Six local teams qualify for state in AAAAAA

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All six North Fulton schools in Class AAAAAA sent one basketball team to the state tournament, with four boys teams and two girls teams advancing.

The Alpharetta, Chattahoochee and Johns Creek boys advanced from Region 6-AAAAAA along with the Centennial girls. The Milton boys and Roswell girls advanced from 5-AAAAAA.

The girls begin play in the state tournament Friday, with the boys games scheduled for Saturday. The top two teams from each region will host first round games, with the teams from Region 6 playing teams from Region 8, and teams from Regions 5 and 7 squaring off in state openers.

This weekend’s winners will play Monday (girls) and Tuesday (boys), with the quarterfinals Wednesday and Thursday. The semifinals are set for Friday and Saturday at neutral sites.

Sheffield sparks

Cougars’ upset

CUMMING – The Chattahoochee boys pulled off a mild upset in the first round of the 6-AAAAAA tournament Saturday at West Forsyth, knocking off third-seeded Centennial 64-54 behind a monster game from junior standout Marcus Sheffield.

Sheffield, a rangy 6-6 guard with an all-court game, scored 24 of his 40 points in the second half, hitting 10 straight free throws in the final period to preserve the Cougars’ lead.

The Knights led by as many as seven points in the third quarter, but Brett Bartlett, Sheffield and Avery Ward connected on consecutive three-pointers for the Cougars to give them a lead they would not relinquish.

Ward and Caleb Miles hit three-pointers for Chattahoochee after the Knights closed within one early in the fourth quarter. Centennial struggled offensively down the stretch, with Sheffield, who averages 27 points a game, clinching the win at the foul line.

Tre Hansbrough scored 19 points for Centennial and Xavier Jackson added 17. Adam Saeed kept the Knights in the game with his team’s first seven points in the final period.

Johns Creek defeated host West Forsyth 54-49 in the 4 vs. 5 match-up, pulling the game out late after the Wolverines rallied from an 18-point deficit to take the lead with less than 2:30 to play.

Sophomore Ian Joseph scored 13 of his 20 points in the second half to lead the Gladiators, who managed just 23 points in the final two periods. Peyton Smith added 13 points for Johns Creek, including three three-pointers.

Second-seeded Alpharetta defeated South Forsyth 71-56, breaking the game open when junior standout DeVontae Cacok scored 18 of his 28 points in the third quarter.

The Centennial girls, seeded third in the region, advanced to state with a 70-58 win over Chattahoochee. Jazmine Estwick scored 19 points for Centennial and sophomore Brianna Perry added 18, as the Knights scored 39 points in the second half after taking a 31-18 halftime lead. Siena Gore scored 22 for the Cougars.

A late rally by Alpharetta came up just short in a 56-51 loss to West Forsyth, while Johns Creek was ousted by No. 1 seed North Forsyth.

Eagles’ defense

takes out Hornets

WOODSTOCK – Milton’s aggressive defense frustrated rival Roswell and sparked the Eagles to a 70-39 victory over the Hornets Saturday at Etowah. The victory puts the Eagles back in the state tournament after they had to sit out last year due to the recruiting violations that occurred under the tenure of former coach David Boyd.

Roswell led 8-4 midway through the opening period before Milton scored the next nine points. The Eagles then went on a 15-0 run to start the second quarter, with the Hornets failing to connect on a field goal and scoring just three points in the period.

Milton scored the first 10 points of the third quarter to take a 40-13 lead before the Hornets were finally able to mount an effective offensive burst, closing within 49-28 going to the final period.

Milton quickly blew the game open with another 10-0 run to start the fourth quarter and coasted from there.

Zack Hodskins led the Eagles with 22 points, including six three-pointers, four coming during the 10-0 runs to start the third and fourth quarters. Shawn O’Connell added 19 for Milton, including his team’s first eight points of the game, keeping the Eagles close early while they sputtered offensively.

Chris Lewis did not have a field goal for the Eagles until the final period, but his defensive play around the basket was a key to the Milton victory. Josh Selembo led the Hornets with 16 points.

Roswell’s girls team, which went 13-1 in region play to earn the No. 1 seed, coasted past Milton 53-27 in a first round game at Roswell earlier last week. Purdue signee Andreona Keys had 28 points and 11 rebounds for the Hornets, Nikki Cwalina added 10 points and five Roswell players, including Keys, hit at least one three-point basket.

In Region 7-AAAAA, both Northview teams lost Saturday in games that determined the region’s state qualifiers. Both Blessed Trinity teams qualified for state with first round wins over McNair in the 6-AAA tournament over St. Pius.

Class A determines its state playoff qualifiers through power rankings. St. Francis, Fellowship Christian and Mount Pisgah’s boys teams will qualify, along with the St. Francis girls. The Fellowship girls and King’s Ridge boys were both on the bubble for qualifying.