By Fletcher Proctor and Craig Sager II
With Milton not eligible for postseason play, the title picture in the state’s highest classification appears wide open, though Tift County may beg to differ. Brannen Greene scored 36 points and Tadric Jackson notched 22 as Tift County cruised to the Region 1-AAAAAA title over Brunswick. Tift County has lost just once this season to a Georgia team. Tift County will face McEachern in Round 1 after Campbell outlasted the Indians 80-78 behind Dante Scott’s 42 points. … Druid Hills enters the AAAAAA playoffs with some serious momentum after knocking off Region No. 3 Lovejoy, No. 2 Luella and No. 1 Rockdale County en route to the 2-AAAAAA title. … Brandon Goodwin is also capable of leading Norcross to the promised land, but Goodwin has the supporting cast, including Lorenzo Carter, that could help Norcross win its second title in three years. Goodwin poured in 23 points in the Region 7-AAAAAA championship game against Peachtree Ridge to put the game and title on ice. … Speaking of Region 7-AAAAAA, Meadowcreek pulled yet another upset, knocking off Collins Hill 56-53 to earn the region’s No. 3 seed. Austin Robinson scored 21 points in the victory. … Jones County’s Jarquez Smith record a seventh-straight triple double in the Region 2-AAAAA title game, but Northside-Warner Robins was able to outscore Jones County 76-70 to earn the title and snap Jones County’s nine-game winning streak. … Elsewhere in Class AAAAA, Miller Grove is eyeing a fifth straight title after taking the Region 6-AAAAA title. Before the season, Wolverines head coach Sharman White called the region the toughest in all of Georgia basketball. At various points, the region had as many as five teams ranked at once. … Gainesville captured the program’s first region title since 2009 with a 72-61 win over Salem. Shaquan Cantrell had 21 points to pace the Red Elephants. … A.J. Davis scored 18 points and Buford used a zone to down North Hall 50-36 in the Region 7-AAA title game. Buford improved to 23-6 and will play as the No. 1 seed out of the region while North Hall (25-3) will play as the No. 2. … One of the state’s best juniors, Ahmed Hill scored 32 points as Aquinas took out Wilkinson County to win the Region 7-A tournament. Michael Scott added 21 for Aquinas. … Finally, Northside-Columbus needed overtime but edged past Bainbridge 60-58 for the Region 1-AAAAA title. Bainbridge sank two free throws late to force the extra frame but leading scorer Dontavious Marshall fouled out in overtime, allowing Northside to pull away.
Saturday night marked the final night of the region showdowns that would crown champions while setting the stage for this week’s state playoffs. The highlight of the weekend came out of Region 4-AAAAAA as North Cobb edged past McEachern 53-52 in a game featuring two state title contenders. …In Region 5-AAAAAA, Cherokee beat rival Woodstock 56-55 to take the championship and Alpharetta beat North Forsyth 35-27 for the Region 6-AAAAAA title. … In a game that had many eyes across the country watching, North Gwinnett topped Norcross in the Region 7-AAAAAA title game. … Allatoona remained red hot and eased past Villa Rica in the 5-AAAAA championship game 53-40. Kell topped Osborne 53-44 for the region title. … Region 8-AAAAAA had the most adversity in their final seedings. Salem was the No. 4 seed heading into the region tournament but ended up beating Clarke Central 59-41 to claim the top seed for the state tournament. The region tournament’s No. 1 seed Flowery Branch took another slide and lost 54-38 to Cedar Shoals in the game for third place. … St. Francis was another big winner this weekend claiming Region 6-A titles in both girls and guys. … Other noteworthy champions included Jonesboro (4-AAAA), Fayette County (5-AAAA), Columbia (6-AAAA), Chapel Hill (4-AAA), Buford (7-AAA) and Calvary Day (3-A).