FORT VALLEY -- Saddled by numerous recent GHSA Girls Class AAA Tournament second-round exits, Peach County persevered and dispatched Ringgold 61-48 last week in Fort Valley to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time since the 2008-2009 season.
What remains to be seen now is if Peach County (26-2) can come back to earth and continue its run towards a state championship when it squares off with Johnson-Savannah on Thursday in Augusta.
"I just hope they aren't star struck," Peach County head coach Maxine Cherry said.
Johnson (24-6) should present a stern test. The Atomsmashers advanced by beating Douglass 50-33 in the opening round, before besting Haralson County 42-34 a week ago. Johnson finished second in Region 1, only falling once during region play to defending state champion Beach.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The Atomsmashers are a young and balanced team.
Alexis Pierce, Olivia Owens and Sy'Marieona Williams each average more than 13 points per game and possess the ability to break out on any given night. All three are underclassmen.
Cherry expects Johnson to try and push the pace defensively.
"I think they're going to try to press and put pressure on us," Cherry said. "They have some guards who are pretty good and we have to take care of the ball."
Despite the victory over Ringgold, Peach County's performance was far from perfect. The Trojans shot just 11-for-25 from the foul line and allowed a slower and less athletic Tiger team to hang around until late in the final quarter.
"I thought we got a little sloppy and we didn't shoot free-throws well," Cherry said.
Also giving Cherry cause for concern ahead of the matchup with Johnson is the neutral site venue at Augusta University.
Peach County is not accustomed to playing in larger gymnasiums such as the 3,026 capacity Christenberry Fieldhouse. Bleachers behind the goals are unfamiliar sightlines for Trojans shooters, and the floating floor also poses a new sensation when dribbling the basketball.
Cherry said some of her players did voice concern after their first look at Christenberry during Tuesday's shootaround, but she expects them to adapt quickly once game time arrives.