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GHSA sets state basketball venues

Thanks to a scheduling conflict, higher seeds in Region 5 through Region 8 will have twice the advantage this season in the Class AAAAA state basketball tournament.

With no adequate local venue available to host the second round of the upcoming AAAAA state playoffs, the Georgia High School Association announced on Wednesday that the higher seeds on the boys and girls' north side of the bracket will host the first two rounds of the state tournament. In previous years the top teams hosted just one game before moving to neutral courts for the remainder of the postseason.

"Hopefully that would be a big advantage," said South Gwinnett girls coach Mike Allison, whose team is currently 9-0 in Region 8-AAAAA and a heavy favorite to be the top seed. "That would be nice to have that home-court advantage for two games. Our kids would be playing on our home floor, in our home locker room. That would be nice.

"I don't think some of the other schools will be happy with that, since we've always gone to a neutral site in the past, but if we're the No. 1 seed we'll take whatever comes our way."

The games had been tentatively planned to be played at a North Georgia college or civic center. But recently it became apparent that wasn't going to happen.

"It is increasingly difficult to find an arena that will seat an adequate number of spectators for three days in North Georgia," GHSA executive director Ralph Swearngin said. "Colleges and universities must take care of their programs, and February is a busy month for the civic

arenas."

The GHSA has searched for venues in North Georgia since basketball ended last year, but the organization didn't have any luck finding one with at least 5,000 seats and that had open dates to host the AAAAA second and third rounds. The GHSA checked with Georgia Tech, Georgia State and Kennesaw State, but the dates didn't match up. Kennesaw State was listed as the Region 5-8 site in a recent GHSA newsletter, but it fell through because the dates didn't work out.

With the new schedule, second-round boys games will be played on Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 7:30 p.m. and the girls games will be played on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at the same time.

The third round of the North bracket will be played at Morehouse College on Saturday, Feb. 25, before the action moves to the Arena at Gwinnett Center for the semifinals and finals.

Georgia Tech hosted the second and third rounds last year and they had been held in the past at the Georgia Dome as well. Georgia State also has hosted the second- and third-round games in previous years.

In AAAAA, second- and third-round games will be held for regions 1 through 4 at the Macon Centreplex this season.