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Basketball: Previews of first-round state playoff matchups
Devin McGlockton
South Forsyth junior Devin McGlockton dunks the ball earlier this season during the War Eagles' 57-43 win against Lambert. Photo courtesy Jay Rooney

Boys

(4) West Forsyth at (1) Berkmar

When, where: 7 p.m. Thursday at Berkmar 

Records, rankings: West Forsyth is 18-10 and unranked in Class 7A; Berkmar is 16-9 and ranked No. 6 in Class 7A.

What to know: Berkmar and West Forsyth have gone in opposite directions in the past month. Since Jan. 11, the Patriots are undefeated and the Wolverines have lost six of 10 games. West Forsyth lost senior wing Joseph Staiti halfway through the season and have been mired in a funk since then. Berkmar, meanwhile, is surging after winning the Region 7-7A tournament, knocking off top-seeded and third-ranked Norcross, 62-58. Six-foot-9 forward Jalen DeLoach, who has a couple of SEC offers, is the centerpiece of Berkmar's offense, while senior Cam Blount is a reliable outside shooter.

What's next: Colquitt County/Kennesaw Mountain winner in second round.


(3) Lambert at (2) Norcross 

Braxton Beaty
Lambert senior Braxton Beaty, center, drives toward the basket Tuesday during the Longhorns' 71-70 win against Forsyth Central. - photo by David Roberts
When, where: 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Norcross

Records, rankings: Lambert is 18-9 and unranked in Class 7A; Norcross is 24-3 and ranked No. 5 in Class 7A.

What to know: Lambert bounced back from a loss to South Forsyth in the semifinals, beating West Forsyth 64-55 in the consolation game to secure a No. 3 seed. However, the Longhorns hardly did themselves any favors, as Norcross, Region 7-7A's most dominant team all season, was upset by Berkmar, sending Lambert to Norcross for a first-round matchup. Norcross' 62-58 loss to Berkmar was the team's first loss to a Georgia school all season and their first defeat since Jan. 4. The Longhorns seem to have found their form since the beginning of the calendar year, but will have their hands full defending 6-foot-8 senior Josh Taylor, a power forward who signed with the University of Georgia.

What's next: Camden County/Hillgrove winner in second round.


(2) South Forsyth vs. (3) Parkview

When, where: 8 p.m. Thursday at South Forsyth

Records, rankings: South Forsyth is 17-11 and unranked in Class 7A; Parkview is 15-13 and unranked in Class 7A.

What to know: South Forsyth scored a momentous win against Lambert in the Region 5-7A semifinal, then fell in a three-possession championship game to Milton, 61-54. The War Eagles have been streaky this season, winning seven straight in December — including an impressive 63-55 win against Denmark — before dropping six in a row to close the month and open the calendar year. Even with the loss, junior forward Devin McGlockton is averaging 23 points through the past five games and the War Eagles are surrendering just 52 points per game on defense. Junior guard Jason Edwards was an All Region 7-7A selection and leads the Panthers on offense.

What's next: McEachern/At-large winner in second round.


(4) LaGrange at (1) Denmark

When, where: 6 p.m. Saturday at Denmark 

Sutton Smith
Denmark junior Sutton Smith, left, tries to get around a Marist defender Jan. 31 during the Danes' 68-61 win. - photo by Ben Hendren
Records, rankings: Denmark is 22-5 and No. 5 in Class 4A; LaGrange is 19-9 and unranked in Class 4A.

What to know: Denmark rolled over Blessed Trinity on Monday in the Region 7-4A championship game, 69-55, behind 33 points from sophomore sensation Robert Cowherd. The Danes are firing on all cylinders, with senior Adonnis Tolbert and junior Joseph Scott contributing on the glass, and junior Sutton Smith running the point. LaGrange earned the fourth seed out of a top-heavy Region 5-4A, where Sandy Creek and Chapel Hill are currently ranked inside the top four in Class 4A.

What's next: Burke County/Dougherty winner in second round.


Pinecrest Academy vs. Tallulah Falls 

When, where: 7 p.m. Friday at Pinecrest Academy

Records, rankings: Pinecrest Academy is 15-12 and No. 7 in Class 1A Private; Tallulah Falls is 10-13 and unranked in Class 1A Private.

