On to the final fours: Who’ve you got?

The semifinals of the state basketball tournament begin Wednesday at the Gwinnett Place Arena and Macon Coliseum.

Here are some random thoughts on the teams that are left. Tell me where I’m wrong.

BOYS

AAAAA – Milton is one of the best teams in Georgia history and should beat Norcross in the final. Norcross is good enough to beat Milton, but probably won’t. Third-best team in the state is Wheeler. Region 4 (Harrison, McEachern, Campbell, etc.) was a flop. (I picked Harrison & McEachern to make the semis. Wrong!) Region 8 also didn’t do so well. Otherwise, it went as expected. Tift County is pretty good, and the freshman Tadrik Jackson is special. Saw the Devils in Fort Valley. Having said that, I’m not sure there aren’t four or five in teams in Gwinnett County that are as good or better than any team in regions 1-4. Milton and Norcross win by 20+ this week in the semis.

AAAA – These are four legit state championship contenders in the Final Four. Miller Grove clearly is the favorite, but Jonesboro, Fayette County and Rockdale County are no joke. Except for Rockdale (I picked SWD), these were the four that I picked for the semis.

AAA – Defending champion Columbia looks unbeatable here. Franklin County and Eagle’s Landing are in the semis for the first time ever. EL had never won a playoff game until this year. Butler is back in the SF for the first time since a runner-up finish in 2004. (I picked EL to make the SF, but not Franklin or Butler.) Great run by Franklin County, btw. Just can’t see Columbia losing.

AA - Does Region 6 have AA’s best three teams – GAC, Buford, South Atlanta? We might find out this week. Laney and Swainsboro proved that Region 3 was stronger than we figured, but I still see a Buford-GAC final. GAC wins it.

A – Sub Greenville for Wilcox and this is the final four that I expected. Whitefield is perhaps the team to beat now, although Greenville beat Whitefield in the regular season. This remains the most suspenseful Final Four. Wilkinson County is Georgia’s only unbeaten boys team. Terrell County is the underdog in the mix. Go with the team that’s played the hardest schedule – Whitefield.

GIRLS

AAAAA – The championship is Norcross vs. Campbell, IMHO. McEachern and Mill Creek play in the other SF. I’ve seen Campbell and McEachern play, and also North Gwinnett, the team that beat Norcross twice. No super teams here. Norcross is awfully good, but remember that this team lost Kaela Davis and Brianna Jordan from the ’10 team. Norcross can be had.

AAAA – Now this is a great Final Four. Fayette County is the best girls team I’ve seen in person this year. Can’t see how it would’ve lost 55-27 in December to Norcross. No other GA losses. Forest Park has no losses to Georgia teams this year. Douglas County is 30-0. Chattahoochee has UGA-signee Erika Ford back. Look for a Fayette-Forest Park final.

AAA – WaCo (30-0) plays defending champ Columbia in the SF. Crisp County is the Cinderella. Dalton is looking strong. Columbia remains the team to beat, but lost to SPX in the region final, and Dalton handled SPX in the QF.

AA – Buford vs. GAC for the title. Can’t see them struggling in their SF vs. NE Macon and Laney.

A – Wesleyan.

– By Todd Holcomb for the AJC’s Prep Zone

192 comments Add your comment

Legend of Len Barker

March 6th, 2011
6:10 pm

Without looking at the picks above:

BOYS
AAAAA – Milton
AAAA – Miller Grove
AAA – Columbia
AA – GAC
A – Whitefield

GIRLS
AAAAA – Norcross
AAAA – Fayette County (I just don’t think Douglas County can hang on)
AAA – Columbia (over Dalton. I still don’t know how Crisp made it this far.)
AA – Buford (over GAC. Morgan County is a surprise, too. Without a terrible first quarter by Appling County, they would have been dead in the first round.)
A – Wesleyan (by a LOT)

Legend of Len Barker

March 6th, 2011
6:10 pm

Check that. Morgan was a surprise. That’s why I don’t think Laney is as good as their record.

plowboy

March 6th, 2011
6:34 pm

So u aren’t giving Valdosta or Tifton a chance?

Todd Holcomb

March 6th, 2011
6:58 pm

Legend – We agree. Those are my picks, too.

