There's good news and bad news for the Evans High School basketball program.
First, the good news: by moving from 16-team Region 4-AAAAA to nine-team Region 7-AAAAA, Evans will reduce its travel by 50 percent this season.
On the downside, Knights coach Kevin Kenny is the bearer of bad news.
"We went from the second-toughest region into the state to the toughest region in the state," Kenny says. "It's going to be tough, but we've always been competitive."
Kenny's Knights will have to battle Redan, the top-ranked team in the state, and Lithonia, which checks in at No. 8 in the preseason poll. Additionally, region opponent Lakeside-DeKalb advanced to the state finals in Class AAAAA last season.
The Lady Knights won't get any breaks, either. The region features some imposing girls' teams, led by Stephenson, which returns every player from a squad that posted a 29-2 record last season.
The Knights and Lady Knights open the 2002 campaign at home Friday against Aquinas. On Saturday, Evans travels to Douglass for the initial Region 7-AAAAA action of the season.
"It's our first trip to Atlanta, and I think it's important to the extent that we want to let the other region teams know that Evans plays good basketball," Kenny said. "We don't know much about Douglass, but there are no weak teams in the region. There's no night off, no matter who we play."
Greenbrier takes titles
Greenbrier High School's basketball squads swept titles last week in the season-opening Harlem Tip-off Classic, but after collecting the trophies, it might be time for the Wolfpack and the Lady Pack to batten the hatches.
The Greenbrier boys earned the Tip-off title with blowout wins over Glascock County and Harlem. The Greenbrier girls opened the tournament with a win over Glascock, then edged Harlem in the finals.
Now, after the tune-up, comes the test.
"We'll find out this weekend," first-year Pack coach Garrett Black said, holding off an assessment of his team, which travels to play Cross Creek Friday and follows with a Saturday contest against Jefferson County at the Brierpatch.
Greenbrier, along with the Lakeside High teams, will encounter some new challengers in Region 3-AAAA this season, and the newcomers have game - Baldwin traditionally has one of the best girls teams in the state, and the Jones County girls are no pushovers.
Cross Creek also joins the region, and the Razorbacks earned a trip to the state playoffs last year. With Butler, Thomson and Hephzibah also in the mix, playoff berths are going to be hard to come by on the girls and boys sides.
"I'd say it's one of the toughest regions in the state, if not the toughest," Black said.
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