What to know: Pinecrest Academy reached the semifinal of the Region 6-1A Private tournament, beating Bowdon and North Cobb Christian before bowing out against Mount Pisgah. The Paladins will have a familiar opponent in the first round of the Class 1A Private playoffs, as Pinecrest pummeled Tallulah Falls, 80-57, on Nov. 22. Sophomore Oscar Lynch is averaging nearly 13 points per game for the Paladins, while senior Caleb Bohn is scoring more than 11 points per game and has made a team-high 32 3-pointers in 27 games. Tallulah Falls has lost four of five games and fell in the first round of the Region 8-1A Private tournament to Riverside Military Academy, 64-60.

What's next: Winner travels to Providence Christian.

Girls

(2) Forsyth Central vs. (3) Parkview

When, where: 6 p.m. Thursday at Forsyth Central

Records, rankings: Forsyth Central is 19-8 and unranked in Class 7A; Parkview is 16-11 and unranked in Class 7A.

What to know: Forsyth Central has lost to only one team since the beginning of January: North Forsyth. With the Raiders safely on the other side of the Class 7A bracket, the Bulldogs have a chance to test their mettle against the rest of the state. Junior Elizabeth Pruitt gives Central a physical presence below the net, and the Bulldogs get plenty of scoring from junior Aisha Dabo and sophomore Jillian Bretz, who scored 20 points last week during their semifinal win against West Forsyth. Parkview is a tough first-round matchup for any team. The Panthers have won five of seven games, and those two losses were by a combined five points. 

What's next: McEachern/At-large winner in second round.


Ryane Williams
South Forsyth senior Ryane Williams, center, drives toward the basket Jan. 17 during the War Eagles' 61-42 win against Lambert. - photo by Ben Hendren
(3) South Forsyth at (2) Brookwood

When, where: 6 p.m. Thursday at Brookwood

Records, rankings: South Forsyth is 18-10 and unranked in Class 7A; Brookwood is 15-12 and unranked in Class 7A.

What to know: South Forsyth improved its seeding last week with an impressive 50-45 win against West Forsyth in the Region 5-7A tournament consolation game. The War Eagles effectively used their size to outmatch the Wolverines in the paint, an advantage they'll need to utilize against Brookwood. The Broncos, who earned the No. 2 seed out of a competitive Region 7-7A, are led by 6-foot-4 post Selma Kula, a Western Kentucky signee. Kula led Gwinnett County in blocks (2.7 per game) as a junior. South Forsyth senior Ryane Williams had five of her own against West Forsyth, adding 16 points on offense.

What's next: Marietta/Tift County winner in second round.


(4) West Forsyth at (1) Norcross

When, where: 6 p.m. Thursday at Norcross

Records, rankings: West Forsyth is 20-7 and unranked in Class 7A; Norcross is 18-9 and unranked in Class 7A.

What to know: West Forsyth stumbled through the Region 5-7A tournament, falling 51-42 to Forsyth Central in the semifinal before taking a five-point loss to South Forsyth in the consolation game. The Wolverines opened the season 16-1, which included an impressive 62-55 win against North Forsyth, and have the talent to advance past the first round. However, Norcross possesses some of the same size that gave West Forsyth fits against the War Eagles in 6-foot-1 forward Yamani Paul, who is committed to Kennesaw State.

What's next: Camden County/North Paulding winner in second round.


(1) North Forsyth at (4) Lakeside-DeKalb

Ansley Allen
North Forsyth senior Ansley Allen, right, times her shot Jan. 24 during the Raiders' 56-23 win against Forsyth Central. - photo by Ben Hendren
When, where: 7 p.m. Friday at North Forsyth

Records, rankings: North Forsyth is 25-2 and ranked No. 4 in Class 7A; Lakeside-DeKalb is 10-12 and unranked in Class 7A.

What to know: North Forsyth's quest for a third-straight Final Four appearance begins Friday with a first-round matchup against Lakeside-DeKalb. The Raiders have been on a tear since their Dec. 10 loss to West Forsyth, winning all 18 games since then, including last week's 65-30 drubbing of Forsyth Central in the Region 5-7A tournament championship. Lakeside-DeKalb is limping into Coal Mountain with a 1-5 record in the past two-and-a-half weeks.

What's next: Colquitt County/North Cobb winner in second round.