Plowboy – No, I’m not giving Tift and Valdosta a chance. Hate to say that, but I just think Milton and Norcross are that good. I wouldn’t give many teams a chance against those two. Tift and Valdosta are better than I thought. Tift, in particular. But remember that Milton played a 30-1 Newton team last season and won 86-54 in the semis. Milton is one of the top five teams in the country, and Norcross is playing near that level now too.

Todd Holcomb

March 6th, 2011
7:34 pm

Trivia – Valdosta has won a state title in boys basketball. Does anyone know the year and the coach?

In Fort Valley, I was impressed w/ Valdosta’s athleticism and Tift County’s intensity. Both teams seemed tightly knit. Crowds were into it.

O'town o Milton

March 6th, 2011
7:55 pm

thats rite, ajc loves Milton

phil

March 6th, 2011
8:22 pm

Carvell- Comparing Tift Co. & Valdosta to Gwinnett Co. school system is a little unfair. Tift Co. has a population base of around 35,000 and Valdosta HS has a population base of around 50,000 as compared to the population Gwinnett Co. of several hundred thousand. Yeah, several teams may be better than Tift & Valdosta, especially when the Gwinnett Co. basketball players can pick and choose what team they want to play for. How many of the basketball players at Milton, Wheeler, and Norcross actually started their high school careers in the 9th grade at the schools they are playing for now?

Valdosta Rev.

March 6th, 2011
8:23 pm

Props to Region 1AAAAA for two teams in the Final Four. Nobody thought either would get that far. Both are very athletic, talented and close-knit. UGA fans need to see Rome play in the semi-finals and the freshman from Tift is for real. Holcomb is right, however: it’s Norcross vs. Milton in the finals, with Milton winning.

the ol' country boy

March 6th, 2011
8:27 pm

Todd, Todd Todd ( deep sigh ) The ‘ol country boy ain’t tryin’ to take you to task just tryin’ to learn you somethin’. Seems like if yur gonna do reportin’ on GEORGIA high school basketball you otta know a little somethin’ about teams that are at least a mile ur two futher away from an Atlanta homeless shelter. Bet you wuz suprized this mornin’ when you woke up from your drunken stupper from a date with the ol’ square bottle and found out the AAAAA Final Four has two teams from south Georgia still in the hunt. Please allow the ol’ dum country boy to give you some cifering on my almer matter the Tift County Blue Devils.
* Was STATE Champion in ‘96 defeating Atlanta area teams Lovejoy and Wheeler along the way
* lost in the State championship game in ‘04 to South Gwinnett and Louis Williams (Philly 76ers) while beating Atl. areas Jonesboro and Lithonia along the way
* Final Four in ‘07 beating Atl area teams Lithonia and Mundy Mill along the way
* ‘11 Final Four defeating Atl. area Westlake HS along the way.
* 18 years in a row of State playoff appearances – longest in the state

Now the ‘ol dummy country boy ain’t sayin’ we’re gonna beat Milton as I understand they have some level of a Dream Team assembled even by Atllanta standards while our leading scorer is only a freshman. ( you don’t even know his name ). And I ain’t sayin’ were some dynasty like the old Wooden UCLA teams. What I AM sayin’ is this is a darn good program that you should know a little about if you were doin’ yur job.

dagrapevine

March 6th, 2011
8:47 pm

no offence sir,but if there is 4/5 gwinnett co. teams better than valdosta or tift co. why aint they still playing?
jay rome is a beast and coach fox may have more than one uga football recruit to play basketball.if you check,valdosta’s hc rufus mcduffie has won a few state titles and its not like he aint been there and done that before ya know.
valdosta may come up short,but i tell you they aint scared and should be loose cause dang son they playing a natl ranked team what they got to lose or prove.

