Georgia holds its own in national tournament

Sonny Kennedy

Six Georgia teams headed to Hoover, Ala., with hopes of winning the Nation Select 7-on-7 Championship, but all fell short of the ultimate prize. Along the way, however, Georgia combined to go 38-25-2 and sent both North Gwinnett and North Cobb to the semifinals. Pool play began on Thursday and the pool of 32 of the nation’s top teams played for seeding in Friday’s championship bracket.

North Cobb junior quarterback Tyler Queen led the Warriors to a 7-0 record in pool play, and as a result, was named Thursday’s top offensive performer by tournament officials. The Auburn commit earned North Cobb the No. 2 seed, and the remaining field of Georgia schools came into Friday at North Gwinnett (No. 9), Lassiter (No. 10), Valdosta (No. 15), Jefferson County (No. 17) and Alpharetta (No. 18).

When the final day began, North Gwinnett and Jefferson County were the only two Georgia teams on the bracket’s left field of 16 teams. North Gwinnett beat Spain Park, Ala., 32-31 in the first round and then passed Brandon, Miss., 26-14. Jefferson County topped Lexington Catholic, Ky. 20-12 in the opening round and then upset the No. 1 seed Dutch Fork, S.C., 25-20. The Jefferson County win set up a North Gwinnett vs. Jefferson County Quarterfinal and North Gwinnett would advance with a 22-8 win.

Jefferson County was eliminated the following game by Oxford, Miss., 27-8. North Gwinnett entered the losers’ bracket with a 32-16 loss to eventual tournament champions Kenton, Ohio, 32-16 and fell the following round to OP Walker, La.

Valdosta, Lassiter, North Cobb and Alpharetta all were on the right half of the bracket, and crossed paths often. Alpharetta sent Valdosta to the losers’ bracket after the first round with a 19-18 win. The next round, North Cobb won the Georgia matchup and handed Alpharetta a 25-22 loss. Valdosta eliminated Lassiter 28-0, but would lose two games later to OP Walker, La. 19-18. Alpharetta was also eliminated in a one-point game, losing 37-36 to Spain Park, Ala. North Cobb did not lose until facing off with Byrnes, S.C. in the quarterfinals. The tournament runners-up beat the Warriors 31-19. The following game North Cobb fell just short to Oxford, Miss. 24-21.

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