Staff Photo: Jonathan Phillips. Mill Creek's Sierra Menzies, left, Jasmine Carter, Alicia Brookins and India Dillard hug as they celebrate their overtime victory over Roswell during the Class AAAAA state quarterfinals game in Carrollton on Saturday.
As the quarterfinal results kept rolling in Friday and Saturday, the news for Gwinnett County teams got better and better.
Local teams played nine quarterfinal games and won eight of them over the weekend, claiming victory in the first eight games before finally suffering a loss. The success was impressive enough that Gwinnett coaches took note of how well their counterparts were doing in the Elite Eight.
“Yeah, I did notice how it was going (for other teams),” Greater Atlanta Christian boys coach Eddie Martin said. “It was a heck of a weekend for Gwinnett.”
Semifinal matchups in the state basketball tournaments:
At the Macon Centreplex
4 p.m. Wesleyan girls vs. Calvary Day
7 p.m. Pace Academy girls vs. Turner County
At the Arena at Gwinnett Center
4 p.m. Norcross girls vs. Campbell
5:30 p.m. Norcross boys vs. Valdosta
7 p.m. Mill Creek girls vs. McEachern
8:30 p.m. Milton boys vs. Tift County
At the Macon Centreplex
4 p.m. GAC girls vs. Northeast Macon
5:30 p.m. Buford boys vs. Laney
7 p.m. Buford girls vs. Laney
8:30 p.m. GAC boys vs. Swainsboro
Martin’s GAC boys and the Buford girls, both defending Class AA state champions, advanced with victories in Dalton on Friday. They were joined by the GAC girls, who dominated top-ranked and unbeaten Cherokee, and the Buford boys, who beat South Atlanta for the first time in three tries this season.
That made Gwinnett 4-for-4 in the AA quarterfinals, allowing the possibility that both AA title games could pit rivals Buford and GAC against each other. The AA semifinals are Thursday, with Buford taking on Laney in both boys and girls in Macon. The GAC boys face Swainsboro and the GAC girls play Northeast Macon.
“I’m just proud we play in an area where it’s so competitive,” Buford girls coach Gene Durden said. “It helps all the teams in Gwinnett County that it’s this competitive. There’s an unbelievable amount of talent in Gwinnett and that says a lot about the development of basketball here.”
The Wesleyan girls rolled to a lopsided win in their quarterfinal victory, too. In pursuit of their eighth title in a 10-year span, they also can win a fourth straight state title, a Gwinnett first, this week in Macon. Wesleyan’s next step is Thursday’s semifinal against Calvary Day.
While Gwinnett’s smaller classification teams were winning in Dalton, the AAAAA teams did the same over the weekend at West Georgia.
Norcross qualified both of its teams for the Final Four, with the help of a big victory by the boys team over Wheeler. The Blue Devil boys face Valdosta in a Thursday semifinal, with a win likely setting up a championship game against nationally ranked Milton, which plays Tift County in the other semifinal.
The AAAAA girls bracket features two Gwinnett vs. Cobb pairings in Thursday’s Final Four, with the defending champion Norcross girls facing Campbell and the Mill Creek girls taking on McEachern. The Hawks have been one of the postseason surprises, making a great run as the No. 3 seed from Region 7-AAAAA.
The Arena at Gwinnett Center hosts the AAAAA semifinals and the championship games, which are at 7 and 8:45 p.m. Friday. Those games are preceded by the AAAA title games at 3 and 4:45 p.m.
The AA and A championship games are Saturday at the Macon Centreplex.