By S. Thomas Coleman
For the AJC
Here are some things to look for in Round 2 of the playoffs in Class A.
Whitefield Academy vs. ….. St. Francis? Everyone expected to see a No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup in Wednesday’s second round, with undefeated North Cobb Christian boys taking on No. 2 Whitefield. But St. Francis has other ideas. The Knights (17-12) got 23 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks from 6-foot-7 senior Nigel Jackson en route to the 65-63 stunner over NCC (28-1). Senior guard Conner Smith and freshman forward Kaiser Gates each contributed 13 points to the win. So the Whitefield game plan will now have to change a bit. Instead of preparing for NCC’s dynamic perimeter players Corey Harris and sophomore Stephon Jelks, the Knights don’t have anyone on their roster shorter than 5-10. Whitefield dominated Hebron Christian 65-13 in the first round.
Wilkinson County boys surging. The Gordon Lee boys’ prize for winning a play-in game was a visit to Wilkinson County’s “The Palace.” The Warriors were rude hosts as usual, winning 98-37. The defending champions have won 17 straight and will host Landmark Christian (22-5) and 6-8 forward Houston Kessler on Wednesday.
Wilkinson County girls gone. The Cinderella ride for the Warriors is over. After entering the Region 7 tourament 10-14, Wilkinson County’s girls won three straight to claim the top seed in the state playoffs. But Bremen, which had to win a play-in game against Athens Academy just to make it into the state tournament, knocked off the Warriors 44-40 behind 13 points from junior guard Kalia Johnson and 12 from junior guard Jordan Hill.
Wesleyan girls on fire. As a reward for knocking off a No. 1 seed – Wilkinson County – in the first round, Bremen (19-6) gets to travel to three-time defending Class A champion Wesleyan on Tuesday. The Wolves, in a nasty mood since losing the Region 5 tournament final at home to St. Francis, showed their displeasure by blasting Paideia, 83-26, in Round 1. The score was 51-7 at halftime. Jordan Frazier led the way with 21 points, while Holli Wilkins added 14. Wesleyan won the AA title in 2008 and thus is going after its fifth consecutive state championship.
Public vs. private. If you’re keeping score at home, public schools have won nine of the 15 games pitting public schools against private schools in the first round of the state playoffs. On the boys side, private schools won all three games, while public school girls’ teams went 9-3 in a dozen games played against private schools. Beginning next season, public and private schools in Class A will not compete against each other in the post season in athletic competition or in any other extra curricular activity sanctioned by the Georgia High Schools Association.