GHSA State Championship Preview: McCamish Pavilion Edition

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Posted On: 03/5/18 1:38 PM

This year, the Georgia high school state championships will be played over the course of four days and in two locations. Classes 1A-Public, 2A, 3A, and 5A will be played over the first days, March 7th and 8th, at the Macon Centreplex while classes 1A-Private, 4A, 6A, and 7A will be played in Georgia Tech’s home gym McCamish Pavilion in downtown Atlanta over the weekend, March 9th and 10th. In this article we take a look at the games to be played over the weekend in the state’s capital and a prediction on each matchup.

Friday Games:

1A-Private Championship

  • #6 Aquinas vs. #4 Saint Francis
    • In the only classification that handles their state tournament seeding by power rankings based on the entirety of the season, there were a few upsets to get to where we are now. Saint Francis knocking off 5th ranked Savannah Christian in the Sweet 16 was their upset and Aquinas taking down 2nd ranked Eagles Landing Christian Academy in the final four represented their upset. Both squads have been consistent all year and it will be a battle of styles as Saint Francis, led by their all-state sophomore point guard Dwon Odom, likes to get up and down with the best of them while Aquinas, who can score prefers their games in the 50s and 60s. Aquinas is led by their lengthy back court of 6’3” Tre Gomillion and 6’4” Daniel Parrish, who led the way in their semifinal win with 11 and 12 points, respectively. With the way the Knights of Saint Francis have been playing over the course of the year and their solid supporting cast including sophomore forwards Sam Hines and Chase Ellis I think they cap off the season with their third 1-A Private state crown in five years, 78-64.
      • Aquinas’ Road to the Championship
        Dwon Odom
        • 1st Round – Bye
        • 2nd Round – Defeated Savannah Christian (63-47)
        • 3rd Round – Defeated Brookstone (66-41)
        • 4th Round – Defeated ELCA (47-41)
      • Saint Francis’ Road to the Championship
        • 1st Round – Bye
        • 2nd Round – Defeated Walker (73-57)
        • 3rd Round – Defeated North Cobb Christian (87-62)
        • 4th Round – Defeated Holy Innocents (83-54)

6A Championship:

  • #1 Gainesville vs. #2 Langston Hughes
    • The class 6A tournament bracket was about as chalked up as you could imagine. 5 of the 8 number seeds advanced to the elite 8, with 3 of those region winners making it to Columbus State, site of the final four matchups. In the end it’s the top ranked squads making it to the championship game and it should be one for the books on Friday night. Langston Hughes comes in as the defending 6A champions and with arguably the best player left in the state tournament regardless of classification in Virginia Tech signee Landers Nolley. He has willed his team to a chance to repeat and is still averaging over 30 points per game this late in the season. He poured in 27 points against Jonesboro this past weekend and with the help Tyrel Morgan and Tyler Smith the Panthers will look to do the unthinkable and go back to back in Georgia’s second highest classification. The Red Elephants of Gainesville come in with a balanced offensive attack and one that is as potent as any squad in the state. Reaching 100 points twice in the state tournament cannot go unnoticed and it seems that their tough non-region schedule earlier this season has paid dividends for them recently. Sophomore guard Rafael Rubel led the way with 22 points in the semifinal and twins Jarred and Jarrel Rosser chipped in with 29 points combined as well. That scoring output doesn’t even include their two best prospects in MTSU commit KJ Buffen and Lincoln-Memorial commit Xavier Bledson, or senior guard Kajuan Hale who are capable of posting big numbers as well. With so many weapons offensively and revenge on their minds from a season ago (losing to Langston Hughes at home in the Elite 8) I will go with the Red Elephants to win this game 87-77.
  • Gainesville’s Road to the Championship
    • 1st Round – Pope (83-47)
    • 2nd Round – Defeated Alexander (82-57)
    • 3rd Round – Defeated Lakeside, Evans (111-66)
    • 4th Round – Defeated Heritage, Conyers (102-86)

