Saturday, March 1, 2008

5A semifinal preview

So now it’s Hiram vs. Wheeler and Savannah vs. Norcross. You can already sense people are getting anxious to see a Norcross-Wheeler state championship. Not so fast. Hiram had never even won a postseason game before this season, so they might just be the Team of Destiny. Meanwhile, Savannah TORCHED their first two opponents before edging out Douglass in the quarterfinal round

But can either team pull off the seemingly impossible and take out 5A’s two nationally-ranked juggernauts? Aside from a hiccup against McEachern in Round 2, Wheeler has been on fire – Dequan Jones actually had a quiet game (10 points) in the quarterfinals and it was Ari Stewart who went ballistic with 23 points. And with Al-Farouq Aminu and Denzail Jones running the show over at Norcross, it’s hard to picture a state championship taking place without the Blue Devils in it. Don’t bet on that happening.

(And if Wheeler and Norcross do indeed both end up in the state title game … is it possible that we could get another classic like their first-round battle in 2007 that was decided by one point?)
As for the girls, I was shocked to see the results of the Mill Creek-Marietta game. I wasn’t surprised that Mill Creek won – the Lady Hawks were Score Prep’s top-ranked team through most of the season – but I certainly did not expect a 20-point victory. Marietta’s Telia McCall (Score Prep Cobb’s Player of the Year) had an amazing season but in the end, Porsha Porter, Olivia Towers-Solis and Moneshia Simmons will be the ones moving on.

This definitely sets up an intriguing battle with Stephenson: the Jaguars had their fill with Maya Moore and Collins Hill in two of the past three postseasons, so it will be interesting to see if they can get over the hump now after a convincing win over Luella.

On the other side of the bracket, two surprise teams will face off for a state championship bid. I DEFINITELY don’t think anyone expected Duluth to hold top-seeded Parkview to just 37 points, and Mykala Walker’s 22-point performance may have been the gutsiest of this round for all classifications. The Wildcats will play in the semifinals for the first time in school history, and they will face third-seeded Redan, a team that won all three of its games away from home.

Arapoglou can be reached at