Lucky seven seek Elite 8 berth [Sweet 16 matchups]

What began with 16 local programs playing in the state playoffs, has now dwindled to just 8 teams left with a shot at a state championship. With the Sweet 16 round kicking off on Wednesday and heading into Thursday, we provide the matchups for each of the remaining teams. Six of the 7 teams play Wednesday, while Banks boys will take the floor on Thursday.

BANKS CO LEOPARDS vs BUTLER

RECORD: 24-4 (12-2)
REGION: Region Regular Season & Tournament Champions
STATE RANKING: #7
RND 1: W vs #4 Washington (6-AA)
SWEET 16: vs #3 Butler (4-AA) // Thursday Feb 20 @ 6 PM

The Leopards rolled into the second round with a dominating fourth quarter in the win over Washington. Still, the Bulldogs provided some difficulties with their size advantage over Banks. Carl Cleveland couldn’t be stopped, so all things worked out. Still, Butler will present a new challenge. They have 4 players (3 juniors and a sophomore) that all average double-figures. And another junior who averages 9 per game. That means they have 5 players that could score. 10 of their roster players are over 6 foot tall, compared to 7 for the Leopards. Cleveland will need to do his usual, and Dakota Orr will need to play some physical ball as a rim protector. Pierce Martin needs to be lethal from downtown as well. All of the guys will need to stay out of foul trouble. It won’t come easy.

2019 Bob & Teds GIF

BANKS CO LADY LEOPARDS @ VIDALIA

RECORD: 15-15 (7-7)
REGION: Region Runner-Up
STATE RANKING: N/A
RND 1: W vs #3 South Atlanta (6-AA)
SWEET 16: @ #1 Vidalia (2-AA) // Wednesday Feb 19 @ 6 PM

Banks County needed a big game from Heather Vaughan, and she delivered with 22 points (20 in the 2nd half) in a big-time clutch performance. Vidalia presents a new challenge, as Banks will go back on the road. Vidalia has a great defense that allows 38/game on average. Vaughan needs to do more of the same, and the open looks for other teammates will need to fall to put pressure on the home team in a tough environment.

JEFFERSON LADY DRAGONS vs PIERCE

RECORD: 24-4 (12-0)
REGION: Region Regular Season & Tournament Champions
STATE RANKING: #2
RND 1: W vs #4 Coahulla Creek (6-AAA)
SWEET 16: vs #2 Pierce County (2-AAA) // Wednesday Feb 19 @ 5:30 PM

The Lady Dragons got a close win over Coahulla Creek. They’ll hope for an easier path to victory against Pierce County, but this represents a big top-10 showdown between Jefferson and Pierce. Livi Blackstock and Deshona Gaither will dictate the tempo of this game.

JEFFERSON DRAGONS vs PIERCE

RECORD: 19-7 (9-3)
REGION: Region Tournament Champions
STATE RANKING: #7
RND 1: W vs #4 Adairsville (6-AAA)
SWEET 16: vs #2 Pierce County (2-AAA) // Wednesday Feb 19 @ 7 PM

The Dragons have the exact same matchup as the girls do for JHS. They’ll play Pierce County, and will hope that the offense was as electric as it was in a 20-point win over Adairsville.

TALLULAH FALLS LADY INDIANS @ ST FRANCIS

RECORD: 17-7 (8-2)
REGION: Region Regular Season Runner-Up & Tournament 3rd
STATE RANKING: #10
RND 1: W vs #17 Paideia
SWEET 16: @ #1 St. Francis

The Lady Indians had an absolute nail-biter with a one-point win over Paideia to reach the Sweet 16. Now things get dramatically more difficult, as St. Francis (#1-ranked in the state in its class, #2 overall ranked in the state) is up next. This will mean that Katy Corbett, Lillie Free, and Denika Lightbourne will need to be on fire in this game throughout. It can happen.

UNION CO LADY PANTHERS vs BUTLER

RECORD: 22-6 (9-4)
REGION: Region Tournament Champions
STATE RANKING: #6
RND 1: W vs #4 Therrell (6-AA)
SWEET 16: vs #3 Butler (4-AA) // Wednesday Feb 19 @ 7 PM

The Lady Panthers are not content with a Sweet 16 berth. They have a chance to get into the Quarterfinals when hosting Butler. If the tandem of Ava Hunter, Andelin Hill, Kait McCarter, and Brooke Dockrey are once again gelling together on the court, it will be hard to deny Union. Stopping Micah Watson (16.2 pts, 7.9 reb) will be crucial, as the senior has been a force for Butler.

SKINNY AD 2 - DCMM GIF

WHITE CO LADY WARRIORS @ CARVER

RECORD: 21-7 (10-2)
REGION: Region Tournament Runner-Up
STATE RANKING: #10
RND 1: W vs #3 Central, Carrollton (5-AAAA)
SWEET 16: @ #1 Carver (Columbus) (1-AAAA) // Wednesday Feb 19 @ 6 PM

The bus ride can be a factor, as that is a HAUL! But it doesn’t have to be a big deal. White County has the talent to compete in this game against the #3-team in the state. Dasha Cannon, Bentley Cronic, Maddie Futch, and others will need to play at a high level though in this environment. A big top-10 matchup for a shot at the Quarterfinals.

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