There is a logjam at the top of both the boys and girls basketball standings in Region 8-AAAAAA, and how those races shake out will depend in large part on how Dacula’s teams fare this weekend when they travel to Winder-Barrow on Friday and Lanier on Saturday.
The Falcons’ boys team (11-8, 4-2) is in third place behind third-ranked Gainesville and Lanier as they fight for top seeding in the region tournament, which is less than two weeks away. Dacula lost two lopsided games against Gainesville (14-6, 6-0) earlier this month, so catching the Red Elephants is unlikely at this point. However, the Falcons have two games remaining against Lanier (14-6, 4-1), giving them a chance to move up the ladder. Winder-Barrow (6-15, 2-4) is tied with Apalachee for fourth place.
The race on the girls’ side is even closer, as Winder-Barrow, Dacula and Lanier are in a virtual tie for first place with one loss each.
Second-ranked Winder-Barrow (15-4, 6-1) and No. 4 Lanier (17-4, 5-1) split their two meetings this season, with Lanier winning 63-58 on Dec. 15 and Winder-Barrow evening the score with a 60-39 victory on Tuesday. Winder-Barrow is led by Connecticut signee Olivia Nelson-Ododa, the nation’s No. 5 senior prospect according to ESPN.
Dacula lost a lopsided game 72-35 game against Winder-Barrow on Jan. 9. This will be the Falcons’ first meeting this season against Lanier, and the teams will play again at Dacula on Feb. 2.
Here are some of the other top games involving Class AAAAAA teams this weekend:
*Tucker at Jonesboro (Thursday): Tucker (12-8, 8-3) sits in third place in Region 4 but will have a chance to make its move when it meets the top two teams on the road on back-to-back nights. First up is Jonesboro (13-7, 10-1), which is ranked No. 8. Then the Tigers head out the next night to face rival Stephenson (13-5, 10-1), which moved into the rankings at No. 10 this week. Tucker lost to both teams by a total of 19 points in early December but could make things interesting if it’s able to turn things around this time.
*Alexander at Tri-Cities (Friday): Top-ranked Hughes has all but wrapped up the No. 1 seed in the Region 5 tournament, but the race for the next three spots is still wide open. Second-place Alexander (11-7, 9-3) can take a big step toward securing the No. 2 spot with a victory at fourth-place but sixth-ranked Tri-Cities (16-5, 9-4). Alexander won at home 65-64 when the teams met on Dec. 20. No. 5 Douglas County (15-4, 8-3), which split two meetings with Alexander earlier this season, currently sits in third place.
*Tucker at Stephenson (Friday): Sixth-ranked Tucker (14-6, 8-3) suffered its most-lopsided loss of the season on Tuesday when it was beaten by No. 1-ranked and first-place Lovejoy (19-1, 10-1). The Tigers are tied with Forest Park (16-4, 8-3) for third place in Region 4 and look to bounce back against No. 7 Stephenson (13-6, 9-2), which is trying to keep pace with Lovejoy for the No. 1 spot. Tucker won the first matchup with Stephenson 48-38 on Dec. 12, and another Tigers win could create a three-way tie for second place.
*South Paulding at Douglas County (Saturday): Douglas County (16-5, 12-0) has won eight consecutive games after an 8-5 start and moved into the rankings at No. 10 this week, and the Tigers have firm control of first place in Region 5. South Paulding (15-4, 7-2) went into Wednesday night’s game against defending state champion Mays (9-9, 8-3) trying to hold off the Raiders and New Manchester (13-5, 8-3) for the No. 2 spot in the region tournament. Douglas County beat South Paulding 63-46 on Jan. 12.