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Stratford boys and girls prep for GHSA tournament

Sophomore Mary Elaine Mitchell has been a dynamic player for a Stratford girls team that has a strong mix of seniors and underclassmen./(Mason Prince, WGXA)

MACON, Ga. -- The GHSA state playoffs are familiar territory for the Stratford Lady Eagles. They enter this year's tournament coming off of their third straight region championship and have only lost three games all season.

In a season where head coach Ed Smith won his 500th career game, he says the mix of upper and underclassmen has been key to his team's success.

"Well it's been about what we expected," Smith said. "We knew we had some really good young guards that could score and kick the ball. We have seniors with a lot of experience shooting the basketball."

The boys team, however, has had a different relationship with the finals. After barely making the playoffs last year, the Eagles now enter this year's tournament as the No. 10 seed in the Class A Private classification.

Head coach Sean Sweeney is confident in his team's chances this postseason.

"I think we are talented enough to beat any team we play," Sweeney said. "Aquinas came down to the wire. They beat Eagles landing who is the #2 seed in the region. We can beat anybody. We just have to go on the road in the position that we will be in."

The Eagles have gotten contributions from several players this year, but junior Devin Butts has emerged as the player to watch for Stratford this season. The forward has been a catalyst in the late stretch of the season for the Eagles, including the region tournament.

The Lady Eagles have a bye in the first round of the GHSA playoffs, they won't play their first playoff game until next week. The boys team will play on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. when they welcome Whitefield into Macon.

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