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PREP BASKETBALL: Local teams face tests in opening round of state playoffs

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John McFather

Coosa coach John McFather and the Eagles will travel to Homer on Friday to take on Region 8-AA champion Banks County in the opening round of the Class AA state playoffs. (Jeremy Stewart/RN-T.com)

It’s not unusual for the competition to take a step up when the postseason comes around, but the opponents some area basketball teams will face this weekend could require a leap.

Four of the girls’ basketball teams that will meet up with those from Rome and Floyd County in the first round of the GHSA state basketball playoffs are ranked in the top 10 and five of them have 20 or more wins this season.

“It’s a whole new ball game,” Model girls’ coach Sally Echols said about going into the playoffs. “You’re fighting for your life and fighting to stay alive.”

The No. 6 Lady Devils will host No. 9 Putnam County Friday at 6 p.m. in the Class AA state playoffs, while No. 9 Rome is on the road to take on No. 5 Flowery Branch at 7 p.m.

Model (22-3) won its fourth consecutive Region 7-AA title last week and will face a Lady War Eagles squad that lost two close games in the Region 8-AA tournament last week to get the four seed and a 20-4 record.

Rome (23-5) enters the playoffs as the No. 3 seed from Region 7-5A, while Flowery Branch (22-6) is the No. 2 seed from 8-5A.

Meanwhile, Rockmart’s girls (19-8) will host No. 7 Rabun County (22-6) Friday at 7 p.m. in a 2 vs. 3 matchup. Pepperell’s girls (6-18) will travel to Homer to face No. 2-ranked Banks County (23-5) at 5:30 p.m. followed by Coosa’s boys (10-17) taking on the No. 9 Banks County boys (24-4).

Darlington’s girls’ team just made it into the top 24 of the Class A Private Power Ratings to secure a playoff spot. The Lady Tigers (10-13) will make the trip to Athens on Friday in a matchup with No. 9-rated Athens Academy (23-4).

Darlington’s boys will begin their state playoffs Saturday by hosting Fellowship Christian at the Huffman Center at 4 p.m. The Tigers (13-10) earned the No. 12 rating in the Power Ratings, while the Paladins (12-13) are No. 21.

Also in action Saturday is Chattooga’s boys, coming off of their second-straight region 7-AA title. The Indians (23-3) will host 8-AA No. 4 seed Monticello at 4 p.m. Rockmart’s Jackets (16-11) will welcome Putnam County (6-18) to The Rock at 6 p.m., while the Pepperell Dragons (14-10) are on the road at Elbert County (22-4) for a 5:30 p.m. tipoff.

The winners of this weekend’s contests will advance to the second round, with games scheduled to be held next Wednesday or Thursday.

FRIDAY

Class A Private State Playoffs

Darlington girls (10-13) at Athens Academy (23-4), 6 p.m.

Class AA State Playoffs

Pepperell girls (6-18) at Banks County (23-5), 5:30 p.m.

Coosa boys (10-17) at Banks County (24-4), 7 p.m.

Putnam County girls (20-4) at Model (22-3), 6 p.m.

Rabun County girls (22-6) at Rockmart (19-8), 7 p.m.

Class 5A State Playoffs

Rome girls (23-5) at Flowery Branch (22-6), 7 p.m.

SATURDAY

Class A Private State Playoffs

Fellowship Christian boys (12-13) at Darlington (13-10), 4 p.m.

Class AA State Playoffs

Monticello boys (19-9) at Chattooga (23-3), 6 p.m.

Gordon Central girls (10-14) at Elbert County (15-12), 4 p.m.

Pepperell boys (14-10) at Elbert County (22-4), 5:30 p.m.

Putnam County boys (6-18) at Rockmart (16-11), 6 p.m.