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Augusta-area prep basketball teams begin Georgia state title quests

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It’s the place of countless hours of practice and familiar rims.

Josey’s gym also could be the site of the boys basketball team making the state quarterfinals – if things go in the Eagles’ favor.

First, Josey must get past Henry County Sat­urday night. The No. 1-seeded Eagles will try to advance to the second round of the Georgia High School Association Class AAA state tournament for the first time since the 2007-2008 season.

“It’s a comfort zone,” Eagles coach Jabari Levi said of the home court, where Josey won the Region 3-AAA title. “All we have to do is take care of business here.”

Other area teams are also in action as the GHSA has filled all of its 32-team brackets following Class A’s preliminary games.

Augusta-area teams don’t have to go far back to find recent local success in the state tournaments.

Just a year ago, two teams – the Butler boys and Washington County girls – reached the finals.

The Lady Hawks completed an undefeated season with a win in the Class AAA state championship game.

The Laney boys and girls and Swainsboro boys also had long runs, with all three teams reaching the semifinals in Class AA last year.

This season, both Laney teams earned No. 1 seeds, as did the Josey boys and the Washington County girls.

“It definitely shows we had an opportunity to redeem ourselves,” Laney coach Jerry Hunter said, referring to his team’s loss in the region final the previous season.

“With all the hard work we put in, the guys are starting to understand what it means to focus and set goals and stay the course.”

At the same time, Westside, like Laney, has two teams home for the first round of the playoffs.

Lady Patriots coach Ivory Hugee, whose team had its win streak of 18 games stopped by Washington County in the Region 3-AAA championship game, is looking forward to seeing his school play at home in the first round of the boys and girls tournaments.

Hugee is also hoping for a second chance against the Lady Hawks, who can finish unbeaten again if they win another state championship.

“If we make it to the big game, we’ll get another shot, because I’m pretty sure they will be there,” he said.

GHSA PLAYOFFS: FIRST ROUND

TODAY (GIRLS GAMES)

Cross Creek at Sandy Creek, 6 p.m.

Hephzibah at Drew, 6

Northeast (Macon) at Laney, 7

Southwest (Macon) at Screven County, 6

Eastside at Washington County, 6

Washington-Wilkes at Southwest Atlanta Christian Academy, 6

Henry County at Westside, 7

SATURDAY (BOYS GAMES)

Aquinas at Lakeview Academy, 6 p.m.

Henry County at Josey, 6

Crawford County at Laney, 5

Thomson at Eagle’s Landing, 7

Washington County at Drew, 6

Eastside at Westside, 6:30

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