DAWSON -- Somebody must have it out for the Terrell County Greenwave.
How else do you explain this bracket? This trap? This you-can't-get-there-from-here road map that would give most teams nightmares.
Not the kids from Dawson, not the Greenwave bunch that has spent an entire season proving people wrong.
"You've got to beat the best to be the best,'' Greenwave Super 6er guard Terel Hall said during practice Monday.
That's not a cliche. That's an attitude at Terrell County High, where the boys basketball team faces one of the most difficult Class A tournament roads in the state, which continues today with Greenville at home.
Actually, make that road blocks -- like facing Greenville's Kentavious Caldwell, who is widely regarded as the best Class A player in Georgia. And if Terrell County finds a way to stop Caldwell and Greenville tonight, the Greenwave will probably meet unbeaten Wilkinson -- the top-ranked team all season in the state -- in the Elite 8.
"I didn't make the bracket,'' said Terrell County coach John Davis, whose team meets Greenville in Dawson at 7 tonight. The late start is to give the Greenville fans time to get to the Terrell County gym, which will no doubt be packed for this one.
Greenville (20-8) is ranked fifth in the Georgia Sports Writers Association Class A state poll, and Terrell County is ranked sixth. But despite the fact the Greenwave beat then-fifth-ranked Lanier in the Region 1-A championship 10 days ago, the naysayers are out in full force once again -- just like they were before Lanier.
"We're hearing the same thing as Lanier. Everyone is saying we can't beat Greenville,'' Davis said.
Davis will never forget his team rallying from a 12-point deficit to beat Lanier, 56-55, and no one at Terrell County will forget this year's war cry of "lets' do this thing,'' a chant the players say before every game, and a chant the kids shouted before storming back to beat Lanier.
"I keep reflecting back on that Lanier game as motivation,'' Davis said. "When we were down by 12, they didn't quit. They kept fighting and they demonstrated a lot of character.''
It's that very character that has Davis' players believing they will not only beat Greenville, but survive the tough bracket and make it to the Final Four.
"We're here for a reason -- to prove a point,'' said Alre'k Brown, the only senior starter and one of two seniors on the team. "Nobody thought we would be in the state tournament. Nobody thought we would win the region.''
Terrell County (22-5) hasn't lost to a Class A team all season, and has won 15 of its last 17 games with both losses coming to Monroe, which is the seventh-ranked team in AAA.
"We're a lot closer now than at the beginning of the year,'' Brown said. "I think after we lost to Bainbridge (in OT in December) that made us closer. That loss helped bring us together.''
They're close, but a big reason for their success is that they also spread the wealth.
"This team is so unselfish,'' Davis said. "Sometimes I think they pass the ball too much.''
Everyone gets involved, from Brown, who leads the team in scoring and rebounds, to Hall, one of the best ball handlers in this part of Georgia, to Markez Dotson, a wing who can hit the 3 or drive inside.
Brian Browner, Charles Brown and DeKoven Ware have also all had their moments.
"We just go to whoever is hot,'' Dotson said. "One night it's Alre'k, one night it's Teral or BB (Browner) -- some night's it's me. Nobody is selfish on this team.''
Will it be enough to outscore Caldwell, a 6-6 guard who can hit 3s all night? He made 7 when he scored 42 points against Upson-Lee earlier in the season, and that wasn't even his high game: He put up 57 points against Marion County. Not to mention, Rivals.com ranks Caldwell as the No. 27 junior in the nation, and the No. 6 shooting guard in the 2011 class.
"(Greenville) can shoot the ball,'' Davis said. "But we're playing well. We're playing with a lot of passion, with a lot of heart, and we're playing hard every night. They believe in themselves.''