High school basketball: Girls outlooks across the state

dmitchell@ledger-enquirerFebruary 26, 2013 

With the first week of the girls state playoffs in the rearview, it’s time to take a look at how I’ve done so far in my selections for favorites and dark horses across the state.

Here’s a look back at how I picked it last week as well as a chance at a mulligan when the opportunity arises.

As always, follow me on Twitter @leprepsports.

Class AA

Local outlook:

Original: Manchester, Kendrick

Now: Kendrick

We started the playoffs with Manchester and Kendrick playing in Class AA, but Manchester went down in the opening round and only the Lady Cherokees remain alive. Alive is the operative word there, though, as Kendrick just beat the very talented Greater Atlanta Christian in the second round. A date with defending champion Lovett looms in the quarterfinals.

My favorites in each bracket:

Original: Laney, Kendrick, Thomasville, Wesleyan

Now: Laney, Kendrick, Thomasville, Wesleyan

Ah, the first class we come to, and I appear to be right on the money so far. I’m fairly confident in each of these four picks. If one team is to fall, my bet would be on Thomasville. Neither Laney nor Kendrick, both undefeated, have it easy in the second round, however. Wesleyan could fall, I suppose, but its run of dominance over the past decade speaks volumes in this situation.

Dark horses in each bracket:

Original: Pelham, GAC, Dublin, Calhoun

Now: Pelham, Lovett, Bleckley County, Calhoun

Alright, so dark horses aren’t really dark horses when you have eight teams to pick from and four are already favorites. That said, it’s worth comparing to the originals. I think GAC was the greater dark horse in Kendrick’s region, and it showed in a near win against the Lady Cherokees.

The pick:

Original: Wesleyan over Kendrick

Now: Wesleyan over Kendrick

Class AAA

Local outlook:

Original: Carver

Now: None

Only Carver advanced to the playoffs from the Bi-City area, and its stay was short. None remain in the quarterfinals.

My favorites in each bracket:

Original: Washington County, North Oconee, Beach, Buford

Now: Washington County, Dawson County, Beach, Buford

Only North Oconee went down, losing to Dawson County in the second round. Its win over North Oconee makes Dawson County my new favorite. Coincidentally, it was one of my dark horses.

Dark horses in each bracket:

Original: Dawson County, St. Pius X, Chapel Hill, SW Macon

Now: SW Macon, Decatur, Chapel Hill, St. Pius X

Only Decatur joins the fray, and it has its work cut out for it going on the road to face a very talented team.

The pick:

Original: Buford over North Oconee

Now: Buford over Washington County

Class AAAA

Local outlook:

Original: Columbus

Now: None

Columbus fell to Chestatee in the first round, which was a tough test for the Lady Blue Devils.

My favorites in each bracket:

Original: Cross Creek, Redan, Jonesboro, Columbia

Now: Mary Persons, Sandy Creek, Jonesboro, Columbia

One of these changes because a team lost and one changes because I say it does. Cross Creek fell to Woodland in the second round, bringing Mary Persons (one of my dark horses) to the top of the heap. Redan is still alive, facing Sandy Creek in the quarterfinals, but my gut says the Lady Patriots will pull that one out on the road.

Dark horses in each bracket:

Original: Mary Persons, Marist, South Effingham, LaGrange

Now: Woodland, Redan, Howard, River Ridge

South Effingham went down, as did LaGrange. Enter: Howard and River Ridge, both capable teams.

The pick:

Original: Columbia over Cross Creek

Now: Columbia over Mary Persons

Class AAAAA

Local outlook:

Original: Hardaway, Northside

Now: Hardaway

Hardaway has played well over the past couple of weeks, and, despite a hiccup in the first round, it is still alive. It will have its hands full against Forest Park in the quarterfinals, but this team has proven to be up to the challenge.

My favorites in each bracket:

Original: McIntosh, Tucker, Forest Park, Kell

Now: Effingham County, Tucker, Forest Park, SW Dekalb

Three-seed Tucker still looks strong, though Miller Grove will certainly be a test. I’d like to highlight Southwest Dekalb, which will travel to Stephenson. Stephenson is a 4-seed that has been impressive in the first two rounds. My gut says the quarters will be the end of the road, however.

Dark horses in each bracket:

Original: Starr’s Mill, Miller Grove, Hardaway, Cedar Grove

Now: Thomas CC, Miller Grove, Hardaway, Stephenson

Alright, my sentimental pick of Starr’s Mill went down the drain fast. How about Hardaway, though? It wasn’t an easy road, and the Lady Hawks weren’t perfect, but they got it done. There’s a lot to be said for that.

The pick:

Original: Kell over Tucker

Now: Tucker over Forest Park

Class AAAAAA

Local outlook:

Original: None

Now: None

Yep, we didn’t magically sprout a Class AAAAAA team in the area. Not to my knowledge, at least.

My favorites in each bracket:

Original: Hillgrove, Parkview, North Cobb, North Gwinnett

Now: Valdosta, Cherokee, North Cobb, North Gwinnett

I struggled over whether I should pick Cherokee or Norcross to make it to the semifinals, but I settled on Cherokee. It is the home team, and I think that will be the difference.

Dark horses in each bracket:

Original: McEachern, Norcross, Tift County, Alpharetta

Now: Langston Hughes, Norcross, Tift County, Alpharetta

Norcross was a dark horse ahead of Cherokee originally, but I lifted Cherokee ahead this go round. It’s that close, though.

The pick:

Original: North Gwinnett over Parkview

Now: North Gwinnett over Cherokee

There you have it. That’s about as thorough a look as I can give you right now. Be sure to come back daily for postgame thoughts from the day’s games as well as looks ahead to the next round. As always, follow me on Twitter @leprepsports for updates and thoughts throughout the playoffs.

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