Rockdale County is sending two boys’ basketball teams to the state playoffs after Rockdale and Salem both reached the Region 8-AAAA quarterfinals this week.
The Bulldogs, who were the top seed coming in, played Winder-Barrow in the region quarterfinals Monday for a chance at a third-straight state playoff appearance. They then earned the playoff berth with a 61-58 win.
C.J. Wilson paced the Bulldogs (18-8, 7-1) with 19 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and three steals, including free throws down the stretch to seal it. The junior guard also exceeded 1,000 points for his career. David Jelks added 16 points and seven rebounds, and LaRonta Parks and Charles Moore added 10 points each.
The win put Rockdale in the semifinals where it fell 77-76 to Cedar Shoals, missing out on home court in the first round of the state playoffs starting Friday. Again, Wilson led the way with 35 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Red Devils and their four double-figure scorers.
Loganville was led by Kevon Scott with 28 points, Dontai Robinson with 19, D’andre Mahaffey with 14 and C.D. Simmons with 12.
It is the first time in three years a team other than Rockdale will be crowned Region 8-AAAA champs.
The Rockdale girls’ team also entered the region tournament as the No. 1 seed, and also came up short. However, the Lady Bulldogs fell in their first game, missing out on the state playoffs.
Despite 17 points from Breanna Lawrence and 15 from Kree Clark, Rockdale fell 46-44 to Clarke Central in the quarterfinals. The loss left Rockdale (20-6, 7-1) out of the top four, ending its season.
The Salem Seminoles were the third area team to reach the region semifinals and make it to state. Salem Salem reached the boys' basketball playoffs for the first time a season ago, and did it again Monday night.
The Salem Seminoles defeated Madison 72-54 in the second round of the Region 8-AAAA tournament at Loganville to earn a top-four ranking in region and a spot in the state playoffs.
"We just did a really good job of keeping pace and controlling the tempo," Salem coach Darren Wilkens said. "I was really happy with the pace of the game up and down.We've been doing a good job all year defensively, and we held them to just 54 points."
Dedrick Turner led Salem (18-7, 6-2) with 22 points, Caneshe Green added 13 and Marques McKoy chipped in 11.
After the win, the scene was a little different this year than last year following the Salem Seminoles 66-64 win over Madison County, earning them a spot in the 2010-11 state playoffs.
"I think the team is more confident," Wilkens said. "After the game there was no big celebration. We felt like we've gotten back to a place where we belong."
Salem still has up to two more games before it returns to the state playoffs, a place where it is starting to feel more comfortable.
"I think it puts more validation on our program," Wilkens said. "That we're a solid program and a solid team. I think it puts a stamp of approval on the work we've done throughout the past three years."
Heritage’s boys’ and girls’ teams were the only two in the area without a bye in the region tournament, with the boys pulling off a win in the first round.
Heritage defeated Loganville 45-27 on Feb. 9, earning a chance against Flowery Branch for a state playoff berth.
The Falcons defeated the Patriots 44-43 on Tuesday.
The Lady Patriots were eliminated in the first round, falling to host school Loganville on Feb. 9.