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Doubleheaders add to hoops playoff atmosphere

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips<br> Mill Creek's Paul Evans drives the ball around Norcross' Derrick Herbert during their game earlier this season.

Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips
Mill Creek's Paul Evans drives the ball around Norcross' Derrick Herbert during their game earlier this season.

Much to the chagrin of high school basketball fans, Georgia High School Association shifts in recent seasons have altered the state tournament experience, at least in the first two rounds.

No longer can those fans go to one site and see as many as four state tourney games, unlike first and second rounds of the past. Individual schools now host those first two games, typically meaning one-game, one-site tournament matchups.

But there is an exception.

STATE BASKETBALL

Second round

Tuesday’s games

Class AAAAA girls

7 p.m. — North Gwinnett at Roswell

Class AA girls

6 p.m. — Heard County at Buford

7 p.m. — GAC at Calhoun

Class A girls

6 p.m. — Bremen at Wesleyan

Wednesday’s games

Class AAAAA girls

6 p.m. — Northview at Mill Creek

6:30 p.m. — Alpharetta at Norcross

Class AAAAA boys

6:30 p.m. — Archer at Wheeler

7 p.m. — Peachtree Ridge at Milton

7:30 p.m. — Roswell at Mill Creek

8 p.m. — Centennial at Norcross

Class AA boys

6 p.m. — Jordan at GAC

6:30 p.m. — Buford at Kendrick

By allowing boys and girls teams from the same school to host doubleheaders in those rounds (if the opposing teams approve), the GHSA has given a bit of the state tourney atmosphere back. Playing games back-to-back at the same site means bigger crowds and a better atmosphere.

Norcross took advantage of the rule last week to host a first-round doubleheader, and it will follow the same path this week. The Blue Devils host the Alpharetta girls at 6:30 p.m., followed by the Norcross-Centennial boys at 8 p.m.

Mill Creek also gets to host a two-game event Wednesday, when the girls matchup vs. Northview will be followed by the Hawk boys vs. Centennial.

“We’re pretty excited about (the doubleheader),” Mill Creek athletic director Gary Long said. “I hope we get a great turnout. We’re marketing it a little bit, selling T-shirts (today), so we’re hoping it will be a great crowd.”

Both Norcross teams are top seeds, so hosting first- and second-round games were guaranteed if the Blue Devils kept winning. That wasn’t the case for Mill Creek, which got a surprise with its two home games.

The Hawks would have been happy with one, but got both home games only because a pair of No. 1 seeds — the Berkmar boys and the Brookwood girls — lost in the first round.

“I’d have to say the odds of that happening couldn’t have been very good, but I’m thrilled about it,” Long said of the two home games.

Because the Mill Creek and Norcross girls shifted their games to Wednesday doubleheaders, tonight’s second-round girls basketball slate will feature only four local games. Only one of those is a Class AAAAA matchup, with the North Gwinnett girls traveling to Roswell.

Tonight is busier in the lower classifications, with Buford hosting Heard County and Greater Atlanta Christian traveling to Calhoun in AA and Wesleyan hosting Bremen in A.

In addition to the doubleheaders at Mill Creek and Norcross, the Archer boys play at Wheeler and the Peachtree Ridge boys play at Milton on Wednesday. The other boys games that night are in AA, with GAC hosting Jordan and Buford traveling to Kendrick.