Friday, March 06, 2009

Forcasting the field: Quarterfinals

The road to the Final Four is quickly approaching the first exit of the long and competitive highway this weekend. Eight teams in each classification woke up Friday morning with the hopes of reaching it to the grandest stage in Georgia high school hoops. By late Saturday night, four teams will be making plans to play at the Gwinnett Arena or the Macon Centrreplex.


Norcross (27-2) vs. Wheeler (22-7)
Saturday, March 7, 8:30 p.m. at West Georgia

This is the game everyone is waiting for, at least at the AAAAA level. The two powerhouses met for the state championship last year and Norcross raised the trophy for the third time in as many years. Wheeler is hungry to raise it’s first title since 2005, when the Wildcats beat the Blue Devils.

Wheeler has too much talent and size at each position for this year’s Norcross, one of the premier defensive teams in the state. Quietly, Wheeler has been defending as good as anyone, too. Mix that with star power, shot-makers, rebounders and an array of athletes and Wheeler should be marching onto the Gwinnett Arena this year with the hopes of bringing the title back to Marietta.

Georgia Hoops pick: Wheeler

AAAAA notes

Can South Gwinnett do it again? The senior-laden Comets probably hope they don’t need a double overtime game to pull off another impressive playoff victory. Age is the team’s best strength going into this weekend’s game against Milton, the best young team in the state.

Can a Savannah team make it back to the Gwinnett Arena? Two of the last three years, a team has. Last year it was Tim Jordan’s Blue Jackets were there. In 2005-06, Beach made a run to the title game. This year’s Savannah team is balanced, deep and ready for another run. The team will have it’s hands full with a similar Westlake team.

Can Russell Powell get some love? The Newnan star is one of the top three contenders for the AAAAA Player of the Year award by Georgia Hoops and a run to the championship game will certainly help his cause. The 5-9 point guard is the fastest guard in the tournament, poised and ready to prove himself on the big stage. Valdosta, winners of 28 games this year, will not be an easy task at Fort Valley on Saturday. That game is beyond intriguing.


Miller Grove (24-3) vs. Fayette County (22-7)
Friday, March 6, 8:30 p.m. at West Georgia

Here we go again.

In what was probably the most exciting game of the AAAA last year in the state tournament, the two teams will go at it once again in the quarterfinals. This one could be just as exciting or better than last year or even a blow out.

Both teams are led by a big time senior. Miller Grove’s Mfon Udofia is the best player in the clutch in the state. Fayette County’s Noel Johnson can score 30 points a game any night. Both teams have tremendous youth. Miller Grove has the best freshman in the state in Tony Parker. Fayette County leans on sophomore starters Malcolm Brogdon, Adam Smith and Maurice Williams. Both teams are certainly ready for the battle.

However, Miller Grove just has too many weapons and the size advantage will give Fayette County trouble.

Miller Grove also has the luxury of matching up Johnson with Stephen Hill, a Georgia Tech bound football player that doubles as one of the most exciting athletes in the state. Hill, Joe Caldwell and Xavier McGahee should play a big role in Miller Grove’s likely win.

Georgia Hoops pick: Miller Grove

AAAA notes

The Fayette County-Miller Grove game will have at least eight Division I players on the floor at one point in the game. Wow!

The Marist-Tucker game is one of the best of the entire weekend because of it’s history. Tucker was riding a nine game winning streak over Marist since 2005 and James Hartry’s club seemed to have their number. Until this year. Marist won both meetings in region 6 play. Both games were in the 40s and Marist played the way it wanted to play. Dee Goens is the key for Marist while Manny Atkins is playing about as good as anyone in the state right now. Should be a dandy of a game. Can I retract my pick of Marist making to the title game? I'd like to go with Tucker now. Hey, I make my own rules.

Looking for a game rich with sleepers? Try the games at Fort Valley State tonight. The Bainbridge-Statesboro game features a total of 51 wins between the two teams. Glynn Academy-Richmond Academy game. Ricardo Glenn, a 6-7 post for Richmond, will have his hands full with 6-10 center Thomas Vonashek for Glynn.


