The updated Perfect Game HS Top 50 national rankings showed expected movement with Winder-Barrow being eliminated and Mill Creek advancing in the state playoffs.
North Gwinnett is now the highest ranked of seven Georgia teams coming in at No. 8 followed by Allatoona (No.14), Parkview (No. 17), Blessed Trinity (No.22), Pope (No. 33), Winder-Barrow (No. 40) while Mill Creek enters the rankings for the first time at No. 44.
Outside of Winder-Barrow’s 37-spot slide, Blessed Trinity slid nine spots after suffering a game 2 loss to Columbus however rebounded to win the series in three games to advance.
With Winder-Barrow out, Allatoona (31-3) and Pope (31-5) are the only remaining nationally ranked teams in class 6A. Allatoona swept Effingham County in the second round and will host a hot Johns Creek (20-12) team in the Elite 8. Pope swept last season’s 5A state champion Houston County to advance to face Dalton (24-8). Region 6-6A widely considered the toughest region in class 6A, has three of four teams remaining in the Elite 8 in Allatoona, Dalton and River Ridge.
North Gwinnett (32-2) and Parkview (30-4) would meet in the class 7A semifinals if each survive their Elite 8 matchups. North Gwinnett will travel to Hillgrove (25-10) while Parkview will host Woodstock (24-13). Mill Creek (31-5) is on the opposite of the bracket and will travel to North Paulding (23-10). Hillgrove is the lone remaining Cobb County team in class 7A after last season’s 6A state champion Walton fell to Mill Creek.
Blessed Trinity (31-4) will host West Laurens (23-10). The Titans have passed very tough tasks in the first two rounds of class 4A defeating Cartersville and Columbus.
Other Series of Note:
Class 3A’s top-ranked team Redan (25-9) continues to roll. The Raiders have won 16 straight game an advanced to the Elite 8 after sweeping Crisp County and will host Coahulla Creek. Redan has scored 12 or more runs in three of their four playoffs games so far. Coahulla Creek (24-9) was ranked tenth by the Georgia Dugout Preview rankings entering the playoffs and defeated No. 6 Pike County in the second round. Six of the top 10 in class 3A are in the quarterfinals with Calhoun and Lovett being the two unranked teams.
Cedar Shoals has been knocking on the door of the championship game the last two seasons in the semifinals and it just would not open. Losses of one and two points in the semifinals prevented the Jaguars from playing for a state championship. Saturday at Columbus State University in Columbus, Ga the Jaguars kicked the door down and left no room for making a third straight semifinal loss.
Powerhouse and defending 5A champion Miller Grove has won seven titles in the last eight years were on the other sideline. The Wolverines are under the direction of first-year head coach Rasual Chester however the expectations at Miller Grove are the same, win championships.
George Wilson III put Miller Grove up 7-5 with a three-pointer with just over two minutes remaining in the first quarter, that would be the last time the Wolverines would lead. Cedar Shoals broke off one of their patented runs that never left the game in doubt.
Phlandrous Fleming nailed a three as the first quarter ended to put Cedar Shoals up 14-7. Fleming converted a three-point play to open the second quarter and A.J. Jones dropped in a three-pointer to cap a 15-0 run to give Cedar Shoals a 20-7 lead, the Jaguars never looked back.
“We have been playing a lot better defensively which forces teams to take bad shots and we have been great on the defensive boards which leads to transition buckets and it helps us find our rhythm,” Cedar Shoals head coach L’Dreco Thomas said about making massive runs all season.
Snipe Hall drilled a three to give Cedar Shoals a 42-16 lead in the third quarter that sent the Jaguars on their way to a 59-38 victory. The win is not so much a surprise as is the manner of it and margin of victory.
Fleming finished with a game-high 25 points, Stavion Stevenson scored 15, Hall tallied nine while Jones chipped in seven for Cedar Shoals.
“My staff came up with a great game plan and the players worked the plan to a T,” Thomas said. “(The players) were focused and confident.”
Cedar Shoals (27-4) held Miller Grove (21-9) to a season-low 38 points and held leading scoreer Naquante Hardy (20ppg avg) to a season-low five points. Before losing to Cedar Shoals, Miller Grove had only lost to McEachern (7A semifinalist), Wheeler (7A Sweet 16) and Columbia (5A Sweet 16) from the state of Georgia.