Columbia High Alum C/O 96'

March 6th, 2011
9:13 pm

AAAAA – Milton vs Norcoss in the Finals but it really doesn’t matter who wins because they are scared to come to DeKalb County and play some real ball.
AAAA – Miller Grove
AAA – EAGLES

P.S – Tell the So Called Elite of GA to come to DeKalb and play (ie Milton, Norcross, Wheeler, etc). BTW – Eagles and Lady Eagles (CHS) could repeat again but it will be tough on the Lady Eagles against Dalton because they have a Beast at Center.

the ol' country boy

March 6th, 2011
9:46 pm

Phil – your accessment of population base and the fact that good players accumulate at a few select schools is extremely accurate. Thought you and others may like to see student enrollment numbers of the schools left in the final four. Norcross – 2736 Milton 2600 +- Valdosta HS 1976 Tift 1485

Got Milton dad's back

March 6th, 2011
9:52 pm

two years ago Milton drilled Columbia; and they are 1-1 with Miller Grove; hard to play AAAAA DeKalb teams when they never make it past the round of 16. By my count that makes it 2-1 Milton.

Logical Point

March 6th, 2011
9:53 pm

@dagrapevine: More Gwinnett teams didn’t make the Final 4 because the GHSA doesn’t allow it. Why can’t North and South GA teams crossover before the Final 4? It happens in football.

Logical Point

March 6th, 2011
9:55 pm

@ theol’countryboy: If Valdosta and Tift can’t hang with the big boys because of enrollment, move down to AAAA.

DeKalb Hardwood Title Town

March 6th, 2011
10:16 pm

One thing that is going to be a benefactor and always has been in the GA State Semis is COACHING and EXPERIENCE. That is something you cannot coach.. Be ready to hear this theme all week. In AAAAA Milton, one of the hottest teams in the state, will prevail. The Nation’s Top-Ranked Pre-Season Team will finish on top. To much talen, experience and coaching.
The same goes for Class AAAA’s Miller Grove, which is the gem of the south and new Mecca for HS basketball. After receiving a wake up call from SWD in the Region 6-AAAA Championship game, the Wolverines are back in rare form. Experience will be the key for Miller Grove, making its fourth straight appearance in the Final Four. Coach S. White will not overlook any of the other three deserving opponents Jonesboro, Rockdale and especially Fayette County, the last team to defeat Miller Grove in a Final Four, when they had a sharpshooter named Noel Johnson. In the end, however, Miller Grove should complete the daunted 3-peat with a team full of juniors…
Columbia, too tough, physical and experienced team. Maybe the best underrated player in the country in thier sophomore point guard (don’t want to butcher his name).
AA-Since South Atlanta is out of the mix, I am going to go with former Norcross coach Eddie Martin and GAC.
A-Wilcox County.. Very athletic and experienced team…

Milton dad

March 6th, 2011
10:18 pm

Yeah! what Got Milton dad’s back said!
harumpt! Dekalb! seriously? MIller Grove gets props, and that’s it. Would love to see milton dismantle tham now that they got their temporarily misplaced ego back in check after the MG loss.

Dylan

March 6th, 2011
10:21 pm

Crisp County, Washington County and Columbia- PLEASE, ONE OF YOU TAKE DALTON OUT!! haha

Milton dad

March 6th, 2011
10:29 pm

by the way, I was at the Milton game in almost-Alabama Saturday nite for the Milton demolition of Mill Creek. Mill Creek: you got yourself a certifiable nut case for a coach. he needs meds.

Mudcat

March 6th, 2011
10:33 pm

Where are the SW Dekalb backers now? I said it before, and it’s coming true, Miller Grove breezes after getting by the only serious contender, Sequoyah! Final State Rankings: 1 – Miller Grove 2- Sequoyah 3- Rockdale

Milton dad

March 6th, 2011
10:36 pm

Ha, I thought Charlie Scott was gonna come out of the stands and throw the coach out himself. Coach Boyd kept his cool and just let his boys respond. If Boyd had chosen to not take the high road and teach him a lesson,Milton would’ve won by 50. He put in the far end of the bench with 3 mins to go.Knuckle head left in most of his started until :45.

South Georgia Pride

March 6th, 2011
10:40 pm

Milton may be pretty good, but Norcross is very beatable. The Atlanta area teams are not very deep and will have trouble against the physical play that they will see from Valdosta and Tifton. Newton was ranked 4th in the state and they were very average. Valdosta has the best big man in the state in Jay Rome and one of the states best coaches in Rufus Mcduffie(remember the great Mitchell Baker teams of the 90’s). Tiftton has just as many athletes as Milton and are more physical. You don’t hear alot about South Georgia players because most are football players, but they can play basketball too! Don’t be heart broken like Newton was on thursday nite after the games!!!!!!!!!!!!