South Atlanta (26-3) vs. Washington County (25-4)
Saturday, March 7, 8:30 p.m. at Northwest Columbus State University

South Atlanta has rolled through 99 percent of the teams from Georgia that have lined up against them this year. This weekend’s game against Washington County shouldn’t be considered one that will be taken lightly.

The kids from Sandersville are small but they play like a bunch of gnats on a muggy day. They pester, pressure and annoy you beyond belief on defense. If there is one chink in the armor for South Atlanta it is the backcourt. That’s the area to attack and Washington County does it about as good as anyone.

At the end of the day too much Derrick Favors will prevail.

Georgia Hoops pick: South Atlanta

AAA notes

Six number one seeds still remain. Westover, Northside Columbus, Gainesville, Washington County, South Atlanta and Columbia are all still very much in the hunt.

Keep an eye on the Elbert County-Columbia game. Rod Rucker is the top junior sleeper in the state and he has his team rolling right now. Columbia is too big, too talented and too experienced. Nevertheless, things at the Northwest Georgia Trade Center will be interesting for this one.


Dublin (28-1) vs. Central Macon (15-7)
Saturday, March 7, 8:30 p.m. at Savannah State

Central Macon guard Matthew Brabham is tearing teams up with his scoring touch in the post-season and he’ll have his hands full against Dublin.

Dublin travels very well to Savannah and oftentimes have the feel of a home game inside Savannah State. Brabham has played well up against the ropes this season. The drama will make for a fun and competitive match-up.

Dublin’s size, defensive pressure on the wings and depth in the backcourt should wear Central Macon down.

Georgia Hoops pick: Dublin

AA notes

Coosa is the top underdog in the tournaments still. At 14-16, the kids from North Georgia are still fighting. Good luck with GAC. The Spartans are tough.

Want to watch unselfish basketball? Go to the Blessed Trinity-Dade County game.


Terrell County (26-4) vs. Turner County (28-1)
Friday, March 6, 5:30 p.m. at Columbus State

Georgia Hoops will be courtside for this one. Both teams are rich with talent.

Turner County may be the deepest team outside of AAAAA and they are certainly in the mix for one of the top five spots in the state, too. Senior Trey Pearce scored 25 points last round. He’s just one of the four or five players that can explode for those kind of scoring numbers any night.

Terrell County is paced by big man Robert Ellis. The 6-7 post will have his hands full with Turner’s size inside.

Georgia Hoops pick: Turner County

A notes

Disclaimer: If you see errors in today/tomorrow’s story on the Wilcox County-Wilkinson County game, forgive me. Writing Wilcox and/or Wilkinson over and over again may throw my pea sized brain off.

It’s too bad we won’t see Athens Christian and Darlington play. Both are underdogs to make it to state title game. The two teams boast the two best scorers in the state. AC has Raymond Higgs and Darlington has Tyshawn Good. Go to the stat page on You’ll see there names number one and number two in the scoring column.


Newnan over Valdosta
Westlake over Savannah
Milton over South Gwinnett
Wheeler over Norcross
First round prediction record: 12-4
Second round prediction record: 6-2
Total: 18-6

Statesboro over Bainbridge
Richmond Academy over Glynn Academy
Tucker over Marist
Miller Grove over Fayette County
First round prediction record: 15-1
Second round prediction record: 7-1
Total: 22-2

Westover over Northside Columbus
South Atlanta over Washington County
Cedartown over Gainesville
Columbia over Elbert County
First round prediction record: 11-5
Second round prediction record: 7-1
Total: 18-6

Greene County over Henry County
Dublin over Central Macon
Blessed Trinity over Dade County
Greater Atlanta Christian over Coosa
First round prediction record: 12-4
Second round prediction record: 6-2
Total: 18-6

Turner County over Terrell County
Wilkinson County over Wilcox County
Greenforest Christian over Athens Christian
Whitefield Academy over Darlington
First round prediction record: 16-0
Second round prediction record: 8-0
Total: 24-0

State tournament total to date: 100-20