There is plenty of sweetness heading into the Sweet 16 for seven schools in Class AAAAA. That’s because they have both their girls team and their boys team still alive in the quest for a state championship.
The surviving seven are Eagle’s Landing, Statesboro, Southwest DeKalb, Fayette County, Columbia, Warner Robins and Buford. Each school has proven, through success in the region playoffs and first round of the state tournament, that basketball has a big place.
Eagle’s Landing will host a doubleheader on Wednesday; its girls will play Lithia Springs at 6 p.m. and the boys play Riverwood afterwards. Statesboro has a doubleheader on Wednesday; its girls play Flowery Branch at 6 p.m. and the boys follow against Cedar Shoals. Warner Robins will play a doubleheader on Thursday; the girls play Columbia at 5:30 p.m., followed by the boys game against Southwest DeKalb.
BREAKING: The double-header scheduled at Warner Robins has been moved to Veterans High School. The Warner Robins gymnasium did not meet the mandatory 1,200-seat requirement mandated by the Georgia High School Association.
Here’s a look at some of the most intriguing second-round games:
Riverwood at Eagle’s Landing boys, Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.: This may be the marquee game for the second round. Riverwood (22-5) is a guard-oriented team led by Elijah Jenkins, who averages 18 points, and St. Louis transfer Elijah Dudley, who averages 15. Riverwood went 29-2 last year and lost in the quarterfinals. Eagle’s Landing (20-6) is a strong defensive team that has won 10 of its last 12 games. The Eagles have won six straight and allowed an average of 45 points. Junior Brandon Thomas and senior Mohammed Abubakkar lead Eagle’s Landing.
Cedar Shoals at Statesboro boys, Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.: These two teams have been slow to get their due. Cedar Shoals (24-4) has lost three of its games to No. 1 Buford. Statesboro (19-9) is on an eight-game winning streak and has won its last five games – four against teams in the state playoffs -- by an average of 14 points
New Hampstead at Buford boys, Thursday, 6 p.m.: New Hampstead (18-8) has lost four of its final eight games, but three of those were against Statesboro. The Phoenix field a quick team that features 6-foot-6 Xavier Jones in the middle and Calvin Turner at point. Buford (25-2) looked great in winning the Region 8 tournament but got out of the gate slowly in its first-round win over Lithia Springs. The Wolves have a young team (starting two juniors and two sophomores) centered around point guard Alex Jones and sophomore forward Marcus Watson.
Ware County at Buford girls, Wednesday, 6 p.m.: Ware County (25-4) has been flying under the radar all season. The Gators are led by junior Shondell Vickers, who aveages 11.6 points and 9.2 rebounds. Buford (25-2) has lost only to St. Francis (which is pursuing its third straight Class A Private title) and Wesleyan (among favorites in Class AA). Only one opponent (Wesleyan) over the last eight games has scored 40 against the Wolves.
Columbia at Warner Robins girls, Thursday, 5:30 p.m.: Columbia (17-7) is the underdog, but the Eagles have gone through a difficult Region 5 schedule and are the only team to defeat No. 1 Griffin. The Eagles are led by guard Ilia Mathis and 6-3 center Deidre Harris. Warner Robins (26-1) has a quick team with lots of offensive punch. Kezia Holmes averages 17 points and 3.4 steals, Shynia Jackson averages 12 points and 7.4 rebounds and Le’terria Mthis averages 10.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.4 assists.
Lithia Spring (15-12) at Eagle’s Landing (24-3), 6 p.m.
McIntosh (20-8) at SW DeKalb (23-4), 6:30 p.m.
Flowery Branch (22-6) at Statesboro (19-8), 6 p.m.
Fayette County (21-8) at Carrollton (28-1), 6 p.m.
Ware County (25-4) at Buford (25-2), 6 p.m.
Wayne County (18-6) at Maynard Jackson (22-2), 6 p.m.
Arabia Mountain (20-5) at Griffin (26-1), 6 p.m.
Riverwood (22-5 at Eagle’s Landing (20-6), 7:30 p.m.
Cedar Shoals (24-4) at Statesboro (19-9), 7:30
Columbia (17-7) at Warner Robins (26-1), 5:30 p.m.
Starr’s Mill (18-10) at Miller Grove (18-8), 6 p.m.
Lithonia (12-15) at Riverdale (12-11), 7 p.m.
New Hampstead (17-8) at Buford (25-2), 6 p.m.
Southwest DeKalb (17-12) at Warner Robins (24-3), 7 p.m.
Dutchtown (20-7) at Carver (16-13), 7 p.m.
Columbia (21-7) at Fayette County (21-7), 7 p.m.