#1 Treutlen (25-3) vs. #8 Hawkinsville (17-9)
No. 3 Treutlen’s only Class A-Public loss came to defending state champion No. 6 Calhoun County on Jan. 23, 66-51. The Vikings have dominated in southeast Georgia the past three years but are still in search of their first title. Region 3 hasn’t provided Treutlen with the toughest competition, making the Vikings still a bit of a question mark even with their great record. Seniors Titus Benjamin and Elijah Johnson are among Coach Tyree Coney’s top two scoring options. The Vikings put up over 80 points per game and have blown out nearly everybody they have beaten. Hawkinsville, who rose as high as No. 4 in the state earlier in the year, uses a contrasting style which should be a good test for the Vikings. The Red Devils allow just 55 points per game and will try to slow things up. Junior CJ Smith and freshman Javon Singletary have helped turn an 11-14 team into an Elite Eight participant. The Red Devils escaped Central-Talbotton 59-57 in round one.
#5 Wilkinson County (23-6) vs. #13 Lincoln County (17-7)
Throw out the seedings on this one. Wilkinson is ranked No. 1 in the state while Lincoln County comes in at No. 10, but has risen as high as No. 5 during the season. Some of the best big men in the classification will meet in this Elite Eight tussle. Lincoln County has made strides this season after a 10-11 mark a year ago thanks to 6-foot-7 junior Ahmad Rand and Head Coach Wesley Wuchte. The Red Devils made history in the first round winning their first playoff game in over 20 years, rallying to beat No. 7 Randolph-Clay 87-79 in overtime. The Red Devils came back from down 11 with 1:57 left. Rand collected another triple-double with 24 points, 20 rebounds and 15 blocks and hit a free throw with two seconds left to send the game to overtime. Rand has slowly become a household name, averaging a triple-double on the season with his explosive leaping ability. Zach Crite is a well-built guard that can get past his man and finish at the basket. He scored 29 in round one. Devon Holloway is a bull in a china shop inside, throwing his body around and working the high post with patience. He chipped in 14 in the win. Maciah Gunby runs the offense with Ty Elam providing a spark offensively and Zae Gartrell tabbed as Coach Wuchte’s defensive stopper. Rand and company will be challenged going up against Class A-Public’s largest frontline. Jonathan Baehre is a skilled 6-foot-9 forward while Greg Couson is a bruising 6-foot-7 junior forward that will test Rand’s toughness. Clarence Jackson is an aggressive 6-foot-5 wing that averages over 13 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists per game. So do the Red Devils have any hope against the 7-time state champs? Take into account that No. 4 Hancock Central split the season series with WilCo, taking a 70-62 victory in meeting number two. Lincoln County lost to Hancock by five in their first meeting before beating the then No. 1 Bulldogs 61-59 at Lincoln, the first time in over 25 years that the Red Devils beat the Dogs on the hardwood.
#3 Turner County (22-6) vs. #6 Calhoun County (18-9)
No. 2 Turner County meets reigning champs No. 6 Calhoun County in Valdosta. After a slow start, Tasha Kimble has controlled the reigns of the Rebels in her first year as both the girls and boys head coach at Turner County. Tammarion Terry is a beast inside averaging 20.2 points and 13.3 rebounds. He doesn’t have the size as other bigs across the state (6-3), but he does have the heart and tenacity. Jarvis Hall (11.4 ppg), Deandre Pierce (8.4 ppg 5 rpg), Cedrick Leggett (7.9 ppg) and Briand Wynn (7.4 ppg) surround Terry as ancillary options. Turner County beat Calhoun County in their lone meeting this year 60-47 back on Jan. 9 in Ashburn. Back from Coach Marcus Shaw’s championship team are Rashun Williams, Jerrek Solite, Jalin Gray and Reginald Ross who all contribute in different ways. They will need to ride the momentum of their 57-47 win over No. 8 Clinch County in round one into the Elite Eight.
#7 Hancock Central (22-6) vs. #2 Taylor County (21-7)
What a raw deal for both programs as they have to meet in the Elite Eight. No. 4 Hancock Central will put No. 5 Taylor County’s two-seed to the test in what could be a toss-up game. Taylor County has put together a nice resume with wins over 4ANo. 5 Upson-Lee, St. Anne-Pacelli, Hawkinsville, Central-Talbotton and Macon County. They are active in the paint and attack every loose ball. Hancock battled through the deep Region 7 and finished the regular season with an 11-1 mark. Guards Alex Brooks and Devojia Tucker set up Coach Anthony Webb’s offense while Martravious Smith can either put it on the floor or shoot it. Brooks is the Bulldogs’ best three-point shooter and was a First Team All-Region selection along with power forward Phillipe Scott, who has injected a toughness and a scoring threat in the low post after missing the first half of the season due to grades. Dallis Meminger likes to mix it up on the glass as a junior center as well. Taylor County has three state titles to its name while Hancock has just one, coming in 2008. In the Region tournament, Hancock lost to 1A-PrivateNo. 5 Stratford Academy 59-53 before drilling 1A-PrivateNo. 9 Tattnall Square Academy, 72-53.