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By Darren Nichols | Photo by Ed Turlington

Two teams that played among the toughest schedules in the state will meet in the first round of the Georgia high school basketball playoffs.

Either McEachern or Newton will exit the state tournament early, with the winner facing Mill Creek or West Forsyth in Round 2 this weekend.

10. Oconee County (18-9) vs. LaFayette (25-0), 6 p.m. Wednesday

Oconee County will try its hand at slowing down red-hot LaFayette, led by Aidan Hadaway. The 6-foot-8 big is averaging almost 30 points per game and has multiple 40-point performances that have helped LaFayette earn its perfect record. These two teams matched up in the first round two years ago with LaFayette coming out on top. Oconee will use its high-powered offense to try to change the narrative. 

9. Archer (19-9) vs. Roswell (19-9), 7 p.m. Wednesday

Archer was well represented in the All-Region honors as Christian Drummer and Damoni Harrison were a part of the first-team Region7-7A team, while Drummer brought home defensive player of the year. Roswell will try to use its stellar defense, led by Jackson Kemp and Quinton Partee, to slow down Archer and to advance to the second round for the first time since 2019. 

8. South Gwinnett (19-8) vs. East Coweta (17-10), 7:30 p.m. Wednesday

South Gwinnett shook off its recent rough patch and now after winning its region tournament will look to advance past the first round. East Coweta also has second-round aspirations and has the talent to make it. South Gwinnett’s Kameren Heathington and East Coweta’s Delricco Gillespie will be the matchup to watch. 

7. Centennial (20-5) vs. Carrollton (17-11), 7:30 p.m. Wednesday

Centennial ended its regular season with two losses against opponents it has beaten before. The Knights will try to get back to their winning ways, but that won’t be easy vs. Carrollton. Carrollton will be riding high entering this matchup, being winners of its last six games, and able to call itself Region 5-6A champion. The last time Carrollton made it past the first round, it ended up in the state championship game.

6. Glynn Academy (19-8) vs. Westlake (19-5), 6:30 p.m. Wednesday 

Glynn Academy had its most wins in a season since 2010, and will face Westlake in the first round of the playoffs. Before losing its most recent game in the region championship, Westlake had won 13 straight. The Lions will try to protect home court and make it past the first round for the third season in a row. 

5. Pope (21-8) vs. Buford (21-6), 6 p.m. Wednesday

Pope came five points short of becoming region champs last week but will move on in hopes of having better luck vs. Buford. Pope is in one of the most talented regions for hoops with Wheeler, Kell and Osborne, and still won 13. Buford has had yet another 20-win season, its fifth in six years. This should be a captivating matchup between two talented teams. 

4. Etowah (16-11) vs. Berkmar (22-4), 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

Berkmar has been one of the best teams in the state all season, and has dominated in-state opponents with a record of 17-1. Etowah will have its hands full, but the Eagles have won seven of their last eight games. Berkmar will enter as the clear favorite, but Etowah has more than a puncher’s chance at an upset. 

3. Cherokee (16-9) vs. Norcross (21-6), 7:30 p.m. Wednesday 

Cherokee has been a very on-and-off team this season, but when it has been on, the play is head turning. Cameron Pope and Tayden Owens have been playing some great basketball of late for the Warriors. Cherokee will need one of its best performances to knock off Norcross, a staple in this year’s top 25. With London Johnson at the helm as the Region 7-7A player of the year, the Blue Devils will be tough for any team to handle. 

2. Osborne (20-7) vs. Shiloh (21-5), 7 p.m. Wednesday

It is ironic how these two teams got to match up in the playoffs. Shiloh won its first 19 games, while Osborne won its first 16. After their win streaks were snapped, Shiloh lost five straight, while Osborne lost six of its last eight games. Both teams are highly talented and have a great chance to go all the way, but must get back to what made them great during their extended win streaks at the beginning of the season. 

1. McEachern (14-9) vs. Newton (21-5), 7 p.m. Tuesday

This season didn’t go as expected by McEachern’s standards, as 14-9 is the worst record for the Indians since the 2012 season. McEachern has handled the teams it should beat, and also took down its fair share of top ranked opponents playing a very tough schedule. Newton beat McEachern early in the season, a game that came down to the wire and was decided by nine points.