Tiftarea basketball teams enter state tournament

Livi Mullis and Allee Cooper close in on a Valwood dribbler.

CHULA — Tiftarea Academy’s basketball teams hit the road this week for the first round of the GISA state basketball tournament.

Panthers head coach Mike Patrick announced Monday that the Lady Panthers will go to Dominion Christian Tuesday. His own team plays at Creekside Christian Wednesday.

Both squads participated in the Region 3-AAA GISA tournament last week.

Tiftarea’s girls fell to Brookwood, 69-60 Feb. 17, but defeated Valwood 36-23 two days later to finish third. The Panthers dropped games to Southland Academy (45-36) and Valwood (63-53), but Patrick was not disappointed in either.

Patrick said they led Southland at the half, a big difference from their earlier games, which the Raiders won by 32 and 23 points. He said they scored 25 points in the first quarter against Valwood.

Dominion, which enters 15-7, finished second in Region 1. The Marietta-based school and Tiftarea have no common opponents this year. With the GISA playoffs being determined by power ratings this year, teams do not play a specific region. Dominion is the No. 7 team in the overall standings, with Tiftarea at No. 10.

The winner will face either No. 2 Southland Academy or No. 15 Creekside Christian in the second round. That game will take place at John Milledge Academy on Friday.

Tiftarea’s boys enter state as the No. 16 team in the bracket. They’ll have their work cut out for them.

No. 1 Creekside Christian awaits the Panthers Wednesday.

If the Cougars’ 26-2 record is not intimidating enough, one of the names on the roster makes it so. Creekside’s players include Shaqir O’Neal, son of the NBA legend. The younger O’Neal is more modest in height, listed as 6-foot-7.

Should the Panthers pull the upset of the year, they’ll take on either Brookwood or Frederica Academy Saturday, also at John Milledge.

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