There isn't a more confusing bracket in this year's GHSA state basketball tournament than the AAAA bracket. Last year's defending champs, Tucker, limped in. A perennial power,
Who will it be this year? We break it down in our continued look at the brackets.
Researching the No. 1 seeds
Region 1 tournament champions
Wins against playoff teams: Lowndes 79-72,
Notable losses: Cairo 57-60, Turner Co. 48-71, Americus-Sumter 53-56
Notes: For me, TCC is a mystery. I don't know much about them. Judging by past results, the team has good balance and is led by Demetrius Mickens, a 5-6 senior who is the team's leading scorer amongst a deep rotation. Keep an eye on them. They could surprise.
Region 2 tournament champions
Wins against tournament teams: Creekside 76-61,
Notable losses: Norcross 57-62
Notes: The Lions have all of the parts of the puzzle to win the AAAA state championship. Led by Mr.
Region 3 tournament champions
Wins against tournament teams: Richmond Academy 74-49, Evans 56-39
Notable losses: Savannah Johnosn 49-58, Beach 47-64
Notes: Long time coach Lee Hill has been around long enough to know how important the region tournament is. He and his team advanced through the tournament and claimed the top spot out of Region 3 and a number one seed. According to the records on GASports.com, Statesboro and
Region 4 tournament champions
Wins against tournament teams: Forest Park 70-69, Forest Park 64-46, SACA 66-60,
Notable losses: Mundy's Mill 62-70, Jonesboro 62-72, Long County 64-65, Westlake 52-53, Mundy's Mill 57-59, Forest Park 51-53
Notes: The Raiders are rolling into the post-season with a lot of steam and a lot of confidence. Winning region 4-AAAA is no easy task. Senior Rashad Hassan is one of the biggest sleepers in the state and the team has size, experience in senior guard Ishmael John and potential in junior forward Terrell Barnes. The first round game against Creekside won't be easy. After the first round, things look brighter en route to
Region 5 tournament champions
Wins against tournament teams: Banneker 68-40, Sprayberry 75-58,
Notable losses: Lithia Springs 55-58
Notes: If there is a team that can do some damage in the bracket, this is the team. Good guard play, check that, great guard play is the foundation for Bennie Gibbs's team. Seniors Chris Beasley and Chris Deny are two of the biggest sleepers in the AAAA bracket. Beasley is a jet quick guard that can score with the best of them. Watch for the Falcons to press and cause havoc on the defensive end of the floor. The team's quickness and defense could be the thing that pushes the team over a club like
Miller Grove 23-5
Region 6 tournament champions
Wins against tournament teams: Stephenson 84-65, Redan 51-50, Tucker 70-62, Wesleyan 53-51, Stone Mountain 83-81, Stone Mountain 65-46, Redan 57-47, Tucker 68-48, Stone Mountain 64-63
Notes: Winning the Region 6 tournament is a major plus for the Wolverines as it is one of the best regions in the state. Junior Mfon Udofia has been one of the best guards in
Region 7 tournament champions
Wins against tournament teams:
Notable losses: Dunwoody 65-67
Notes: The kids from the mountains are pretty good.
Region 8 tournament champions
Wins against tournament teams:
Notable losses: Wesleyan 48-55, Winder-Barrow 61-63
Notes: Is there a bigger surprise in AAAA this year than these guys? Probably not. The team has great size and go to it often inside the paint. Junior Brian Cole and senior Trent Kammerer. Things won't be easy for the Falcons in the first round as the team plays host to Tucker.
Must see games
Tucker, last year's AAAA state champs, are coming into the tournament as a four seed and that is a scary thing for Dacula, the biggest surprise in AAAA this season.
Tucker is led by the 1-2 punch of junior Manny Atkins and senior Aric Miller. Both players can go for 25 points (or more) any given game. The Tigers will press all game long and that could be a difference maker against Dacula.
Dacula, a team that relies on size and strength in the halfcourt, has an advantage against Tucker. Atkins gives up five inches to Brian Cole, Dacula's best player. The home court advantage could prove to be the difference maker. The match-up is the best in the opening round. I like Tucker by six in this one.
Others we are watching closely:
News & Notes
The first two rounds of the state tournament will be played on the home court of the higher seed.
Top 1 seed:
Top 2 seed: Lithia Springs
Top 3 seed:
Top 4 seed: Tucker
Keep an eye on…
The state tournament always brings out the sleepers. Here are five sleepers to watch:
Chris Beasley, Pebblebrook – A good part of Pebblebrook's success can be traced to the 5-11 senior. He's a pure scorer and one of the best players in
Kevin Murphy, Creekside – The unsigned senior slept a little under the radar is in his own region as guys like
Brian Cole, Dacula – Aptly named Big Red, the red-headed center can also be called Big Fundamental. The 6-8 junior knows what he is and does fine simplistic work down low in the blocks. He's one of the biggest sleepers in the state and has a body of work that proves his consistency this season.
Rashad Hassan, Riverdale – Slowly and surely, the 6-5 senior has improved and now he's playing the best basketball of the year for his team. His recruitment could really receive a shot in the arm with a great showing in the state tournament. His match-up against Murphy in the first round is one of the best in the entire AAAA bracket.
Four young players to watch
Heath Houston, Hillgrove – The 6-7 sophomore has a big test right out of the gates as he and his teammates face Tony Woods, a 7-footer headed to Wake Forest, and his Rome teammates.
Tres Houston, Banneker – The sophomore played a big role in a big win against McIntosh in the Region 3 tournament. His ability to get to the foul line is his biggest strength. Facing
First round predictions
Riverdale vs. Creekside
Evans vs. Bainbridge
Pebblebrook vs. NW Whitefield
Miller Grove vs. Cedar Shoals
Lithia Springs vs. Ridgeland
Tucker vs. Dacula
Bolded and italicized teams are my picks to win