Legend of Len Barker

March 6th, 2011
10:47 pm

Country Boy, I’m from south Georgia, too.

Basketball has changed. The playing field used to be a bit more even. Then, things started changing about the time Randolph Morris and Dwight Howard were battling it out in Class A and Louis Williams was at South Gwinnett. Now, it’s about the attention. If James Forrest came along now, he wouldn’t be at Southside (then again, no one would; it’s Jackson now). He’d probably either be at SACA or Whitefield or perhaps in a neighboring county.

Not that it’s entirely a new phenomenon. Anything with talent in the county used to go to Valdosta, not Lowndes. It’s just that it’s beyond huge now with the metro population combined with ESPN attention.

(That said, you can also add in that Tift has occasionally borrowed from its neighbors in basketball as well. And attempted to land a couple of others.)

I’m rooting for any and all non-metro schools, but it’s not going to happen.

DeKalb Hardwood Title Town

March 6th, 2011
10:55 pm

Milton Dad, please. Let’s have this debate when the season is over and done with. Then the AJC will post who is the best team in the state overall and Milton would finish in the TOP 3.. behind……

South Georgia Pride

March 6th, 2011
10:57 pm

The people in South Georgia have no problem with whatever the Great state of ATLANTA wants!! You want the football state championship played at the Georgia Dome and all of the other sports championships played in the Atlanta/Macon area. We are not scared of Milton-Norcross-Wheeler or anybody else you put in front of us! Your kids jump from school to school chasing pride and respect. We raise our kids and they earn that pride and respect as part of a community!

Players for sale

March 6th, 2011
11:02 pm

Hey Todd, i wonder how much the Georgia Stars and the Atlanta Celtics AAU organizations recieved for putting together the teams from Milton-Norcross-Wheeler! Oh, did i step on some toes with that comment? Maybe the GHSA should check that out!!

marcus

March 6th, 2011
11:05 pm

I just want people to remember that Milton escaped last year against Norcross on a controversial call. Julian Royal doesn’t like contact, so it will be interesting against Norcross big guys or Valdosta Jay Rome. Milton can be beat and I wouldn’t be surprise if they don’t win it all. BTW Milton isn’t that deep

Ellis

March 6th, 2011
11:05 pm

AAAAA- Milton
AAAA- Miller Grove
AAA- Columbia
AA- Swainsboro
A- Wilkerson Co.

Smit

March 6th, 2011
11:15 pm

Everyone please remember that Milton was very lucky last year. They won on a fluke against Norcross and in the finals, Westlakes Marcus Thorton gets hurt in pre-game introductions!

Smit

March 6th, 2011
11:18 pm

Enter your comments here

Obvious

March 7th, 2011
12:08 am

Why are you talking about last year’s games? Yes sometimes luck is involved in winning, but it happens both ways. Just because Kendrick Perkins was out of game 7 for the Celtics last year are we going to say it was a fluke that the Lakers won?

Hmmmm

March 7th, 2011
12:11 am

So since Marcus Thornton got hurt last year, Milton’s not really that good? They looked pretty good when they beat the number 1 team in the country.. or the number 1 player in the country.

U MY BOI BLUE

March 7th, 2011
3:03 am

AAAA- BOYS – JONESBORO !!!

Fly McFaddin

March 7th, 2011
6:50 am

Miller Grove gets its 3-Peat

AAAAA Fan

March 7th, 2011
7:36 am

If Milton pays like pretty boys and don’t like contact, they will have a hard time beating Tift. Watch the freshman he is the real deal. Back in 96 nobody thought tift could play with wheeler high. Do not overlook tift to fast.

SouthGeorgiaBoy

March 7th, 2011
8:23 am

Tell those “recruited up” North Ga teams the Wildcats are coming.

Hope they are ready for a relentless press…..for FOUR quarters.

snoopy

March 7th, 2011
8:36 am

Been following Buford (& GAC, since they are in the same region) for a few years (Niece plays for the Wolves). I have to believe that the Wolves & Spartans will meet in the finals of BOTH Boys & Girls. Brogden (GAC boys) might be the best player in the state & the duo of Davis & Carter (Buford girls, both Tennessee commits to The Summitt) are dynamic..

