Here are eight Georgia schools that have a chance at the double crown this year. They are the only schools that have both boys and girls teams ranked in the top five of their classification by at least one state poll.
Columbia (Decatur): Columbia’s boys have won state titles in 2006 and 2008 under Dr. Phil McCrary and are ranked No. 1 by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in Class AAA this season despite five defeats. All losses are to out-of-state teams, including a close one to Oak Hill Academy. The top player is Jershon Cobb, who has signed with Connecticut. He is averaging 17.6 points and 4.6 assists.
The girls had never won a state playoff game until last year, when they reached the quarterfinals. They are ranked No. 2 this season by the AJC and are 18-3. The top players are South Florida signee Akila McDonald (8.2 rebounds, 2.6 blocks per game) and sophomore guard Zuri Frost (13.1 points, 4.5 steals), the daughter of head coach Chantay Frost.
Fayette County (Fayetteville): Fayette’s boys and girls were Class AAAA runners-up together in 2008, and the girls finished second again in 2009, going undefeated until the final against Southwest DeKalb. The girls team lost Tessah Holt to Florida but is 21-4 and ranked No. 5 by the AJC. Their top players are senior forwards Anma Onyeuku (19.0 points, 8.5 rebounds) and Sasha Sims (13.6 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists).
The boys team, which has seen Noel Johnson (Clemson guard) and Brandon Boykin (Georgia cornerback) lead the program to new heights the past few years, is 20-4 and ranked No. 4 by the AJC. They are led by junior guards Adam Smith (25.7 points) and Larry Erves (14.1 points, 7.6 rebounds).
Greater Atlanta Christian (Lilburn): GAC, a private school in Gwinnett County, is one of the nine schools that has swept the boys and girls titles through history. It happened in 1972. GAC’s boys made the semifinals last year, and the girls made the quarterfinals.
The boys are 23-1 and ranked No. 1 in every Class AA poll under second-year coach Eddie Martin, who is better known nationally as the coach who took Norcross to three Class AAAAA championships this decade with players such as Gani Lawal (Georgia Tech), Jodie Meeks (Kentucky) and Al-Farouq Aminu (Wake Forest). MaxPreps ranks his small-school GAC team at No. 2 overall in Georgia. Martin’s top players are College of Charleston signee Trent Wiedeman (14 points, 9 rebounds) and junior Malcolm Brogdon (21 points, 6.5 rebounds).
The girls are 19-4 and defeated previously No. 1-ranked Buford 56-52 on Feb. 5 to stamp themselves as a contender in AA. GAC also lost only 47-46 to Parkview, the undefeated No. 2-ranked team in AAAAA. Chaney Means, who has signed with Western Kentucky, leads the team (or is tied) in points (11.3), rebounds (7.3) and assists (3.6) per game.
Laney (Augusta): Laney has not won a state championship in basketball since the girls got one in 1961 in the all-black Georgia Interscholastic Association. The boys and girls teams are 23-2 this season. The girls had their 12-game winning streak snapped last week in an overtime loss to No. 1-ranked Vidalia in Class AA. The coach is Otis Smart, a 600-game winner who has taken Laney to the semifinals eight times and was runner-up in 1995. Smart has a fast team with only one senior that loves to shoot the 3. The top players are Mykala Jones (15.5 points) and Chelsea Maultsby (12.0 rebounds).
The boys made the AA semifinals last year and are led by junior guard Rod Hall, a 6-2, 215-pound junior guard who is a major Division I recruit. He is averaging 22.1 points per game. He's also a star receiver in football.
Norcross: No school has swept the girls and boys titles in Georgia’s highest classification since 1958, when Murphy of Atlanta did it. Norcross’ boys won Class AAAAA in 2006, 2007 and 2008 and are ranked No. 1 this year in Georgia’s coaches’ poll. They are 22-2 with a 19-game winning streak. The top player is Jeremy Lamb, who has signed with Connecticut. The 6-4 guard is averaging 18.3 points and 6.8 rebounds.
The girls’ best finish was the semifinals in 1979, but the team now has the state’s two best freshmen in Diamond DeShields and Kaela Davis, both 6-foot-2. The point guard is Tennessee Tech signee Briana Jordan, daughter of former Atlanta Braves outfielder Brian Jordan. The team is 20-3 and ranked No. 3 in Class AAAAA in most polls.
Northeast (Macon): The girls have as much tradition as any program in the state under coach Alvin Copeland, who has worked for Northeast since it opened in 1970. The basketball court was named for him last year. Under Copeland, Northeast won state titles in 1981, 1982, 1985 and 2002. His girls are 21-2 this season. Their top player is 5-11 forward Maria Bond (19 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists), who was second-team all-state as a sophomore last season.
The boys haven’t won a round in the state playoffs since 1994, but they’re 23-1 under first-year coach Kerry Sandifer. His best player is Michael Palmer, who averages 20 points and 7 assists per game. Palmer, also the school’s quarterback, was named MVP of the Georgia high school football all-star game in December.
Wesleyan (Norcross): Wesleyan swept the Class AA titles in 2008. The girls are viewed as a virtual lock to win their seventh straight title this season under coach Jan Azar. They are 20-4, and no team withink their classification, Class A, has come within 26 points of them. The top player is guard Erin Hall, a Wake Forest signee who is averaging 13.2 points and 3.2 assists and has made 51 of 161 3-point shots.
The boys, coached by Skip Matherly, are 19-4 overall and also undefeated in Class A. Their top player is senior forward Griffin Schamp, who averages 18.2 points and 5.6 rebounds.
Westlake (Atlanta): Westlake’s boys, led by Clemson signee Marcus Thornton, are 23-2 and ranked No. 1 in Class AAAAA by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. They’ve played a national schedule and have a victory over Rice, MaxPreps’ No. 1-rated team in New York. They’ve made the state semifinals five times since 1999 and won in 1999 and 2002 under 14-year coach Darron Rogers, who has sent sent more than 30 players to colleges on scholarship at Westlake.
The girls are probably a longshot, although they’re 16-3 and leading Region 4-AAAAA. They return four starters from last year’s semifinal team, but the one that graduated, Tamika Wills, is a freshman at the University of Georgia. Top players are are guard Sharnea Boykin (signed with Mercer) and center Danielle Spencer (Georgia Southern).
Georgia schools with double crowns:
1952 - Stilson (C)
1958 - Murphy (AAA)
1958 - Jeff Davis (AA)
1959 - Roopville (C)
1963 - Hart County (AA)
1972 – Greater Atlanta Christian (C)
1987 - Clinch County (A)
2006 – Southwest Atlanta Christian (A)
2008 - Wesleyan (AA)