A pair of area South Carolina teams face their most important games of the season tonight.
The North Augusta girls play host to Dutch Fork in a meeting of the two best teams in Region 5-AAAA.
The Midland Valley boys, meanwhile, are at Dreher, which is playing like one of the best teams in Class AAA. Midland Valley and Dreher are the last two unbeaten teams in Region 5-AAA.
Regular-season results are significantly more important in South Carolina, because teams do not play region tournaments. State playoff seeding is determined by regular-season region finish. South Carolina playoffs begin Feb. 15, 12 days before Georgia.
IN THE HOUSE: Noted Josey graduate Deon Grant took in the Eagles' boys basketball game at Hephzibah on Friday night.
Grant, in town for the All-Area Football Banquet the previous night, was a fine basketball player at Josey before going on to a successful NFL career.
The Seattle Seahawks safety said he came to watch the Eagles with a particular eye on the team's leading scorer, Darnell Brown . Grant said they are from the same neighborhood.
Brown and the Eagles went on to a 65-52 win for their fourth consecutive victory. Josey, one of the area's surprise teams this year, is 12-3 overall and 9-2 in Region 3-AAAA.
Grant was a member of the 1995 Josey basketball team that lost to Westside in an all-Augusta state title game.
IN CONTROL: The Aquinas boys and Laney girls earned big victories over the weekend to gain command of their respective sub-regions.
The Irish won by 10 points at Warren County for their seventh consecutive victory. They are alone atop one half of Region 4-A.
Held to a season-low 48 points, Laney still won by six at Dodge County in a meeting of teams that entered with a combined 27-2 record.
The game was a rematch of last year's Region 3-AA title game, won 65-63 by Laney.
STATE RESULTS: Area teams went a collective 0-6 over the weekend at the GHSA State Team Dual Wrestling championships in Macon.
Hephzibah, Cross Creek and Burke County all finished 0-2 in their respective classes at the double-elimination meet.
A week earlier, Hephzibah won the Area 3-AAAA championship 41-33 over Cross Creek for its second consecutive title. The Rebels fell at the state meet to South Effingham and Stockbridge.
Wrestlers will still compete for individual state titles, beginning with traditional area meets, the weekend of Feb. 5-6.
TONIGHT'S BIG GAMES
Laney at Swainsboro, 7:30 p.m.: The Wildcats will attempt to avenge their lone loss, a two-point defeat Dec. 11. Swainsboro has been up and down since that game, but has remained unbeaten in Region 3-AA.
Dutch Fork at North Augusta, 6 p.m.: North Augusta welcomes Region 5-AAAA unbeaten Dutch Fork in a game that could determine the region title, because North Augusta has won four games in a row. Dutch Fork beat the Yellow Jackets by 14 points earlier in the season.
Reach Matt Middleton at (706) 823-3425 or email@example.com.
STATISTICS ARE DUE EVERY WEDNESDAY
Individual player statistics are due at 4 p.m. Wednesday, no exceptions.
The Augusta Chronicle will publish a listing of area leaders in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and blocked shots. Area leaders will be listed in averages per game in all applicable categories.
Nominations for area player of the week for both boys and girls are also due at this time. Please include any applicable statistics to support the nomination. The weekly stats and area players of the week will run each Friday.
Stats can be faxed to (706) 823-3408 or e-mailed to Prep Sports Writer Matt Middleton at matt.middleton@augusta chronicle.com. Please call (706) 823-3425 with any questions.