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Hoops region tourney week is here

Feb. 13—With the 2023-24 regular season now over, region basketball tournament week has arrived.

Here's where local teams stand heading into their respective brackets.

BALDWIN SEMIFINALS TODAY

Basketball teams from Baldwin High are continuing to mirror each other in terms of record and placement in Region 2-AAAA. They will look to continue that trend today at Howard High in Macon, site of both the semifinal contests and Friday's championship and consolation games.

Girls games in 2-AAAA began last week with West Laurens topping Westside-Macon, Spalding defeating Perry and Griffin — the defending region and state champions — knocking out Howard. The Baldwin Bravettes, ranked No. 1 in AAAA by Sandy'sSpiel.com at 22-2 overall, were the undefeated region regular season champions at 12-0, which earned them an automatic spot in the state tournament. Today, Baldwin's girls meet West Laurens in one semifinal while Griffin meets neighbor Spalding in the other. The winners will face off Friday at 7 p.m. at Howard.

Much of the same thing can be said about the Baldwin boys, except the Braves will play Westside-Macon in today's semifinal. Westside eliminated Howard last week while other winners were Spalding over Perry and Griffin over West Laurens. So Griffin and Spalding will also play in a boys semifinal. Tip-off for Friday's championship among today's winners is 8:30 p.m. The Braves also have a 22-2 overall record and went 12-0 in the region to take the No. 1 seed and a spot in the state tournament. They peaked at No. 4 in the state rankings with defending champion Pace Academy sitting at No. 1.

JMA TOTING 2-SEEDS

Both the Trojans (14-7 overall, 7-1 region) and Lady Trojans (17-3, 6-2) enter play this week as the No. 2 seeds in the GIAA District 6 tournament hosted by Stratford Academy in Macon.

With five teams in the bracket, the defending region champion Lady Trojans will play in the semifinals against third-seeded Tattnall Square Academy Thursday. Those teams split head-to-head this regular season with JMA taking the first meeting 46-36 at home. Tattnall defended its home floor though, winning the rematch 45-41 a couple of weeks later. Top-seeded FPD, meanwhile, awaits the winner of the 4-5 play-in game between Stratford and Mount de Sales. If higher seeds hold out, John Milledge would face FPD in the championship Friday night. Those regular season meetings were a split as well with each team actually winning on the road. Should they see one another again, the region-deciding Game 3 would be on a neutral court at Stratford.

The Trojans and head coach Mitch Risley went 1-1 against region No. 1 Stratford this season. Both teams finished with 7-1 marks in region play, so head-to-head point differential was employed to work out the tie. Stratford won by a nose, owning a one-point lead in that regard. John Milledge then matches up against Tattnall Square in the semis Thursday while Stratford awaits the play-in game winner, either FPD or Mount de Sales. Like on the girls side, the boys region championship will be played Friday night at Stratford. If it's JMA-Stratford like last year, expect a third straight competitive matchup between the two contenders.

Region tournaments are played only to determine region champions in the GIAA. It's not like in the GHSA where trips to the state playoffs are on the line. Power rankings are used to set state playoff seeding in the private-school-only league. As of Monday, the JMA girls were third in Class AAA while the boys sat sixth.

GMC TEAMS PLAYING FOR THEIR SEASONS

The season is on the line for the Bulldogs (2-22, 1-9) and Lady Bulldogs (1-23, 1-9) today. They each enter their six-team brackets in last place, so it's win or go home for the squads led by Bo Kilby and Shawn Dennis. Wilkinson County High School's gymnasium known as The Palace will play host to GMC's region tournament.

The Lady Dogs face Wilco in a 6 p.m. tipoff. The two teams met twice this regular season with the neighboring-county Lady Warriors winning by 17 and six points. It's been tough sledding for the GMC girls this season, but an upset would automatically grant them three more games and create some momentum heading into the offseason.

The boys have third-seeded Hancock Central tonight at 7:30. If previous meetings are any indicator, it's not looking too good for Kilby's 'Dogs. They lost to Hancock by 23 and 45 points during the regular season and are currently riding a 15-game losing streak. Like with the girls though, a win could create a much more sunny outlook for the future of the program that has no seniors.