Local hoops teams will head south for state tourney

The inability to find a suitable host site in metro Atlanta will have north Georgia's basketball teams headed down I-75 for the state tournament.

The Georgia High School Association announced on Tuesday that it had selected the Macon Centreplex as host of the Class AAAAA North games for the second round and the quarterfinals. The games will be played March 1, 2 and 3 in Macon, which hosted the state basketball semifinals and finals for all classes until the Arena at Gwinnett Center took over the AAAAA and AAAA Final Four in 2004.

Steve Figueroa, director of media relations for the GHSA, said the organization looked at venues closer to Atlanta to no avail.

"We tried everything in metro Atlanta," Figueroa said. "The ones that could hold us (attendance-wise) weren't available and the ones that wanted us weren't big enough."

In 2005-06, each AAAAA second-round game was played at a high school gym and Morehouse College hosted the quarterfinals. The games at high schools were problematic because they didn't have a state-tournament atmosphere, and a number of problems were encountered at Morehouse.

The GHSA planned to have the AAAAA second-round and quarterfinal games at the Dome this season, but renovations there made it unavailable. The Macon Centreplex, which seats 9,252, has worked well as a host site in the past, but its only drawback is the travel time for teams in north Georgia.

The only other changes to the brackets announced on Tuesday didn't affect local teams. The AAAA second round for Dacula will remain at Marietta High School, the AA will stay at the Northwest Georgia Trade Center in Dalton and A will stay at Georgia Highlands College in Rome.