Published Saturday, February 16, 2013
By CHRIS GOLTERMANN
Newnan’s boys basketball team has an opportunity tonight to achieve a goal that not even the program’s heralded 2008-09 Class AAAAA semifinalists failed to accomplish.
A region championship.
Tonight, this year’s Cougars have suddenly gone from the underdog to the favorite when they play a surprising Tri-Cities lineup for the Region 3-AAAAAA boys title at 6:30 p.m., at East Coweta’s John Thrower Gym.
The fifth-seeded Bulldogs followed a victory over No. 4 Langston Hughes with an even more impressive one late Thursday night when they knocked off state-ranked and top-seeded Westlake 73-71 with a buzzer-beating shot in the last of two region semifinal games.
Earlier, the third-seeded Cougars (17-9) earned a trip to the finals by defeating No. 2 seed Douglas County 65-58. They now look to be the favorite against an 11-14 Tri-Cities team that had dropped five of its last six regular season games, including a buzzer-beating loss to East Coweta, before catching fire in the region tournament.
Both teams split two victories during the regular season, however, with Tri-Cities winning 59-50 on Jan. 8 and Newnan returning the favor at home in a 62-51 win on Jan. 25.
With a victory, the Cougars have a chance for home-court advantage for at least the first-two rounds of the Class AAAAAA tournament. Regardless, Thursday’s win over Douglas County guarantees at least one more game in the Max Bass Athletic Center next week.
Both Newnan’s boys and East Coweta’s girls will try to improve its seeding for next week’s state tournament after earning berths on Tuesday. The Lady Indians will face No. 3 seed Westlake in today’s 4 p.m., girls consolation game, which will act as head coach Paula Jones’ last at John Thrower Gym prior to her retirement.
East Coweta’s girls gave its coach another trip to the state tournament with a 34-25 victory on Tuesday over Newnan.
Region 3-AAAAAA lineups open the state tournament against teams from 2-AAAAAA.
VIKINGS FINISH FOURTH IN 4-AAAAA: Northgate’s boys were forced to settle for the No. 4 seed from Region 4-AAAAA following a roller-coaster week that began with an upset victory over B-subregion champion McIntosh to reach the state playoffs for the first time in program history.
Subregion foe Creekside defeated the Vikings 64-51 in Northgate’s second game over consecutive nights. The Seminoles jumped out to a 37-18 lead at halftime and maintained a 14-point lead to open the final period en route to the win.
Whitewater, which defeated Northgate in Thursday’s semifinals, captured the boys championship with a 50-32 win over Starr’s Mill. Forest Park won the Region 4-AAAAA girls title by beating McIntosh 34-30.
Seven of the eight state playoff berths among boys and girls in 4-AAAAA were claimed by B-subregion teams.