The girls playoffs around the state of Georgia are getting started as we speak. Today, favorites may go down and Cinderellas may arise.
For now, though, I’ll stick to what I know.
Here’s a quick look at what’s ahead. Follow me on Twitter. I’ll have thoughts, updates and blogs throughout the playoffs. Send me your picks and thoughts on my picks. Civil debate is always encouraged.
Class AA, Girls
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Local outlook: Manchester, Kendrick
The Kendrick girls may be the best chance the Bi-City area has of landing a state champion. At 27-0, the Lady Cherokees have been nothing short of dominant in nearly every game they have played this year. There is competition from a couple of other powerhouses (see below), but Kendrick has as good a shot as any.
My favorites in each bracket: Laney, Kendrick, Thomasville, Wesleyan
Wesleyan and Laney are right on par with Kendrick. The former is widely considered the top team in Class AA. If all four of these teams make it to the semifinals, that will be a very contentious two rounds of basketball.
Dark horses in each bracket: Pelham, GAC, Dublin, Calhoun
GAC is the interesting one to me because it will face Kendrick (if both win first-rounders) in the second round. That’s a tough draw for both teams. GAC is a very talented team and could pose a challenge for Kendrick. If it were to sneak through, it would have a great shot of advancing to the semifinals.
The pick: Wesleyan over Kendrick
Class AAA, Girls
Local outlook: Carver
Look, there’s no denying the Lady Tigers have their work cut out for them with Washington County in the first round. As a 4-seed, they get one of the classification’s best teams right away. I don’t expect a win for Carver, but I do expect it to come out with its best effort.
My favorites in each bracket: Washington County, North Oconee, Beach, Buford
A handful of good teams, and my gut says Buford is the favorite. Don’t count out any of the others, though. Washington County and North Oconee have combined for three losses this season.
Dark horses in each bracket: Dawson County, St. Pius X, Chapel Hill, SW Macon
Dawson County, a 2-seed, is considered a top-10 team. Going against North Oconee in the second round would be no easy task, but a win there opens the door as Dawson County would host the quarterfinals game.
The pick: Buford over North Oconee
Class AAAA, Girls
Local outlook: Columbus
The Lady Blue Devils have a difficult, but winnable game against Chestatee in the first round. Chestatee is led by senior post Maegan Kenimer, and shooters Erin Clifford and Sam Brown compliment her well. Neutralizing Kenimer will be the first goal for Columbus. If it can do that, then a mini-upset wouldn’t be all that surprising.
My favorites in each bracket: Cross Creek, Redan, Jonesboro, Columbia
These should be heavy favorites, particularly Columbia. Redan has the minor inconvenience of being a 2-seed, but it should still be the favorite to advance out of its bracket.
Dark horses in each bracket: Mary Persons, Marist, South Effingham, LaGrange
Can a two-loss team really be a dark horse? I don’t know, but that’s all Mary Persons or South Effingham have. It wouldn’t come as much of a surprise if either of those teams make some noise.
The pick: Columbia over Cross Creek
Class AAAAA, Girls
Local outlook: Hardaway, Northside
Hardaway enters the playoffs on a hot streak, having won four in a row and eight of its last nine. Not a bad place to be. It doesn’t necessarily have statewide recognition as one of the favorites, but it is nonetheless a talented team deserving of a 1-seed.
My favorites in each bracket: McIntosh, Tucker, Forest Park, Kell
Tucker, a 3-seed, is still one of the better teams in the state. It has a tougher road because of its seeding, but I think it is plenty good enough to make a run.
Dark horses in each bracket: Starr’s Mill, Miller Grove, Hardaway, Cedar Grove
First, let me fully disclose that I chose Starr’s Mill because I attended high school there. Sue me. I honestly can’t say I know a ton about the team this year, but a quarterfinals matchup with rival McIntosh sounds fun. In the case of Miller Grove, that’s a talented team that is unfortunately in a tough bracket. Don’t be shocked to see it advance, though.
The pick: Kell over Tucker
Class AAAAAA, Girls
Local outlook: None
Proceed to the next section.
My favorites in each bracket: Hillgrove, Parkview, North Cobb, North Gwinnett
Parkview is undefeated and North Gwinnett has one loss. Do I really need to elaborate much more than that? These are all good teams and, again, could set up a heck of a semifinals round. I will note, however, that undefeated Parkview’s road to the semis is not an easy one with Norcross and Cherokee lying in wait.
Dark horses in each bracket: McEachern, Norcross, Tift County, Alpharetta
It could be Norcross or Cherokee here in their respective bracket, but I lean Norcross. It won’t be a shock if any of those three teams (Parkview, Norcross or Cherokee) make the semifinals (or even the final).
The pick: North Gwinnett over Parkview
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.