GHSA Girls Basketball Preseason State Rankings

2021-22 Preseason GHSA Girls State Rankings

PRO Movement
Sandy's Spiel Tip-Off Classic


1. Campbell
2. Marietta
3. Cherokee
4. Grayson
5. Woodstock
6. Archer
7. Brookwood
8. North Forsyth
9. South Forsyth
10. Norcross


1. Kell
2. Lovejoy
3. Buford
4. River Ridge
5. Carrollton
6. Langston Hughes
7. Sequoyah
8. Sprayberry
9. Rockdale County
10. Rome


1. Woodward Academy
2. Griffin
3. Greenbrier
4. Maynard Jackson
5. Forest Park
6. St. Pius X
7. Hiram
8. New Manchester
9. Warner Robins
10. McIntosh

Class AAAA

1. Luella
2. Troup County
3. Arabia Mountain
4. Carver-Columbus
5. Jefferson
6. Baldwin
7. Marist
8. Pickens
9. North Oconee
10. Bainbridge

Class AAA

1. Lumpkin County
2. GAC
3. Westminster
4. Johnson-Savannah
5. Sumter County
6. Pierce County
7. White County
8. Cross Creek
9. Redan
10. Tattnall County

Class AA

1. Elbert County
2. Josey
3. Rabun County
4. Fannin County
5. Lamar County
6. Laney
7. Woodville-Tompkins
8. Washington County
9. Callaway
10. Heard County

Class A-Private

1. Mt. Paran
2. Galloway
3. St. Francis
4. Holy Innocents’
5. Wesleyan
6. Hebron Christian
7. Trinity Christian
8. Deerfield-Windsor
9. Calvary Day
10. Athens Academy

Class A-Public

1. Mt. Zion-Carrollton
2. Montgomery County
3. Pelham
4. Claxton
5. Central-Talbotton
6. Lake Oconee Academy
7. Trion
8. Commerce
9. Dublin
10. Telfair County

The 2021-22 GHSA Season is officially upon us. With a tumultuous 2020-21 campaign behind us, hopefully this year will run smoothly without many COVID pauses or forfeits.

