With the Christmas break over, it’s time for high school basketball teams to start jockeying for playoff position.
With Grovetown High School moving up and joining Evans, Greenbrier and Lakeside in GHSA Region 2-AAAAA, each team will play the other three times in region play, which starts Friday, Jan. 11.
The Evans boys enter region play as the team to beat with an 11-3 record and a six-game win streak in hand.
The Knights saw Grovetown close up at its Monterrey Christmas Tournament Dec. 27-29, beating the Warriors 62-44 in the championship game.
“It was a good tune-up, we saw a couple of different styles,” said Evans head coach Kevin Kenny, whose team beat Oconee County and Lincoln County in the first two rounds. “We played well. I was real pleased with the execution of the team.”
The new format will have the Knights playing host to Greenbrier twice while traveling to Lakeside and Grovetown twice.
“People always say it’s hard to beat somebody three times, but I don’t necessarily buy into that philosophy,” Kenny said. “The other cliché, on a given night anybody can beat anybody, can happen. I feel good about where we are. I feel good about our chances.”
The girls’ side is a little more crowded at the top.
The Greenbrier girls head into the second half of the season with a 10-3 mark, winning the Coastal Division of the Bojangles Carolina Invitational in Charleston, S.C., during the break.
Right on the Lady Wolfpack’s heels are the Grovetown Lady Warriors with a 10-4 record, and the Evans Lady Knights at 8-5.
Lady Wolfpack head coach Stefanie Basinger is excited about where her team is, but knows the road ahead will not be an easy one.
“Jamie (Echols) will have those (Grovetown) girls ready and Evans will be ready,” said Basinger. “It will be tough to play everybody three times.”
First impressions will come quickly as Greenbrier plays host to Evans Friday, Jan. 11, before traveling to Grovetown on Jan. 15.
The Harlem Bulldogs go into the second half with a 9-6 record after a challenging first half facing Class AAAAA competition six times. They begin Region 3-AA play Tuesday, Jan. 8, with a tough matchup against AA defending state champion Laney (8-2).
The county’s private schools have a pair of undefeated teams leading the way.
In Georgia Independent School Association Region 4-AAA play, the Augusta Prep girls are a perfect 11-0. After playing host to Alleluia Tuesday, Jan. 8, they begin region play Friday, Jan. 11 at Pinewood Christian.
“It’s a tough region,” said Lady Cavaliers head coach Myran Hunt. “Westminster, they’re down a little bit this year but still they’re tough. Bulloch Academy, I think they’re 11-2 and Pinewood, they’re always real good.”
Hunt’s recipe for success sounds simple.
“It’s just a matter of shooting the ball well, do a good job of taking care of the ball and staying out of foul trouble.”
In the South Carolina Independent Schools Association, the Augusta Christian Lions enter the second half with a 10-1 record and begin Region 1-AAA play against Heathwood Hall Tuesday, Jan. 8. Even with a team that has a suffocating defense and a high-powered offense, head coach Marty Griffin wants the Lions to improve in a handful of areas.
“Our region is really good,” Griffin said. “We need to be on all cylinders to be able to compete there.”