The journey towards a state championship gets tougher for local teams remaining in the GHSA state basketball tournaments. And for some, thanks to the unkind luck of a coin toss, that path will be away from the comforts of home during the quarterfinal round games that will be played Tuesday and Wednesday.
While Stratford Academy’s girls will have home-court advantage in the quarterfinals, all other area teams will be playing on the road.
Peach County’s girls and the boys squads from Warner Robins, Westside and Central claimed wins in the second round of tournament play, each of them will play in the quarterfinal round on the road. The GHSA’s universal coin flip awarded home court in the case of two equally-seeded teams to the upper team on the bracket, putting three area teams on the road.
The outlier are the Stratford girls. The Eagles, who beat Landmark Christian 56-41 in the second round, will host Prince Avenue Christian on Tuesday. The winner of that game will advance to play either Christian Heritage or top-seeded Holy Innocents in the semifinals March 2 at Columbus State.
Peach County is the only other remaining area girls team still alive. After fighting off a scrappy Pierce County squad by a score of 53-42, a long ride to northeast Georgia is next on Tuesday to take on Franklin County, ranked third in the most recent top 10 rankings among Class 3A teams. The winner of Peach County and Franklin County takes on either Greater Atlanta Christian or Beach of Savannah in next Saturday’s semifinal at Armstrong Atlantic.
The Warner Robins boys find themselves back in the quarterfinals after knocking off Eagles Landing 99-82, as the Demons pulled away following a slow start. They’ll travel to another region top seed, Lithonia. That matchup figures to be one of the state’s most attractive quarterfinal contests with both teams being ranked in or near the top five among 5A teams. The winner of Warner Robins and Lithonia plays either Stockbridge or Clarke Central in the semifinals March 3 at Fort Valley State.
Both Westside and Central’s boys will continue carrying the flag for the Bibb County public school teams. Westside pulled away from Crisp County to win 75-64 and claim another quarterfinal berth. A road trip to Hart County next awaits the Seminoles. The Chargers, meanwhile, will play at Morgan County as a result of a 62-59 defeat of Long County.
The winner of Central and Morgan County plays either Greater Atlanta Christian or Johnson of Savannah. The Westside-Hart County winner plays either Jenkins of Savannah or Cedar Grove. Those semifinal games will be held March 3 at Armstrong Atlantic.
Area quarterfinal games:
Prince Avenue at Stratford, 7 p.m. Tuesday
Peach County at Franklin County, 6 p.m. Tuesday
Central at Morgan County, time/day TBA
Westside at Hart County, 6 p.m. Wednesday
Warner Robins at Lithonia, time/day TBA