The GHSA Class A-Public state boys and girls basketball brackets were finalized Tuesday, so the GMC Prep teams now have their marching orders.
It’s a case of good news/bad news for the Lady Dogs (19-5 overall) and head coach Shawn Dennis. The good news is his team came in at eighth overall in the final GHSA power ratings, meaning the GMC girls were the last team to receive a first-round bye in the 24-team bracket. More possibly good news is who the Lady Dogs will take on in the second round next week on their home floor. The winner between fellow Region 7-A school Lake Oconee Academy of Greensboro and Claxton High School is who GMC is set to host. The LOA-Claxton game is the 9 versus 24 seed in the bracket and it’s the team out of Greensboro who holds the higher seed. The Lady Dogs swept the Lady Titans in their two regular season matchups 40-33 and more recently 43-38 on Jan. 25. According to MaxPreps, Claxton finished the 2019-20 regular season and region tournament with a 12-15 overall record.
The bad news for the GMC Prep girls is that should they make it through their favorable second round matchup and into the Elite Eight they will likely have to face Central High School of Talbotton, the team ranked first overall in the power ratings with a 24-1 record. “One game at a time” is a common phrase uttered by basketball coaches come tournament time, and that’s how Coach Dennis and his Lady Dogs will approach this postseason.
Beyond GMC and Lake Oconee Academy, Wilkinson County’s girls were the only other Region 7-A public school team to make it to the state playoffs. Hancock Central narrowly missed the cut as the Lady Dogs of Sparta came in at 25th.
The GMC Prep boys and head coach James Lunsford have a long road trip ahead of them to open the state tournament. The Bulldogs (15-8 overall) enter the bracket as the 21st-ranked team, matching them up against 12th-ranked Towns County High School of Hiawassee. That’s where Lunsford and company will head Friday for a 6 p.m. tip versus the Indians (18-8 overall). It will be about a three-hour trip up through the north Georgia mountains to get to the town near the Tennessee border. The winner between GMC Prep and Towns will advance to take on fifth-ranked Dooly County in the second round next week.
Four other Region 7-A public boys teams made it to the state tournament. Hancock Central (third), Wilkinson County (seventh), Lincoln County (eighth) and Warren County (17th) all finished in the top 24. Hancock, the Region 7-A champion, Wilkinson and Lincoln all earned first-round byes.