BASKETBALL NOTES: GAC girls return after long layoff

Greater Atlanta Christian's unbeaten boys team has deservedly drawn a lot of attention. But the Spartans' girls are off to a good start as well.

The only loss for GAC was to Class AAAAAA power Parkview in the Tip-Off Classic title game and the Panthers are 9-0.

Idle since a rout of Butler on Dec. 8, the Spartans (5-1) will return to action in the Carrollton Holiday Tournament beginning today. The first-round opponent at 4 p.m. is Class AAAAA Lithia Springs (6-3).

"Long time without a game for sure," coach Cal Boyd said of the layoff. "Not ideal, but with the new region being so small, it was hard to find games in December before we start region play in January."

Region 6-AA is loaded at the top with Wesleyan, which won four straight Class A titles, defending Class AA champ Lovett and GAC. But it has just two other teams.

GAC defeated Lovett in the semifinals of the Parkview Tip-Off and also has beaten Class AAAAAA Douglas County and Class AAA Decatur -- both state tournament teams last season.

The Spartans should be challenged some more at Carrollton, where the semifinals will be Friday and the championship on Saturday.

The other girls teams are Banneker, Riverdale, Randolph-Clay, Monroe and Chapel Hill along with host Carrollton, which is unbeaten.

"Solid teams," Boyd said of the field. "Our first game is a tough opponent. I watched them on Friday win pretty easily. They have size and one very good player."

GAC also has one very good player, plus a talented supporting cast. Junior forward Brianna Cummings averages 20 points and nearly 10 rebounds for the Spartans.

The GAC boys (7-0) also open against Lithia Springs at Carrollton today and the Lions are 7-2. The game is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

The first round is today and Thursday like the girls, with four games each day.

The other boys teams are Carrollton, Creekside, Chapel Hill, Randolph-Clay, Riverdale and Oxford, Ala.

AAAAAA boys races jumbled

Maybe there will be some clarity when Norcross gets its full complement of players on the court. But right now the boys races in Gwinnett's two Class AAAAAA regions appear up for grabs.

There is no question that there are a lot of talented teams. But for the most part, they appear to still be works in progress.

Peachtree Ridge, which hosts Norcross tonight in a Region 7-AAAAAA showdown, is a prime example.

The Lions defeated previously unbeaten North Gwinnett 63-54 on Friday, then lost to Columbia 63-44 on Saturday in the GAC Showcase. North had defeated Columbia 64-62 on Dec. 8.

Norcross (5-3) leads Region 7-AAAAAA at 4-0, with three teams tied for second. North (7-1), Collins Hill (7-3) and Peachtree Ridge (7-4) are all 4-1 in the region.

In Region 8-AAAAAA, Archer is first at 6-0 and has a 9-1 overall record with the only loss 72-70 against Class AAAAA power Miller Grove. But the Tigers have yet to play second-place Shiloh (4-1, 6-1). Three teams have two region losses.

Wesleyan, Buford girls in Peach State tourney

Wesleyan and Buford will be part of the loaded Red Division at Peach State Basketball's Holiday Invitational on Dec. 27-29 at Holy Innocents'.

Wesleyan, which is shooting for a fifth straight state championship, will play Bolinbrook (Ill.) in the first round, while Buford will face Academy of Holy Cross (Md.).

Heading the Red Division is defending champion Riverdale (Tenn.), ranked No. 6 nationally by USA Today. New Hope (N.C.) and Georgia teams St. Francis and Alcovy complete the bracket.

The event, in its third year, has 32 teams in four divisions. Duluth and Mill Creek are in the White Division. Archer and Peachtree Ridge are in the Silver Division.

Shiloh plays in the Chick-fil-A Classic in Columbia, S.C., on Friday, facing J.F. Webb (N.C.). Two-time Region 8 defending champion Berkmar (6-3) faces North Cobb (8-1) in the SEBA Atlanta Hoop Festival at Pope on Saturday.