The good news is this week will be the first of the season in which each game the five Bartow County teams play in will be region matchups, meaning the stakes are higher and the games should be competitive.
The team most pleased to be playing region opponents again is Adairsville. The Tigers are currently 7-6, 3-2 in the region, and have already faced two of the top three contenders in region 5-AAA in Cartersville and Ringgold. Today’s matchup against Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe at Adairsville High will be the team’s toughest until it meets Cartersville again on Jan. 24.
Friday’s and Saturday’s game will feature the Tigers against Gordon Central and Coahulla Creek, two teams currently at the bottom of the region standings. Those games will both be on the road at 8:30 and 4:30 p.m., respectively.
Cartersville is sitting at 14-2, 6-0 in Region 5-AAA, and is unlikely to see much of a challenge until region play. The Canes face North Murray today on the road at 7:30 p.m. and Ringgold Friday in the Storm Center at 8:30 p.m.
Cartersville has already beaten Ringgold 77-41 on the road Dec. 21, but the Tigers have since had a chance to work some football players into the lineup.
The team Cartersville just beat, Cass, has actually put together an excellent month of basketball since its 0-8 start. The Colonels are 7-3 in their last 10 games and are now 7-11 overall, 1-1 in Region 7A-AAAA.
Their entire starting lineup and most of the bench players compete in fall sports, mostly football. As a result, it has taken the players some time to work off the rust on the hardwood. However, the team is noticeably drawing closer to midseason form.
The Colonels do not play today, but will face River Ridge on the road Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Gilmer at Cass High at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. River Ridge is the better of the two teams and is 10-7 despite a challenging schedule. River Ridge defeated Gilmer last week by 10 points and Gilmer is currently 13-2. Both games will be challenging for the Colonels and good measuring marks to see how far the team has come since its disappointing start.
Similar to Cass, Excel has seen dramatic in-season improvement. The Eagles are young but improving quickly, as evidenced by their victory against Mount Zion Saturday and a thrilling overtime loss to the No. 4 Class A public school in the state, Trion.
Excel is now 6-10 and 3-3 in the region. The Eagles do not play today but face Christian Heritage on the road Friday at 7:30 p.m. Christian Heritage is 0-4 in the region and has lost to two teams, Gordon Lee and Mount Zion, who Excel has already beaten.
Woodland, on the other hand, will have a much tougher schedule this week. The Wildcats face Paulding County today and Rome on Friday, both home games at 7:30 p.m. Rome is currently 9-7 and 4-3 in the region. Paulding County is 7-8, 4-4 in region play. Woodland is trying to catch up to each team as the ’Cats are 8-8 and 2-6 in the region.
Woodland is coming off a 63-57 victory over Adairsville and will look to carry over its play and get on a winning streak before the region tournament.
It would be safe to say that all the girls teams in the county feel optimistic about their positions in the standings as they head deeper into region play.
Similar to the boys’ team, the Lady Tigers are looking forward to region play as much as any team.
Adairsville is currently 4-1 in Region 5-AAA and will face three sub-.500 teams this week in LFO, Gordon Central and Coahulla Creek.
LFO is 4-11 and 1-5 in region play. Gordon Central is 6-10, 2-4 in the region and Coahulla Creek is 5-10, 2-3 in region play.
On the other hand, Adairsville is coming off its biggest win of the season, defeating defending region champ Sonoraville 50-45 on Friday. The Lady Tigers should have a chance to ride that momentum to a 3-0 week.
Cartersville handed Adairsville its only loss of the season and are still undefeated in region play. However, the Lady Canes are coming off, arguably, their toughest loss of the year Saturday at Cass.
Still, the team is 13-3 and 6-0 in the region and will play North Murray today on the road at 6 p.m. The Lady Mountaineers are 7-8 and 2-3 in the region. Cartersville will then play Ringgold Friday at 6 p.m. at Cartersville High. The Lady Tigers are 1-11 and 1-4 in region play, making for what will likely be a successful week for the Lady Canes.
Coming off the big win against 13-3 Cartersville, the Lady Colonels are now 10-8 on the season and 1-1 in the region. As a result, there is still plenty of time to pick up some region wins before the region tournament.
Cass does not play today, but will face River Ridge on the road Friday at 6 p.m. and Gilmer at Cass High at 5 p.m. on Saturday. Those two teams happen to be the teams ahead of Cass in the region standings as River Ridge is in second, Gilmer is in third and Cass is in fourth in 7A-AAAA. If the Lady Colonels can win both games, they will jump to second in the standings and have a chance to take over first place next week when they face Pickens, currently the top team in the region.
The Excel girls basketball team has a deeper hole to dig out of. The Lady Eagles began their season 1-11, but are now on a two-game win streak. They will have a tough time maintaining that streak as all three of their games will be on the road this week.
Excel will first matchup against Temple today at 6 p.m. Next is Christian Heritage on Friday at 6 p.m. The Lady Lions are 2-15 and 0-4 in region play. The toughest game of the week will be Saturday, when Excel plays Pickens at 3:30 p.m. Pickens is a class AAAA school, currently at the top of the standings in Cass’ region.
The four aforementioned Bartow County teams are all in good shape, but no team is hotter right now than the Lady Wildcats, who have won their last five region games.
They now sit at 7-1 in Region 5-AAAAA, only trailing Hiram for the top spot.
Woodland will play host to Paulding County today at 6 p.m. The Lady Patriots are 9-4, 5-3 in region play, but have won four of their last five games.
Next on the schedule will be Rome. The Lady Wolves are 5-11, but 4-3 in region play. That game will be Friday at 6 p.m. Woodland will have an advantage in the game as Rome will be playing in its second game of a back-to-back.
The final test for Woodland this week will be a road game against East Paulding at 6 p.m. on Saturday. East Paulding in currently 4-13 on the season and 2-6 in region play.
As a result, Woodland and the other four girls Bartow basketball teams should rack up the wins in this busy week of region games.