It’s almost March, but for 13 Columbus area basketball teams, the season is just beginning.
The area will send a particularly deep field of teams this season to the state playoffs, which begin across Georgia on Friday and Saturday. Six teams — three girls and three boys — won region championships to earn a top seed, and two others will host first-round games.
Leading the way are Kendrick High and Northside High, which had both girls and boys teams win their respective regions.
“It’s a remarkable feeling for our kids,” Kendrick boys coach Collins Jones said after his team won a region title over Manchester on Tuesday. “Not just for our team, but for our girls team and our entire athletic program.”
The Kendrick boys will face Coosa in the first round on Saturday.
While the Cherokees’ region title may have been unexpected — at least to those outside the program — the girls have been a favorite around the state for the entire season.
At 26-0, the Lady Cherokees won their second consecutive region title and believe they have what it takes to win it all. It may only take one thing that is outside of their control.
“It’s going to take a little luck,” coach Sterling Hicks said. “We know we’re good enough. But we know there are nights we can’t shoot, so it just takes a little luck to get all the way.”
The Columbus girls have been nearly as impressive as Kendrick. Sporting just a single loss this season, they have won with stingy defense and a good transition offense, similar to the Lady Cherokees. The Lady Blue Devils feature what is sure to be one of the biggest frontcourts in the state. They host Gilmer County on Friday.
The Northside girls, who are the only team to top Columbus in its incredibly successful season, will host Glynn Academy. The boys will host Richmond Hill. Both games will be on Friday at Northside.
The Northside boys’ season hasn’t been a surprise as much as it has just been impressive. After losing last season’s All-Bi-City boys player of the year, R.J. Sessions, it would have been understandable if the team took a bit of a slide. Instead, it won its region again and has high hopes for the Class AAAAA playoffs.
The Carver boys, who made an impressive postseason run a year ago, will try to take it a step further as a top seed in Class AAA this season. They’ll host Jackson-Atlanta in the first round on Saturday.
Aside from the region champions, the Manchester girls and boys will both host first-round games after earning the second seed in their respective region tournaments. The girls will host Arnuchee on Friday and the boys Dade County on Saturday.
The Spencer boys and girls both advanced to the postseason, but will travel in the first round. The boys earned a 4 seed and the girls a 3 seed. Both will play at Calhoun on Saturday.
The Jordan boys, who have gone to back-to-back Class AA final fours, will travel to Model on Friday. The Hardaway boys, a 4 seed, will travel to top seed Jenkins, which Northside knocked out in the quarterfinals last season, on Saturday. The Lady Hawks, a 3 seed, will play at Ware County on Friday.
Follow David on Twitter @leprepsports or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ledgerenquirersports.