Here are some things to know about each of the 14 girls basketball semifinals to be played Friday and Saturday:
*Hughes vs. Norcross (4 p.m. Saturday, Georgia Tech): The fourth-year Hughes program is in the state tournament for the first time after finishing with its first winning record. The ninth-ranked Panthers have a talented senior in Briunca Caldwell and a strong freshman class led by point guard Kennya Simms. Third-ranked Norcross has beaten South Forsyth, second-ranked Parkview and No. 4 Cherokee in the state tournament as it seeks its third championship in four years. The Blue Devils have two of the state’s top players in Diamond DeShields (North Carolina signee) and Shayla Cooper (Georgetown), who combined for 62 points in a 76-43 victory against Cherokee in the quarterfinals.
*North Cobb vs. North Gwinnett (7 p.m. Saturday, Georgia Tech): Sixth-ranked North Cobb is the champion and only team still alive from Region 4, which put two teams (McEachern and Hillgrove) in the championship game in the highest classification last season. The Warriors are making their first semifinal appearance since 1967 and third overall and seeking their first state title. Top-ranked North Gwinnett is led by McDonald’s All-American nominees Lexie Brown (signed with Maryland) and Peyton Whitted (Penn State). The Bulldogs are making their fourth semifinal appearance and seeking their first championship. North Gwinnett’s 55-41 victory over Alpharetta in the quarterfinals was the closest game either team has had in the state tournament.
*Effingham County vs. Miller Grove (4 p.m. Saturday, Kennesaw State): This game matches two of the eight schools that have both the boys and girls teams in the semifinals. Effingham County is the only unranked girls team remaining in AAAAA, while Miller Grove is the only No. 2 seed still alive in the classification. Effingham County is playing in the semifinals for the first time since 1968, when it was the Class A runner-up. Third-ranked Miller Grove is aiming for its second consecutive state title and trying to become the seventh team from DeKalb County in eight years to win the championship in the second-highest classification.
*Forest Park vs. Southwest DeKalb (7 p.m. Saturday, Kennesaw State): Fifth-ranked Forest Park is 16-1 since Kayla Potts returned to the lineup after missing a year with a knee injury, but that loss was a 65-33 setback against Southwest DeKalb on Jan. 26. Forest Park is in the semifinals for the third time in four seasons and looking to win its first state title since 1970. Fourth-ranked Southwest DeKalb is looking to reach the championship game for the fifth time in six seasons after winning titles in 2008, 2009 and 2010 and losing in the final last year. The Panthers are one of the state’s hottest teams, winning 14 of 15 after an 8-7 start and claiming the tournament title in tough Region 6-AAAAA.
*Mary Persons vs. Sandy Creek (4 p.m. Saturday, Fort Valley State): Sixth-ranked Mary Persons (26-2) has the best record of the remaining AAAA teams after a surprisingly easy 75-60 victory over No. 5 Woodland-Stockbridge on Tuesday. The Bulldogs are in the semifinals for the first time since 1966 and seeking their first championship. Sandy Creek is the only unranked team remaining in the AAAA field, although the Patriots were as high as No. 6 until two losses in the Region 5-AAAA tournament dropped them to fourth place. Sandy Creek, which is in the semifinals for the first time, is the only team remaining in any classification (other than Class A, which seeds teams differently) that is not a No. 1 or No. 2 seed.
*Jonesboro vs. Columbia (7 p.m. Saturday, Fort Valley State): Fourth-ranked Jonesboro is in the semifinals for the third time in five seasons but has yet to advance to the championship game. The Cardinals have won 23 consecutive games after starting the season 3-3 and won the Region 4-AAAA championship. Top-ranked Columbia swept the boys and girls state championships in 2010 and 2012 and has a chance to do it again this season. The Eagles had never advanced past the quarterfinals before the 2010 title season but are in the semifinals for the fourth consecutive season. Miah Spencer, who signed with N.C. State, leads DeKalb County in scoring at about 20 points per game.
*Southwest-Macon vs. Dawson County (4 p.m. Saturday, Armstrong State): Southwest is the only unranked team remaining in the Class AAA field, but the Patriots won the Region 2-AAA championship and bring a 22-5 record into the semifinals. Southwest hasn’t played in the semifinals since back-to-back runner-up finishes in 1994 and 1995. Ninth-ranked Dawson County finished as the runner-up to No. 1 Buford in Region 7-AAA and lost to the Wolves three times but outlasted them in the state tournament. The Tigers are making their first appearance in the state tournament in 11 years.