Class 7A

Class 7A was interesting last year. We had two juggernaut teams on paper but in the end, it was Marietta capturing their first title since 1951 and it marked the first time since 2009 that a team not named McEachern, Westlake or Norcross won the state’s largest classification. If you can believe it, it seems like this year we might have even more parity. Expect the rankings to be extremely fluid with multiple teams getting a crack at the top spot, but to open the year it will be No. 1 Campbell boasting an early target. Why? The Spartans are wildly battle-tested in their 2022 class, having grown up playing the likes of Westlake and McEachern and return everyone from last year’s 14-4 team which fell 56-48 to Brookwood on the road in the Sweet 16. Legendary Head Coach Randy McClure plays an attacking style that presses teams until they tap out. 5-foot-9 North Florida-commit Sarah Taub headlines the Spartans, averaging 10.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 3.8 steals a year ago. Senior point guard 5-foot-7 Laila Battle was an All-State Honorable Mention pick after leading Campbell in scoring at 15.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.8 steals per game. Also in the mix are senior 5-foot-5 Nia Bozeman (11.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.4 apg, 3.2 spg), 5-foot-10 senior Cheyenne Clark (5.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg) and 5-foot-9 senior Jaida Fitzgerald (4.6 ppg, 6 rpg). The Spartans have a cohesive backcourt but a lack of size could eventually prove costly. 5-foot-9 sophomore Tai Harvey averaged 5.6 points and 5.4 rebounds a year ago and is an important piece with her physicality and versatility. 5-foot-2 senior Chelsea Lewis provides great energy on defense and electrifying speed. The Spartans beat defending State Champion No. 2 Marietta 55-42 last December. Similar to Campbell, the Blue Devils won’t tower over many opponents. Gone is leading scorer and double-double machine Lauren Walker (Michigan State – 18 ppg, 10.7 rpg), but back is postseason star 5-foot-6 senior point guard Chloe Sterling from the Blue Devils’ 21-5 group. The import from Japan was a First Team All-State selection after averaging 16.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 3 steals. Sterling came up big time and time again in the playoffs, hitting a game-winning last second three vs. Pebblebrook (52-49 – First Round) and sending the game to overtime vs. Cherokee before sinking the go-ahead free throw (54-53 – Elite Eight). In her most heroic effort in front of a sold-out crowd against rival McEachern in a rare Final Four home game, Sterling poured in a career-high 33 points including the game-winner with 43 seconds left to stun the Indians 62-61. In the State Championship, Sterling had 10 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists and 5 steals to help close out a 52-47 victory. Coach Derrick DeWitt has more than just Sterling however. In total, four starters return with juniors Makayah Harris (7.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2 apg, 2.4 spg) and Loren Nelson (6.6 ppg) ready to step up in the backcourt. Scrappy 5-foot-5 sophomore Kayla Day emerged as a defensive stopper and scored 9 points in the title game after averaging 4.7. Sophomore guard Frances Storey looks like a logical option to step into a much bigger role after having a strong summer shooting the ball. No. 3 Cherokee has been a model of consistency winning over 20 games four seasons in a row while compiling a 105-14 record and finishing in the top seven each year. Gone is unstoppable post presence Kate Johnson (Furman) from last year’s 24-4 team but a veteran cast is back led by Region 5 First Teamer Karoline Karl, Second Teamer Presli Clark and Honorable Mention Lily Griffith, all seniors. 6-foot Oglethorpe-commit Keimarya Rivera should have a breakout season on the low block as a talented back-to-the-basket scorer while 5-foot-10 senior Skylar Edwards impressed as a Swiss Army Knife in the summer. 6-foot sophomore wing Toni Warren is a highly touted prospect that is on the verge of taking her game to the next level. No. 4 Grayson saw excitement and a reinvigorating energy injected into the program with the hire 2019 State Championship winning Head Coach Tim Slater (Lanier) this offseason. He inherits one of the most talented teams on paper in Class 7A, complete with a mixture of size, athleticism and guard play. The Rams played a tough schedule last season and never quite clicked, going 13-11 with a 78-63 Sweet 16 loss at McEachern. 6-foot-1 sophomore Erin Rodgers is a breakthrough candidate. She is capable of playing 1-5 and earned multiple offers from Low and Mid-Major programs over the summer. 5-foot-7 Charleston Southern-commit Catherine Alben is a dynamite athlete that converts turnovers into transition points. She was a Region 4 First Team selection while Second Teamer 5-foot-9 senior Tylia Kemp and All-Defensive Team pick 5-foot-7 senior Loretta Parks help bring some toughness. 5-foot-11 senior Sariya Henry is an active rebounder with a blossoming offensive game while 5-foot-10 junior post Samara Saunders could see a much bigger role after getting reps on the JV a season ago. 5-foot-10 senior Akhalia Horne is a rapidly improving post option. 5-foot-5 point guard Tatum Brown will be one of the most impactful freshmen in the state. George Mason has already offered the smooth playmaker that has a scorer’s touch. Three starters return from last year’s near Cinderella story, No. 5 Woodstock. The Wolverines finished 22-9 before falling short in Macon. Woodstock peaked at the right time but did lose by 15 or more points six times during the regular season albeit vs. strong opponents. Though they made it to the state title, rival Cherokee is still the team to beat after the Warriors won their fifth-straight region title, but Woodstock proved it could be done, beating them 51-46 in their first meeting before losing 72-46 and 63-41 in the Region 5 Championship. Anything can be accomplished however with the reigning Class 7A Player of the Year 5-foot-6 Bridget Utberg back. The Central Michigan-commit averaged 23.2 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 3.6 steals and can control games on both ends of the floor with her non-stop motor. 