North Forsyth girls vs. Duluth
When, where: Wednesday, 7 p.m. at North Forsyth
Records, rankings, seedings: North is 24-4, ranked No. 8 in Class 7A and the No. 1 seed from Region 5-7A; Duluth is 14-12, unranked in Class 7A and the No. 2 seed from Region 6-7A.
What to know: The North girls cruised to a blowout first-round win over Newton, which certainly pleased many of the Raiders faithful, but that game contained another significant development as well: The return of junior combo guard Caroline Martin, who sustained a high ankle sprain in the region semifinals and wound up missing just one full game with the injury. Martin clearly wasn't at full strength against Newton, but she still contributed strongly, and her presence as a dangerous shooter and dribbler is welcome regardless. Add in the fact that fellow junior guard Ansley Allen has been in rare form as of late, scoring 53 points combined over her last two games, and the pieces for another deep playoff run could be coming together for North.
What's next: Roswell or McEachern in the state quarterfinals.
Denmark boys vs. Stephens County
When, where: Thursday, 6:30 p.m. at Denmark
Records, rankings, seedings: Denmark is 23-6 and ranked No. 10 in Class 4A; Stephens County is 17-10 and unranked in Class 4A.
What to know: It might have been nerves, or a particularly good opposing game plan, or most likely a combination of both, but the Danes' first-round game against a far inferior Ridgeland team was quite close through the first three quarters. But once the Danes started speeding the game up and, more important, running their transition offense, it opened up quickly and dramatically to pave the way for the program's first state playoff win. It's difficult to judge Denmark's chances against Stephens County, but both teams have close wins against Oconee County, their sole shared opponent this season.
What's next: Cross Creek or Woodward Academy in the state quarterfinals.
Pinecrest boys at St. Francis
When, where: Wednesday, 7:30 at St. Francis
Records, rankings, seedings: Pinecrest is 16-12, unranked in Class 1A-Private and the No. 16 seed from Class 1A-Private; St. Francis is 24-4, ranked No. 1 in Class 1A-Private and the No. 1 seed from Class 1A-Private.
What to know: The Paladins accomplished what could be a building block for long-term program success on Saturday, winning their first-ever GHSA state playoff game, and they're now rewarded with the toughest matchup they could imagine. Pinecrest has been getting closer against the Knights, dropping their second matchup of the season by 14 after losing by 33 in the first, but St. Francis is still seriously formidable, featuring four-star junior recruit Dwon Odom at point guard. The Paladins' odds look long in this one.
What's next: Athens Academy or Savannah Country Day in the state quarterfinals.