By Craig Sager II
No. 1 Walton in Class AAAAAA is the only defending state champion out of six that enters this year’s bracket as a No. 1 seed.
Last year’s Class AAAAAA runner-up, Harrison, climbed an uphill battle this weekend to win the Area 3-AAAAAA tournament over North Cobb. The No. 9 Warriors topped the No. 4 Hoyas the first time the teams met. Harrison split sets and topped Hillgrove 2-1 in the losers’ bracket final, and then took care of the Warriors in the rematch 3-0 in the best-of-five area championship.
No. 4 Pope has persevered through a season filled with injuries, and nearly upset No. 2 Sequoyah for the Area 7-AAAAA title. The Greyhounds will host Effingham County in the first round and the winner will face the winner of Loganville at McIntosh. A potential Pope at McIntosh meeting in the second round would be a repeat of last year, when the Chiefs knocked the Greyhounds out of the playoffs.
Last year’s Class AAAAA state champion, Whitewater, visits Clarke Central as a No. 3 seed in the first round.
In Class AAAA, River Ridge, Marist, South Effingham, Veterans, Heritage-Catoosa, Locust Grove, Walnut Grove and Columbus earned the No. 1 seeds. Veterans hosts Redan on Wednesday and the winner will face the winner of No. 3 Ridgeland at defending state champion and second-ranked Sandy Creek.
Class AAA reigning state champion Blessed Trinity is the No. 2 seed in this year’s bracket after falling to No. 1 St. Pius for the second time in the month of October. The top-seeded Golden Lions host Ringgold in the first round.
The Class AA defending champion Lovett could not earn the top seed as Westminster claimed the Area 4-AA title. No. 1 Westminster will host Coosa and No. 3 Lovett will host Model in the first round.
In Class A, ELCA’s huge win over defending state champion Landmark Christian earned it the Area 3-A title and a top seed in the playoffs. The Chargers will host Greenville and the No. 2 Eagles will host Central-Talbotton in the first round.