The GHSA State Championships start today at the Macon Centreplex with eight great matchups through Saturday evening. Our LakePoint Hoops team gives you a guide on what you need to know as you watch this weekend.
1A Public: GREENFOREST VS ST. FRANCIS
· Time: March 4th at 4:00
· Breakdown: If you were making a prediction before the tournament started, this is probably the matchup you would have picked. These are two programs who have been here before and still have really good rosters. St. Francis is the defending champ in this division and once again will be led by Xavier signee and star point guard Dwon Odom (Pictured).
· Key matchup: Sophomore guard Jalen Forrest has come on strong this year for Greenforest in the backcourt, but he faces probably his toughest test yet going up against Odom. How this matchup and the rest of the backcourt matchups go will probably determine which way this game goes.
1A Private: HANCOCK CENTRAL VS TREUTLEN
· Time: March 4th at 8:00
· Breakdown: Can Treutlen become the only program in Georgia to go undefeated in the 2019-20 season? That’s what is at stake here for the Vikings as they take on the Hancock Central Bulldogs, who come in with a 27-3 record of their own. These are two programs used to winning, so expect this one to be a tight, highly competitive game.
· Key matchup: Darious Walker had 19 points in the over Wilcox County in the semifinals for Hancock Central to push them into the championship. He meets up with Treutlen’s Kam Jordan, who showed his scoring prowess in last month’s region championship game going for 35 points.
2A: THERRELL VS SWAINSBORO
· Time: March 5th at 4:00
· Breakdown: Swainsboro comes in with a 29-2 record and have won their tournament games by a combined 94 points, but they run into last year’s state champion, Therrell. Therrell will once again be without star junior forward Robbie Armbrester, who is out with a broken arm, but the Panthers still have plenty of talent, led by senior point guard Roman Son and senior wing Ra’Sean Frederick. This will be another really tough battle to start the day on Thursday.
· Key matchup: Junior forward Fred Seabrough had 23 points in Swainsboro’s win over Glenn Hills in the semifinal matchup. Seabrough, a highly recruited tight end in football in the 2021 class, will likely be matchup with Frederick for Therrell, which could lead to some fun back and forth.
3A: PACE ACADEMY VS JEFFERSON
· Time: March 5th at 8:00
· Breakdown: Pace Academy head coach Sharman White is no stranger to state championship games as he won six of them as head coach at Miller Grove, but this is his first appearance since taking over at Pace Academy after a stint as an assistant coach at Georgia State. His team is led by a talented trio of juniors in Madison Durr, Matthew Cleveland and Cole Middleton. Don’t sleep on Jefferson here though. The Dragons come in with a 22-7 record led by senior big man Jacob Radaker and have won their playoff games pretty comfortably all the way through.
· Key matchup: Cole Middleton matched up with Jacob Radaker will be a real battle on the blocks in this one. It’s not necessarily a player on player matchup, but whether Jefferson can contain Matthew Cleveland or not in the transition game could be a deciding factor here as well.
4A: WOODWARD ACADEMY VS CROSS CREEK
· Time: March 6th at 1:00
· Breakdown: It’s been a magical season for Cross Creek coming into the state championship with a 25-6 record. Senior forward Kobe Stewart, a Presbyterian signee, has been terrific leading the Razorbacks all year, but they now face the toughest test yet. Woodward Academy has been arguably the best team in 4A all season and the War Eagles are led by North Carolina signee/five-star big man Walker Kessler. It’s not just Kessler though. Senior point guard Michael Whitmore plays his role as well as any point guard in the state. Senior wing and Davidson signee Emory Lanier and junior wing Will Richard make this a really talented starting lineup.
· Key matchup: They might not be matched up with each other, but everything Woodward Academy does runs through Kessler and much of what Cross Creek tries to do revolves around Stewart. Stewart will need to have a huge game to keep Cross Creek in it until the end.
5A: DUTCHTOWN VS CEDAR SHOALS
· Time: March 6th at 8:00
· Breakdown: Friday night’s game could be one of the best games of the entire weekend as we have a lot of seniors hoping to really good careers on a high note. We have a 27-4 Dutchtown team matched up with a 28-3 Cedar Shoals team. For Cedar Shoals, senior guard Tyler Johnson and senior forward Quincy Canty have carried the program for the last few years, while senior forwards Cam Bryant and Jamaine Mann are the key pieces for Dutchtown.
· Key matchup: It’s exactly what we described above. We have two stud seniors on both sides here that will determine the outcome of this one.
6A: CHATTAHOOCHEE VS LANIER
· Time: March 7th at 3:00
· Breakdown: Talk about two teams playing their best at the absolute right time. Lanier and Chattahoochee have both had great seasons but have been even better in their playoff runs. Lanier stunned South Cobb with a 15-point comeback in the fourth quarter in the semifinals to make it here, while Chattahoochee avenged last year’s second round loss to Tri-Cities in the semifinals to advance.
· Key matchup: Chattahoochee junior guard A.J. White is already approaching 2,000 career points, while senior forward Cam Sheffield, who has signed with Rice, has also had a monster year for the Cougars. Lanier junior guard Andrew McConnell stepped up big for Lanier in the semifinals, while senior guard and Tulane signee Sion James has led the way most of the season. Those two matchups are key here, but also keep an eye on Chatthoochee big man David McDaniel. His shot blocking prowess and ability to hit timely mid-range jump shots could be the x-factor.
7A: WHEELER VS GRAYSON
· Time: March 7th at 7:30
· Breakdown: No team in Georgia this year has been more impressive than Grayson. The three-headed monster in the backcourt between Mississippi State signee Deivon Smith, South Florida signee Caleb Murphy, and Winthrop signee Toneari Lane has been unstoppable. Add in junior big man Ian Schieffelin and senior wing Josh Smith and you have a terrific and nearly unbeatable starting five. But Wheeler is a program that has been here before and has played in several big games. Sam Hines has been spectacular in the playoffs for the Wildcats as have senior guards Nash Kelly and Prince Davies. It’s not the most talented team in program history, but it might be the toughest and most cohesive group that is playing their best at the right time.
· Key matchup: Sam Hines and junior big man Jahiem Hudson will hold their own in the frontcourt for Wheeler against Schieffelin and Smith. But the key will be whether Wheeler’s backcourt of Kelly, Davies, and junior guard Max Harris can compete with what Grayson brings to the table. Grayson’s guards have overwhelmed just about everyone they have played, and that can’t happen for Wheeler to have a chance in this one