The tough competition forecasted for area basketball teams last week turned out to be even tougher.
Every team that knocked off an area school last week in the Georgia High School Association semifinals went on to win a state championship.
Of the three teams defeated in the semifinals, the Laney boys seemed to take the defeat the hardest. A year ago, the Wildcats didn't even make the playoffs. This year, they fell to Greater Atlanta Christian by 25 points two days before GAC beat Thomasville by 12 for the title..
"We were 6-20 four years ago. ... The program is going in the right direction," Laney coach Justin Durham said. "The kids don't have anything to hang their head about. We had great fan support. I love them, their parents love them. It just didn't go our way, and that happens sometime."
These three teams all should be strong again next year:
The Laney girls lose only one starter from a team that won 26 games. The Wildcats boys team loses three starters but returns leading scorer Rod Hall, one of the best players in the area.
The Richmond Academy boys also lose three starters but could be helped by a move down to Class AAA with the rest of the Richmond County schools.
For one, that means the Musketeers will avoid Miller Grove in the state tournament. Miller Grove beat the Musketeers by one point in the semifinals, then dusted Mays 67-35 for the title.
The Musketeers must like their chances to get back to the playoffs and win a few games. Juniors Christian Nobles and Tommy Williams played like two of the best in the area down the stretch.
FAST TIMES: Glenn Hills senior Justin Lord competed this past weekend at the Nike Indoor Nationals track meet in Boston. Lord, a senior sprinter, finished one spot out of qualifying for the finals in the 60-meter dash. He ran a semifinal heat in 6.91 seconds to finish ninth overall. In the 200 meters, Lord ran a 22.44 to place 15th out of 73.
CORNER KICKS: The Greenbrier boys soccer team is unblemished through its first nine games, but its ties may be more impressive than its seven wins.
The Wolfpack drew St. Pius and Hillgove over the weekend at a tournament in Jekyll Island, Ga. St. Pius and Hillgrove are both ranked among the state's 10 best teams in the respective classifications. Greenbrier looks in good shape to defend its Region 2-AAAAA crown and bring an undefeated record into contests against Lakeside and Evans on April 14 and 19, respectively.
BIG EVENTS THIS WEEK
Luella at Greenbrier, 5 p.m. today: Luella tied Greenbrier for the Region 2-AAAAA title last season after the teams split two meetings, but was seeded first out of the region for the playoffs via tiebreaker. One of the first goals for the Wolfpack this season should be a sweep of the Lions, who dropped their region opener to Redan.
Lakeside at Harlem, 5 p.m. Wednesday: The Panthers have mauled Region 3-AAAA competition to open the season. Harlem made the playoffs a year ago and looks strong against this year. The Bulldogs already have wins over Greenbrier and Westside. Lakeside, ranked fifth in Class AAAA, is the only area team ranked in the top 10 of the most recent state coaches poll.