The first round of the Georgia High School Association state basketball tournament begins tonight, and for some area schools it couldn’t come soon enough.
A total of 16 boys and girls Southwest Georgia teams open tournament play, which was supposed to begin on Tuesday and continue Wednesday. However, last week’s inclement weather postponed several region tournaments in north Georgia, and the GHSA gave regions three more days to complete their tourneys.
That pushed back the start to tonight with most girls games, while the boys will play on Saturday.
The exception is in Class A, where the classification has one less round than the other five classes. Those teams will begin their first-round play on Monday.
By the time the Monroe girls play host to Richmond Academy today at 7 p.m., it will have been seven days since the Lady Tornadoes beat Westover to capture the Region 1-AAAA championship.
“You want to be consistent in what you do,” Monroe girls coach Cheryl Cheeks said. “We’ve been practicing hard against each other, but it’s not game situations. It’s kind of like the beginning of the season all over again. We’ve just had to keep them motivated, changing things up to make it fun.”
During this time of the year, most basketball programs don’t like to have breaks with the exception of giving injuries time to heal. Richmond Academy, which plays in Region 3-AAAA, just finished its region tournament on Wednesday. The Lady Musketeers won’t have the break that Monroe and the rest of Region 1-AAAA members had.
“We’ve got to be ready to play after having the week off and make sure we don’t come out flat,” Cheeks said.
Monroe is one of two Dougherty County girls teams to play at home tonight. Westover meets Burke County at 6 p.m., while the Dougherty girls travel to meet Region 3-AAAA champion South Effingham.
One local school excited to host a first-round game is the Lee County Lady Trojans, who will entertain Richmond Hill in a 6 p.m. contest today in Leesburg. It will be the first time in four years the Lady Trojans have hosted a state tournament game.
“We’ve got to play as a unit because we don’t have that one dominating player,” Lee girls coach Tondra Davis said. “I’ve stressed that everybody has to do their job and play their role. Richmond Hill is a No. 3 seed, but I’ve told our team that none of that matters because you can get beat on any given night. We just want to keep pressing forward.”
The GHSA calls for girls game to be played tonight, with boys games on Saturday. However, a pair of Southwest Georgia schools agreed to play early.
Lee County’s boys, the No. 3 seed from Region 1-AAAAA, will travel to Springfield to meet Effingham County in a 7:30 p.m. contest. That follows the Effingham County girls playing host to Bainbridge in a 6 p.m. game.
Pelham is also following suit. The unbeaten Lady Hornets will play host to Josey at 6 p.m., with the Pelham boys playing host to Screven County in a 7:30 p.m. in a doubleheader.