5-foot-7 junior Karson Martin averaged 14.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2 steals as Coach Regina Tate-Leslie’s number two option. Martin shook off a scary injury in the summer that rushed her to the hospital and has shown no ill-effects. Outside of Woodstock’s high-power backcourt, 6-foot-2 junior Casey Miller may be the Wolverines biggest piece, literally and figuratively. She’s a powerful post presence that rebounds in traffic and started to score more as the season went on. She averaged 7.7 points and 8.5 rebounds. Building depth behind their big three will help determine whether the Wolverines can repeat last year’s run. From top to bottom, No. 6 Archer is in the discussion as the most talented team in Class 7A. The Tigers finished 20-9 and fell victim to Woodstock in the Sweet 16, 52-49. 5-foot-11 junior Taniya McGowan was an All-State Honorable Mention selection after averaging 13.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 3.8 steals and 1.2 blocks. Her toughness on the glass and her overall inside-out game make her difficult to stop. She is now joined by 6-foot junior Olivia Orsley, a quick-footed skilled perimeter player that can create offense off the dribble and score at all three levels. She joins the program after spending a year at New Horizons Prep and will be an immediate difference maker if she stays healthy. Junior guards Courtney Nesbitt (8.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.9 spg) and Ashanti Bryant (6.6 ppg) give Coach Dani Wright experience in the backcourt along with sparkplug senior Mia Walker (5.6 ppg). 5-foot-9 freshman MeMe Whitehead will make an immediate impact with her high motor and relentless effort, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Expect 5-foot-10 freshman Kyndall Collins to see important minutes in the post as the season wears on. With superstar junior Diana Collins (21.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3 apg, 2.5 spg), No. 7 Brookwood has as good a chance as anybody to win a state title. The High Major point guard is a special player that makes everyone around her better with her cool demeanor and clutch shot making. Brookwood went 16-8 and fell 75-58 to Woodstock in the Final Four. The Broncos have a lot back with 5-foot-6 junior Ciera Hall (12 ppg), 5-foot-9 senior Nekaya Williams (11.9 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.9 apg), 5-foot-10 senior Madison Boadu (10 ppg, 6.8 rpg) and 5-foot-10 sophomore floor spacer Kate Phelan (6.9 ppg, 7 rpg). Coach Courtney Mincey has some players on the mend in 5-foot-10 senior Tori Delk who missed significant time last year and 5-foot-6 senior guard Shannon Niles who underwent surgery in June. Much like their friendly rival and near mirror image of success Cherokee, No. 8 North Forsyth always finds a way to win and is coming off their fourth-straight region title and a 23-5 season that ended in the Elite Eight against Brookwood, 44-41. The Raiders have owned Forsyth County, winning over 20 games five years in a row with a record of 125-24, not losing more than five games since 2016-17, a 21-8 campaign and the last time the Raiders finished the season outside of the Top 10. While the gap has narrowed each and every year within the county, Coach Brad Kudlas will turn to a veteran unit that returns everybody to try and make it five-straight region titles. Seniors Anna Gliatta (11.5 ppg, 2.7 apg), Alabama-Huntsville-commit 5-foot-9 Haelim Adle (9.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.7 apg), Ali Jones (9.2 ppg – 38.9% 3PT) and 6-foot-1 Flagler-commit Maddie Erickson (6 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.4 bpg) anchor a defense-oriented group that shares and shoots the ball well. 5-foot-10 junior Erin Whalen could have a breakout season as a positionless player that positivity influences games in a variety of ways. Junior guard Kamryn Gardner has improved on the perimeter while 6-foot-1 sophomore Lindsey Pirkle provides size after being redistricted from West Forsyth. Keep an eye on 5-foot-11 freshman swingman London Weaver. She’s a versatile scorer that can stretch out defenses and could see big minutes right away after averaging 15 points per game and leading her eighth-grade team to a county championship. If North Forsyth is the present and past of Forsyth County basketball, No. 9 South Forsyth could be the very near future. The War Eagles are loaded in the 2023 class and have plenty of experience after notching a 22-7 record and a Sweet 16 trip. South Forsyth fell three times to North Forsyth, but edged closer and closer as the season went on, losing 56-50 and then 46-42 in the Region 6 Championship after losing 45-24 in their first meeting. With West Forsyth (18-8) and Denmark (13-16) looming and each with major star power, the margin for error will have been slim for whoever ends up winning the region. South Forsyth’s big four all play together year-round, giving them plenty of chemistry entering Year 3. 5-foot-7 Sharon Tolliver (15.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.3 spg) led the team in scoring as a lethal shooter that could create off the dribble. 5-foot-8 Clara Morris (12.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 3.1 spg) and 5-foot-6 Maggie Thompson (7.2 ppg, 5.2 apg, 4.2 spg) round out a balanced backcourt. Where South Forsyth can exploit most teams is in the paint with 6-foot-1 post Ava McGlockton who is starting to draw D-I interest. The sister of Boston College freshman Devin McGlockton averaged 12.1 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2 blocks per game. Sophomores Jadyn Kniceley and Allie Meyer will see key minutes to round out the rotation. No. 10 Norcross comes off a 20-8 season which ended in the Sweet 16 against Cherokee 57-45. Region 7 Player of the Year Mariah Baltierra is gone but First Team selections 6-foot senior Zaria Hurston and 5-foot-8 sophomore Jania Akins are game changers, both drawing D-I interest with Hurston, a high energy double-double machine and defensive standout committed to DePaul. Seniors LaNiya Kenon and DeNaeja Morton will play big roles for the Lady Blue. Junior guard Kayla Lindsey missed last season due to an ACL tear, but is back and provides upside after starting as a freshman.

