Central Gwinnett at Lambert
When, where: Friday, 6 p.m., at The Horn in Suwanee
Records, rankings, seedings: Central Gwinnett is 15-13, unranked in Class 7A and the No. 4 seed from Region 7-7A; Lambert is 24-2, ranked No. 3 and the No. 1 seed from Region 5.
What to know: What a difference a year makes. After missing the state playoffs last season, the Lady Longhorns are now hosting their first state tournament game in school history, earned after a thrilling 59-58 comeback victory against North Forsyth in the Region 5-7A championship game this past Friday. Region player of the year M.E. Craven will lead a deep team that thrives off the havoc it creates with its full-court pressure defense. Lambert will take on another turn-around story in Central Gwinnett, which under first-year head coach ShaLisha Davis went from 4-22 last season to 15-13 and its first state playoff berth since 2014.
Parkview at North Forsyth
When, where: Friday, 7 p.m., at Raider Arena in Coal Mountain.
Records, rankings, seedings: Parkview is 12-15, unranked in Class 7A and the No. 3 seed from Region 7-7A; North is 20-7, ranked No. 10 and the No. 2 seed from Region 5.
What to know: North Forsyth has to be encouraged with the way its play entering the state tournament, despite its last-second 59-58 loss to Lambert in the Region 5-7A championship game last Friday, particularly from freshmen Ansley Allen, Sophia D’Oliveira, Caroline Martin and Vekondja Ogbogu. Since Allen entered the starting lineup with Martin and North veterans Bella Caracciolo, Amber Jones and Cassie Markle, her shooting has made the Lady Raiders even tougher to guard. They’ll face a Parkview team not quite at its usual caliber, which might have been expected after the Panthers lost 16 seniors to graduation off last year’s team that went 23-8.
South Forsyth at Brookwood
When, where: Friday, 7 p.m., in Snellville.
Records, rankings, seedings: South is 18-9, unranked in Class 7A and the No. 3 seed from Region 5-7A; Brookwood is 20-6, ranked No. 9 and the No. 2 seed from Region 7.
What to know: The Lady War Eagles rebounded from a disappointing loss in the Region 5-7A semifinals to defeat rival West Forsyth and earn the No. 3 seed a year after missing out on the state tournament altogether. South will surely lean on the experience of guards Mari Jonassen and Emily Dreslinski and go to forwards Sara Idris and Zoe Maisel if there’s a mismatch in the paint. That might be tough to find against a Brookwood team that returned every single player from last season, including Texas A&M signee N’dea Jones. The 6-foot-2 senior led Gwinnett County in scoring last season with 17.7 points a game.
West Forsyth at Norcross
When, where: Saturday, 4 p.m., in Norcross.
Records, rankings, seedings: West is 13-13, unranked in Class 7A and the No. 4 seed from Region 5-7A; Norcross is 25-2, ranked No. 2 and the No. 1 seed from Region 7.
What to know: Of course, this will be a much different kind of Lady Wolverines team making its fourth straight state tournament appearance, particularly without dominant center Jenna Staiti (now at the University of Maryland). This time, West will need seniors Carsen Parker, Abby Quincy and Kalie Schlegel to lead the way against another formidable Norcross team. The Lady Blue Devils are led by a pair of Division I wing players in Taylor Mason (Miami) and Vanessa Blagmon (South Florida) with 5-foot-1 senior Ty Gillespie providing support in the paint.
Savannah Country Day at Pinecrest Academy
When, where: Friday, 4:30 p.m., at Pinecrest Academy in Cumming.
Records, rankings, seedings: Savannah Country Day is 13-14, unranked in Class 1A and the No. 24 seed; Pinecrest is 19-6, unranked and the No. 9 seed.
What to know: The Lady Paladins are hosting their first state tournament game since joining the Georgia High School Association, a wonderful follow-up to last season’s disappointment of missing the state tournament altogether despite an impressive record and runner-up finish at the region tournament. Pinecrest did the same this season, but the Class 1A power rating looked more favorably this season. As always, the Lady Paladins will go as the sister duo of Margaret and Regina Metz go. Margaret recently eclipsed the 2,000-point mark for her career and became the school’s all-time leading scorer, boy or girl. The two often average more points than Savannah Country Day averages as a team (35.4). Sophomore Madalaine Wynn is the Lady Hornets’ biggest playmaker who averages a double-double of 10.7 points and 10.2 rebounds a game.
Meadowcreek at Lambert
When, where: Friday, 7:30 p.m., at The Horn in Suwanee.
Records, rankings, seedings: Meadowcreek is 16-12, unranked in Class 7A and the No. 3 seed from Region 7-7A; Lambert is 23-4, unranked and the No. 2 seed from Region 5.
What to know: No, the Longhorns couldn’t continue their streak of region championships after falling 81-70 to Milton in the Region 5-7A finals last Friday, but they are hosting a state tournament game for the fourth straight season and remain as deep as ever. The starting bunch of Austin Deckard, Matt and Mitch Ganote, Andrew Melms and Jordan McIlwain get plenty of support from reserves Damon Stoudamire Jr. and Musa Thompson. But they’ll have their hands full with a Mustangs team in the state tournament for the first time since 2013. First-year head coach Curtis Gilleylen relies on forwards Anyeuri Castillo (14PPG, 6.6RPG, 2.2BPG) and Cory Hightower (10.4PPG, 6.5RPG).
South Forsyth at Berkmar
When, where: Saturday, 6 p.m., in Lilburn
Records, rankings, seedings: South is 11-17, unranked in Class 7A and the No. 3 seed from Region 5-7A; Berkmar is 20-7, ranked No. 7 and the No. 2 team from Region 7.
What to know: The War Eagles’ record might not impress, but South is a competitive bunch, led by UNC-Wilmington signee Evan Cole. How well Cole’s supporting cast of Daniel Bateman, Isaiah Magee, Sebastian Mallory, Santhosh Saravanan and others play will determine if the War Eagles can hang with another more-talented team in the first round as they did last season in a narrower-than-expected loss at Norcross. Indeed, Berkmar is an experienced bunch, led by Indiana signee Al Durham and fellow senior Jay Estime, a mid-major Division I prospect in his own right. Still, the Durham and Estime are the Patriots’ tallest players at 6-foot-4 and 6-foot-5, respectively. Can Cole (6-foot-7) and South exploit that?
West Forsyth at Norcross
When, where: Saturday, 5:30 p.m., in Norcross.
Records, rankings, seedings: West is 5-23, unranked in Class 7A and the No. 4 seed from Region 5-7A; Norcross is 22-5, ranked No. 3 and the No. 1 seed from Region 7.
What to know: West Forsyth is surely the surprise member of the Class 7A state tournament after upsetting Forsyth Central in the Region 5-7A tournament last week to make just its second postseason appearance in program history, a fine accomplishment for first-year head coach Fredrick Hurt. But his young bunch, led by Michael Zabetakis, Joseph Staiti and Andrew Stanton, face a tough challenge in perennial powerhouse Norcross. The Blue Devils have 6-foot-9 forwards Rayshaun Hammonds and Lance Thomas, who signed with Georgia and Louisville, respectively. But senior Jordan Goldwire, junior Dalvin White and sophomore Kyle Sturdivant also give Norcross an experienced backcourt.