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County teams fight for seeding at midway point of region play

RANDY PARKER/THE DAILY TRIBUNE NEWS
Cartersville's Jaylon Pugh sets up a play during a game at the Storm Center against Paulding County on Dec. 15.

 

Heading into Friday, basketball teams across Bartow County are reaching the midway points of their respective region campaigns. With that in mind, here’s a look at how each of the eight varsity teams — four girls and four boys — stack up at this point of the season in the fight to make the state tournament.

Cartersville boys

The team that seems to have the best opportunity to make some noise come this postseason, the Cartersville boys have started a perfect 4-0 in Region 5-AAAA play.

Due to football season, the Canes have yet to play as many region games as others in the county. But they sure have made the most of the ones they have.

On the season, Cartersville enters Friday’s home game with Chapel Hill at 11-2 overall.

After a pair of easy nonconference wins, the Canes ran off four straight wins to take home first place in the Rome News-Tribune Holiday Tournament.

The team went 1-2 in the ultra-competitive Lake City Classic before kicking off its region schedule, which includes home-and-home games against six other schools.

Ninth-ranked Cartersville outpaced Cedartown, posted an 11-point win over Central, Carrollton and rallied to defeat LaGrange on the road in their first three region games.

But easily the Canes’ biggest win of the season came against No. 3 Sandy Creek earlier this week. It put them alone in first place and in poll position for a top-two seed in the region tournament. The significance of that being a bye into the semifinals of said tourney and an automatic bid into the state tournament.

Cartersville girls

Like the boys team, the Cartersville girls are a couple of games away from reaching the halfway point of their region schedule.

After hosting Chapel Hill on Friday and traveling to Troup County on Tuesday, the Canes will have completed the first cycle of games.

At this point, Cartersville (5-9) looks unlikely to challenge for a top-two seed having lost each of their first four region contests. However, the Canes have been competitive in each of those defeats.

Things got off to a heartbreaking start with a one-point loss to Cedartown in the Region 7-AAAAA opener. Each of the next three have been double-digit losses, but the scores aren’t indicative of how close those games really were. For instance, the Sandy Creek loss — the team’s most recent — ended up being by 18 points, but Cartersville trailed just 26-24 after three quarters.

Despite only allowing 50-plus points twice this season, a lack of offense has hurt the Canes time and again. If the ball can start falling through the hoop a bit more, the team has a great chance to challenge for the Nos. 4 or 5 seed, which would see the Canes avoid having to play an extra game in the region tourney.

Cass boys

After having played seven Region 7-AAAAA games, the Cass boys find themselves smack dab in the middle of the nine-team region.

Given how balanced the teams appear to be, the Colonels (10-5, 4-3) could climb the standings or start a backward slide depending on how the next couple of weeks go.

Cass has shown an ability to hang tough with anybody. Defensively the Colonels force teams to beat them in the halfcourt and rarely allow 60-plus points — only twice in 15 games.

The team could easily be undefeated in the region. Cass’ three losses have been by a combined 11 points.

The Colonels have already avenged one of those losses, bouncing back from an overtime defeat to Rome to beat the Wolves this week. They have the chance to do it again when they head to No. 6 Villa Rica for a big Friday showdown. The Wildcats, who currently sit at 14-0 overall and 7-0 in the region, handed the Colonels a 56-52 loss way back on Dec. 2.

In a lot of ways, Cass is in control of its own destiny. Besides the rematch with Villa Rica, the Colonels host Carrollton — the only other region team to beat them — and play twice each against Kell and Hiram. Those three teams are ranked immediately ahead of Cass. Carrollton and Hiram currently sit at 4-2 in the region, while Kell boasts a 6-1 mark.

With an outside shot at pulling off a top-two seed, which would secure them a first-round home game in the region tournament, few teams in the county have more at stake between now and the end of January than David Brock’s group.

Cass girls

With Friday’s game at Villa Rica marking the midway point of the region season for the Cass girls, the Colonels (9-6, 4-3) currently reside in the bottom half of Region 7-AAAAA.

That’s not a good indicator of just how talented this team is. Instead, it’s a byproduct of an absolute gauntlet of a schedule.

The game against Villa Rica will mark Cass’ fourth straight game against a team recently ranked in the top 10. No team in the county has a string of games as difficult as that stretch.

It started with a road loss to then-No. 9 Rome; then came a road defeat against then-No. 10 Carrollton; followed by a home loss to Rome, right after the Wolves dropped out of the top 10; and ends against the Wildcats.

After that, the schedule really opens up for Cass. Having played Rome and Villa Rica twice, the only remaining game against the group will come at home against Carrollton in the regular-season finale. The Colonels, currently sixth in the nine-team region, have a great chance to eventually move up to No. 4 with two games left against Kell and Hiram — the teams just above them. They also have one game remaining against each of the teams below them.