Class 6A

Georgia’s greatest dynasty – 98-0 vs. GHSA schools over the past four years – looks to be over as Westlake graduates Raven Johnson (South Carolina), Brianna Turnage (Virginia Tech) and loses Florida State-commit Ta’Niya Latson to American Heritage, FL which opens up the championship picture for a very strong and competitive classification. No. 1 Kell debuts atop the rest following a 25-4 season with a 55-46 loss to Westlake in the Elite Eight. Rumors swirled all offseason but once the dust settled, 5-foot-6 junior Crystal Henderson decided to stay put. The First Team All-State guard is as devastating of a scorer and playmaker as they come with her unlimited three-point range. She has a new running mate in 5-foot-6 junior Jada Peterson, a Region 5-7A First Team selection at Etowah. Peterson will get plenty of open looks from three and will replace the outside shooting of Sylvia Kahoro (Berry College). The addition of Peterson gives newly minted Head Coach Kandra Bailey (Discovery) a second ball handler that can create her own offense off the dribble. All-Region pick 5-foot-11 senior Amaya Moss returns as the team’s top rebounder and defensive center fielder in the press. 5-foot-10 junior Jada Green continues to add new dimensions to her game and has developed into a strong rim protector and versatile scorer. 5-foot-10 freshman Sydney Moss provides more length and combo-forward capabilities. 5-foot-9 junior Jamiah Gregory has battled health issues, but recently was cleared to play after missing the offseason. She provides athleticism and activity on both ends of the floor. Depth could be an area of potential weakness for the Longhorns, but their starting five should be able to matchup with anyone. No. 2 Lovejoy spoiled the party last year, upending undefeated Buford in the Elite Eight 49-42 before getting blitzed by Carrollton 73-48 in the Final Four to finish their season 20-6. Coach Cedric King graduates just two seniors and returns the bulk of their offensive output. 5-foot-9 junior La’Nya Foster was an All-State Honorable Mention pick after averaging a team-high 10.8 points to go with 4.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.3 steals. 5-foot-8 sophomore Bryanna Preston is quickly emerging as one of the best point guards in the entire southeast and has High Major offers starting to roll in. The aggressive on-ball defender averaged 10 points, 4.2 assists and 2 steals as a freshman. Senior 5-foot-10 Keyra Peterson averaged 6.8 points at wing. The Wildcats have great size inside between seniors 6-foot-1 Mercer-commit Layla Hood (6.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg) and 6-foot-2 Bryana Hardy (6.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.6 spg, 1 bpg). Both are strong athletes that are quick off the ground and can control the paint nightly. Senior Jakayla Harrison is back after averaging 5.4 points per game. The Wildcats will get a major shot in the arm with the return of junior guard Ayana Boyd, who missed all of last season with a knee injury. Boyd picked up a Coppin State offer in September. No. 3 Buford’s streak of four-straight state titles ended with their move to 6A. The Wolves went 26-1 and suffered their earliest exit since 2016. 5-foot-8 sophomore Ava Grace Watson is a blue-chip prospect that went to the U16 National Team Trials this offseason. The All-State Honorable Mention selection will be asked to lead the team in scoring while getting help from seniors 6-foot center Tamori Plantin and 5-foot-9 wing Tatum Ozment. Junior Kirby Wallis will fill in for now graduated sister Blair as a sharpshooter while sophomores Jayla Gudz, Betty Nguyen and Alyssa Green will all vie for playing time in a crowded backcourt. No. 4 River Ridge might have the most momentum out of any team in Class 6A. The Knights improved from 14-13 to 27-4, taking a trip to the Final Four before losing 68-30 to Westlake. To a man, River Ridge had the easiest path to the semifinals compared to the other three teams, but that doesn’t make them any less of a threat heading into 2022. 5-foot-7 junior Mataya Gayle has emerged as an elite point guard. The All-Stater earned an offer from Georgia State after pouring in 17.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 3.9 steals per game and may be the most athletic playmaker in the state. Gayle will have major help in 5-foot-6 freshman Sophia Pearl, one of the most impactful 2025s this upcoming season. Pearl is a reliable creator and a marksman from deep. Coach Jason Taylor has seen juniors 5-foot-8 Alyssa Farmer and 5-foot-9 Ayanna Blanco blossom this offseason. Farmer does the little things well and can hit the open jumper while Blanco has started to unleash her athleticism, making plays on both ends of the floor as an energy provider. The Knights have impactful size as well in 5-foot-11 sophomore Allie Sweet (8.5 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 1.9 spg) and physical paint protector 6-foot-2 senior Sofia Reyes (3.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg). No. 5 Carrollton hung tough with Westlake in the state championship before 5-foot-5 Kehinde Obasuyi hurt her shoulder and did not return. The Trojans finished 30-2 and fell 64-46 to Westlake, outscored 24-10 after Obasuyi’s injury late in the third. Obasuyi, a Western Carolina-commit, is back as is her younger sister junior Eghosa, a dangerous shooter. Life after De’Mauri Flournoy (Vanderbilt) will be different but the growth of 5-foot-11 junior wing Kanija Daniel and the addition of First Team Region 5-5A 6-foot senior forward Jasmine Jones, a Chiopla-commit from Decatur along with the debut of freshman guard Madison Swint will keep Carrollton among the elites. Another team that will benefit in Region 4 with the assumed slide of Westlake is No. 6 Langston Hughes, who will compete with Lovejoy all year for the coveted one-seed. The Panthers posted an 18-7 mark with a 49-40 loss to Carrollton in the Elite Eight. Coach Xavier Trice loses Autumn Phillips (Augusta State) but returns two All-Region picks and adds 5-foot-10 senior wing Taylor Caldwell from Alexander where she was a Region 5 Third Teamer. Second Team All-State selection Ta’Mia Stargell returns at lead guard while 5-foot-9 forward Raven Thompson brings strength and a unique skillset around the rim. Sophomores Kyla Greene and Ava Riley provide depth and upside to the guard position while 5-foot-10 senior Tianna Dismuke is a reliable rugged forward inside. The Panthers lost Blue Star 30 freshman 6-foot-3 McKayla Taylor to an ACL injury this offseason. No. 7 Sequoyah saw county foe River Ridge pass them in the blink of an eye, but the Lady Chiefs are still a threat to win a Region 7 title and make some noise in the state tournament. Coming off a 22-7 season, the Chiefs fell 64-43 in the Sweet 16 to Carrollton and return all but one rotational player. 5-foot-10 junior point guard Elle Blatchford is as textbook as they come, using her length, knowledge of the game and footwork to beat opponents. With a Vanderbilt offer already in hand, Blatchford averaged 16.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 4 steals per game. Tough-nosed 5-foot-7 senior wing A’ryn Jackson (10 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.5 spg) does her best work in the paint as an aggressive rebounder. 5-foot-9 senior Susanna Rogers is a key cog that serves as a slightly smaller version of Blatchford, a heady guard capable of doing everything. She averaged 7.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.5 steals and was named Class 6A’s Best Passer. 5-foot-9 wing Amy Singh is a LaGrange-commit that can knock down jumpers from the mid-range. 5-foot-10 senior Tafton Barber (4 ppg, 3 rpg) is a powerful post presence that can put opponents under the rim with her strength and cause mismatches with her size. Sophomore Sayler Davies (4.5 ppg) and junior Callie Gaddis (2.4 ppg, 2.8 rpg) provide unique dynamics while 6-foot freshman Milani Abdus-Salam gives Sequoyah something they haven’t had in years – young athletic length with upside. No. 8 Sprayberry’s 21-6 season sputtered out in the Sweet 16, getting blown out by Buford 90-63. 6-foot All-State guard Flau’jae Johnson is a blue-chipper in the 2022 class. She can dominate games with her scoring and ability to draw fouls when attacking the basket. 6-foot-2 junior Anna Vereen is long and lanky, able to gobble up rebounds and swat away shots. She’s a double-double threat on a nightly basis. Seniors Janelle McDaniel and Ella Grace Hickman give Coach Kellie Avery options on the perimeter. No. 9 Rockdale County rode Class 6A Freshman of the Year 5-foot-8 Danielle Carnegie (14 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 4.4 apg, 3 spg) to a 19-4 season and a trip to the Sweet 16 where they lost 61-55 to Langston Hughes. Carnegie’s smooth do-everything approach made life easier for everyone around her. Though they lose three of their top six, the Bulldogs should have enough to contend for another Region 3 title behind juniors Lia Edwards (11.3 ppg, 2.3 apg, 3 spg) and Nylah Williams (7.5 ppg, 8.1 rpg). A late coaching change sees Thomas McAboy, former Thomas County Central boys head coach, take over for Jason Harris and inherit a very good No. 10 Rome. The Wolves went 22-8 with a 53-42 loss in Round 2 to River Ridge. Almost everyone returns with seniors Ta’Emmica Nation, Treneisha Adams and Allison Loveman setting the tone. 5-foot-10 sophomore Breana Griffin is a wiry slasher that knows how to get to the rim. Rome has a chance to rack up the wins in Region 5 while they chase Carrollton.

