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Storm, Lions earn Class A Private state tourney berths

Both the Providence Christian and Hebron Christian girls basketball teams earned spots in the Class A private state basketball tournament when the Georgia High School Association made those brackets public Wednesday.

The Hebron Christian boys, despite finishing third in Region 8-A, were left out of the 16-team field, which was determined for the first time using controversial power ratings. The Lions, who would have qualified in the past with a third-place finish in the region tournament, were No. 21 in the boys rankings -- a spot behind the No. 20 Providence boys.

A GHSA committee determined the wild-card teams and seeded the brackets.

The new system, initiated when Class A split into public and private division for state, has been maligned and it doesn't sit well with a team like the Hebron boys.

"I am extremely proud of our boys," Hebron boys coach Will Cantrell said. "They played the toughest non-region schedule in school history and persevered to a 13-win season. Under the old system, it would have been fun to see what kind of noise my boys could have made in the state tournament, having won five of our last six games and finishing No. 3 in the region.

"What I am truly perplexed about is a how a team like Pinecrest Academy (the 8-A boys runner-up) can play for a region championship and clearly be playing their best basketball right now and not get in. There is something wrong with a system that doesn't allow for continuous improvement over the year. How do we think (Class AAAAAA) Meadowcreek would feel if they were not let in the state tournament after the marvelous run in the region tournament they just had?"

While the Hebron and Providence boys teams' seasons are over, those two schools' girls teams will play later this week. But both are underdogs, at least in terms of seeding.

The Providence girls, seeded 11th, play at No. 6 Darlington in the first round. The Hebron girls, squeaking in as the No. 16 seed, open up with No. 1 seed Holy Innocents'.