Here are five girls teams to watch in the Class AAAA basketball tournament, which begins on Friday:
*Chamblee or Douglas County: The only first-round game involving two top 10 teams has No. 2 Douglas County at No. 5 Chamblee. The winner will be favored to reach the semifinals at Gwinnett Arena, although No. 6 Creekview lurks as a potential stumbling block. Douglas County was ranked No. 1 until a 70-50 loss to Kell in the 5-AAAA semifinals. Chamblee was ranked No. 1 last season entering its region tournament but was upset in the quarterfinals and failed to make the state tournament.
*Fayette County: The defending state champion Tigers could have fallen off this season after losing a talented senior class that included 2011 AAAA player of the year Brianna Banks, but they will enter the state tournament with the No. 1 ranking and a 16-game winning streak. Fayette County beat eighth-ranked Alcovy 50-39 last week in the Region 3-AAAA championship game, and the Tigers haven’t lost to a Georgia team since falling 38-34 in overtime against McIntosh on Dec. 6.
*Jonesboro: Forest Park was the team to beat in 4-AAAA after finishing as state runner-up in 2011, but Jonesboro established itself as the region’s best by beating Forest Park in two of three meetings, including a 55-45 overtime victory in the region final. The seventh-ranked Cardinals have won 10 consecutive games since back-to-back losses to Mundy’s Mill and Laney in mid-January. Jonesboro has a difficult draw, however, with the possibility of playing No. 3 Statesboro in the second round and Fayette County in the quarterfinals.
*Miller Grove: The Wolverines won the championship in DeKalb-heavy Region 6-AAAA, and that’s significant because teams from DeKalb County have won six of the past eight Class AAAA titles. Miller Grove has won 11 consecutive games and beat Chamblee 53-52 in overtime in the region final. The Wolverines have a clear shot at reaching the semifinals because there are no other top 10 teams in its quarter of the bracket.
*Richmond Hill: The Wildcats have been a bit under the radar this season, especially after a 70-40 loss to Statesboro on Nov. 22. But Richmond Hill responded by winning 22 of its next 23 games, including a 59-50 victory over Statesboro in the Region 2-AAAA championship game, and enters the state tournament at 25-2 and ranked No. 9. Aliyah Johnson scored 26 points in the region final. Richmond Hill and Statesboro appear to be the best shots to end metro Atlanta’s nine-year hold on the AAAA girls title.