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HERALD FAB 5 POLL: Early boys, Pelham and A-S girls move up

ALBANY — Westover’s boys and girls are still floating on top of the Herald Fab 5 Poll, holding down both No. 1 spots.

But this could be a killer week for both programs.

The Westover girls are still perfect at 12-0, but face Crisp County in Cordele tonight in a rematch of last year’s Elite 8 game in Columbus that sent Crisp County, which had lost to Westover three times during the regular season, to the Class AAA Final Four and sent Westover home.

“We haven’t even talked about that,’’ Westover Lady Patriots coach Lewis Smith said Monday on the eve of the matchup. “I haven’t used that as motivation. They remember what happened in the game, and they respect the way Crisp County played at the end of the year.’’

Westover is ranked No. 4 in the AP’s Class AAA state poll and Crisp County is No. 9.

The Lady Patriots have to play Monroe at Darton on Friday in a big rivalry game, and Monroe is about as hot as any team in Southwest Georgia. The Lady Tornadoes have not only won four in a row, but they knocked off previously No. 2 ranked Dougherty, 45-34, and then beat Albany High by 30 points. Monroe didn’t get into the Fab 5 this week, but the Lady Tornadoes are on the bubble to crash the party at any time, and Friday’s showdown with Westover at Darton could land them in the poll if they win.

Westover’s Patriots have won eight of their last nine, but they have a brutal week in front of them. They lost to Crisp County in the Region 1-AAA semifinals last year, so revenge will be on their mind when they travel to Cordele tonight. Crisp can play with anyone. The Cougars lost to Columbia, the top-ranked team in the state Class AAA poll, by just two points in a holiday tournament at Columbia.

Westover faces its biggest rival Friday when the Patriots and Tornadoes meet in the final game of a long night at Darton, where Albany High and Thomasville meet in a huge Region 1-AA game at 7:30 p.m, followed by Westover and Monroe at 9 p.m.

The Albany girls play defending Region 1-AA Thomasville at 4:30 p.m., followed by the Westover-Monroe girls game. Then the two heavyweight boys games take place.

The Patriots have to turn around and then play Terrell County, which is ranked 10th in the Class A state poll, at Westover on Saturday night.

“That’s a big week for us,’’ Westover coach Dallis Smith said. “We get Crisp, then we play those giants at Monroe and play Terrell County. If we get through this they may have to put us up in the state (poll).’’

The Herald Fab 5 Poll saw some ups and downs this week as Early County’s boys just keep winning, and made a huge statement with a 67-61 victory against defending Region 1-AA champ and state-ranked Thomasville and move up from No. 4 to No. 5.

Monroe hangs on to the No. 3 spot despite a close, 32-30, win against Dougherty and a 53-40 loss to Albany, which won a crucial Region 1-AA game Friday when the Indians came back to beat Cook County in overtime, thanks to Larry Sanford’s 3-pointer that tied it at the end of regulation.

Albany, ranked No. 9 in the Class AA state poll, may be playing in the most difficult AA region in the state and faces Thomasville Friday at Darton in a critical Region 1-AA game.

Bainbridge dropped from No. 4 to No. 5 based on a common opponent factor. Bainbridge lost to Thomasville earlier this year, and Early County, now ranked No. 10 in the Class AA state poll, beat the Bulldogs, and Early County also beat Bainbridge in a preseason scrimmage.

There was also movement in the girls poll, where Americus-Sumter had a big week, beating Crisp County, 52-48, and are now 11-1 and ranked No. 8 in the Class AAA state poll. The Lady Panthers leapfrogged over Dougherty, which fell from No. 2 to No. 4 after dropping games to Crisp County and Monroe.

But Dougherty can jump right back up in the poll, because the Lady Trojans play Americus-Sumter on Friday night at Dougherty.

Pelham’s Lady Hornets jumped from No. 4 to No. 3 after winning their 11th game in a row, and are now 11-1 and ranked No. 9 in the Class A state poll.

Calhoun County stays at No. 5 but faces a big test Friday when the Lady Cougars travel to Randolph-Clay for the re-opening of the Red Devils’ gym, which will be dedicated to the late legendary coach Joe Williams.