With the region tournament only giving home games to the top two seeds, Cass has a good chance to win a neutral-site first round game to reach the region tourney semifinals. Assuming Cass makes it through this tough run of games healthy and with their confidence still intact, the Colonels should be in position to win that opening-round game and qualify for the state tournament again.

Woodland boys

The Woodland boys have reached the exact halfway point of their region campaign. Saturday marks the beginning of their second half, and there will need to be marked improvement if the Wildcats are going to make a move up the Region 7-AAAAA standings.

Entering Friday’s action, Woodland (3-12, 1-7) is looking up at every team save one in the region. Of the seven teams ahead of them, it’s hard to see the Wildcats making much noise. However, Wednesday’s narrow defeat against a solid Rome team showed Woodland has made strides and has the ability to hang with several teams in the balanced region.

After spending much of the season searching for the right rotation, Colman Roberts seems to have found a group that could carry his team to a couple wins the rest of the way through January. Having yet to face Paulding County, which sits at 2-5 in the region, and another game against East Paulding, which hasn’t won a region game and represents Woodland’s lone region win, there are some winnable games over the coming weeks.

Whether that would be enough to salvage the Wildcats’ season remains to be seen, but Woodland still has a chance to be peaking when the region tournament commences.

Woodland girls

As with the boys, the Woodland girls currently reside in eighth place in the nine-team Region 7-AAAAA precisely between Paulding County and East Paulding.

The schedule gives the Wildcats (3-10, 1-7) a few chances to pick up a few wins before the region tournament. However, inconsistency has plagued the team this season.

Woodland picked up a few wins early in the season before hitting a lull. Things seem to have started to turn around recently, as the Wildcats picked up their lone region win last Friday and hung around against Kell and Rome this week.

Woodland would clearly like to climb to at least seventh in the region to avoid a play-in game and a possible meeting with the region’s No. 1 seed in the first round.

While the team still has single games remaining against teams considered to be the cream of the crop in the region, Woodland’s recent showings provide legitimate hope that the young squad, which features just one senior and one junior, is beginning to turn a corner. Even if the Wildcats are unable to string together some good results in the coming weeks, the benefits of game time for the bevy of sophomores and freshmen on the team can’t be understated.

Adairsville boys

Friday marks the biggest game of the season thus far for the Adairsville boys. The Tigers (8-8) will enter the Region 6-AAA game against Sonoraville (15-2, 6-0, including 2-0 in sub-region games) with a chance to push towards automatic qualification for the state tournament.

The winner will take a huge step towards locking down the No. 1 seed in the sub-region, which would lead to a bye into the semifinals of the region tournament and an automatic bid into the state tourney. Given the Tigers host the game and have to make a trip to visit the Phoenix in late January, the game holds extra weight for Adairsville, which also must travel to Bremen and Calhoun in the coming weeks.

Even if the Tigers come up short Friday, they still have the inside track at securing the South’s No. 2 seed having beaten each of the other three sub-region teams.

Adairsville opened sub-region play with a three-point victory over Bremen; followed by a thrilling two-point triumph over Calhoun; and then came Saturday’s rout of Haralson County.

After starting the season at 1-6, the Tigers have started trending in the right direction with the win over Bremen representing the turning point.

A 10-point victory over Bartow County rival Cass gave the team a big lift. That carried over into the Mountain Top Holiday Tournament, where the Tigers finished third.

Now, Adairsville has a chance to keep the momentum going with a massive win, which would put the team in a great position for the final six games of region play.

Adairsville girls

While the Adairsville girls have struggled mightily at times this season, the team has seemed to play its best basketball in Region 6-AAA sub-region play.

The Tigers have a 2-14 record entering Friday’s matchup with Sonoraville, which represents the midway point of their sub-region campaign, but

Adairsville has a 1-2 record in the sub-region (1-6 overall in the region).

That win came against Bremen in the team’s sub-region opener. One of the team’s closer losses of the season also came in their sub-region game against Calhoun. Haralson County blew past Adairsville in their meeting Tuesday. And considering Sonoraville handed No. 10 Haralson County its lone sub-region defeat, the Tigers will likely be in for an uphill climb Friday.

However, Adairsville remains firmly in the hunt to finish in the middle of the pack. Finishing with at least the No. 3 seed from the South would be a huge accomplishment, although the Tigers would still need to win two region tournament games to qualify for the state tourney.

The schedule, though, isn’t too kind. Three of the team’s remaining sub-region games — after Friday — will take place on the road. The lone home game will come against Haralson County.

 

Last modified onThursday, 11 January 2018 23:18
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