Class 5A

In search of a repeat, No. 1 Woodward Academy to no surprise opens up as the team to beat. The War Eagles graduate just one key senior from last year’s 22-1 state title team that held off Forest Park 62-59. Blue-chip 6-foot-1 All-State senior guard Sydney Bowles returns after averaging 22.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 3.7 steals en route to winning Class 5A Player of the Year. 6-foot-1 junior Sara Lewis successfully parlayed a strong summer into a breakout sophomore campaign averaging 17.7 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2 assists, 3.3 steals and 1.1 blocks. The War Eagles have length in 6-foot-1 senior MacKenzie Moring (7.1 ppg, 4 rpg, 3 spg, 2.2 bpg) and senior Zoe Scott (5.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg). Senior Kennedie Mosley (6.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and 5-foot-9 freshman Kayla Whitner will provide scoring on the perimeter, Whitner an elite three-point specialist. Delaney Cooper is another well-respected incoming freshman. No. 2 Griffin has their top four scorers back from their 19-8 Final Four team that lost 75-52 to Woodward Academy. 6-foot-3 Samiah Puckett (15.5 ppg, 14.8 rpg, 4 bpg) leads a potent junior class which also features 5-foot-8 Leah Turner (15.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.4 spg, 2.1 bpg) and 5-foot-9 Aaliyah Duranham (12 ppg, 8 rpg, 3 spg, 2 bpg). 6-foot-1 senior Nadiyah Byard (6.4 ppg) provides length and defense while the addition of 5-foot-11 junior Zy Thompson from Pike County gives Coach DeAndra Brown another option to pound the ball to inside. Griffin will have one of the biggest and most athletic frontlines in the state and have the capability of dominating the paint night in and night out. No. 3 Greenbrier went from 18-10 to 22-4, becoming a legitimate state title contender before falling 55-49 to New Manchester in the Sweet 16. Coach Ryan Morningstar returns his Top 5 headlined by 6-foot-3 junior Caitlin Staley (8.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 4.3 bpg) a powerful paint protector that has seen multiple Mid-Major and High Major offers pour in this offseason. 5-foot-7 senior Brooklyn Begley was named Class 5A Best Shooter after leading Greenbrier in scoring at 11.8 points per game and nailing 75 three-pointers. 5-foot-5 junior Trinity Barrow earned Best Passer honors after posting 10 points, 4.2 rebounds, 6 assists and 4.2 steals per game. Senior Jordan Tanksley hit 37 threes and averaged 9.6 points, 5 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.8 steals while 5-foot-4 senior Sydney Peake knocked down 34 threes and averaged 7.3 points, making the Wolfpack one of the most balanced and dangerous three-point shooting teams in the state. With region rival Loganville hit by graduation, Greenbrier is a solid favorite to grab the top seed out of Region 8. No. 4 Maynard Jackson was accused of cheating at the conclusion of last season’s 19-5 year and Sweet 16 berth, but it seems like nothing came of the allegations. The Jaguars are very talented but still haven’t seen much success in the postseason, again unable to get out of the second round with a 51-29 loss to Loganville, marking the fourth-straight season the Jags haven’t cracked the Elite Eight. Youth and experience blend together on this year’s group led by versatile 6-foot-3 senior Xaviera Dyer, a Georgia State-commit. Sophomores 5-foot-5 Taliah Cornish, 5-foot-10 Shakira Gresham and 6-foot wing Shamaria Arnold all have high ceilings. 5-foot-7 freshman Aliyah Weaver brings relentless on-ball pressure defense and can pick up full court. No. 5 Forest Park will look a lot different without McDonald’s All-American Sania Feagin (18.9 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 3.1 apg, 2.7 spg, 4.2 bpg – South Carolina). Her production will be challenging to replace to say the least and so will the voids left behind by Olympia Chaney (UTSA), Jasmine Stevens (Presbyterian) and Ghylissa Knowles (Albany State) from last year’s 23-6 squad. 5-foot-10 sophomore guard Yasmine Allen (7.7 ppg) returns as the team’s leading scorer while 5-foot-10 junior guard Jayda Brown (5.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3 apg, 2 spg) has heavy experience and should see a major uptick in production. 6-foot sophomore Hannah Willis is a big body inside that will see more playing time. Much like last season, transfers will play a big role for Forest Park as 6-foot-1 senior Aaishah Barry, a Class 4A All-State Honorable Mention selection, has moved in from Mt. Zion-Jonesboro and so has 6-foot-2 junior center MaKayla Arnold from Drew Charter. No. 6 St. Pius X pieced together a 19-3 season and fell in a grind-fest at Hiram in the Sweet 16, 43-40. The Golden Lions will have length. Coach Kyle Snipes returns his top three players highlighted by Region 5 First Teamers 5-foot-10 senior Kate McBride (Embry-Riddle Prescott) and 5-foot-10 junior Kelly Stephenson while 5-foot-10 senior Alexa Kenah was a Second Team pick. 6-foot-1 junior Alex Schiavo has a chance to alter games with her play in the paint. With Southwest DeKalb and ML King losing all their top players, the Golden Lions could be in line to sweep the region. No. 7 Hiram captured a Region 7 title and finished 19-5 with a 42-27 Elite Eight loss to Forest Park. Star guard Imani Smith (Gulf Coast State – 13.7 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 5.7 apg, 5.4 spg, 1.8 bpg) and Sydney Jones (USC Salkehatchie – 11.3 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 2.6 spg) leave massive holes to fill. 6-foot senior Erial Owens (11.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.7 spg, 1.4 bpg) will be the go-to option while 5-foot-7 junior Camryn O’Neil (5.7 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 3.2 apg, 2.3 spg) and 5-foot-4 junior Makiala Bullock (2.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.7 spg) provide major experience and leadership in an aggressive backcourt that loves to attack with full court pressure. Look for juniors Kalisha Phillips and Jen’l Mackey along with sophomores Hadiya Kennerly and T’Nasia Nance and freshmen Damariah Windom and Taylor Crawford to see important minutes. No. 8 New Manchester racked up a 24-4 mark before getting upset in the Elite Eight by Dutchtown 51-47. Coach Vincent Parks’ top two players return in 6-foot-2 do-everything Auburn-commit Kharyssa Richardson (18.4 ppg, 11 rpg, 1.5 apg, 2.8 spg, 3 bpg) and 5-foot-5 George Mason-decommit Kamryn Bates (10.4 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 4.7 apg, 2.2 spg), a sparkplug guard with tremendous energy, athleticism and handles. The Jaguars must replace the 20.2 combined points per game left by graduates Hannah Wright and Azaria Robertson. 5-foot-5 senior India Johnson is ready to step into a bigger role after averaging 6.1 points, 3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.3 steals as an energetic playmaker with three-point range. 5-foot-5 freshman Paige Fears continues the trend of small guards, but she will be thrust into duty right away along with 5-foot-4 sophomore Taniya James, both providing extra ball handling and shooting. 6-foot-1 junior Janitra Brown is a quality shot blocker. No. 9 Warner Robins handled their business with a 20-4 record out of Region 1 and a trip to the Sweet 16 where they fell 51-25 to Forest Park. The Demonettes are much more of a threat now with the addition of two-time All-State selection 5-foot-7 junior Jada Morgan from Jones County. The tough-nosed scorer joins sophomore Nevaeh Mack in the backcourt, who averaged 10 points and 5 assists as a freshman. Junior Tasia Agee adds three-point shooting. No. 10 McIntosh is sneaky good. The Chiefs are set to return their Top 5 from last year’s 21-7 team that fell 42-34 to semifinalist Dutchtown in the Sweet 16. 5-foot-10 senior Keara Collins, a multi-sport standout, averaged 14.6 points, 8.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 4.6 steals per game. Seniors 5-foot-10 Olivia Henders (7.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1 spg, 1 bpg) and Bella Duiser (7.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2 apg, 1.5 spg) balance a veteran core. Sophomore Kendall Davis (6.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg) saw key minutes as a freshman while junior Zara Vaughan (6.5 ppg) brings experience to the guard rotation.

