#MarchtoMacon Six Elite Eight Games to Watch
We are getting closer to the finals in Macon. The Elite Eight kicks off today and there are a ton of good matchups. With a trip to the Final Four on the line, I expect some really good performances and games. Here, I'm taking a look at six matchups to watch.
No. 1 St. Pius X vs No. 1 Tri-Cities
Both of these No. 1 seeds have taken care of business through the first two rounds of the playoffs. Tri-Cities has been highly regarded as the team to beat in 5A all season. The backcourt of Vanderbilt signee Peyton Daniels and junior Simeon Cottle has been consistently good. Senior Davon Cottle gives the Bulldogs a physical presence as well. I expect St. Pius to be up for the challenge. Led by senior Brookes Kahlert, the Golden Lions have the pieces to contend for the title. Fellow senior Trey Acklin has been playing well down the stretch too.
No. 2 Collins Hill vs No. 2 McEachern
Collins Hill has been an underdog throughout this season, but the Eagles continue to find a way to win. They fought back from a double digit halftime deficit to defeat Discovery in the Sweet 16. Seniors Chris Lanns, Trevino Glover, and Jabre Mills have provided the leadership and experience to battle every game. Sophomore Ethan Davis has been a monster on the board, showing his physicality. McEachern is coming off a huge OT win over Grayson, who many expected to be in the championship. Camron McDowell and Chance Moore have been stellar for the Indians in the post Sharife Cooper era. The duo plays with a ton of energy and can score it from any spot on the court. McDowell's energy and Moore's scoring ability have McEachern looking like a contender.
No. 1 Pebblebrook vs No. 1 North Gwinnett
Pebblebrook has been quietly sitting atop of the 7A ranks this season. The Falcons are led by a strong senior core of Danny Stubbs, Jamall Cylce, Aaron Reddish, Tyler Shirley, and Blake Hadley (all of which will be playing college ball next season). One thing you cannot teach is experience, and Pebblebrook has a ton of it. This is a tough team to beat, but you simply cannot count out North Gwinnett. Coming off a big 1-point win over Norcross, the Bulldogs have a lot of momentum. Seniors Brendan Rigsbee and Jordan Hancock are straight up dogs. They will defend any player and go at whoever of the offensive end. Juniors RJ Godfrey and Thomas Allard are also a huge part of North Gwinnett's game plan. I'm looking forward to seeing Godfrey go up against Shirley, Clyce, and Hadley.
No. 1 Evans vs No. 2 Centennial
This is the best Elite Eight game in 6A in my opinion. Both teams have a strong senior presence and good younger players. Evans has been ranked in the top-5 in the state since coming into Atlanta and beating Norcross and Lanier. The Knights senior trio of Rashad King, Joshton Mincey, and Jadynt Stephens have stepped up and had a big season. Juniors Brasen James and Devin Story have gotten their names out there with their 3-point shooting. Sophomore big man Tyson Jones has been solid too. Centennial's seniors have been productive in the playoffs. Logan Turner, KJ Spooney, Kyle Duncan, and Julian Nixon have all been a huge reason that Centennial is still in it. Sophomore Mansir Williamson has a bright future ahead. The lefty can really get after it. This one could come down to one possession.
No. 1 Kell vs No. 1 Westlake
This one is a battle of two gritty teams who do not go away. Both teams have experience coming from behind in big games. Kell has had to come from behind twice in the region tournament and lock in on defense to hold on River Ridge and Shiloh in the playoffs. Westlake came back from 13 points down heading into the fourth quarter to defeat Heritage in the Sweet 16. It will be fun to watch two uber athletic guards go at it in Scoot Henderson and Gaddis Heath. Look for Jalal McKie and Jaylen Harris to get theirs as well. I could see Kell sophomore Aaron Smith being the X-factor in this one.
No. 1 Greenforest vs No. 2 St. Francis
This is one of the more intriguing matchups of the Elite Eight. Greenforest has been the front runner in this classification for the majority of the season. The Eagles have a lot of talent with Chase Cormier, Jalen Forest, Jaylen Jackson, Gai Chol, and DK Manyiel. The length of their frontcourt is insane. Two 7-footers that are only sophomores. St. Francis won't make this game easy though. Alabama signee Jasaun Holt is one of the most dynamic scorers in the state. Holt has been putting up solid numbers through the first two rounds. Unsigned senior Kai Simmons is a versatile big man that impacts the game on both ends. This should be a good one.
Other games to keep your eye on:
Cedar Shoals vs Westover
Lafayette vs Cross Creek
Veterans vs Chapel Hill
Berkmar vs Tift County
Chattahoochee vs Lee County
Fayette County vs Dougherty