Except for a couple of at-large bids to be doled out next week, the playoff qualifiers in Class AAAAAAA are known. Their seeding won’t be decided until Friday and Saturday.
Here are some interesting notes about what’s happened so far in the eight region tournaments being played this week in the highest classification.
The big stories are that (1) 10th-ranked Collins Hill was upset, but is almost certain to make the playoffs anyway as an at-large team and (2) Region 8 third seed Shiloh is done after star player Elias King, a Georgia-committed small forward. The Generals lost to South Gwinnett and won’t make the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
No. 8 Collins Hill is out, hoping for wild card
Only one ranked team – the No. 10 Collins Hill boys – is out of the Region 6 tournament, but they’re almost certainly get in the playoffs via the wild card, which is more officially known as the at-large bid that goes to the highest-rated fifth-place finisher in a region. Collins Hill (20-5) lost 52-48 in overtime Wednesday night to Mill Creek (13-12), a No. 6 seed that Collins Hill had beaten by 17 points just five days ago. Region 6 is the most highly competitive region in the state in any class. A year ago, a No. 6 seed (Mountain View) won the tournament. So this is the region for that sort of thing.
And give credit to Mill Creek
More importantly to that overtime game was the fact that Mill Creek is in. The Hawks were a higher-seeded team last season and got upset, only to stay alive with the at-large state-playoff berth. Now, they’re getting in mainly on the efforts of Wednesday night. Matthew McDowell hit a 3-point shot in the final seconds to force overtime. Noah Kenney also made a 3-pointer in the final minute, when Mill Creek trailed by six points.
Shiloh is done, probably won’t get wild card
The next-best team that’s out is probably Shiloh’s boys, the No. 3 seed from Region 8. Shiloh has a win over the likes eighth-ranked Grayson, but the Generals were knocked off in overtime 50-48 on Wednesday night to sixth-seeded South Gwinnett (10-15), a team that Shiloh beat last Friday. South Gwinnett’s Max Harris scored 19 points and completed a three-point play in the final minute of overtime to give South Gwinnett the lead for good. Unless it gets the wild card, Shiloh (11-14) will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Georgia-committed forward Elias King, a 4-star recruit, did not play and reportedly quit the team beforehand.
Rockdale County to be unusually absent at state
Another upset in Region 8 this week saw No. 5 seed Archer (15-10) beat No. 4 seed Rockdale County (15-11) at Newton. Rockdale won’t have a boys or girls team at state for the first time since 2008. Rockdale and Archer split during the regular season, though Rockdale had won by 12 while Archer had won by only two. In the one that counted most, Malik Sproles scored 19 for the winning Tigers.
Central Gwinnett to be unusually present at state
Central Gwinnett is sending both its boys and girls teams to the state tournament for the first time together since 2009. The boys made the Class AAAAA semifinals that year but haven’t returned until now. Seeded No. 5, the boys (8-16) beat No. 4 seed Lakeside 68-64 in overtime. Skylar Adams made a 3-pointer with two seconds left in regulation. Lakeside was denied its first trip to the state playoffs since 2010.
Westlake’s boys narrowly escape
Westlake’s boys team hasn’t missed the state playoffs since 2004 but nearly did. The Lions defeated East Coweta 66-63 on Chase Hunter’s 3-point shot at the buzzer on Tuesday night. Westlake rallied from an eight-point fourth-quarter deficit and advanced despite 40 points from East Coweta’s Chris Youngblood.
Tift County, Wheeler, Norcross extend boys streaks
Tift County got a bye into Friday night’s Region 1 final and will be in the state tournament for the 25th straight season, the longest streak in the highest class. Wheeler has advanced for the 21st straight season. Norcross has made it 18 straight times.
Region 3 girls remain predictable
The longest state-playoff streak by a girls team in the highest class is held by McEachern, which has advanced for the 21st straight time. Hillgrove’s girls have never missed, starting in 2007. The boys haven’t missed except for 2007 and kept the streak alive this week. Marietta. Region 3 rival North Paulding has never made the state playoffs, boys or girls, and that drought continued. Kennesaw Mountain’s girls also fell short again. They’ve never made it.
Forsyth Central, Lassiter girls miss their chance
Does state pedigree matter? Forsyth Central’s girls had a chance to make state for the first time since 2012, and Lassiter’s girls had had a chance to go for first time since 2014, but both lost to lower-seeded teams that went to state last year. Forsyth Central lost to No. 5 seed West Forsyth, which has made it the last four years. Lassiter lost to No. 5 seed Etowah, which has made it the past three years.
Here are some other streaks of note. Parkview’s girls will be back to the state tournament for the 11th straight time. Norcross’ girls advanced for the 10th straight time. North Gwinnett’s girls are in for the first time since 2013. Walton boys are in for the first time since 2014. In fact, that’s the first boys or girls Walton team to make state since 2014.