AAAAA State tournament superlatives
BEST FIRST ROUND GAME
Lithonia at Hiram
This game shouldn’t be happening in the first round, but because Lithonia was upset in its region tournament semifinals and lost in the consolation game, here we are. This going to be a really good game on Saturday at 4:00 between two of the best teams in 5-A. Senior guard Eric Gaines (Pictured) has had a monster year for Lithonia and now has schools all over the country recruiting him, but Hiram has steadily improved all year with senior guard Deandre Brown leading the way. Look for this to be a high-scoring game that could go either way in the fourth quarter.
BEST LOOK-AHEAD GAME
Dutchtown vs Eagle’s Landing
These two teams played twice in the regular season and again for the region championship. The two regular season games went to overtime with each team winning at home followed by Eagle’s Landing winning 54-52 in the region championship. Each game brought sellout crowds. If both of these teams make it to Macon, there will be LONG lines outside the Macon Centreplex.
BEST PLAYER MATCHUP
Eugene Brown vs Kervens Yacinthe
Senior small forward Eugene Brown for Southwest Dekalb is a well-known name locally and is headed to play college hoops at Ohio State next year. On the other hand, junior guard Kervens Yacinthe for Paulding isn’t a household name, but he’s a really talented 6-foot-4 shooter that can get hot in a hurry. He’ll be the key to Paulding County being able to hang around this one.
MOST INTRIGUING STORYLINE
How far can Scoot Henderson carry Kell?
Last year, Scoot Henderson came off the bench for a really good Kell team as a freshman. This year, it’s the sophomore guard’s team and he has enough help around him to take the Longhorns a long way in this tournament. Kell did draw a tough No. 2 seed after losing to Hiram in the region championship, which forces them to play Miller Grove in the first round and either Warner Robins or Jonesboro if they win. But if they do advance past the first two rounds, watch out.
MOST LIKELY TO MAKE A NAME
Eric Gaines, Lithonia
Eric Gaines is now a consensus top 100 prospect nationally, but it still feels like he doesn’t get the same level of recognition locally as other talented guards in the state. He has a chance to change that in a big way if he can lead Lithonia deep into this tournament.
SLEEPER TEAM TO MAKE A RUN
You can simply never count out a team coached Dan Maehlman. That’s a lesson many in Georgia have learned over the years with his Jonesboro teams. This year’s team may not be his most talented one and they might be coming in as a No. 4 seed, but it wouldn’t be wise to bet against them when it’s a win or go home scenario. Jonesboro teams are just all toughness and don’t care how much talent the other team has.