High school basketball recap: First round of boys playoffs features upsets and survival

dmitchell@ledger-enquirerFebruary 21, 2013 

There were a lot of great games from teams in the Bi-City area on Wednesday.

I would elaborate more here, but it’s probably best just to get into the action. Here’s a look at the day and what’s to come in the next round.

Recap: So two 4-seeds from the Bi-City area pulled off opening-round upsets, while a third fell just short.

Color this reporter unsurprised. Impressed? Sure, but not surprised.

I wrote in an email to a former colleague at the Times in Gainesville, Ga., earlier this week not to be fooled by the Kendrick boys’ ugly record. They eye test means more than numbers, and my eyes have shown me that the Cherokees are a solid basketball team. So their 63-56 win over top-seed Jefferson didn’t shock me in the slightest. Part of me expected it.

All of me expected Shaw to pull off the upset. I said as much in a blog earlier this week. It isn’t that Johnson-Gainesville isn’t a good team. I knew they had athletes. But in the handful of times I’ve seen the Raiders play this year, they looked just about as good as any team in the Bi-City area.

Its 54-49 win on the road in the first round proves as much.

Hardaway, also a 4-seed, entered the final quarter tied with top-seeded Whitewater, but fell 63-60. That was a tough matchup, but the fact the Hawks almost pulled off the upset, too, speaks volumes about the quality of basketball being played in the area this year.

Elsewhere in the area, Spencer and Carver were definitely tested in the first round, but both pulled out 12-point wins over Rabun County and Swainsboro, respectively. Spencer squandered an 18-point lead in the third quarter, briefly falling behind by a point heading into the final quarter before three straight 3-pointers got the game back in hand.

Northside and Jordan cruised to dominating wins over their respective opponents, as expected.

The Calvary Christian girls played their first game in the GISA state playoffs, defeating the Heritage School 36-34.

What it means: It means there is plenty more boys basketball to be played by teams in the Bi-City area. At least six boys teams will play second-round games on Saturday (the result from Manchester-Greene County wasn't available at time of posting).

Kendrick will take its 10-18 record to Model, which defeated Westminster in the first round, while Shaw will play at Marist, where the Raiders will have their hands full against one of the best teams (and favorites) in Class AAAA. But certainly don’t overlook either of those teams.

Carver will host Johnson-Savannah in a tough game, while Spencer will travel to Greater Atlanta Christian.

Jordan will host 3-seed Dade County, and Northside hosts Richmond Hill.

What we learned: I walked away from Spencer’s win having learned that the Greenwave have the mental wherewithal to have success in the postseason.

Does that mean I think they are going to be able to upset GAC? Not necessarily. And that isn’t a knock on Spencer. GAC is simply one of the best teams in the state. It’s going to take Spencer’s best performance of the season for it to have a shot at unseating that giant.

But rest assured that it won’t be because it beats itself.

There’s plenty of evidence to the contrary from its win against Rabun County, of course. The third quarter was among the poorest periods the team played all season. It forced jumpers, it got away from its game and, defensively, it allowed the Wildcats to find too many open looks en route to losing an 18-point lead.

But it isn’t easy to be hit in the mouth like Spencer was, go to your corner and come back out swinging. Rabun County was pumped, its supporters were loud and Spencer was in shock. But it returned to the floor, hit three consecutive 3-pointers and began to play basketball like it was used to playing.

We also learned what we already knew about Region 5-AA: It is full of good basketball teams.

Three of its teams that advanced to the postseason—Jordan, Spencer, Manchester and Kendrick—advanced to the state quarterfinals (the result from Manchester-Greene County was not available at time of posting).

Once again, color this reporter unsurprised.

Best of the day: Jordan’s Tony Palmer and Spencer’s Sean Buffen.

Palmer scored 30 points, including 16 in a dominant first quarter, while Buffen led the Greenwave with 26. Palmer’s performance was crucial in helping his team gain an early advantage. Buffen’s was crucial in helping his team scramble to a win against pesky Rabun County.

Quotable:

"This time of year, there's no tomorrow. We're in the second round and that's all that matters.” –Warren Beaulah, Carver boys coach

Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports for live updates from games, thoughts and predictions. Come back to the Valley Preps Blog for recaps and previews throughout the playoffs.

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