By Guy Curtright
Going into the season, it looked like Wesleyan would be the boys favorite in the Deep South Classic basketball tournament. Now, the Wolves may have to share that distinction with Dacula.
The Falcons and Wesleyan can't meet in the Deep South title game Dec. 29 at South Gwinnett, however. If both win their games in the first two rounds, they would play in the semifinals Dec. 28 at Brookwood.
Dacula ran its record to 10-0 with an impressive 71-55 victory over previously unbeaten Parkview on Saturday at Philips Arena. Parkview (6-1) was ranked No. 10 in Class AAAAA.
Wesleyan, the preseason No. 1 in Class AA, is just 5-2, but the losses have come to Christ School, a defending North Carolina champion, and Miller Grove, No. 3 in Class AAAA, by a total of four points.
The Wolves, now ranked No. 3 in AA, remain a work in progress, however. That was again shown in Friday's 53-45 victory over Lovett when Georgia signee Howard Thompkins and Clemson signee Tanner Smith scored all but six of the Wesleyan points.
Dacula, in contrast, has impressive balance and depth. The Falcons had 10 players score in the victory over Parkview.
Justin Rush gives Dacula a constant outside threat, while 6-foot-9 Brian Cole and 6-foot-7 Trent Kemmerer dominate inside. Cole, a junior, had 14 points and 13 rebounds against Parkview.
The other side of the boys bracket in the Deep South Classic includes Greater Atlanta Christian, which is 8-0 and ranked No. 2 in Class AA.
The 16-team boys field has four teams from out of state - two from Virginia and one each from Alabama and Tennessee. Play begins Dec. 26 at Brookwood and South Gwinnett.
Deep South girls field loaded
The girls bracket at the Deep South Classic is even more impressive than the boys. The 16 teams includes Marietta and Wesleyan - ranked No. 1 in AAAAA and AA respectively - and defending state champs Collins Hill (AAAAA) and Greater Atlanta Christian (AA).
Collins Hill, of course, is nowhere near what it was with Maya Moore, now a freshman star at Connecticut. The Eagles are 6-3 after going 94-2 while winning their three consecutive Class AAAAA titles and finishing No. 1 nationally in the USA Today rankings last season.
There could be major matchups in the Deep South Classic as early as the second round. Marietta and Greater Atlanta Christian could meet, as well as Wesleyan facing Etowah, No. 9 in AAAAA.
The girls field also includes five top teams from out of state, with two from Tennessee and one each from West Virginia, Virginia and South Carolina.
Like with the boys, the championship game is Dec. 29 at South Gwinnett.
Berkmar boys get big win
Berkmar's 77-64 victory over defending Class AAAA champ Tucker kept the Patriots unbeaten against Georgia teams.
Berkmar (6-1) has already played three games outside the state and has a trip to Kentucky to play in the King of the Bluegrass Holiday Classic near Louisville Dec. 26-29.
The Patriots will play Holy Cross of New Orleans in the first round of the 16-team event. Fayette County is also participating.
Mill Creek girls in Alabama
Mill Creek, 9-0 and ranked No. 2 among Class AA girls, will travel to Hoover, Ala., for the Big Orange Classic to be played Thursday through Saturday. The Hawks stayed unbeaten with a 65-61 victory over Duluth last Friday.
Duluth (8-2) and Berkmar (7-1) head the eight-team girls field for the Powerade Festival at North Gwinnett from Dec. 27-29. Berkmar plays Central Gwinnett and Duluth plays Cherokee in the first round.
The eight teams in the boys field at the Powerade Festival are led by Lithia Springs, which is 8-0 and ranked No. 4 in Class AAAA.
Central Gwinnett gets jump
The Central Gwinnett boys and girls, both 4-2 overall, get to claim first place in Region 8-AAAAA until after New Year's thanks to a sweep of visiting Shiloh last Friday. No other region games will be played until Jan. 4.
Central's boys travel to the Cobb Civic Center to face Walton on Saturday. The Shiloh boys are also in the event, facing North Cobb.