Three teams in this year’s AAA state playoff bracket won a state championship last season. Now with realignment, only one will come away as the champion in this year’s bracket. Can Morgan County repeat or will Liberty County or Pace Academy take the lessons learned from their title run last season to the end?
Maybe somebody else will ruin the storyline all together. We break down the opening round of the AAA bracket in our continued Georgia state playoff previews.
Class AAA is filled with some of the best players in Georgia. In fact, the top senior and top junior can be found inside this bracket. Pace Academy’s Wendell Carter, a Duke signee, and Westside Macon’s Khavon Moore are the respective top players in Georgia’s 2017 and 2018 classes.
But they’ll all have to go through some familiar faces.
The dynamic duo of Davion Mitchell and Will Richardson lead the way for Liberty County, the AAAA state champion last season. The Hinesville duo averages 54.5 points a game this season and anchor a team that is rich with state playoff experience. There are 10 seniors on the roster for coach Julian Stokes. Could the Panthers go back-to-back?
The last time Liberty County lost to a team from Georgia came on Dec. 9 at Long County, where they lost their third game in a row by a score 73-72.
Jenkins, no stranger to the post-season, finishing last year’s game in the title game against Morgan County. The Savannah team lost but return quite a bit to the playoffs. Seniors Trevion Lamar and Zion Williams led the team’s high-powered offense.
Morgan County has only lost twice to a team from Georgia, both coming to Cedar Shoals. The defending AAA state champs have quietly gone about their business this year and have the fire power to make a run once again. Not bad for a team that graduated some serious talent and only have three seniors on the roster. Sophomore Alec Woodard has next.
BEST GAME IN FIRST ROUND
Lovett (18-10) at Greater Atlanta Christian (20-6). What a point guard battle this will be between GAC’s Hunter McIntosh and Lovett’s Ryan Greer. The two floor generals are sophomores and have plenty of experience under their belts at the near halfway point of their high school careers. Expect a terrific back-and-forth battle between the two Atlanta area private schools. This is the easy choice for the best game of the first round as all of the other match-ups are not overly exciting from a head-to-head record match-up.
NOTABLE BRACKET NOTE
There are nine teams that are in the Class AAA tournament bracket with losing records. There are four teams with a .500 record or just a game above the midline. There are only eight teams with 20-wins or more. Has expansion watered down the smaller classifications? The records suggest that may be the case.
LOW SEED, HIGH CEILING
Islands is a No. 3 seed coming into the tournament and the strength of Savannah’s Region 3-AAA could show here. The duo of senior Justin Cave and sophomore Trae Broadnax are playing like an All-State performers this season, combing for nearly 40 points a game. Nine of their 17 wins this season have come against GHSA state tournament teams.
RELATED: Class AA breakdown
KEEP AN EYE ON ME
Quentavious Dean of Crisp County is having a monster senior season and as the season grows older, the 6-foot-2, 175-pound guard plays even better. Over the last seven games, Dean is averaging 31.7 points a game. Crisp County is 7-0 during that stretch and earned a No. 1 seed in the AAA bracket. On the season he is averaging 23.1 points a game but since the 2017 calendar came, he’s up to 29.2 points a contest.
KYLE SANDY’S FINAL REGULAR SEASON RANKINGS
- Westside-Macon (23-3)
- Liberty County (19-5)
- Pace Academy (21-8)
- Jenkins (20-7)
- Morgan County (21-5)
- Cedar Grove (17-6)
- East Hall (20-7)
- Greater Atlanta Christian (20-6)
- Calhoun (20-4)
- Johnson-Savannah (18-9)
DIVISION I BOUND
Wendell Carter, Pace Academy (Duke)
Davion Mitchell, Liberty County (Auburn)
Charlie O'Briant, Greater Atlanta Christian (Air Force)
EARNED AN ELITE PREVIEW INVITE ALREADY
Khavon Moore, Westside, 2018
Will Richardson, Liberty County, 2018
JUSTIN YOUNG’S PREDICTIONS
Final Four: Westside Macon, Liberty County, Greater Atlanta Christian, Jenkins
Championship: Liberty County, Jenkins
Winner: Liberty County