Thursday, January 24, 2008

Ranking the regions: #3 6-AAAAA

3. 6-AAAAA

Power teams: Wheeler has a head and shoulders edge over the other teams in this deep region. With a starting five of Division I prospects, four of which are underclassmen, Doug Lipscomb has a team that can do some damage in the AAAAA state tournament. The Wildcats will most likely be the team to beat in the big boys bracket. Senior Dequan Jones is a game-changing athlete while sophomore point guard Phil Taylor and junior forward Richard Howell are consistent and stable forces in the starting rotation. Junior Ari Stewart has big time potential while Tahj Tate is an athletic and explosive two guard. The bench is young and unproven and that could be the thing that haunts Wheeler down the stretch.

Led by dynamic junior Lorenzo Brown, Centennial is a team that can beat just about anybody on any given night. Brown, a 6-4 multi-position guard, is a big timer. There are pieces of the puzzle around him in shooter Alex Coxworth, sophomore Kameron Belin is the rebounder, Dalonte Doles is the speed and senior Robbie Johnson is a versatile wing. The question is, when will they all play well on the same night? The Knights did last year en route to the state championship game.

Keep an eye on Northview. The Titans are quietly going about their business and winning important games along the way. Led by Minnesota bound senior Ralph Sampson III, Northview has the size. The question with Northview is guard play. Can the guards balance the team out in tournament play?

Sleepers: The gap from the top to the bottom is pretty significant in this region and it wouldn't be a big surprise to see a couple of teams make a push in the region tournament. Sprayberry gave Wheeler a scare last week after a big win against region rival Walton. The Yellow Jackets have a balanced team that could very well put it all together come February. Walton, led by Glen Rice, Jr., is right behind. Like Sprayberry, the east Cobb school nearly knocked off Wheeler. Both teams could be dangerous if the perimeter game is working.

Notes: To get a gauge on what kind of state playoff team Wheeler will be, keep an eye on the Wildcats in the region tournament. Wheeler will have a scare. The regular season schedule has proven that.

Playoff projection: Wheeler, Centennial, Northview, Walton

Counting down the regions

4. 4-AAAAA

5. 2-AAAA

6. 2-AAAAA

7. 5-AAAA

8. 2-AAAA

9. 5-AAAAA

10. 6-AA