A. Atwater 5.JPG

It was a time when Collins Hill girls basketball was the powerhouse in the Peach State.

But times changed and Collins Hill stumbled upon some hard times.  

It was unbelievable to learn that this once-proud program is making its first state playoff appearance since 2007.

That is truly amazing for a team that was the standard other girls’ program were measured by during the 2000s.

Angie Hembree built the Eagles into a powerhouse starting in 2000 with the program’s first playoff appearance during that period. The Eagles would go on to win five state titles in the state’s largest classification in eight seasons.

Its last title came in 2007 under Tracey Tipton as the Eagles won the mythical national championship. And it didn’t hurt that hard arguably one of the state’s all-time best players in Maya Moore, now a standout in the WNBA.

Now, the Eagles program has experienced a rebirth as they make the trek to Douglasville to take on the Douglas County Tigers in the second round of the Class AAAAAA playoffs.

Both teams won their first round games to advance. Collins Hill defeated Chattahoochee 55-39 at home. In that win, the Eagles looked like the team of old.

Collins Hill took an early lead with a 20-4 run and never looked back.

“his is my first year but I know the seniors are very excited,” Collins Hill first-year coach Brian Harmon told the Gwinnett Daily Post. “Everything from here out, from when we made the state playoffs, has been the first time. My thing is we made a commitment early in the season that we wanted to stretch their season as long as we could, get everybody to play for each other. . . . From here, it’s just survive and advance.”

It is funny how basketball works.

In some ways Collins Hill is trying to get back to where Douglas County is now while the Tigers are trying to get to where their second-round opponent has been.

The furthest that the Douglas County program has advanced through the playoff since an appearance in the semifinals during the 2010-11 season.

It was also the last time the Tigers won a region championship.

While the Eagles are experiencing a resurgence, Douglas County has been a consistent playoff threat.

The Tigers are in the postseason for the ninth straight season and has missed the playoffs only five times since 2000.

But all that will not matter when the ball is tipped off tonight at 7 p.m. at Douglas County High.

What is the focus for both teams is winning game and advance. History and tradition will take of itself later.

Tonight will be a contrast of styles as Collins Hill likes the halfcourt sets with a couple tall post players. They can also shoot the three with Harmon’s freshman daughter, Bria, supplying a lot of the offense.

In contrast, the Tigers look to run and rely on its four all-region players and a thin bench to get the job done.

Collins Hill withstood the pressure from Chattahoochee to advance, now Douglas County will get its shot.

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