The boys race in Region 7-AAAAA is getting interesting.
Norcross (14-8, 10-1) leads North Gwinnett (14-8, 8-2) and fifth-ranked Mill Creek (17-4, 8-3), and each still has to play the other two. It will be Mill Creek at North Gwinnett on Friday, Norcross at Mill Creek on Tuesday, and Norcross at North Gwinnett on Feb. 7.
But Norcross fears it has lost post player Jason Croom for the rest of the regular season with a dislocated shoulder. Croom was expected to sign a football scholarship Wednesday with Tennessee.
Meanwhile, Mill Creek blew an early 12-point lead and was upset by Peachtree Ridge 64-58 on Tuesday.
Only about a week remains in the regular season of high school basketball, and it looks like few races are in doubt. Remember that region standings merely serve to seed teams for the region tournaments, which decide who makes the state playoffs.
Here is a region-by-region look at the races in AAAAA –
1 – Sixth-ranked Tift County (17-5) holds a two-game lead over Valdosta and can clinch first with victories over Coffee and Colquitt County this weekend. With a victory over No. 1 Milton this season, Tift is a legitimate state contender.
2 – Second-ranked Westlake (18-2, 11-0) leads by three and would clinch with a victory over second-place Newton (17-5, 8-3) on Saturday. What’s interesting in this region is Stephenson, a 5-16 club that has stunned previously ranked Norcross and M.L. King in the past week. Not the team you want to play in the first round of the region tournament.
3 – Tenth-ranked Johnson-Savannah (18-4) has beaten second-place Savannah twice leads by two and can clinch with a victory over Benedictine (3-17) on Friday. Johnson lost four straight in December, mostly to good Class AAAA teams, and has won 11 straight games.
4 – This one could come down to Feb. 10, when seventh-ranked Harrison (16-4, 10-1) plays North Cobb (18-4, 9-2). Harrison beat North Cobb 59-57 on Jan. 17 and has won nine straight games. North Cobb is 9-1 since Christmas, its only loss to Harrison.
5 – This also figures to come down to Feb. 10, when fourth-ranked Wheeler (11-8, 9-0) plays ninth-ranked Marietta (17-5, 9-1). Wheeler beat Marietta 69-62 on Jan. 17. The game will be at Wheeler.
6 – Top-ranked Milton (19-4, 10-0) became the first boys team in AAAAA to clinch first place in its region and a playoff berth last week. There are seven teams in this region, meaning the regular-season champ gets a bye to the region semifinals and thus a guarantee of a state bid.
7 – See above, and watch out for Peachtree Ridge(13-9, 7-4). Jordan Capps, who was missing from Peachtree Ridge’s lineup for the first half of the season, scored 18 points.
8 – Second-ranked Shiloh (15-2, 10-1) and eighth-ranked Berkmar (15-6, 12-1) have split their meetings. Berkmar has the tougher home stretch because of its home game Friday against Archer (16-7, 11-3).
1 – Tenth-ranked Lowndes (21-1, 5-0) must play at Valdosta (14-4, 3-3) on Friday and Colquitt County (12-9, 3-2) on Tuesday. Those are schools Lowndes narrowly beat last month.
2 – Sixth-ranked Stephenson (18-4, 11-0) plays at Westlake (17-4, 8-2) on Tuesday. Stephenson beat Westlake 59-42 on Jan. 13.
3 – Seventh-ranked Beach (17-1, 10-0) has clinched the No. 1 seed and not had a game closer than 20 points since Jan. 1.
4- Top-ranked McEachern (21-0, 10-0) can clinch with a victory over ninth-ranked Hillgrove (18-2, 9-1) on Tuesday. McEachern beat Hillgrove 77-40 on Jan. 13.
5 – It comes down to Tuesday, when eighth-ranked Marietta (21-3, 11-0) plays at home against Woodstock (15-7, 8-1). Marietta beat Woodstock 54-42 on Jan. 13.
6 – Fourth-ranked Alpharetta (18-3, 9-0) has clinched first place and a berth in the state tournament.
7 – Third-ranked Norcross (19-3, 11-0) will play at fifth-ranked North Gwinnett (18-2, 10-1) on Feb. 10. Norcross has lost star Diamond DeShields for a couple of weeks because of a fractured wrist. Norcross beat North Gwinnett 48-37 on Jan. 17.
8 – Second-ranked Parkview (23-0, 14-0) has clinched the No. 1 seed.