Buford & GAC will overrun the town of Macon Thursday & Saturday night…

That being said, the girls best players in the entire COUNTRY attend school across the street from each other off Spalding Drive in Norcross…. The Devils & Wolves… Combine these two teams & they are none better – Anywhere…

Joe R

March 7th, 2011
9:02 am

McEachern Girls will take the AAAAA Title!

Blue Devil Block

March 7th, 2011
9:38 am

Logical Point: Your comments about Tift and Valdosta moving down to AAAA are ILLOGICAL since their enrollment numbers are too high to play down to that classification.

AAAA-Fan

March 7th, 2011
9:50 am

U my Boi BLUE, U r kidding right?

How are you going to get by MGHS?

YEAH

March 7th, 2011
10:31 am

“Milton Dad”, Your not that smart, milton is milton and they are AAAAA. Overall the only reason you love them is apparently your their dad? That being said I believe Brogden with GAC would have destroyed Milton between the middle and end of the season when they were playing their best ball. Brogden and the AJ kid, With the point Paul are pretty much a no stopper they take state and Brogden is the best basketball player in Georgia and ranked high in the nation.

grapevine

March 7th, 2011
10:35 am

Watching clearly the biggest team I ever saw (S.Atlanta) lose to an average Buford team was shocking. Great coaching adjustments versus none. S.Atl , waht are assistants for?

Tech.Grad

March 7th, 2011
10:53 am

AA Boys it will GAC vs Buford–GAC will win it–Whitehart has out coach the other coachs in the last 3 games–but he will never out coach Eddie at GAC–Whitehart needs to play more kids and he will have a shot at winning it–he has lost 4 games late because his kids are to tried to play at full speed..(He will only play 7 kids)

upandin

March 7th, 2011
10:56 am

In AAAA boys, Miller Grove probably has the most talent, but Jonesboro is better coached. i am not sure the coaching is enough to overcome the talent of MG but it should be a closer battle than many expect. MG is talented but their defensive transition leaves something to be desired. Most of the time they can def rebound with just three people but I believe Boro will hurt them on off glass if they only send three to the glass in this game.

Dekalb BB-Fan

March 7th, 2011
11:13 am

Grapevine, I agree what I witnessed was poor coaching on behalf of all those on the bench for South Atlanta. I am impressed with the coaching staff at Miller Grove because although their head coach was involved in so much controversy and not allowed to coach in the 2008-2009 season the Assistant coaches really stepped up to make sure that the team won a championship which was the first in the schools’ history.

So when you have a team and the sized such as South Atlanta you don’t expect them to be defeated so soon in the competition.

Why does every team that competes with Miller Grove feel that the opposing team(Sequoyah, Milton & SWD) is better coached obviously no one has check the history on the coaching staff at Miller Grove which is not based solely on the Head Coach they have a really strong a assistant coaching staff which has been an asset to the continuous success of this team.

WACO Hawk fan

March 7th, 2011
11:26 am

Washington County #nuffsaid!

Dont 4Get Rockdale

March 7th, 2011
11:27 am

The one team that nobody has mentioned is Rockdale! Coming off a very convincing win over SWD holds “Shaq” to 3pts in 1st Half! They are an up and down team with great defense that plays team ball! Kevin Ware, Tennessee signee, plays under control and pushes the ball and will dunk on you in the blink of an eye! Bernard Thompson is a sharp-shooter who scores at will and Darion Clark is a beast in the paint! Rockdale lost to Fayette Co earlier this year by 2pts and also Miller Grove by single digits. But I expect them to run up and down the court and play in your face tough defense. I like Rockdale vs Miller Grove… Rockdale will be the upset!

Dont 4Get Rockdale

March 7th, 2011
11:29 am

**Rockdale will get the upset and be State Champs!

Tiger Time

March 7th, 2011
11:32 am

Rockdale will not get by the TIGERS!!!

Fayette v/s Miller Grove in the Finals

TC4Life

March 7th, 2011
11:34 am

Todd

Terrell County Beat Greenville and Wilkinson County in the playoffs last year but we are the underdogs???? True we did lose to Whitefield in OT by 4 but that is a lame pick if you ask me. Where is the love???