      Xavier Bledson
  • Langston Hughes’ Road to the Championship
    • 1st Round – Defeated Allatoona (68-62)
    • 2nd Round – Lanier (70-57)
    • 3rd Round – Defeated Coffee (71-67)
    • 4th Round – Defeated Jonesboro (69-49)

Saturday’s Games:

4A Championship

  • #2 St. Pius vs. #1 Upson-Lee
    • Anyone up for a state championship rematch? That’s what you’re getting in class 4A with the Golden Lions of St. Pius X and the Knights from Upson-Lee. St. Pius comes into this game off a gutsy performance against a scrappy Baldwin team that took a 5 point sequence in the 4th quarter to seal the win. Senior guards Everett Lane and Troy Stevens lead this bunch as well as junior point guard Matthew Gonzalo. The Golden Lions are looking to wear you down with full court pressure for the entire game and with them being so deep in numbers they usually succeed in that regard. The Knights like to go up tempo as well and their go to guy, senior guard and MTSU commit Tye Fagan, usually paces them. Junior guard Zyrice Scott as well as junior forward and four star football prospect Travon Walker play an integral role in their state record 62 consecutive wins and counting dating back to last season. These two teams are familiar with one another and as close as I think this one will be, I think Pius’ championship defeat from last year propels them this year and ends the Knights’ streak in the last game of the season for this classification, 67-64.
      • St. Pius’ Road to the Championship
        • 1st Round – Defeated White County (76-34)
        • 2nd Round – Defeated Troup (66-46)
        • 3rd Round – Defeated Carver-Columbus (77-65)
        • 4th Round – Defeated Baldwin (66-61)
      • Upson-Lee’s Road to the Championship
        • 1st Round – Defeated Northside-Columbus (65-34)
        • 2nd Round – Defeated Salem (52-44)
        • 3rd Round – Defeated Lafayette (70-40)
        • 4th Round – Defeated Sandy Creek (52-51)

          Corey Hightower

7A Championship:

  • # 6 Meadowcreek vs. #2 Norcross
    • Region championship or state championship? These two teams, both from region 7 of Georgia’s highest classification, will be playing against one another for the fourth time this season. The first matchup was handled by Norcross at home by a double digit margin. However, the last two matchups, one regular season game at Meadowcreek and the region final at Central Gwinnet, both games ended in buzzer beater fashion in favor of Norcross. Junior guard and the region’s player of the year Kyle Sturdivant sank two three point baskets as time expired for a 64-63 win in their true road game and a 54-53 win in the region championship. The Blue Devils have been lead this postseason by their super sophomore guard Brandon Boston Jr, senior forward and UGA commit JoJo Toppin, junior center Issa Muhammad, and senior point guard Dalvin White. Norcross has had a tough road but none bigger than their elite 8 match-up against nationally ranked McEachern which they dominated and have since used it as momentum to spring them into the championship game for the second consecutive year. Meadowcreek came into the state tournament with that agonizing defeat from the region championship on their minds but has since used that as fuel to reel off 4 straight wins against good competition as well; going on the road to beat a talented Lambert team and knocking off a hot Grayson team in the final four. The Mustangs want to slow you down, play in the 50s, and beat you on the glass with their Division I frontcourt of Duquesne commit Amari Kelly and Detroit-Mercy commit Corey Hightower. Throw in athletic junior wing Jamir Chaplin and rebounds are hard to come by against this team. It will be who wants it the most in this matchup and I think coming off a state championship loss a season ago and with a more talented roster top to bottom, Norcross prevails in another thriller 65-60.
      • Meadowcreek’s Road to the Championship
        • 1st Round – Defeated South Gwinnett (43-34)
        • 2nd Round – Defeated Lambert (56-47)
        • 3rd Round – Defeated Campbell (77-67)
        • 4th Round – Defeated Grayson (57-55)
      • Norcross’ Road to the State Championship
        • 1st Round – Defeated Archer (77-62)
        • 2nd Round – Defeated Duluth (88-63)
        • 3rd Round – Defeated McEachern (75-55)
        • 4th Round – Defeated Newton (86-66)