Playing in the Class AAAAA state girls basketball tournament is better than staying home.
Both teams are heading to Valdosta this week for their respective second round games after winning their first round games in Savannah last Friday. North Cobb will be playing at Lowndes tonight and Harrison is playing at Valdosta on Wednesday in a doubleheader with the Harrison boys.
Harrison (15-14) may be undermanned but are playing their best basketball right now. The Lady Hoyas beat an experienced Campbell program in the Region 4AAAAA tournament quarterfinals two weeks ago to qualify for the first time since 2002. A stellar defensive effort on the boards led Harrison to its first state tournament win in school history, a 43-25 win over Beach.
Harrison's defensive play in the post attributed to the victory. Alabama signee Nikki Hegstetter led with 14 to go with her 22 points and her sister Emily and Caitlin Brooks grabbed seven boards apiece.
"This is the time of year that you look forward to," Harrison coach Steve Lenahan said. "You want to get to this spot when every game you play could be the last one. The kids are playing as hard as they can and having a blast."
Nagging injuries to its top three players - Taylor Gordon, Amber Reeves and Bria Woods - have prevented North Cobb from playing at full strength. The Lady Warriors (21-8) were strong enough to beat Bradwell Institute by six in the first round after jumping to a 10-point lead. Gordon had a double double of 20 points and 14 rebounds.
Chances of North Cobb having its three top players healthy against Lowndes tonight is a game-time decision.
"We're not playing as well as we were early than the year," North Cobb coach Matt Williams said. "We're fighting some injuries. The kids are fighting through it but it's just nagging."
McEachern and Hillgrove, 4AAAAA's top two seeds, cruised by Camden County and Windsor Forest at home Friday. McEachern will host Westlake tonight in the second round. while Hillgrove is on the road at Stephenson.
The Lady Hawks wouldn't mind playing like they did against Windsor Forest when they jumped to a quick 23-5 lead before winning by 20 points. They also had four players in double figures led by Celina Rodrigo's 17.
Marietta is the lone Cobb County survivor on the other side of the bracket and will play at Norcross today.
After a disappointing loss to Woodstock in the Region 5AAAAA tournament final, the Lady Blue Devils dominated Roswell 69-30 in the first round.
Osborne, which likes to use its speed to score in transition, will host Rome in the second round of the AAAA tournament tonight after coming from behind to beat Redan in the opener last Friday.
The Lady Cardinals' success will depend greatly on well they push the floor. Ebonee Allen scored 25 points and added seven assists for Osborne against Redan and Damia Andrews added 18.
"We have to stick with what we do," Osborne coach Melanie Samuels said. "For us, we have great shooters. We can push the ball and play good defense. That's how we get our points."
After Allatoona slowed down the tempo in beating Gainesville at home in the opening round of the AAA tournament, the Lady Buccaneers will host a similar team in Columbus on Wednesday. Allatoona will rely greatly on its defense, which give up an average of 39 points a game. Columbus scores 56 points per contest.
"It's going to be another barnburner," Allatoona coach Michael Taylor said.