Dublin boys basketball head coach Paul Williams doesn't shy away from the fact that this is the 10-year anniversary of his team's last state championship.
And after winning a region championship over Swainsboro this season, the Fighting Irish (25-4, 11-1) are vying to end their streak of falling short of a state ring.
"I actually just brought it up (Tuesday) at practice," Williams said. "I didn't really want to harp on it because we are dealing with high school kids, but (Tuesday) I did tell them that 10 years ago we played Thomasville -- Thomasville is one of the favorites (this year) -- and we ended up beating them."
Dublin has scored its way into the winning column this year, as the Fighting Irish are averaging more than 85 points per game while allowing more than 63 to opponents.
"We try to score 25 points a quarter," Williams said. "This is my 25th year of coaching, and it's always been that way."
And Williams compared his team's hopes for a state title this year to how clothing fashion will disappear and return later.
"I believe things come, just like the style in clothes, they come back around," he said. "So hopefully this year will be like the styles, fashion in clothes, they come back around and we can win it this year."
MONTICELLO BREAKS LONG STREAK
Before B.J. Thomas took over Monticello's boys basketball program, the Hurricanes hadn't reached the state playoffs since 2001.
Now, in only two years, Thomas has helped propel Monticello (20-10, 8-4) into a first-round GHSA Class AA appearance last season and an Elite Eight appearance this season.
It's the first time the program has reached an Elite Eight since 1988. But even while Thomas said the public might be surprised, he isn't.
"Monticello is a name that typically is not successful in basketball," Thomas said. "But for those of us on the inside -- players, coaches and even some of the people in the community who really know the team -- we were right where we expected to be because we have the players and they've been working really hard."
The Hurricanes started the season 6-7 after double-digit losses to non-region teams such as Heritage, Crawford County and Eagle's Landing. But since Jan. 5, Monticello has a 14-3 record.
"We played some tough non-region games, which I scheduled on purpose," Thomas said. "That was to make us stronger and more prepared for the postseason. Hopefully that pays off."
As the third seed, Williams' team entered the Region 4-AA championship as winners of six straight and eight of nine, but couldn't continue the hot streak, falling 51-43 to Crawford County.
But after two wins in the state tournament, the Hurricanes face Dublin on Thursday for a spot in a semifinal.
"Oftentimes this season, it was hard for them to believe," Thomas said. "This group has never really seen Monticello basketball be successful, so it's hard to for me to convince them and say, 'All right, come here and expect to be a state championship team.' They're not even used to seeing a team in the playoffs in Monticello.
"It's starting to change their thinking a little bit and no longer accept just being middle of the road."
Both of the Treutlen basketball teams will be in action Thursday.
The Treutlen girls face off against Wheeler County in a quarterfinal matchup. The Vikings sit 17-8 on the season and finished off the season 8-1 in Region 3-A.
The Vikings are coming off of a 60-28 victory over Claxton in the first round.
The team averages 51 points and nearly 27 rebounds per game.
The Vikings are led by sophomore standout Le'Andrea Gillis. Gillis is averaging 22.9 points and 8.3 rebounds.
Senior Jasmine Brown has been the secondary scoring option for the Vikings, averaging 10 points.
Treutlen's boys go into Thursday's game against Hawkinsville on a four-game winning streak, including a first-round win over Stewart County, 91-53.
The Vikings are 25-3 on the season with a 9-0 region record.
TELFAIR COUNTY GIRLS NOT PLAYING YOUNG
Telfair County's girls finished second in a tough group, Region 2-A, behind undefeated Turner County, despite a fairly young team.
Sophomore Ny'Asia Howard leads the Trojans with 11.5 points per game, while Brandy Mackey is a close second with 11 points per game.
The 18-9 Trojans knocked off Woodville-Tompkins 59-55 in the first round of the Class A Public Tournament.
Now Telfair County faces region rival Turner County. The Rebels beat the Trojans 61-46 and 64-38 this season.
WRIGHT LEADS WHEELER COUNTY
There's little secret behind Wheeler County's success this season.
Lakaitlin Wright led Region 3-A in scoring and rebounding and is among the state leaders in both with 15.4 points and 15.4 rebounds.
Wright also averages 4.8 blocks a game.
Brianna Hinton is a mainstay with 6.4 assists a game and 3.7 steals.
BALANCE IS THE KEY
The Wilkinson County Warriors have just one player scoring in double figures per game, but they still have a 23-6 record and have another shot at a title in the GHSA Class A Public Tournament.
Based on partial season statistics provided to maxpreps.com, Clarence Jackson leads the Warriors at 13.7 points per game, while Jonathan Baehre is next at 9.7, followed by Aaron Geter III (8.1), Ontario Coats (7.7) and Greg Cousin (7.6). Wilkinson County has eight players averaging at least five points per game.
The Warriors opened the tournament with a 71-39 win over Atkinson County and face Lincoln County at 8:15 p.m. on Thursday at Valdosta State. The Red Devils are 17-7 after beating Randolph-Clay 87-79 in the first round.
BACK IN THE HUNT
Hawkinsville didn't make it to the postseason last year after reaching the semifinals two years ago. But the Red Devils are one win from being right back in the semifinals as they take on Treutlen in the Class A Private Tournament.
The two teams meet at 4:45 p.m. on Thursday at Valdosta State.
The Red Devils are 17-9 after beating Stewart County 91-53 in the first round. Hawkinsville is led by CJ Smith (17.6 points per game) and Javon Singletary (10.5).