Friday, February 27, 2009
Breaking down the brackets: A
Buckle up Class A basketball fans. The ride to Macon will be bumpy and beyond exciting.
The depth of the class A state tournament is ridiculous.
Nine of the 10 ranked teams in current coaches poll are in the field. Of those nine, seven are No. 1 seeds. The other two teams are No. 2 seeds. Only Metter failed to make the tournament.
All of that talent, plus talented teams like North Cobb Christian, Athens Academy, Wesleyan, Greenville, Calvary Day, Wilcox County and Dooly County round out deep tournament field.
Sure, AAAAA may have better teams. Or AAAA has the best team in the state in Miller Grove. Class AAA has the state’s best player in Derrick Favors. But class A is loaded with talent.
Moreover, the potential match-ups in the second round of the tournament and beyond may be the best Sweet 16 of any of the classes in Georgia.
The march to Macon will be hard fought and the team that hoists the championship trophy on March 14 will have certainly earned it. The strong will survive in this classification.
MUST SEE GAMES
Dooly County at Terrell County - The potential for a four seed beating a one seed is low across the board this year in the state tournament. This is one of those games. Dooly is a fine four seed and could even potentially be a No. 1 seed in several other regions in class A. Terrell County will be ready, too. The Green Wave have knocked out Westover, Thomasville and Greenville this year. This game should be the best in the opening round of the class A tournament.
Savannah Christian at Wilkinson County - The Palace is one of the toughest places to play in the state and the WilCo fans will be ready to welcome Savannah Christian to Irwinton on Saturday night. And there is nothing more than Josh Sparks and SC would like to do than get out of the first round of the state tournament. Sparks and company will give a good fight, there is no doubt about that, but WilCo is just too big, too experienced and too good at home.
North Cobb Christian at Gordon Lee - NCC is in the state tournament in it’s first year of GHSA play and the Eagles want to continue making history. The team has size anchored by Milos Kluet, speed thanks to Romeo Lewis and toughness from Stefan Frank. Gordon Lee is a good basketball team but NCC might just be too much to handle in what should be an entertaining game.
Athens Academy at Wesleyan - The teams are evenly matched and both are led by a versatile and talented junior. Athens Academy leans on the perimeter scoring of Jeremy Burgess while Wesleyan hopes to have a healthy Griffin Schamp, who missed one game of the Region 7 tournament with strep throat and was only used for half of the other games. Home court advantage may be the difference maker in this game.
SLEEPERS TO WATCH
Brit Duncan, PG, Wilkinson County – He’s the leading scorer for the Warriors and one of the best guards in class A. Duncan is averaging 17 points a clip on a team with great balance. Duncan’s been through the rigors of post-season play before and the road to Macon for WilCo is not an easy one either. His leadership will be relied on a lot for Dr. Aaron Geter and the Warriors over the next couple of weeks.
Tyshawn Good, SG, Darlington – Is it possible to be one of the top scorers in the state for two years in a row and be a relative unknown in the state’s discussion for top players? Some how, some way, it is possible. Good lives up to his name. He’s a dynamic scorer, He is a quick scorer. He is a jet to the basket and has dominated North Georgia hoops since moving south from New York. Sure, the competition in Region 6-A isn’t the best but scoring over 28 points a game for two straight seasons is beyond impressive. Teams will have to game plan to contain him.
Cody Padgett, SF, Calvary Day – He’s not a sleeper in the Savannah area. That’s because he has been one of the top scorers in the city for the last couple of years. The 6-3 wing played his heart out in the region tournament and will certainly fight tooth and nail to keep his team in the tournament.
Raymond Higgs, SG, Athens Christian (pictured above) – He averages nearly 27 points a game. Here is the scary thing: Basketball is his second sport. The potential Olympic level high jumper has one of the most explosive first steps in the state and gets to the basket at will. He has game-changing ability and has picked apart any type of defense that has tried to contain his route to the rim. There probably isn’t a team in the state that can slow him.
Eric Martin, PF, Dooly County – The 6-6 senior was very impressive in a tough loss to Turner County during the Region 2-A tournament last week. He uses his length to crash the boards, score in the paint and he can even step out and knock down the midrange jumper. Dooly runs a nice high-low game with Martin and Charsini Washington. Martin anchors the team’s interior game and if the Bobcats make it through the first round, a trip to the Elite Eight is a strong possibility.
YOUNGSTERS TO WATCH
Breon Dixon, PF, Turner County – A great showing in the state tournament could potentially propel the 6-7 forward to the top of the class of 2011 individual rankings in Georgia. Dixon is knocking on that door right now. He plays a big role for Turner County, the Georgia Hoops favorite to win the class A title, and can score, rebound and blocks a ton of shots.
Kentavious Caldwell, SG, Greenville – Like Dixon, Caldwell is very close to being named the top sophomore in the state. He’s a do-everything wing that is getting better and better each time out. Now that Will Bailey, also a sophomore, is on Greenville’s team, Caldwell does not have to fight through triple teams anymore. Just double teams and box and one defenses.
Nick Marshall, SG, Wilcox County – He’s a quick trigger shooting guard that has the athleticism to match his scoring ability. Of all of the young talent in class A this year, Marshall has the best wow potential. He can score from deep but he is also a terror en route to the basket.
The Paideia kids – The Pythons have a deep roster of young talent and lean heavily on the youth to win ball games. E. Victor Nickerson is the team’s top producing youngster. The 6-7 forward does a little bit of everything while Nigel Snipes is an athletic match-up problem on the wing. Sidki Muwallif, a 6-8 center, blocks a good number of shots. Sophomore point guard Kharon Butcher and freshman combo guard Keenan Palmore both factor into the game’s outcome with their ball-handling and shooting touch. This crew will make noise for a while at the state level.
Top No. 1 seed: Turner County
Top No. 2 seed: Paideia
Top No. 3 seed: North Cobb Christian
Top No. 4 seed: Dooly County
FIRST ROUND PREDICTIONS
Terrell County over Dooly County
Aquinas over Savannah Country Day
Turner County over Seminole County
Hancock Central over Portal
Athens Christian over Eagle’s Landing Christian Academy
North Cobb Christian over Gordon Lee
Greenforest Christian over Lakeview Academy
Pace Academy over Bremen
Calvary Day over Warren County
Wilcox County over Clinch County
Wilkinson County over Savannah Christian
Greenville over Lanier County
Darlington over Our Lady of Mercy
Athens Academy over Wesleyan
Whitefield Academy over Bowdon
Paideia over Commerce
FINAL FOUR PICKS
Turner County vs. Greenforest Christian
Wilkinson County vs. Whitefield Academy
Turner County over Whitefield Academy
at 3:32 PM