The first round of the GHSA State Tournament has come and gone. Our LakePoint Hoops staff has five takeaways from this week’s action.
March Madness is still a few weeks away at the college level, but the upsets that generally come with it were alive and well this week in the opening round of the GHSA State Tournament. SIX teams came into the tournament as the No. 4 seed out of their region and knocked off a No. 1 seed on the road: Westlake, Hillgrove, Lithonia, Bainbridge, Hart County, and Cedar Grove. In the single A private and single A public brackets, power rankings are used to determine the seeding as opposed to how a team finishes in its region tournament. The biggest upset in those brackets came from Holy Innocents (No. 24) defeating Hebron Christian (No. 9) by a score of 79-58.
· Sophomore guard Scoot Henderson, who is ranked among the top prospects nationally in the 2022 class, saved Kell from a first-round exit after a 23-5 season. In the overtime win over Miller Grove, Henderson went for 49 points on only 23 shots to push the Longhorns into a second-round matchup with Warner Robins.
· There were several unsigned seniors around the state coming out with strong showings this weekend. In Lithonia’s road win at Hiram, senior big man Frank Champion made his impact felt with a 19-points, 15-rebounds performance. He was dominant on both ends. Despite a loss at home to Westlake, senior big man Zack Vickers led Cherokee with a really impressive 19 points as well, which included a pair of three-pointers late to keep the game within reach. Cedar Shoals cruised to a 72-47 win over Carver behind double-doubles from its standout seniors. Guard Tyler Johnson went for 25 points along with 11 rebounds, while forward Quincy Canty recorded 16 points and 10 rebounds. Milton senior guard Evan Hurst has been a big part of Eagles success this season and continued to play at a high level with 18 points in the first-round win over Central Gwinnett.
· Norcross survived a little bit of a scare in its first-round matchup with Lambert. Like Kell, Norcross came in as the No. 2 seed out of its region after a terrific 24-3 season, but the Blue Devils trailed at the half to a very good Lambert team. Head coach Jesse McMillan decided to crank up the pressure in the second half and it sparked his team to a 66-49 victory. J.T. Thor, one of the top available forwards in the 2020 class nationally, was dominant in the paint for the Blue Devils with several monster dunks and was an enforcer in the paint defensively.
· We’ll discuss more about this as the action picks back up on Wednesday and Thursday night, but the results of the first-round games gave us some really intriguing matchups in the Sweet 16. The most talked about game of the second-round will be in Gwinnett County as Pebblebrook travels to Grayson on Wednesday for game that will have nine prospects on the court who already claim a Division 1 offer.