Five things to look for in Round 2:
Can Coosa’s boys get even with Jordan?
The Eagles snuck into the top 10 on the last week when it won the Region 7 championship. All season Coosa (25-4) has been known for its shooting prowess and that continued in the first round, with Slade Shumate busting loose for 30 points and Tyler Bradley added 14. Coach John McFather’s team can really fill it up at times.
Now it’s time to see how Coosa will do against a legitimate challenger. Up next is No. 6-ranked Jordan, the team that eliminated Coosa 58-57 last year. Jordan was ranked first in the state until it lost to Manchester in the Region 5-AA title game. Jordan may come into the game more battle tested, having defeated No. 7-ranked South Atlanta in the opening round.
Will the Dawson County boys continue on their magical mystery tour?
Perhaps it is time to get rid of the “Cinderella” tag on Dawson County. The Region 8 champions opened the playoffs by gutting out a win over Calhoun and improved their record to 24-6.
But things get considerably tougher in Round 2, where No. 2-ranked Buford awaits. The Wolves opened with a relatively easy win Spencer in the first round and will be one of the more gifted teams Dawson has played.
Dawson has shown it may have the ability to hang with Buford; it defeated previously ranked East Hall in the region playoffs. The Tigers will need to hold their own on the boards against the taller Wolves to have a chance, but will get to play it at home.
Can young GAC girls challenge No. 1 Model?
The Greater Atlanta Christian girls may be very young, but they’ve been through a few battles this year against more experienced teams, a factor that isn’t likely to hurt when they travel to play No. 1 Model in the second round.
Model (28-1) is on a 25-game winning streak and beat a solid Union County team by 14 points in the opening round. And the Blue Devils will definitely have an advantage playing at home, where the fans have been known to whoop it up. But GAC could be a dangerous opponent.
The Spartans (20-8), who rolled by Jordan in the first round, have played a strong schedule. They’ve beaten three teams from Class AAAAA, one from AAAA and a AAA St. Pius team that was ranked second in the state. Their losses have come to No. 3 Buford (twice), No. 6 Lovett, No. 10 Decatur (twice), but they avenged one of the Decatur losses in the region consolation game.
Sophomore Brianna Cummings has been the GAC’s most consistent player all season, but it remains to be seen how the youthful team (only three seniors on the roster) can handle things in a hostile road environment against a veteran team.
Are North Oconee girls up to the task at Buford?
The North Oconee girls (25-4) enjoyed an amazing season. They did not lose a subregion game, set a school record for wins and saw coach Donnie Byrom get the 250th victory of his career. They lost to East Hall in the Region 8 title game and began the playoffs as the state’s No. 7-ranked team.
Now Buford is trying to make it all meaningless.
The three-time defending state champions and No. 3-rankedWolves (22-7) are the next hurdle for North Oconee. Buford is a team laden with major college prospects, including Tennessee signee Andraya Carter.
North Oconee counters with sophomore Ginny Channell, the Region 8 South player of the year, who averages 12.3 points and 5.8 rebounds, and Brooke Hubbard, who averages 12.8 points and 5.7 rebounds. Hubbard is a solid 3-point threat, which will be needed against Buford’s size advantage.
Can Lovett emerge from the shadows?
The No. 6-ranked Lions (24-5) will square off with No. 5 East Hall (26-3) in what is expected to be one of the best second-round games.
Both teams have played a tough schedule to get ready for this. Lovett has beaten Collins Hill, Douglas County and Milton and lost to defending Class A champion Wesleyan, a St. Pius team that was ranked No. 2 in the state, and twice to Buford.
East Hall played in a deeper subregion and lost only once, but dropped games to Class A powers St. Francis and Southwest Atlanta Christian.
Both teams have starpower. East Hall features Jasmine Jenkins (Vanderbilt) and Morgan Jackson (Georgia State) and Lovett features Tatianna Jackson (Chattanooga) and Christen Johnson (Northwestern).