It’s not always the highly ranked or highly regarded teams that make the deepest postseason runs.
Last year, for example, the Mays girls team won the Class AAAAAA basketball championship despite being unranked entering the state tournament. In addition, two other unranked teams (Chattahoochee and Stephenson) were among the eight quarterfinalists.
On the boys’ side, unranked Brunswick made it all the way to the championship game before losing to Hughes. The Pirates were joined in the quarterfinals by fellow unranked teams South Cobb, Northside-Warner Robins and Tri-Cities. Brunswick beat South Cobb 67-61 in the semifinals.
The regular season will conclude this weekend, and region tournaments will be played next week. The state playoffs begin Feb. 16-17.
Here are a few unranked Class AAAAAA teams that could pull off a surprise or two in the postseason.
*Alexander: The Cougars have put together a nice season in Region 5 despite being overshadowed by the three top-five teams in the region – No. 1 Hughes, No. 4 Tri-Cities and No. 5 Douglas County. Alexander has won eight of 10 games since a 5-6 start and sits in second place in the region. The Cougars also handed Hughes its only region loss, 70-66 on Jan. 9, and are 3-3 against the Big Three.
*Pope: The Greyhounds are 10-1 in their last 11 games and in second place in Region 7 behind No. 3 Cambridge. Pope was competitive against Cambridge, losing both games by a total of 17 points. This week will provide the Greyhounds a good tune-up for the postseason as they play Centennial, Chattahoochee and North Atlanta, the three teams directly behind them in the region standings.
*Richmond Hill: The Wildcats (14-8, 4-2 in Region 2) might have been a top 10 team if a few breaks had gone their way. In region play, they lost to No. 8 Brunswick by one point and previously ranked Bradwell Institute by two in overtime, and four of their other six losses have been by three points or less. Richmond Hill but hasn’t advanced beyond the second round since their 1994 state title.
*Coffee: The Trojans haven’t advanced past the first round of the state playoffs since 2007. Coffee is 6-0 in Region 1 play and can wrap up the top seed for the region tournament with a victory Saturday at second-place Valdosta. One victory in the region tournament would guarantee the Trojans a home playoff game. Senior center/forward Aerionna Tucker averages 13.8 points and 10.1 rebounds.
*Douglas County: The Tigers were No. 10 last week but fell out of the rankings after a loss to Mays on Friday. Still, they are running away with first place in Region 5 and likely to earn a top seed in the state playoffs. Douglas County, which has won 12 of 14 games since a 4-4 start, reached at least the quarterfinals the past two seasons. Junior Amari Robinson averages 24.5 points per game.
*Heritage-Conyers: The Patriots are 17-4 overall, 8-0 in Region 3 and almost certain to be the No. 1 seed in the region tournament next week. Three of their four losses have come against ranked and/or higher-classification teams, and all four were by an average of just 9.5 points. Heritage has reached the state tournament just three times in its history and never advanced past the first round.