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Lady Tigers rematch Treutlen in playoffs

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Lady Tigers rematch Treutlen in playoffs

    CLAXTON — When the Claxton girls open up the Class A state basketball playoffs tonight, they might have to get over some déjà vu.
    The Lady Tigers will host region foe Treutlen tonight at 6 p.m. just a week after defeating the Lady Vikings in the Region 3-A tournament semifinals.
    In previous years, Class A — like the rest of the classifications in GHSA — paired up regions with each other in the first round of the state playoffs. But with this season’s separation of the public and private state championships, the brackets have been left up to seeded based on a power poll which has paired up Claxton and Treutlen despite meeting twice already this season.
    “It’s definitely a little different,” Claxton coach Laura Aziz said. “Usually, any team you come across in the state tournament is someone that you’re seeing for the first time.”
    Both teams will be ready for whatever their opponent has to throw at them, but Claxton sees that familiarity as a benefit. The official brackets weren’t released until Wednesday afternoon, leaving the Tigers just over 48 hours to prepare.
    “I think that works out pretty well for us,” Aziz said. “If it had been another team, I’m not sure that we would have been able to get any tape on them. With Treutlen, we have a good idea of what to expect and we know what we’ll have to do to win.”
    Still, the Tigers are prepared for a big test.
    Claxton outlasted Treutlen for a narrow 49-46 win last week, but the Vikings claimed a 49-33 victory back in December.
    Treutlen was undefeated against Region 3-A opponents until Claxton’s win and has plenty of motivation to bring its best game onto the court tonight.
    “Our loss (to Calvary Day) in the region championship was frustrating, but it has also made us hungry and provided us with a good week of practice,” Aziz said. “I’m sure that Treutlen feels the same way and is looking forward to getting another shot at us.”
    Claxton will have a bit of an advantage as the Tigers will get to play on their home court. Playing in the cozy confines of the Tiger’s Den, Claxton rolled to a 56-38 win over Marion County in the first round of last year’s state playoffs and Treutlen will travel to Claxton for the first time after hosting the December meeting and playing last week’s game in Millen.
    Regardless of where the game is played, Claxton has been building up to what Aziz hopes is a peak at just the right time of the season.
    The Tigers have developed a dependable defense and inside game that they hope will wear down the Vikings while Jasmine Price and Devonna Brewton roam the perimeter looking for chances to strike.
    “Now it’s a race to the finish,” Aziz said. “I really like where we’re at right now. Our shooting could be a little bit better, but I think that we’ve shown that we can execute our game plan against anybody that we have to play.”
    The winner of tonight’s game will advance to a Feb. 26 state quarterfinal matchup against either Calhoun County or Towns County.

    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9404.   

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