Class 4A

A heavy favorite to potentially run away with the state title a year ago, No. 1 Luella was shockingly upset in the first round by four-seed Cedar Shoals 51-50 putting a disappointing capper on a 20-3 season. Even with the sour ending and the graduation of leading scorers Jada Session (Furman) and Cortney Gardner (Coppin State), the Lions have enough to win a state title behind 6-foot-1 junior Ariana Dyson (10.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.7 spg, 1.1 bpg) and Johns Creek transfer Evelina Davlakou, a 5-foot-6 Jacksonville State-commit that was a Region 7-6A First Team selection. The inside-out game will be supplemented by 5-foot-9 point guard Camryn Berry (7.2 ppg) and 5-foot-4 senior Myah Beasley (4.7 ppg). Juniors Semya McCree and Tamya Stevenson will play important roles as well. 5-foot-8 senior Natalie Martin, a transfer, should help after averaging 5.5 points and 3.8 rebounds at Druid Hills. No. 2 Troup County finished 15-6 and fell in the Final Four in a somewhat controversial game at Cairo, 55-51. Coach Carla Thornton returns five of her top six scorers headlined by 6-foot senior Aniya Palmer, an All-State gamechanger that averaged 13.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 3.6 steals and 2.3 blocks. 5-foot-9 junior Alexcia Murphy is a pit-bull in the paint, posting 10.8 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 2.7 steals and 1.5 blocks as a sophomore. Experienced guards balance the Tigers in senior Samarria Weldon (8.2 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 3.8 spg), sophomore Angie Dowdell (7.6 ppg) and senior Moniya Murphy (5 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.7 spg). No. 3 Arabia Mountain’s blinding backcourt led the Rams to a 15-3 mark but it was still a bit disappointing considering they lost to Marist in the Region 6 Championship 45-35 and then were ambushed at Jefferson in the Sweet 16, 88-58. Tiny playmakers 5-foot-6 sophomore Malaya Jones (12.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 4 apg, 2.4 spg), the Class 4A Freshman of the Year and 5-foot-5 junior Myori Pruitt (8.9 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 5.3 apg, 3.8 spg), 4A’s Best Passer, are as good as any backcourt tandem in the state. Size could be an issue with the loss of 5-foot-10 Mikayla Jamison to Stockbridge, but 5-foot-7 junior Sierra Burns (7.5 ppg, 4.4 rpg) will help Coach Jerry Jackson double down on Arabia Mountain’s dynamic guard play. Freshman Jah’Naesia Spears could help put Arabia Mountain over the top. The big guard was a BlueStar 30 selection. No. 4 Carver-Columbus captured their second state title in three years, defeating Cairo 70-54 to finish the season 16-2. The Tigers’ grip on Class 4A and even their own region, battling with Troup County in Region 2, may be as loose as it’s been in years now that there isn’t a bona fide High Major player on the roster any more with Olivia Cochran (Louisville) graduating in 2020 and Class 4A Player of the Year Kionna Gaines (Clemson) graduating this past season. Known for their ability to work the transfer market, Carver-Columbus has at least one valuable move-in in 5-foot-7 junior Jakayla Geiger, a lights-out shooter that comes over the border from Russell County, AL. Fellow juniors 5-foot-8 Akirya Robinson and 5-foot-8 Makiyah Webb are returning starters while 5-foot-9 Caylee Simpson should see a much-increased role in the offense. It will be interesting to see how the Tigers choose to replace East Georgia-signees twin towers Enyshuan Jones and Khamya Edmonds. Last year was No. 5 Jefferson’s year to win their first title since 2001 but the Basketball Gods had something else in store, a score keeping error that cost the Dragons a point in a controversial 61-60 road loss at Carver-Columbus in the Elite Eight, ending a 23-5 season short. Though it may be a year later than expected, there are still title aspirations for Coach Greg Brown as Jefferson returns 5-foot-7 senior Deshona Gaither, an aggressive All-State defensive stalwart and 5-foot-7 senior Ellie Kinlaw, a knockdown three-point shooter. Senior Hailey Triaga is another valuable floor spacer while 5-foot-4 freshman Emeri Billings is an interesting young talent that could see minutes right away. Most important is the long-awaited return of 5-foot-11 senior Natalia Bolden who has missed the past two seasons with an ACL tear and then ruptured Achilles. Bolden, an All-State talent if healthy, averaged 12 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists as a freshman. Though it will be roughly 1,000 days since her last varsity game, Bolden is a major X-Factor that will affect the state title race immediately. No. 6 Baldwin was 14-0 before flopping in the first round to Bainbridge 40-34, putting a damper on their season similar to what Luella experienced. The Bravettes’ Region 4 will be even weaker this year and with their top two players back, Baldwin should sweep the region regular season and tournament titles. 5-foot-8 senior Tamia Smith enters her final season after an illustrious first three years. The well-rounded offensive threat averaged 17.4 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 4.8 steals while 5-foot-7 Madison Ruff made a huge impact as a freshman posting 13.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 5.5 steals. Sophomore Jamya Easley only appeared in eight games but averaged 6.6 points. No. 7 Marist always finds a way to win even without having major prospects on their roster. The War Eagles play a slow grind-it-out defensive style that constricts opponents and limits possessions. Marist on averaged allowed just 31.8 points per game as they finished 21-4, getting upset by under .500 Flowery Branch in the Sweet 16, 45-35. Region 6 Player of the Year Avery Fantucci is back to lead the way. The Michigan softball-commit makes Marist go. Jamison Henley and First Team All-Region selection Maggie Thayer must be replaced. No. 8 Pickens snuck up on the field and produced a 22-5 record with a trip to the Elite Eight where they fell 51-49 at Cairo. The run marked Pickens’ first postseason win since 2018. The Nettes use a balanced attack and will be paced by returning leading scorer 5-foot-9 sophomore Caroline Mullins, who averaged 8.5 points per game. Mullins has a chance to grow into a promising college prospect while getting support from senior Amanda Nelson (7.3 ppg), sophomore Isabella Howell (5.7 ppg), junior Madison Powell (4.8 ppg) and 5-foot-8 senior Carmyn Mullins (4.6 ppg). No. 9 North Oconee is the second team in the Top 10 from Region 8 joining Jefferson. The grouping could end up being one of the most competitive and see multiple teams rotate into the rankings throughout the season. Coach Erick Willis has a senior-laden group in the backcourt between Second Team All-Region picks 5-foot-8 Annika Bonds and 5-foot-5 lefty Maddy Dickens who shot 41.6% from three. 5-foot-7 senior Callie Jackson is another dangerous shooter that went 37-107 (35%) from beyond the arc while 5-foot-5 southpaw sophomore Aiyanna Peavy provides quickness and creativity on the perimeter. The Titans will battle with Flowery Branch, Chestatee, 2021 semifinalist Cedar Shoals and East Hall, a team similarly composed with strong veteran guard play, as they attempt to hunt down Jefferson. No. 10 Bainbridge started to peak at the right time last year, finishing a modest 10-8 but beating undefeated Baldwin 40-34 in the first round and losing 48-41 at Troup County in the Sweet 16. Don’t be surprised if the Bearcats climb quickly in the rankings. Their top four return headlined by 6-foot-3 All-State senior center Detavia Salter, a Mercer-commit that averaged 12.6 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.3 steals and 4.3 blocks per game. Salter is a mismatch on the block as is 5-foot-11 senior Taralyn Brown (5.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.5 apg, 3.6 spg) who brings a versatile skill set to the table, capable of playing either inside or out. The backcourt is manned by seniors Angel Peterson (5.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 3 apg, 4.3 spg) and Kirston Nobles (5.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.2 apg, 2.8 spg).

