Tourney Time: State playoffs ramp up as local teams enter Sweet 16

By Zach Shugan

The first round of the GHSA basketball state playoffs took place Tuesday and Wednesday, with several local teams beginning their run at a state championship.

Of the 13 local teams who made their classification’s state tournament, eight won in the first round and advanced to the Sweet 16 in their respective classes.

Here is a breakdown of each local team’s Sweet 16 game, which will be played either Friday or Saturday.

BOYS BASKETBALL

Class 7A

No. 1 Milton vs No. 2 Archer

Milton (24-2) hosts two-seed Archer (15-12) in the Sweet 16 after blowing out four-seed Mill Creek by 42 points, 89-47, in the first round.

Milton sophomore Kanaan Carlyle put on a show in the first-round win, going off for 35 points, 5 assists and 5 rebounds.

Archer is coming off a two-point win over Gainesville. The Tigers’ resume includes wins over fellow Sweet 16 teams Norcross, Cherokee and Collins Hill.

If the Eagles defeat the Tigers, they’re looking at a home game in the Elite Eight against the winner of three-seed Parkview and four-seed Newnan, two teams that pulled off upsets on the road in the first round.

Class 6A

No. 1 Chattahoochee vs No. 3 Buford

Chattahoochee (21-3) overcame a three-point deficit at halftime to win 68-60 and eliminate former region foe Pope in the first round.

Jordan Brown (25 points) and A.J. White (23 points) continue to provide instant offense for the Cougars.

Chattahoochee matches up with three-seed Buford (19-7) in the Sweet 16 after the Wolves clawed out a two-point win over Alexander.

Buford finished third in Reg. 8-6A, which features last year’s state runner-up Lanier. The Wolves beat Lanier once and lost to the Longhorns twice, playing them close each time.

If the Cougars knock off Buford, they would advance to the Elite Eight, where they’d take on the winner of one-seed Lee County and three-seed Brunswick.

No. 2 Centennial vs No. 4 Winder-Barrow

Centennial (22-4) is on to the Sweet 16 after handling South Cobb, 72-58, in the Knights’ first playoff game since 2015.

Guards KJ Spooney and Mansir Williamson went for 17 points apiece in the win, and senior Kyle Duncan posted a double-double (15 points and 12 rebounds).

Two-seed Centennial received good news the next night, as one-seed Douglas County, ranked No. 4 in Class 6A, fell to four-seed Winder-Barrow in its first-round game.

Instead of having to travel over an hour away to take on Douglas Co. in the Sweet 16, the Knights will host Winder-Barrow (16-10) in Roswell on Friday night.

A win for Centennial would put the Knights in the Elite Eight for the second time in program history, either on the road at one-seed Evans (No. 3 in 6A) or at home against three-seed Tucker.

Class 5A

No. 2 Blessed Trinity @ No. 1 St. Pius X

Blessed Trinity (19-8) bounced back from a tough loss in the region championship to cruise past Lithia Springs, 78-55, in the first round of the state playoffs.

Four players scored in double figures for the Titans, led by Region Player of the Year Jax Bouknight’s 33 points.

BT faces a tough test in the Sweet 16 going to Northeast Atlanta to face St. Pius X (23-3).

If the Titans win, they’ll be on the Elite Eight, where they’ll meet the winner of one-seed Tri-Cities, the top-ranked team in Class 5A, and three-seed Locust Grove.

Class A Private

No. 1 Mount Pisgah vs No. 3 Providence Christian

Mount Pisgah (23-6) faces Providence Christian (23-4) in one of the best Sweet 16 matchups in the state.

The top-ranked Patriots are fresh off a 63-41 first-round win over North Cobb Christian, winning by 22 points after trailing by the 3 at halftime.

Providence, ranked No. 4 in Class A Private, took down two-seed George Walton on the road in the first round, bouncing back from a third-place finish in its region tournament.

If Mount Pisgah wins, it’ll move on to the Elite Eight for the second year in a row. The Patriots will host the winner of St. Anne-Pacelli, ranked right behind them at No. 2 in Class A Private, and Southwest Atlanta Christian.

No. 2 St. Francis vs No. 4 Galloway

St. Francis (14-9) will play in the Sweet 16 for the fifth time in the five years since Class A Private expanded its state tournament field from 16 to 32 teams. The Knights will take on Galloway (18-4) for the right to play in the Elite Eight.

The Knights controlled three-seed Walker, 67-58, in the first round, leading wire-to-wire in the first game without All-Region junior Seth Hubbard, who suffered an injury in the region championship game.

The Knights, ranked No. 9 in Class A Private, have their work cut out for them Saturday against No. 6-ranked Galloway.

If they can take care of business against the Scots, the Knights would move on to Elite Eight, where they would face one of two Top 10 teams in Greenforest and Trinity Christian.

GIRLS BASKETBALL

Class 7A

No. 3 Roswell @ No. 1 North Forsyth

Roswell (11-11) took down two-seed Peachtree Ridge on the road in the first round of the state playoffs, advancing to the Sweet 16 for the second time in three years.

Makala Torrence, Lani Tibbetts and Maren Cline all scored in double figures for the Hornets in the 50-47 win.

The Hornets are back on the road in the Sweet 16, going to Cumming to take on the Reg. 6-7A champs North Forsyth (22-4), ranked No. 7 in Class 7A.

If three-seed Roswell can pull off another upset, the Hornets will have a chance to further cement their status as road warriors in the Elite Eight. The Hornets would be on the road at one-seed Brookwood or two-seed Campbell.

Class A Private

No. 1 St. Francis vs No. 2 Wesleyan

St. Francis (19-4) shrugged off a slow start against North Cobb Christian in the first round to win 68-41, advancing to the Sweet 16 for the fifth year in a row.

The Lady Knights will play host to Wesleyan (12-5), the three seed out of Reg. 5-A Private, who won by 21 points on the road in the first round at Tallulah Falls.

If No. 4-ranked St. Francis can get past the No. 6 Wolves, they’d host one of two Top 10 teams, Eagle’s Landing or Trinity Christian, in the Elite Eight.

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