AAAAAA Second Round Preview

Photo by Ty Freeman

#2 Pope (24-5) @ #1 Pebblebrook (24-5)

The Greyhounds visit the Falcons after dropping Johns Creek 70-57. Pope nearly won the Region 5 title over Wheeler, but a missed shot with five seconds left was rebounded by Wheeler and thrown deep over Pope’s head and laid in at the buzzer to stun the Greyhounds. GCSU-signee Chase Hutchins is the leader on the floor for Pope. Garrick DeBowles play inside coupled with 6-foot-9 Drew Romich’s three-point shooting makes Pope a tough cover. Coach Pat Abney hangs his hat of defense and will try to control tempo. Pebblebrook features one of the most talented starting fives in the state. Ty Hudson (Clemson), Derek Ogbeide (UGA), Jared Harper, and Trhae Mitchell do the bulk of the scoring. The Falcons drilled Kennesaw Mountain 81-52 in the first round.

#2 Lowndes (11-15) @ #1 Norcross (26-3)

Possibly the hottest team in AAAAAA, the Blue Devils have ripped off 17-consectutive wins. The front court of Ricky Madison and Rayshaun Hammonds is a nightmare for opposing teams while the backcourt Devin Huffman and Tim Cameron are just as troubling. Berkmar managed to hang in with Norcross before falling 55-49. In a battle of two teams with losing records, the Vikings defeated Lovejoy 83-72 in round one. Brandon Benjamin and Octavious Fudge must have big games if Lowndes wants to continue dancing.

#2 Alpharetta (24-5) @ #1 McEachern (21-7)

The Raiders avenged an earlier buzzer beater loss to Milton by thumping them 71-52 in round one. Big men Devontae Cacok and Jaylon Gamble are two focal points on offense. Cacok will be playing his college ball at UNC-Wilmington. McEachern will attack Alpharetta with Brandon Caruthers and A.J. Jones. Caruthers turned in a big performance in round one as the Indians held on in double overtime against Westlake, 67-56.

#2 Rockdale County (21-7) @ #1 Shiloh (25-3)

Shiloh remains one of the few teams yet to taste defeat in the state of Georgia. The Generals have romped through competition including pounding a balanced Mill Creek team 55-37. The dynamic duo of Kareem Brewton and Josh Okogie both score nearly 20 points per game while big man Cedric Guillaume anchors the paint at 6-foot-6. Rockdale slipped past Valdosta in overtime, 60-56. Three players average double digits led by Connor Ferrell at 16.8. The Bulldogs have some decent height on their roster and are led by Dwayne Brown in rebounding at 7.2 per game while he also contributes 13.1 points offensively.

#3 Archer (20-9) @ #1 Tucker (27-2)

Two Tigers meet in the second round. Tucker has successfully transitioned to AAAAAA and has not skipped a beat after playing the role of perennial power in AAAAA. They routed Lee County 77-51 in round one. The Tigers are led by Auburn-signee Bryce Brown and Ayinde Russell. Jon Stephens and Josh Parker are two other key components to Head Coach James Hartry’s offense. Archer slipped past Duluth 51-46. Kwei Larty led all scorers with 14 points. He and Aleem Ford played big games to upend the Wildcats.

#2 Douglas County (22-7) @ #1 Wheeler (26-2)

Wheeler, another team yet to lose against a team from Georgia, will face a hard-nosed Douglas County team with strong guards. Wheeler blew past Centennial 64-37 in round one. Jaylen Brown, the No. 2 ranked player in the nation, along with Shembari Phillips (Tennessee) give the Wildcats more than enough fire power. Big man Hakeem Anchrum and guards Cam Jordan and Darius Perry must be x-factors if Wheeler wants to live up to the hype and bring home another state championship. The Tigers downed North Cobb, 60-39. They have played stiff competition all year long including three meetings with Pebblebrook. K’ja Johnson, Kalen Clifton, and Brandon Robinson must control the pace of the game while Corey Tillery needs to get hot from deep to give the Tigers a chance at the upset.

#4 Newton County (21-8) @ #2 Dacula (20-8)

The Rams came away with the biggest upset of the night as they traveled down to South Georgia and handed defending champ Tift County just its second loss of the season and ended its hopes of a repeat, 52-49. Newton crashes the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2011 behind Head Coach Rick Rasmussen. JaNaud Notae played a big role in the upset, scoring 22 points. Jaquan Simms and D.J. Hill are two other experienced guards that lead the Rams’ offense. The Falcons have flown under the radar all season, but feature one of the best scoring trios in the classification. Kevon Tucker, Keshawn Gibbs, and Derek St. Hilaire can go toe-to-toe with anyone in the state. The trio helped cool off the surging North Gwinnett Bulldogs who had won eight of their last 10, 73-62.



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