Class 3A

Class 3A was the most interesting classification to follow last season as teams from all across the state had legitimate title hopes. The balance of power has slowly shifted away from Savannah and now resides in north Georgia as No. 1 Lumpkin County debuts in pole position. The Indians recorded a historic 25-5 season which ended in heartbreak 46-45 to eventual state champion Cross Creek in the Final Four on a last second breakaway layup following a botched foul attempt at halfcourt. While the goal last year was to Hang A Banner, it is now to Play 32. Coach David Dowse loses three-point specialist Isabel Davenport (North Georgia – 13.9 ppg) to graduation but returns Class 3A Freshman of the Year and leading scorer 5-foot-7 point guard Averie Jones (15.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3 apg, 2.6 spg, 63 3PT – 34.2%). A robust junior class is now at full strength with the return of 6-foot forward Kate Jackson who averaged 10.2 points and 10.2 rebounds as a freshman before tearing her ACL last spring. Jackson provides a different dynamic that will allow easier baskets inside and even more open three-point looks when playing inside out. 5-foot-10 Mary Mullinax (10.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 2.7 apg, 2.3 spg, 26 3PT – 30.2%) and 5-foot-5 Lexi Pierce (10.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 2.3 apg, 2 spg, 43 3PT – 33.6%) have both enjoyed steady improvement each season and have developed into legitimate scoring threats. Lumpkin County’s big four are used to playing the entirety of nearly every game, due in part to a small roster. Sophomores 5-foot-6 Ciera Brooks and 5-foot-10 Madison Powell will likely round out the rotation with 5-foot-7 junior Elizabeth Walker possibly seeing minutes. Lumpkin County’s homecourt advantage is unmatched at the 3A level and if the Indians capture a top seed and win the coin flip for the Elite Eight, Lumpkin County very well could find themselves back in the Final Four. No. 2 GAC’s tradition of playing a brutal schedule and then peaking at the right time continued as they closed the year on an 8-game winning streak before falling short of a repeat, losing 56-44 to Cross Creek in the state championship, finishing 15-8 on the year. 5-foot-7 Xavier-commit Kaleigh Addie is as dynamic as they come at the point guard position, averaging 20.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 3.9 steals. 5-foot-6 senior Jaci Bolden stepped up last year to average 15.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.1 steals. The Spartans will need to find scoring outside of their guards however as 6-foot-3 center Laurren Randolph (Memphis) leaves a void inside. It becomes even more important for 6-foot-1 Ohio State soccer-commit Molly Pritchard to play her senior season, a reliable rebounder that averaged 4.1 points, 9.8 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.6 steals as a junior. Sophomores 5-foot-8 Myla Benton (3.6 ppg) and 5-foot-9 Sydney Lucas (3.5 ppg) will see bigger roles. Last year will go down as a great “What-If” for No. 3 Westminster. The Wildcats emerged as a title contender edging GAC 58-54 and 62-60 before falling 55-38 in the Region 5 title. Westminster still had a chance at making a run to the state title, but star wing 6-foot-1 junior Courtney Ogden sat out in the Sweet 16 due to COVID concerns with the Lumpkin County crowd and saw her team fall 58-40, zapped of their leading scorer’s 21.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 2.1 steals and 1.5 blocks per game. With things seemingly under control for this upcoming season, Westminster should be better than ever with 5-foot-9 sophomore Stella Chartrand back with major experience to pair with Ogden. Chartrand helped Westminster to new heights, taking a major load off of Ogden by averaging 14.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game. Coach Katie Argall loses just one starter and returns the rest of an athletic group that likes to set the tempo with their press. Be patient however as the Wildcats may start off slow as Ogden rehabs from a broken fibula suffered in the summer. She’s expected back in December. Chatham County was a nightmare with stoppages of play and shortened schedules but No. 4 Johnson-Savannah still managed a respectable 12-3 record and Elite Eight berth even though their only wins against teams above .500 other than 7-6 Liberty County came in the postseason. The Atomsmashers lost 53-43 to GAC in the quarterfinals but return All-State senior forwards 6-foot-1 Amani Hamilton (22.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.1 spg, 2.2 bpg) and 6-foot-1 K’lya Hankerson (14.7 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1 spg, 3.6 bpg). Dwindling guard play and roster size are an issue. Tiana Williams (12.4 ppg) has graduated while senior Marlee Burner (7.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.3 apg, 2.9 spg) has transferred to Islands. Two-time state championship winning head coach Brandon Lindsey has stepped down, replaced by assistant E’Lonna Levett. With all that being said, a weak region on paper and what looks to be rival Beach’s weakest team in years with the graduation of Kaila Rougier (North Florida), Johnson-Savannah should be in good shape to capture another Region 3 title. Though they played second fiddle to regular season undefeated Upson-Lee in Region 2, No. 5 Sumter County, formerly Americus-Sumter, could have a breakout year. Three out of the Panthers’ top four players return from last season’s 15-5 unit that fell 54-41 in the Sweet 16 to state champ Cross Creek. Coach Sherri Harris, a state championship winner in 2016 and 2020, has her top two scorers back in 6-foot senior center Trinity Jackson (13.3 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 1 spg, 2.1 bpg) and 5-foot-8 junior Aviyonna Clemons (10.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg). 5-foot-6 senior point guard Tiffani Goodman is a savvy veteran that averaged 8.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 3 steals per game. With Upson-Lee graduating everybody, Pike County losing Zy Thompson to Griffin and Gabbi Cartagena (Troy) graduating from Jackson, the Panthers are the clear-cut favorite to win the region with up-and-comer Central-Macon as their primary opposition. No. 6 Pierce County was sneaky good out of Region 1, finishing 19-7, losing 64-55 to Lumpkin County in the Elite Eight. The senior heavy group is led by 5-foot-8 point guard Natalie Herrin, one of the best kept secrets in Georgia. The reigning two-time Region Player of the Year is a tough-nosed scorer from all three-levels that also likes to defend. She is joined by First Team All-Region pick Tivonna Myles, Second Teamer Makayla Etheridge and Honorable Mention selections Sarah Davis and Natalee Griffin, all seniors. No. 7 White County has strength in numbers. Though Region 7 Player of the Year Maddie Futch (Emmanuel) and Dasha Cannon (North Georgia) have graduated, Coach Jarvis Davenport still has talent left over from last year’s 11-10 team that fell 64-60 in the first round to Coahulla Creek. 5-foot-11 junior Naomi Roberts is a breakout candidate. While White County battled injuries throughout the year, Roberts blossomed as a double-double threat as the season went on, leading the Warriors in scoring on multiple occasions as a versatile combo-forward. 5-foot-3 senior Chesnee Freeman is a scrappy sparkplug that plays suffocating defense with quick hands. She’s a good outside shooter and a fearless driver. 5-foot-10 senior wing Kendyl Cantrell is a lefty that has the size and strength to score inside and out. A deep rotation of guards will see junior Maci Shelnut and sophomores Aaliyah Anderson and Brelan Sieveking battle for playing time. Keep an eye on 5-foot-11 freshman Kylie Watkins. The razor thin forward is extremely effective and has an interesting skill set. Watkins picks up countless deflections and blocked shots and has a diverse offensive game with quality footwork in the low post and three-point range. Defending state champion No. 8 Cross Creek was carried to their first ever title by current North Carolina A&T freshman Jordyn Dorsey (22.5 ppg, 6 rpg, 2.4 apg, 2.6 spg), who led the Razorbacks to a 23-2 season and 56-44 championship victory. She was the one player that nobody had an answer for, especially in the state title game as she dropped in 30 of her team’s 56 points. While everyone is back other than Dorsey, Cross Creek will be a tough-out but it will be a shock if they can replace Dorsey’s output and recreate last year’s success. 5-foot-5 sophomore point guard Micheala Bogans (10.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.2 apg, 2.4 spg) shined as a freshman, providing mature play and toughness in the backcourt. 5-foot-11 floor spacing senior Erin Martin averaged 8.2 points and 3.9 rebounds while 5-foot-11 junior Jasiiyah Holmes (5.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg) and 6-foot senior Jenna Wilbon (3.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg) bring size and physicality inside. There was a lot of individual talent in Region 5 a season ago but as far as teams go, GAC and Westminster were head and shoulders above the rest. No. 9 Redan finished 10-9 and was bounced 67-49 by Stephens County in the first round of the playoffs but dynamic 5-foot-5 senior Jayla Cook gives the Raiders some upside heading into 2022. The energizer bunny averaged 16.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 3.7 steals and leads a team that graduated just one senior. The development of 5-foot-1 junior Kennedy Daniels (12.1 ppg) and senior LoyalTee McKinzie (8.7 ppg) will determine whether Redan is ready to hang in the Top 10. Dating back to 2015-16, No. 10 Tattnall County has been one of the most consistent teams in the state, winning at least one state playoff game five years in a row and finishing with a winning season six consecutive years with a total record of 119-52 with one Final Four, two Elite Eights and most recently, two straight Sweet 16 appearances. The Warriors fell 68-58 to Johnson-Savannah but return four key senior contributors. McKenzie Williams and Tamia Brown were both Region 1 First Teamers while 5-foot-11 junior Macey Ansell was a Second Team pick and Kandayce Carswell earned Honorable Mention. Expect the Warriors to trade blows with Pierce County all season. Though Pierce County took two out of three including the Region title, the combined score of their series was 158-158.

