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Seventeen local teams headed to state playoffs

By Derrick Mahone

Henry County athletics director Chuck Miller will put some miles on his car when the state playoffs begin this weekend.

Friday, Miller will make the 220-mile trek to Bainbridge to watch his son, Curt Miller, coach in his first state playoff game. He will make the drive back to see Henry County host a boys and girls first round game on Saturday.

"Yeah, I'm going to be busy, but it is fun," Miller said. "I'm real happy for the work that our coaches and kids have put in to reach this point in the season."

Henry County earned the right to host a doubleheader Saturday since both its boys and girls team won the Region 4-AA championship. Both teams beat Northeast-Macon in the region championship games. Miller said he believes this is the first time that both teams have won region championships in the same season.

"They are trying to send me out on a good note," said Chuck Miller, who will retire at the end of the school year.

This will be a historic playoff season in Henry County with 11 teams making the state playoffs, four as first-time participants. In addition to Ola, Eagle's Landing, Dutchtown and Woodland boys are making their inaugural tournament appearance.

In all, 17 teams from the Southern Crescent earned state tournament berths, and seven will get to host opening round games.

Ironically, Curt Miller started the program at Dutchtown six years ago before moving over to Ola. Current Dutchtown coach Bernard Farrell was an assistant to Miller for two season before taking over the helm.

Dutchtown girls won its first region championship with a 48-42 win over Forest Park to win its 13th straight game. The Bulldogs will face Hardaway on Saturday in a rematch of last season second round game.

Dutchtown was up by a point when Hardaway recovered a loose ball and hit a shot with three seconds remaining.

"It was definitely a heartbreaking loss last season," Dutchtown coach Angela Williams said. "Our girls know what's at stake. I think they have stayed hungry all season."

Stockbridge boys rebounded from a despairing second half of the season to the Region 4-AAAA championship.

The Tigers loss nine of their last 12 regular season games to enter the region tournament at Mount Zion as the No. 4 seed. It's signature win in the tournament was a 96-80 win over top-seed and state-ranked North Clayton in the quarterfinals.

Stockbridge defeated Dutchtown 66-55 for the region championship.

"We had 10 days off since the end of the season and we made some adjustments," Stockbridge coach Duane Kelley said.

Lovejoy boys advanced to tonight's Region 4-AAAAA championship game with an 88-70 win over Pebblebrook. Wildcats standout guard Cameron Solomon scored a season-high of 42 points to help the team advance to the 8:30 p.m. game at Creekside.

Regardless of the outcome of tonight's game, Lovejoy will get to host at least a first round game.