Prep Zone

Atlanta high school sports news from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

State basketball finals Q&A: 15 teams can win first-ever state titles

Got a question about the state basketball tournament?

Here are a few answers as the high school basketball season enters its climactic week.

When and where are the finals? The 16 championship games will be played Wednesday through Saturday at the Macon Coliseum and Georgia Tech’s McCamish Pavilion. See schedule of games at the bottom of this post.

How much are tickets? $15 at the venues. Tickets for the Georgia Tech games can be purchased ahead of time on mobile devises at GoFan

Are the games on TV? No. The NFHS Network will steam all games live. Another good way to follow the games is with live statistics provided by the GHSA. 

What schools can win state titles for the first time? There are 15 of them, representing almost half the 32 still teams playing. The Class AAAAAAA girls final between Westlake and Newton and the AAAAAA girls final between Lovejoy and Harrison guarantee first-time winners. Other girls teams trying to win for the first time are Flowery Branch (AAAAA), Spalding (AAAA), Johnson of Savannah (AAA) and Greenville (A public). The Class AA boys final between Vidalia and Thomasville – South Georgia schools that go back some 100 years - will produce a first-time winner. Both have been in six semifinals but never gone all the way. Other boys teams that can make history for their schools are Meadowcreek (AAAAAAA), Warner Robins (AAAAA), St. Pius (AAAA), Aquinas (A private) and Montgomery County (A public).

Here is a list of the schools in the finals that have won state championships and their title counts – 


12 – Wesleyan (2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2017)

8 – Greater Atlanta Christian (1972, 1974, 1975, 1982, 1983, 2001, 2002, 2007)

5 – Buford (2009, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2017)

2 – Holy Innocents’ (1999, 2016)

2 – Laney (2015, 2017)

1 – Josey (1998)

1 – Marion County (1992 as Tri-County)

1 – Henry County (1960)


9 – Wilkinson County (1999, 2000, 2002, 2007, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017)

7 – Miller Grove (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016)

7 – Greater Atlanta Christian (1971, 1972, 1977, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014)

5 – Norcross (2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2013)

2 – Gainesville (1983, 1984)

3 – St. Francis (2013, 2015, 2016)

1 – Langston Hughes (2017)

1 – Upson-Lee (2017)

1 – Jenkins (2015)

How many defending champions are still alive? Six. They are Langston Hughes (AAAAAA boys), Upson-Lee (AAAA boys), Wilkinson County (A public boys), Buford (AAAAA girls), Laney (AA girls) and Wesleyan (A private girls).

Upson-Lee’s boys and Laney’s girls have long winning streaks. How do they stack up in history? Upson-Lee’s boys have won 62 straight games, and Laney’s girls have won 61 straight. Upson-Lee’s streak is higher on the all-time list. Here’s a list compiled by earlier this season: 

90 – Randolph-Clay (ended 2006)

78 – Irwinville (1951)

63 – Woodbury (1985)

62 – Upson-Lee (current)

57 – Decatur (1983)

56 – College Park (1976)

50 – Elberton (1957)

50 – Perry (1963)

Laney’s streak is not among the top 10, perhaps not the top 20, all-time among girls, according to Becky Taylor of the Georgia Basketball Project. Taylor County’s 132-game win streak (1968-73) is the record followed by Lowndes’ streak of 122 (1976-80). 

Laney and Josey are meeting in the Class AA finals. How often have girls teams from the same city played in the finals? Laney and Josey are old Augusta schools that are only 1.3 miles apart as the crow flies. So this game will be special for those teams and for Augusta basketball. But it’s not that unusual. In fact, it happened twice last year when Beach beat Johnson of Savannah 59-44 in the AAA final and Columbus beat Carver of Columbus 68-67 in the AAAA final. It’s also not the first all-Augusta girls final. Richmond Academy beat Josey for the 1997 AAA championship, and Glenn Hills of Augusta beat Richmond County rival Hephzibah in the 2002 AAAA final. 

Norcross’s boys are going for their sixth state title. Would that be the most in the highest classification? Lanier won 16 through 1951. That was a Macon school that essentially became Central High in 1970. But for the modern era, Norcross can tie Southwest Macon and Wheeler with six. Southwest won its last one in 1989. Wheeler won its six between 1994 and 2015.

Wilkinson County’s boys have won nine state titles, all under coach Aaron Geter. Does he have the most in history? No, that would be Selby Buck of Lanier with 13. But Geter would become the first modern coach to win 10. Most impressive about Geter is his 9-0 record in state finals.

Wesleyan’s girls have won 12 state titles, all under coach Jan Azar. Does she have the most in history? Among coaches of girls teams, yes. And Azar can tie Buck’s all-gender state record with another championship. No other girls coach has more than six state titles. Buford coach Gene Durden can join that list of six. It includes Norman Carter of Taylor County (1960-70s), Angie Hembrie of Collins Hill/Norcross (2001-13) and P. Malcom of Seminole County (1956-69).

Greater Atlanta Christian’s boys and girls teams are in the finals. When’s the last time one school swept the titles? Last season, when Buford took the AAAA championships. It’s becoming quite common. Greater Atlanta Christian did it in 1972. Here is the list of schools that have done it. Notice that it happened only seven times in the first 60 years since the first girls tournament in 1945. Now it’s happened 11 times in the last 12 years.

Schools that have swept boys and girls titles:

2017 – Buford (AAAAA)

2016 –Morgan County (AAA)

2015 – St. Francis (A)

2013 – Norcross (AAAAAA)

2012 – Miller Grove (AAAA)

2012 – Columbia (AAA)

2011 – Norcross (AAAAA)

2010 – Wesleyan (A)

2010 – Columbia (AAA)

2008 - Wesleyan (AA)

2006 – Southwest Atlanta Christian (A)

1987 - Clinch County (A)

1972 – Greater Atlanta Christian (C)

1963 - Hart County (AA)

1959 - Roopville (C)

1958 - Murphy (AAA)

1958 - Jeff Davis (AA)

1952 - Stilson (C)

What about that schedule? Here you go: 

Wednesday- Macon Centreplex
2 p.m. - AA Girls -- Laney vs. Josey
4 p.m. - AA Boys -- Vidalia vs. Thomasville
6 p.m. - A Public Girls -- Greenville vs. Marion County
8 p.m. - A Public Boys -- Montgomery County vs. Wilkinson County

Thursday- Macon Centreplex
2 p.m. - AAA Girls – Greater Atlanta Christian vs. Johnson-Savannah
4 p.m. - AAA Boys – Greater Atlanta Christian vs. Jenkins
6 p.m. - AAAAA Girls -- Buford vs. Flowery Branch
8 p.m. - AAAAA Boys -- Miller Grove vs. Warner Robins

Friday- Georgia Tech
2 p.m. - A Private Girls -- Holy Innocents' vs. Wesleyan
4 p.m. - A Private Boys -- St. Francis vs. Aquinas
6 p.m. - AAAAAA Girls -- Lovejoy vs. Harrison
8 p.m. - AAAAAA Boys -- Gainesville vs. Langston Hughes

Saturday- Georgia Tech
2 p.m. - AAAA Girls -- Henry County vs. Spalding
4 p.m. - AAAA Boys -- St. Pius vs. Upson-Lee
6 p.m. - AAAAAAA Girls -- Newton vs. Westlake
8 p.m. - AAAAAAA Boys -- Norcross vs. Meadowcreek

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