With all high school region hoops business settled over the weekend, DeKalb’s last standing squads were set to square off with the Peach State’s best in the GHSA state tournament.
While perennial powers partly make up the field, this time of year is typically owned by the hot team who seizes the moment and takes advantage of favorable matchups.
Underdogs and Cinderella teams only exist on paper here … in reality, regardless of classification, it’s anybody’s ball game.
Here is a rundown of the area teams who earned GHSA state playoff berths.
The Region Champ
Druid Hills ended an improbable romp through the Region 2-AAAAAA tourney by nipping No. 1 seed Rockdale County 82-81 in overtime in the title game.
The Red Devils are anchored by the senior tandem of their primary big Clarence Williams and guard Deshon Burgess. The pair’s inside-outside scoring and production on the defensive end make Druid Hills a tough out for all comers. Classmate Alonzo Brantley’s solid rebounding should also come in handy.
The Red Devils (15-9) are set to host Douglas County (16-11) today at 6 p.m.
Stephenson nearly pulled off a stunning upset of No. 1 Miller Grove in their Region 6-AAAAA championship tilt over the weekend.
Instead, the Jaguars (16-12) will settle for a second seed — and the first round home game that comes with it.
Look for Stephenson to continue to ride its rotation of guard Trae Gresham, forward/centers Delmont Walton and Montez Sweat and small forward John Bradley on this playoff run.
The Jaguars were set to host Pope (20-7) in first round state action today.
Tucker, which finished as the No. 4 seed in Region 6-AAAAA, also begins its state title quest today when it travels to Sprayberry (19-9).
The Tigers, led by dynamic swingman Davonte Fitzgerald, have the talent to make a long postseason run.
Marist’s path to the Class 4-A championship was set to begin this week on the road at Dalton.
The War Eagles have blue chip big man Quinton Stephens and perimeter shooting on the their side.
St. Pius X also played its way into hosting a first round matchup — this one against East Hall.
Like their male hoops-playing peers, DeKalb’s other GHSA championship hopefuls are embarking on their own respective playoff odysseys this week.
Handicapping this top flight’s group and its chances against the field — and each other in some cases — appears to be a fool’s errand.
Each squad heads into the tournament with some measure of overriding talent and/or depth. Trying to figure out who’s peaking is tricky.
The Lady Raiders dropped two games all season, both to reigning Class 4-A titlist Columbia … the second coming by way of a three-point loss in their Region 6-AAAA final over the weekend.
Redan appears to have all the requisite parts to win it all, including the scoring punch provided by juniors Destini McClary, Jamese Abney, Brea Elmore and Jada Byrd — each averaging in the teens in points.
The Lady Raiders were set to host Dalton in their first round GHSA state matchup earlier this week.
The Lady Tigers (24-4) also began their quest on the road by taking on Osborne (23-5).
Tucker, led by talented juniors Erykah Davenport and Naima Jackson, were looking to get back on track. The Lady Tigers entered last week’s region tourney as the No. 1 team in all of Class 5-A before being upended in the semifinals by eventual champ Southwest DeKalb.
Stephenson, ranked just behind Tucker before last week, was also charged with taking the long road to GHSA Class 5-A glory. The Lady Jaguars, as the fourth seed, was set to travel to Kell (22-2) this week for opening round play.
Stephenson’s All-World senior Kaliyah Mitchell is looking to cap off a stellar prep career in style. Classmate Kyana Johnson has been solid.
Region 6-AAA champ St. Pius X begins its homestand against White County. Elsewhere in AAA play, the Decatur Lady Bulldogs was set to tussle with Fannin County.
In other first round action, Marist was set to travel to Northwest Whitfield this week.