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Basketball: Previews of second-round state playoff matchups
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Lambert guard Jordan McIlwain shoots Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017, in the Tournament of Champions Classic at Wheeler High School. - photo by Ben Hendren

Boys

Meadowcreek at Lambert

When, where: Wednesday, 7 p.m., in Suwanee

Records, rankings, seedings: Lambert is 22-5, unranked and the No. 1 seed from Region 5; Meadowcreek is 20-6, ranked No. 8 and the No. 2 seed from Region 7.

What to know: The West Forsyth boys drew a brutal first-round matchup in Duluth, who wound up routing the Wolverines, and now Lambert has the pleasure of meeting a powerful Gwinnett County program. The Mustangs ground out a 43-32 win against South Gwinnett in the first round, and their scoring totals throughout the season suggest that they’re more comfortable with low scoring totals than the run-and-shoot Longhorns. But that trait doesn’t indicate a lack of quality: Meadowcreek took Paul VI, a powerhouse program from the Washington, D.C. area, to overtime on Dec. 28 in an eventual loss, and their last two losses to Norcross, possibly the best team in Class 7A, were by just one point. The Longhorns are still hot, coming off an 85-61 win over Mill Creek in the first round, and their chances at extending their season hinge on them maintaining that temperature.

What’s next: The winner of Campbell and Woodstock in the Class 7A quarterfinals.

Girls

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North Forsyth's Catherine Shope pushes the ball up-court against Mountain View on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. - photo by Lily McGregor Photography

Grayson at North Forsyth

When, where: Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. in Coal Mountain

Records, rankings, seedings: North is 25-2, ranked No. 8 in Class 7A and the No. 1 seed from Region 5-7A; Grayson is 16-10, unranked and the No. 3 seed from Region 8.

What to know: The Raiders, who are in an otherwise favorable bracket, drew one of the trickier 1-4 matchups in the opening round against Mountain View, a team with ample size and quickness. It was a closer game through three quarters, but North got its offense figured out in the fourth and outscored the Bears 26-1 in that period. This matchup looks considerably more favorable for the Raiders: Grayson is 16-10 and, back in December, lost 67-47 to Lambert, who North beat by 16 points on Jan. 19. 

What’s next: The winner of Campbell and Hillgrove in the Class 7A quarterfinals.

South Forsyth at Norcross

When, where: Wednesday, 6 p.m. in Norcross

Records, rankings, seedings: South is 18-10, unranked and the No. 2 seed from Region 5; Norcross is 24-3, ranked No. 6 and the No. 1 seed from Region 7.

What to know: Back in November, the War Eagles volleyball team, facing a lower seed and a road matchup, went into the Blue Devils’ house in the second round of the state playoffs and got the win to move on to the quarterfinals. Unfortunately, this is basketball season, and this Norcross team hasn’t lost a game since December. Norcross has a potent guard duo in Morgan Robinson-Nwagwu and Myra Strickland, and senior post Devyn Wilson had committed to play in college at George Mason. The senior-driven War Eagles have shown grit lately, upsetting Lambert in the region semifinals and taking a tight win over North Gwinnett in the first round of the playoffs, but they’ll be seriously pushed in this matchup.

What’s next: The winner of McEachern and Tift County in the Class 7A quarterfinals.

Lambert at Newton

When, where: Thursday, 6 p.m. in Covington

Records, rankings, seedings: Lambert is 18-9, unranked and the No. 3 seed from Region 5; Newton is 24-3, ranked No. 5 and the No. 1 seed from Region 8.

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Lambert's Katie Schwind, right, steals the ball from South Forsyth's Ashley Breindl during the third quarter of the teams' game Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. - photo by Brian Paglia

What to know: The Longhorns are at the point in their season where every game could be head coach Jaime Fisher’s last with the team, as Fisher is stepping down after the season to spend more time with her family. Lambert extended Fisher’s run with a first-round comeback win over Mill Creek, but topping the Rams looks like a considerably more difficult task: Newton has been rolling since losing to South Gwinnett on Jan. 25, winning its five games since then by an average margin of 23 points.

What’s next: The winner of Cherokee and Colquitt County in the Class 7A quarterfinals.

Pinecrest Academy at Prince Avenue Christian

When, where: Thursday, 6 p.m. in Bogart

Records, rankings, seedings: Pinecrest is 16-8, unranked and the No. 12 seed in Class 1A-Private; Prince Avenue is 24-2, ranked No. 9 and the No. 9 seed in Class 1A-Private.

What to know: This matchup is really a shot in the dark: Prince Avenue has the advantage in ranking and record, but the teams’ track records are wildly different, as Pinecrest mostly played area private schools, while the Wolverines stuck to smaller public programs. The Paladins and Wolverines have one opponent in commons: Tallulah Falls, whom Pinecrest beat 66-26 and 68-42 and whom Prince Avenue beat 75-25 and 59-37. That doesn’t help, guys! If the combo of Regina Metz and Maddie Lynch stays productive, though – the duo combined for 49 points in Pinecrest’s first-round win over Mount de Sales – the Paladins should have a good chance.

What’s next: The winner of Landmark Christian and Stratford Academy in the Class 1A private school quarterfinals.