The Collins Hill girls are postseason regulars there. The Norcross boys played Final Four and state finals games there last season.
But the South Gwinnett girls basketball team hasn't had a playoff game in the Arena at Gwinnett Center yet. At least until Thursday, when the Comets face Stephenson in the Class AAAAA
Fortunately they aren't exactly newcomers to the Duluth arena. They've played Deep South Classic games there the past two seasons. Thursday's crowd likely will be bigger than a Deep South game, but South girls coach Mike Allison doesn't expect the atmosphere to cause
"We've played (at the Arena) a couple of times and we've been down there for state, following our boys team," Allison said. "So we've seen the atmosphere and I think our kids are up for it. Kids play so many games year-round now in front of so many people. I don't think the crowds or anything will bother them."
South is one of six Gwinnett teams remaining in the state semifinals, three in AAAAA and three in AA.
The Comets face off with Stephenson, the 2004 state champion and a semifinalist last season, on Thursday at 4 p.m. The other girls semifinal, at 7 p.m. on Thursday, features a rematch of last year's state championship game, with defending champion Collins Hill facing Redan.
On the boys side, the AAAAA games in Gwinnett include last season's state runner-up Norcross vs. Redan on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. Earlier in the day, defending champion Wheeler plays Beach at 5:30 p.m.
The AAAAA championship games will be held on Friday night, with the girls at 7 and the boys at 8:45.
The AA semifinals also are on Thursday, but much farther south at the Macon Centreplex. In AA girls, the two-time defending champion Wesleyan girls meet the Screven County girls at 7 p.m. while the early game at 4 p.m. sees their county and Region 8-AA rival Greater Atlanta Christian going against Dodge County.
The Buford boys also kept their title hopes alive in AA. The Wolves take on Dublin at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday in the Final Four.
The AA tourney then takes a break until Saturday, when the girls final is slated for 3 p.m. and the boys at 4:45 p.m