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PLAYOFF PRIMER: First-round basketball playoff previews
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South Forsyth senior Brandon Stoudamire shoots above Denmark junior Kourtland Tolbert during the War Eagles' 50-46 win in the Region 6-7A championship game. Photo by Paul Ward

BOYS

(4) Discovery at (1) South Forsyth

When, where: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at South Forsyth High School.

Records, rankings: South Forsyth is 23-3 and ranked No. 6 in Class 7A; Discovery is 19-9 and unranked in Class 7A.

What to know: South Forsyth brings its 17-game winning streak into the first round of the Class 7A playoffs, where the War Eagles look to reach the Sweet 16 in back-to-back seasons. First up for South is a Discovery team that went 19-9 and finished fourth in a competitive Region 7-7A. South and Discovery have a couple of common opponents in Peachtree Ridge and Gainesville. Both teams opened the season with a victory over Peachtree Ridge (South won 60-53; Discovery won 71-53). South topped Gainesville twice (73-70; 67-51), but Discovery fell to Gainesville 63-61 Nov. 28. 

The Titans have a formidable one-two punch in senior guard Ian Davis (6-foot-3, 170 pounds) and senior forward Navaughn Maise (6-foot-5, 190 pounds). Davis is committed to Georgia College & State University and Maise is committed to Lander University.

What's next: (2) Collins Hill/(3) Etowah winner.

(3) Norcross at (2) Denmark

When, where: 7 p.m. Wednesday at Denmark High School.

Records, rankings: Denmark is 16-11 and unranked in Class 7A; Norcross is 20-7 and ranked No. 9 in Class 7A.

What to know: Norcross/Denmark features a first-round matchup between a pair of teams that spent time inside the top 10 this season. In fact, Denmark was ranked No. 9 and Norcross was ranked No. 10 at the same time at the end of December. Norcross hosted Denmark Jan. 9, beating the Danes 86-64. The loss came at a time when Denmark was reeling, marking the Danes' fifth loss in seven games, a skid that began with a spirited overtime performance against one of the state's top teams, Milton. Norcross was upset by Archer in the Region 7-7A semifinals, which sent the Blue Devils to the third-place game against Discovery, winning 72-61.

Norcross has plenty of size inside with 6-foot-8 DePaul signee Kok Yat, plus strong guard play from senior Jaden Harris, who picked up an offer from the University of Southern California over the weekend.

What's next: (1) North Gwinnett/(4) Roswell winner.

(4) Lambert at (1) Berkmar

When, where: 7 p.m. Tuesday at Berkmar High School.

Records, rankings: Lambert is 12-14 and unranked in Class 7A; Berkmar is 21-5 and ranked No. 5 in Class 7A.

What to know: The Region 7-7A champion, Berkmar's only region loss of the season came last month in a 63-57 defeat at the hands of Norcross. The Patriots avenged that loss earlier this month with a 60-57 win against the Blue Devils, part of an eight-game winning streak Berkmar used to capture the region title. Lambert and Berkmar have five shared opponents — Archer, Centennial, Cherokee, Duluth, Peachtree Ridge — with the Longhorns beating Duluth and Peachtree Ridge and Berkmar going 8-0 against those teams (Berkmar beat Archer three times and Duluth twice).

Berkmar's top player is 6-foot-9, 220-pound center Malique Ewin, a four-star prospect with in-state offers from UGA and Georgia Tech, as well as Alabama, Florida and Mississippi State. Jalen Deloach is a 6-foot-8, 190-pound power forward who is committed to VCU.

What's next: (2) Cherokee/(3) Peachtree Ridge winner.

GIRLS

(4) Duluth at (1) North Forsyth

When, where: 7 p.m. Tuesday at North Forsyth High School.

Records, rankings: North Forsyth is 21-4 and ranked No. 7 in Class 7A; Duluth is 9-10 and unranked in Class 7A.

What to know: North Forsyth is on a roll after picking up its fourth straight region championship, outlasting South Forsyth 46-42 in the title game. The Raiders will open the playoffs against Duluth at home, where they've won all but one game this season, a narrow 38-34 loss to Cherokee in a tournament game. North and Duluth have two shared opponents in Dacula and Norcross. Duluth fell to Dacula 48-30 on Dec. 12, while North trounced Dacula 58-27 six days later. Neither team has beaten Norcross. North suffered its worst loss of the season on Jan. 23 in a 54-27 loss to the Blue Devils, while Norcross swept the three-game series against Duluth, winning by 18, 13 and 17 points.

Duluth returned four starters from a season ago, including all-region center Saniya Jones (6-foot-4) and all-region forward Megan Mares (6-foot), who give the Wildcats some size in the post.

What's next: (2) Peachtree Ridge/(3) Roswell winner.

(3) Discovery at (2) South Forsyth

When, where: 6 p.m. Wednesday at South Forsyth High School.

Records, rankings: South Forsyth is 21-6 and unranked in Class 7A; Discovery is 14-10 and unranked in Class 7A.

What to know: The first game in a rare playoff twin bill, as both South Forsyth's boys and girls teams will host Discovery in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs. South knocked off West Forsyth in the Region 6-7A semifinals to reach the championship game but fell in a heartbreaker, 46-42 to North Forsyth. South lost only six games this season, but three came at the hands of county rival North. South and Discovery have a mutual opponent in North Gwinnett. Discovery fell to the Bulldogs 46-43 on Dec. 29, but South routed North Gwinnett 50-30 on Jan. 5.

Discovery's offense runs through junior Taylor Watkins, a 5-foot-8 guard who brings plenty of athleticism and averages around seven points and five rebounds per game.

What's next: (1) Collins Hill/(4) Etowah winner.

(3) West Forsyth at (2) Norcross

When, where: 6 p.m. Tuesday at Norcross High School.

Records, rankings: West Forsyth is 18-7 and unranked in Class 7A; Norcross is 19-7 and ranked No. 8 in Class 7A.

What to know: West Forsyth's first-round matchup features a pair of teams that started the season inside the top 10 in Class 7A. West entered the season at No. 4 but struggled to find its footing initially, going 6-6 in the first 12 games. The Wolverines have been excellent since then, winning 11 of their next 12 games, their only loss coming in the Region 6-7A semifinals to South Forsyth, 59-57. West salvaged the No. 3 seed with a complete 59-43 win against Denmark and draws a Norcross team that took a similar path to the playoffs. Norcross coasted through Region 7-7A and carried a nine-game winning streak into the region championship game, where the Blue Devils fell 38-37 to Archer to claim the No. 2 seed. Norcross beat West 37-31 last year in the first round of the playoffs.

Senior guard Mariah Baltierra handles much of the scoring for Norcross and was selected as Region 7-7A Player of the Year following the region tournament.

What's next: (1) Cherokee/(4) Mill Creek winner.

(4) Denmark at (1) Archer

When, where: 6 p.m. Tuesday at Archer High School.

Records, rankings: Denmark is 13-15 and unranked in Class 7A; Archer is 19-8 and ranked No. 10 in Class 7A.

What to know: Denmark qualified for the playoffs in its first season in Class 7A, beating Forsyth Central 49-47 to reach the Region 6-7A semifinals. The Danes lost their final two games of the tournament to North Forsyth and West Forsyth and will now travel to Archer, which put together an impressive late-season run that ended with a Region 7-7A championship. The Tigers have won six straight games and upset top-seeded Norcross in the region title game 38-37.

Archer landed a pair of players on the Region 7-7A first team in 5-foot-10 forward/guard Taniya McGowan and 5-foot-4 guard Cazia Nelson.

What's next: (2) Woodstock/(3) North Gwinnett winner.