ALBANY -- Click your heels together and say the words together: "There's no place like home, no place like home.''
That's what it feels like at Monroe, Terrell County, Bainbridge, Dougherty and Pelham this week as the GHSA state basketball tournament begins with girls first round games on Friday and boys games on Saturday.
Dougherty's girls will have the first two games at home by virtue of their Region 1-AAA title win against Herald No. 1 Westover last week. So will the Pelham girls, who won the Region 1-A title (their first since 1997). Dougherty hosts Butler and Pelham hosts Emmanuel County Institute.
"We're glad to be at home. We're going to be in P-Town,'' said Super 6er D'Aambria Thomas, who has led Pelham all year and might just lead the Lady Hornets to a state title.
Westover's girls will be at home for one round, beginning Friday against Hephzipah and Bainbridge's girls and Seminole's girls
earned a first-round home game as well as Randolph-Clay's boys.
Both Bainbridge's girls and boys play McIntosh while Seminole is at home against state runner-up Savannah Christian. T
The R-C boys are at home against Jenkins County.
The Herald No. 1 Bainbridge Bearcats, who take a 23-game winning streak into the tournament, have two home games, and so does Herald No.2 Monroe, which won the Region 1-AAA title to earn home games. The Tornadoes lost in the second round by one point to eventual state runnerup LaGrange -- on the road last year, will open against Westside Augusta.
Terrell County's boys, ranked No. 3 in the Herald and No. 8 in the Class A state poll, want to get back to the Final Four and will have two home games. The second round could be crucial because there is a possible matchup against Lanier, ranked 10th in the state. The Greenwave open against Montgomery County.
Albany's boys get a home game Saturday against East Laurens, but the Albany girls hit the road to Laney in the Class AA tournament.
Westover's boys, who went to the Final Four last year and the state title game two years ago, will be on the road against Washington County to start a quest to get back to Macon.
"We have to be road warriors,'' said Westover boys coach Dallis Smith, who knows what it takes to advance through the tough state tournament. "This is what counts.''
Dougherty's boys will hit the road against Butler, but they won twice on the road last year before falling in the Elite 8 round in Columbus to LaGrange and Donald Poole's kids know how to win.
Pelham's boys face Portal on the road. Calhoun's boys meet Calvary Day and Calhoun's girls face Bryan County on the road, and Miller County's girls and Americus-Sumter's girls will have to win on the road to survive. Miller travels to Calvary Day and Americus is on the road against unbeaten and state No. 1 Washington County.
"I've seen a lot of things happen in the tournament,'' A-S coach Evelyn Wright said. "We have the talent and the players who can play to win.''