“We knew we had to limit (Hardy’s) scoring opportunities and know where he was at all times,” Thomas said. ” I think switching defenses throughout the game gave them problems. We never let them get in a rhythm and we didn’t give up transition buckets.”
Cedar Shoals earned its first-ever appearance in the state championship for the boys program in school history. The girls program won the 1992 state championship under head coach Charles Turner and last played for a state championship in 1999 (lost to Pope).
Cedar Shoals will play for the 5A championship four miles from its campus at the University of Georgia’s Stegeman Coliseum.
The second-ranked Jaguars will face top-ranked Buford in the finals. Buford (28-2) earned its spot in the finals by defeating Fayette County (23-8) 83-60 behind 25 points and 14 rebounds by sophomore Marcus Watson. Alex Jones finished with 23 points while David Viti added 16 for the Wolves. Buford is the Region 8-5A champion and has not lost this season to a team from Georgia. Buford and Cedar Shoals have been ranked 1-2 since mid-January by multiple polls in the state.
“It’s an honor just to play in the state finals. To play in it in our hometown makes it special,” Thomas said.
It will be the fourth meeting this season between the two teams with Buford winning all three previous meetings. All three were competitive games with the region championship game having the largest margin of victory of the three contests.
Total Sports Coverage carried all three previous Buford-Cedar Shoals contest this season. Each game is available via the following archive links below…
“Buford is a great basketball team. We can’t look at it as they beat us three times, because right now those loses don’t count,” Thomas said. “The winner of this one gets the biggest prize. We will focus on their strength and things that we feel we can be exploited and instill those in our guys and just go play. We can’t worry about the past.”
Two teams that know each other well, one win is all they need to be the Georgia 5A state champ.
One can only think an expected near capacity crowd at Stegeman Coliseum will be ready to bring the funk and the noise in the Wednesday nightcap.
The McIntosh Chiefs completed their second consecutive undefeated season defeating the same squad they did last season for the Georgia 5A state championship. Houston County is a well-respected soccer program that churns out quality talent in the middle Georgia area yet can’t find a way to get by the nations No.1 ranked club.
Houston County was no stranger to coming back from behind in the postseason however you can only go to the well so often. Georgia Gatorade Player of the Year Adam Sheikali tallied a hat trick to put the Chiefs up 3-0 providing Houston County with it;s highest mountain to climb. Houston County’s star Steven Moore added a late first half goal to make it 3-1 at recess
Didrik Cooper-Siep took over in the second half for McIntosh by putting up his own hat trick giving McIntosh a 6-1 advantage as they would go on to win 8-1. McIntosh finishes the season 21-0 , outscoring state tournament opponents 28-2 in the process.
The victory all but locked up McIntosh’s national championship bid as they’re currently ranked No.1 and been all season in the spring NSCAA Top 20 rankings. The final rankings will be released on May 20th, McIntosh should retain the top spot.
The McEachern Lady Indians erased a bad memory of losing in the first round of the state playoffs last season by defeating Rockdale County (13-10) 104-46 in this season’s first round. It was their second game scoring 100 or more points in seven days and first state tournament win since their state title in 2012.
T’ea Cooper led McEachern with 21 points, 6 assists and 4 steals. Caliya Robinson stuffed the stat line again with 15 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 6 steals. Jada Lewis added 18 while Taylor Gordon had 12. McEachern is averaging 84.3 points-per-game, winning by an average margin of 35 points-per-game and are 6-0 in February.
McEachern (24-2) seeks their 23rd consecutive victory Monday night when they host Brunswick in the second round. Brunswick (25-3) defeated Langston Hughes in the first round 61-54.
The Lady Pirates went 1-2 against Lowndes (19-8) this season losing in the region title game in their last meeting. In two losses to Lowndes and one to class 3A power Washington County (25-0), Brunswick lost by a combined 18 points. Washington County and Lowndes are still alive in the state tournament.
Marian Catholic (IL) (17-4) is the only team to hold McEachern under 40 points this season winning 46-29 in late November. McEachern has not lost since scoring 56 or more points in 20 of their last 21 victories, defeating teams from five different states and are 20-0 against Georgia teams.
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