Wheeler is back in the state tournament, as expected. Two suspended starters, Elijah Staley and Kejuan Johnson, also will be back in the lineup when the Wildcats play host to Northview at 6 p.m. Saturday in the first round of the Georgia Class AAAAA boys basketball state tournament.
But how far the Wildcats might progress is up for debate. Wheeler (16-10) won the Region 5-AAAAA tournament, beating East Cobb rivals Walton and Lassiter without Staley and Johnson, who sat after getting in an altercation near the end of their quarterfinal win over Cherokee.
By virtue of finishing fourth in the region, Walton (15-12) faces the daunting task of playing at No. 1 Milton at 7:30 p.m. The Raiders had Wheeler on the ropes until the fourth quarter, when center Sean Morgan got in foul trouble and Walton couldn't stop Charles Mitchell, Wheeler's big man.
Both will have to be major contributors for the East Cobb teams to advance.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution still rates Wheeler as one of its teams to watch, along with Milton, which is gunning for its second state title in three seasons.
The Walton and Wheeler teams are among the 13 boys teams from Cobb that qualified for state tournament action.
Tickets for both games tonight are $7 for adults, and school all-sport passes and Cobb County employee badges will not be accepted.
In the girls Class AAAAA tournament on Friday, Wheeler lost to North Forsyth 54-44 in the first round. The Lady Wildcats finished their season at 13-15 and reached the state tournament since 2005.