*Chapel Hill vs. St. Pius (7 p.m. Saturday, Armstrong State): Seventh-ranked Chapel Hill reached the semifinals with consecutive victories against ranked teams, beating No. 10 Dodge County 44-38 in the second round and No. 6 Beach 55-50 in the quarterfinals. The Panthers, who are on a 15-game winning streak, are in the semifinals for the first time. No. 3 St. Pius is the highest-ranked team remaining in Class AAA after it knocked off No. 1 Buford (and No. 2 Washington County lost to Southwest-Macon) in the quarterfinals. Sophomore Asia Durr had 32 points and seven rebounds against Buford. The Golden Lions won Class AAAA championships in 2004, 2006 and 2007.
*Laney vs. Kendrick (4 p.m. Friday, Georgia College): This game matches the only two remaining unbeaten teams in any classification. Second-ranked Laney (29-0) is in the semifinals for the fifth consecutive year and 12th time overall but still seeking its first title. Laney is led by Khadijiah Cave, a senior who has signed with Baylor. Third-ranked Kendrick (30-0) reached at least the quarterfinals every year from 2003 through 2011, winning the title in 2008, before losing in the first round last season. The Cherokees are led by junior Kahlia Lawrence, who scored a team-high 16 points against Lovett in the quarterfinals.
*Thomasville vs. Wesleyan (7 p.m. Friday, Georgia College): Thomasville, the lowest-ranked team remaining in AA at No. 5, won back-to-back championships in 1997 and 1998 and reached the semifinals in 2004. The Bulldogs have played just four games this season against ranked teams – all in the regular season – winning two out of three against No. 6 Pelham and losing to Class AAAA Redan. Top-ranked Wesleyan is seeking its sixth consecutive state title and ninth in 10 seasons. The Wolves won their first two state tournament games by an average score of 80-28 but had more of a test in the quarterfinals, knocking out fourth-ranked Calhoun 64-49.
Class A (public)
*Towns County vs. Gordon Lee (4 p.m. Friday, Fort Valley State): This game will be a rematch of the teams’ Dec. 29 contest, which Gordon Lee won 70-69 in overtime for third place at the Battle of the States Tournament. Kassidy Blevins scored 26 points and hit the game-winning layup with 1.5 seconds to play in the first meeting. She had 30 points in a 73-68 victory over Seminole County on Tuesday to send the No. 6 seed Trojans to the semifinals for the first time. Second-seeded Towns County is making its first appearance in the semifinals since 2008 and third overall. The Indians have never advanced to the championship game.
*Randolph-Clay vs. Wilkinson County (7 p.m. Friday, Fort Valley State): Randolph-Clay is the highest-ranked public school in Class A at No. 3, behind private schools Southwest Atlanta Christian and St. Francis. The Red Devils have won 18 consecutive games, with only three of those decided by 10 points or less. Randolph-Clay won state titles in 1996 and 2000 and is in the semifinals for the 13th time. Wilkinson County is the only unranked team remaining in either of the Class A brackets. The Warriors, who won the Region 7-A championship and are seeded No. 4, are appearing in the semifinals for the first time.
Class A (private)
*St. Francis vs. Calvary Day (4 p.m. Friday, Kennesaw State): Second-ranked and No. 3-seeded St. Francis had eight losses, tied with Southwest DeKalb for the most of any semifinalist, but all came against top-quality teams. The Knights also handed No. 1 Southwest Atlanta Christian one of its two losses to Georgia teams. This is the first appearance in the semifinals for St. Francis after reaching the quarterfinals in each of the past three seasons. Ninth-ranked Calvary Day, the No. 2 seed, is 26-3 overall but 21-0 against Class A teams. The Cavaliers are in the semifinals for the fourth time and won the Class A championship in 2008.
*Holy Innocents’ vs. Southwest Atlanta Christian (7 p.m. Friday, Kennesaw State): Holy Innocents’ won the Class A championship in 1999 and is making its sixth appearance in the semifinals. The Golden Bears won the Region 5-A championship and are seeded No. 1 in the private-school bracket, which is based on a points system. Southwest Atlanta Christian, which is led by Region 6-A player of the year Alexis Carter, has been ranked No. 1 in Class A for most of the year but is the No. 4 seed. The Warriors won the Class A championship in 2006 and are making their sixth appearance in the semifinals since then.