By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
Here are five boys teams to watch in the Class A playoffs.
North Cobb Christian. The question is simple, and one that the undefeated Eagles have face all season: Are they really this good? In their 28 wins this season, the margin of victory for the Region 6 champs, ranked No. 1 in Class A, was 32 points and only two teams came within ten points of them – Mt. Paran Christian (59-51) and McCallie of Chattanooga (61-56). Still, there are some who think NCC’s championship credentials are suspect, pointing to the 86-59 loss the Eagles suffered at the hands of Whitefield Academy in last season’s Elite Eight. But they remain resolute that they are worthy of being considered the favorite to win it all this season. “We hear that but it doesn’t bother us because we know we can compete with anybody,” senior forward Dauson Womack said back in January. Due to a scheduling quirk, Womack and fellow senior leader point guard Corey Harris, will most likely face Whitefield in the second round of this year’s tournament.
Whitefield Academy. The Wolfpack appear to be playing their best at the right time. They have won 17 straight and tore through the Region 9 tournament, winning three games by 20 points, including a 71-45 blowout of Landmark Christian in the title game. Whitefield is led by Georgia signee Kenneth Gaines, one of the state’s best shooting guards and scorers. The likely second round match up with North Cobb Christian – created by the Georgia High School Association’s pre-determined playoff brackets – is already being discussed as defacto state championship game. Whitefield is looking for its third title in school history, it’s second since 2009.
Wilkinson County. After they were blown out at home by No. 8 Turner County (76-53) back in December, many forgot about the defending state champs, who returned just two regulars from last season’s title run. But the Warriors (25-2) lost just once more – to Region 1-AAAA champion Northside-Warner Robins – and are a serious threat to win the school’s sixth state championship.
Mt. Pisgah Christian. The Patriots may be the most resilient team in the tournament. They were five minutes away from not even making the state playoffs when they needed overtime to beat Holy Innocents in the quarter finals of the Region 5 tournament. They went on to edge Wesleyan in the semi finals (52-51) and then upset Providence Christian, 64-54 in two overtimes, to win the championship. Mt. Pisgah is led by senior guard/forward Kyle Sloter, who has signed to play quarterback at Southern Mississippi.
Mitchell County. Where’s the love for the Eagles? They are the only region champion and No. 1 seed in the state tournament not ranked in the top 10 in the most recent poll. But Mitchell County has caught fire down the stretch and will look to advance past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since Mitchell County and Baker County separated into two different high schools in 2006. Prior to that, Mitchell-Baker won four state titles (1998, 1999, 2000, 2003) in six years. The Eagles (16-9) boast a solid nine-man rotation, led by senior forward DiQuan Isom and junior guard Stacey Butler, along with seniors Grover Stewart and Modzelle Atkins.