. Lowndes defeated Colquitt 55-49 last week behind 27 points from senior Jamesha Samuel, who made six of eight 3-point attempts. Samuel also had six rebounds and five steals.

Region 2 – No. 1 Westlake (21-1) has won 10 straight games and clinched the No. 1 seed for the region tournament. Also-rans Wheeler (15-7, 5-3), Campbell (15-7, 5-3) and Pebblebrook (13-7, 4-3) should make the state tournament but haven’t been competitive with the Lions, who are ranked No. 21 in the MaxPreps’ Excellent 25 national rankings and seeking their first state championship in girls basketball.

Region 3 – No. 6 McEachern (15-5, 7-1), the four-time defending champion, is back on top of the region after beating No. 9 Hillgrove (14-5, 6-1) 43-33 and previous top-10 member North Cobb (16-5, 4-3) 52-48 last week. North Cobb had tagged McEachern with its only region loss in December, but McEachern didn’t have Indiana-signee Chantel Wilson at the time. She’s back, and the results have helped move McEachern up four spots in the rankings this week. McEachern travels across town to Hillgrove on Friday to determine the No. 1 seed for the tournament.

Region 4 – No. 4 Cherokee (21-1, 9-0) can complete a perfect record in region play Tuesday night with a victory over Lassiter, which Cherokee beat by 33 the last time they played. Cherokee has won nine straight games. Its only losses are against No. 2 Collins Hill and Holy Innocents’ of Class A. The only other Region 4 team with a winning record is Woodstock (12-8, 4-3).

Region 5 – No. 5 North Forsyth (21-2, 8-0) has won 13 straight games and clinched the No. 1 seed for the region tournament. Its only losses are to No. 4 Cherokee and Westview of Tennessee. Lambert (14-8, 6-2) and South Forsyth (14-9, 5-3) are the only other teams with winning records in Region 5.

Region 6 – No. 2 Collins Hill (20-2, 10-0) has won eight straight and clinched the No. 1 seed for the region tournament. The Eagles got a big boost Saturday, when they defeated Class A private-school No. 1 St. Francis 64-57. Katherine Fourie made six 3-pointers and scored 22 oints. Jaron Stallworth scored 21. Collins Hill has beaten the region’s second-place team, Mountain View (17-6, 9-2), by 48 and 31 points, so there shouldn’t be much suspense about who’ll win the region tournament next week.

Region 7 – No. 3 Norcross (20-3, 10-0) has won eight straight and clinched the No. 1 seed for the region tournament. Norcross closes the regular season Friday night against second-place Parkview (16-8, 7-3), which Norcross beat by 25 the last time they met. Norcross, the 2017 state runner-up, has lost only to No. 1 Greater Atlanta Christian of AAA and two out-of-state teams.

Region 8 – No. 7 South Gwinnett (19-2, 6-2) had the best win of its season – a 66-61 victory on the road at No. 8 Newton (18-3, 7-1) – only to stumble back home the next night in a 48-40 loss to Archer (11-12, 4-4). Grayson (13-8, 5-4) and Rockdale County (12-9, 3-5) are also pretty good in that region, meaning next week’s tournament – unlike most in the high class - could hold some upset possibilities. South Gwinnett trailed Newton by 14, then went on a 17-0 run in the second half in that showdown. Jasmine Williams scored 21 points for South.

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