DeKalb County School District has 12 schools going to the high school basketball state playoffs next week as four more qualified by winning quarterfinal games on Thursday night in region tournament action.
The Southwest DeKalb Lady Panthers will be making their seventh appearance in eight seasons under the direction of Coach Kathy Walton following a 67-49 Region 6-AAAAA quarterfinal victory over North Atlanta at Mays.
Southwest (17-8) is ranked No. 9 in Class AAAAA and was the 2012 Class AAAA state runner-up to fellow DeKalb foe Miller Grove and just two seasons removed from three consecutive state titles (2008-2010). The next opponent for Southwest is No. 1 ranked Tucker (23-3) which defeated Arabia Mountain 55-37 to clinch the Lady Tigers first state tournament berth since 2009.
The two Top 10 ranked teams meet at 7 p.m. tonight (Friday) with a home playoff berth at stake in the region semifinals that include fellow DeKalb entries in No. 2 Stephenson (23-3) and Miller Grove (21-4) who tipoff at 4 p.m. today at Mays. Tucker outlasted Southwest DeKalb 54-52 in their only meeting this season while Stephenson won the only meeting with Miller Grove in a tight 43-40 decision in November.
Miller Grove will make its third consecutive state playoff appearance and is coming off a Class AAAA state title under Coach Renee Breedlove a year ago. Stephenson won Class AAAAA state titles in 2004 and 2008 and is making its 13th consecutive state tournament appearance under the direction of Coach Dennis Watkins.
The No. 10 ranked Stephenson Jaguars (15-11) picked up their sixth consecutive state playoff berth and fourth under Coach Curtis Gilleyen following their 61-55 win over Martin Luther King Jr. (7-18) on Thursday at Mays. Stephenson will take on host and No. 4 ranked Mays (19-5) in the semifinals tonight at 8:30. Stephenson dropped a tough 46-42 decision to Mays earlier in the season.
Columbia (24-2) was the only one of four DeKalb teams to survive in the Region 6-AAAA quarterfinals as the No. 1 ranked Eagles dispatched Washington (6-19) 70-47 to reach the state playoffs for the 10th consecutive season which includes the past three Class AAA state titles along with the 2006 and 2008 Class AAAA championships.
Columbia faces Grady (18-7) a 51-43 winner over Chamblee, tonight at 8:30 at South Atlanta with a berth in the region finals and first round home court advantage on the line. Columbia won the only meeting this year 70-53 over Grady back in January.