The 2019 GHSA/Dr. Ralph Swearngin Basketball State Championships return all 17 finals to the Macon Centreplex, and each classification is chock full of storylines worth following. Here’s what the four days of championship basketball have to offer.
WESLEYAN-HOLY INNOCENTS’ BATTLE CONTINUES
On Wednesday, March 6, four games featuring Class A-Private and Class A-Public kick off championship week, and the first matchup is a heavyweight fight. The Holy Innocents’ and Wesleyan girls, the two preeminent programs in Class A-Private, will meet for an amazing fifth state championship game in a row, with Wesleyan having taken three of the four. The St. Francis boys are looking to cement their powerhouse status with a third title (back-to-back in 2014-15), meeting aspiring first-time champion ELCA. For Class A-Public, Wilkinson County was denied by Calhoun County a chance to win its 11th title; Calhoun County, which meets Treutlen, is the only team other than Wilkinson County to win an A-Public title since the division was started in 2013. The Calhoun County’s girls team makes it to Macon as well, meeting Marion County in A-Public.
Day 2 begins with Class AA championship games featuring two Atlanta Public Schools programs meeting South Georgia squads. The Douglass girls are in their first state title game in program history against Early County, and Therrell also seeks its first ring against Vidalia, a Class AA finalist last season. In Class AAA, Hart County also has a shot at a state sweep. The girls team came back to best Beach in Savannah for a shot at defending champion Johnson-Savannah, and the Hart County boys will try to upend favorite—and Region 8 rival—Morgan County, one of the most exciting teams in the state.
The third day in Macon brings yet two more schools with a chance at both the boys and girls trophies. Carver-Columbus brings both of its programs over from Muscogee County to take on opponents in Spalding and Americus-Sumter. The Lady Tigers go for their first state title against defending champion Spalding, which won its first championship last season and won its semifinal game in dominating fashion. The Carver boys won their first and only state championship in 1971; the old Americus High was state champ a decade before that, but Americus-Sumter seeks its first title. At 3 p.m., the Gwinnett Heat take on the Houston County Sharks in the wheelchair championship.
In Class AAAAA, Buford’s two teams sport identical records as well as legendary head coaches walking the sidelines. The two programs have combined for seven state titles; the boys look for their second banner after breaking through for the first time two seasons ago. Both Wolves’ teams face stiff competition in the form of the Villa Rica girls and Fayette County boys; Villa Rica has been a juggernaut this year with a 32-0 record, and Fayette County is hungry for its first title.
MEADOWCREEK-MCEACHERN CLOSES IT DOWN
The week concludes with the Class AAAAAA and AAAAAAA title games on Saturday. In Class AAAAAA, the Lovejoy girls have been electric on their march to defend their 2018 title, the program’s first, and will clash with Lanier, a young school (opened in 2010) with a first-year head coach in its first state final. Tucker eyes its first ‘ship since 2007, which was the program’s second-ever championship, and South Fulton’s Tri-Cities has dreams of becoming a first-time state winner.
On the girls side of the largest classification, Collins Hill will try to win its sixth all-time title but first since the program won five from 2001-07, when Maya Moore dominated the court (2003-07). The Meadowcreek boys were one of the best stories of the 2017-18 basketball season, as Curtis Gilleylen led the Mustangs to the school’s first basketball title. But No. 1 and undefeated McEachern is looking to complete its quest for the program’s first title against the second-ranked Mustangs. The Indians are stacked, with players like junior 5-star guard Sharife Cooper leading the way.
2019 GHSA BASKETBALL STATE CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE
Wed., March 6
2:00 pm - A Private Girls (Holy Innocents' vs. Wesleyan)
4:00 pm - A Private Boys (St. Francis vs. ELCA)
6:00 pm - A Public Girls (Marion Co. vs. Calhoun Co.)
8:00 pm - A Public Boys (Calhoun Co. vs. Treutlen)
Thurs., March 7
2:00 pm - 2A Girls (Early Co. vs. Douglass-Atl.)
4:00 pm - 2A Boys (Therrell vs. Vidalia)
6:00 pm - 3A Girls (Hart Co. vs. Johnson-Sav.)
8:00 pm - 3A Boys (Morgan Co. vs. Hart Co.)
Fri., March 8
11:00 am - 4A Girls (Spalding vs. Carver-Col.)
1:00 pm - 4A Boys (Americus-Sum. vs. Carver-Col.)
3:00 pm - AAASP Wheelchair (Gwinnett vs. Houston County)
6:00 pm - 5A Girls (Buford vs. Villa Rica)
8:00 pm - 5A Boys (Buford vs. Fayette Co.)
Sat., March 9
1:00 pm - 6A Girls (Lanier vs. Lovejoy)
3:00 pm - 6A Boys (Tri-Cities vs. Tucker)
5:00 pm - 7A Girls (Westlake vs. Collins Hill)
7:00 pm - 7A Boys (McEachern vs. Meadowcreek)