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Weekly Whatup 2.24
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           Man, what a week. I stood at Metter High School this past week, leaning against the wall behind the baseline watching the end of the Emanuel County Institute-Savannah Country Day girls’ game — an appetizer before Portal took on Calvary Day in the Region 3-A tournament. It dawned on me that, “Yes, I do love basketball.”

            Country Day ended up holding on to beat the team from Twin City, but afterward the Lady Hornets were too exhausted to celebrate. One of the ECI Ladies just crouched at the end of the court with her head in her hands. And that was just a semifinal.

            That’s how it was around here for the last few days. Prep athletes playing with emotion on their sleeve, diving for every loose ball, envisioning themselves with trophy in hand and medal on neck.

            There were upsets, shockers, expected wins and everything in between. Let’s review.


Region 2-AAAA

            Statesboro won it all, as expected. What wasn’t expected is how they got there. The Blue Devils ran all over second-seeded Glynn Academy with relative ease after struggling with No. 4 Wayne County in the semis.

            But, as coach Lee Hill might say, a win’s a win — SHS got the two it needed and now have their sights set on a state title. They return home Saturday at 7 p.m. against Thomas County Central.

            The Lady Blue Devils went 1-2 over the past week, and that was pretty much expected. The good news is SHS gets to travel to No. 1 Bainbridge… yeah it’s good news…I’ll feed you, baby birds.

            We’ve explained over and over how young this SHS squad is. They get to experience the state tournament for what will likely be the first of four straight trips for the class of 2012. They have nothing to lose this Friday night, and whether they come up just short or get blown out the water, they’ll be better for the experience come 2010.


Region 3-AA

            In Brooklet this past week, Screven County came out of nowhere.

            A No. 5 seed, a 2-6 record in sub-region play during the regular season and a No. 1 and No. 2 seed in front of them in the bracket on the path to the title game. We kept wondering when this SCHS team would peak. Peak accomplished.

            The Gamecocks won three games in four days, knocking off Dodge County, highly-ranked and one-seeded Laney and super-talented East Laurens before falling to No. 1-ranked Dublin in the title game. Coach Brent Anderson said at the start of the tourney that the regular season didn’t matter, as long as you play well in the tournament. His boys backed it up.

            Screven now gets a home game this Saturday night against Greene County. Can they keep their luck going?

            On the girls’ side, Southeast Bulloch will also remember 2009 for its upset win in the first round of the tournament. The Lady Yellow Jackets were rewarded with a second round game against powerhouse Laney, but who’s paying attention to that!?

            The smiles on the young Jacket faces were memorable after the opening-round win over East Laurens. For a team that found wins hard to come by in the regular season, beating ELHS was their own championship.


Region 3-A

            Portal is back.

            For a team on the other end of the spectrum from 2008’s historic run, no one much expected this year’s Panthers to do what they’ve done. But go back to state is what they’ll do — just ask Johnson County if they’re for real.

            Portal knocked off the top-seeded Trojans just to qualify for state, then took Calvary Day to the wire, losing by three in the semis. In the consolation round, Savannah Christian watched its 20-point lead evaporate and PHS celebrate a No. 3 seed. Pretty amazing.

            Now the Panthers get to travel to the defending state champs Hancock-Central. Remember the Bulldogs? Yeah, they eliminated PHS in the Final Four in 2008.

            So will Portal be scared? Nah, after a brutal schedule and a long road in region play, the Panthers would likely nothing more than knock off seventh-ranked HCCS on Saturday.


GISA Class AA state tournament

            Pay attention folks, the Bulloch Academy Lady Gators are just two wins away from a state title.

            We knew this team was special when it matched the school record for wins. Now it has a chance to do something truly historic starting Thursday night at Georgia College and State University.

            The Lady Gators draw Arlington Christian, a team which has won its two previous games 64-29 and 69-39. Let’s not go David v. Goliath, but Bulloch is certainly the underdog.

            If BA is to prevail they’ll get the Tiftarea-Strong Rock winner on Saturday afternoon. Let’s hope by about 6 p.m. Saturday we’re all celebrating a BA state title.