Class 2A

Continuity and growth matters, especially in Class 2A, that is why No. 1 Elbert County opens in the catbird seat. The Blue Devils return their entire roster from last year’s 23-3 team that was nearly all sophomores and improved upon a 16-10 mark as freshmen. Elbert County fell 46-45 to eventual state champion Josey in the Elite Eight but now have invaluable experience as their core enters their junior seasons. 5-foot-7 Aaniyah Allen leads the way averaging 16.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 3.7 steals. Allen is a shifty guard that sets the tone for Coach Joshua Jones’ attacking full court press. 5-foot-5 Aniya Moon (12 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 2.9 apg, 2.6 spg) and 5-foot-5 Terrace Hester (10.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.7 apg, 3.8) play fast and wreak havoc on defense. A lack of impactful size is Elbert County’s one potential weakness. Juniors Jamia Allen (5.6 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.2 spg) and Brenasia Faust (3.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.2 bpg) are Coach Jones’ primary options inside. No. 2 Josey slayed multiple dragons on their way to their first state title since 1998. At 20-6, the first domino that fell was the Eagles finally beating crosstown rival Laney, ending a 38-game losing streak that spanned 16 years. Though they beat Laney two out of three times, Josey still couldn’t capture the Region 4 title, losing to Butler. The Eagles took a hellacious route to Macon, beating four ranked teams in East Laurens (47-39), Elbert County (46-45), Washington County (47-43) and Fannin County (47-42) in the title game, all on the road. Josey had a comeback for the ages, rallying from down 35-21 with 3:32 left in the third quarter to stun Fannin County, using a 17-4 fourth quarter that held Fannin County scoreless for over eight minutes dating back to the third quarter to topple the Rebels after leading for only 3:03. Coach Jawan Bailey loses his second and fifth leading scorers, enough for Elbert County to get the slight nod to open the year ranked No. 1. 5-foot-9 junior Arieonna Booker (10.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.6 spg) is an athletic wing that can defend 1-5. 5-foot-9 senior power forward Aqoyas Cody (9.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.3 spg) is a difference maker inside with her toughness and nose for the ball. 5-foot-10 senior Ky’Shonna Brown has multiple D-I offers after averaging 9.1 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.6 steals. She makes Josey a state title team when she’s aggressive offensively. Josey will have to find ways to score in the half court in order to repeat as state champs. They can get stagnant at times and lack outside shooting with the graduation of their two best shooters Deajah Houck and Jamirah Mitchell. The Eagles’ defense will always keep them in games however. No. 3 Rabun County has come close to capturing their first ever state title on numerous occasions but has always fallen just short. One of the state’s most consistent winners has slipped behind Elbert County in Region 8, but still remains a threat to go deep. The LadyCats finished 19-7 with a challenging schedule and were upset by Tuskegee-signee India Terrell and Columbia 50-41 in the Sweet 16. Coach DeeDee Dillard loses just two seniors, but suffered a major blow with a season ending knee injury to sophomore Ellie Southards (9.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 39% 3PT) in the summer. Southards’ toughness and outside shooting will be missed but 6-foot senior Gracie Deetz returns after leading the team in scoring averaging 11.8 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks while going 36-99 (36%) from three. 5-foot-9 sophomore point guard Lucy Hood is a budding star in Class 2A, earning Freshman of the Year honors after posting 9.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.7 steals per game while hitting 35-89 (39%) of her three-point attempts. Rabun County has plenty of veteran leadership on the roster with senior guards Carley Haban, Sophie Woodard, Sarah Kate Roberson and Loren Stiles. The LadyCats will play another challenging non-region schedule to prepare for a run at state, opening up the season with Class 7A No. 9 South Forsyth at the Sandy’s Spiel Tip-Off Classic. No. 4 Fannin County had the magic on their side, peaking at the right time to rip off 17-straight wins following a 66-43 loss at Rabun County to end 2020. The Rebels finished 23-5 with white knuckle wins over undefeated Early County and 6-foot-3 Florida State-signee Makayla Timpson 66-64 in the Elite Eight and then Butler with an unforgettable 43-41 buzzer beater following a Courtney Davis steal at halfcourt and one-handed pass to Becca Ledford for an off-balance contested layup to send the home crowd into a frenzy. The Rebels were set to secure their first state title since 1999 but an eight-minute scoring drought allowed Josey to rally for a wild 47-42 win. Coach Ryan Chastain will be in the hunt again however as three of his top six are back led by Ledford, a 5-foot-6 senior that averaged 10.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 2.3 steals and scored a team-high 14 points in the state championship. Davis, a 5-foot-4 sparkplug with deep range, enters her sophomore season after netting 10.5 points per game while 5-foot-9 senior Reagan York is a trustworthy wing that produced 8.1 points and 6.6 rebounds a night. No. 5 Lamar County is still looking for deep postseason success, hunting an elusive Elite Eight appearance. The Trojans finished 17-6 out of Region 3 and scored a signature 57-56 win over previously unbeaten Washington County in the middle of the season to push the Trojans into the discussion of being a potential state title team but Lamar County was upset by 11-10 Swainsboro 51-48 in the opening round of state. The entire roster is back for Coach Adam Ballard headlined by 5-foot-4 senior Tamya Blasingame, an All-State point guard that averaged 17.9 points, 6 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 3.2 steals. 5-foot-6 sophomore Shakiria Foster was an impact player as a freshman, chipping in 13.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.8 steals. 5-foot-10 senior Zaria Fletcher is a strong athlete with broad shoulders inside. She collected 7.5 points, 8.4 rebounds, 1 steal and 1.4 blocks. 5-foot-5 sophomore Zakiria Foster could emerge as a key piece after averaging 5.7 points, 3.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.1 steals as a freshman. The Trojans will be battle-tested coming out of a tough region that could see multiple teams crack the Top 10 at some point. No. 6 Laney has lost its allure a bit, but the Wildcats are still dangerous and will have much more chemistry this season after going through growing pains due to high turnover heading into last year. The Wildcats finished 15-8, their most losses in over a decade and suffered a 56-50 loss at Washington County in the Sweet 16. Laney’s season-opening loss to Grovetown in 2019-20 was their first loss to an Augusta area school in 13 years before losing five games to city rivals last year. Laney’s top two players are back between junior wing Kiara Turner (16.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 1.4 apg, 2.8 spg) and senior Santanna Dennis (11.2 ppg). 6-foot-2 senior Sinclaire Fryer (4.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg) adds size inside while 5-foot-1 junior Amari Bonner handles the ball for 900+ game winner Coach Otis Smart.  No. 7 Woodville-Tompkins emerged as a contender following eye-opening wins over perennial Savannah powers Beach and Johnson. The Wolverines finished 16-5 with a 62-47 loss at Butler in the Sweet 16. Leading scorer 5-foot-7 junior Janiyah Heyward is back after averaging a double-double with 10.7 points and 10.6 rebound per game. 6-foot-1 sophomore Brianna Pelote is a game-altering presence inside. As a freshman she averaged 6.9 points and 6.9 rebounds. She has good footwork in the low post and can score on power moves with her back to the basket. 5-foot-6 junior Sanai Chisholm is the third scoring option at 6.2 points per game. No. 8 Washington County went 17-2 and floated near the top of the poll all season. A 47-43 loss to Josey in the Final Four ended their season short. Coach Sug Parker will need to replace daughter Miracle Parker, a Flagler-signee that averaged 19.6 points per game, but he still has talent on the roster. 5-foot-10 senior Ashley Gray, younger sister of WNBA star and Olympic gold medalist Allisha Gray, averaged 11.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 4 steals and 1.2 blocks and is regarded as the most versatile player middle Georgia has to offer. 5-foot-4 junior Makaili Parker looks to improve upon her 10.2 points, 4.2 assists and 4.2 steals per game while 5-foot-7 senior Deasia Canty is back after pitching in 9.8 points, 6 rebounds and 3.8 steals. The Golden Hawks will be in a log jam in Region 3 with aforementioned No. 5 Lamar County, Northeast-Macon (9-8) who returns everyone and Dodge County (13-7) who brings back their top five. Region 5 hasn’t particularly fared well in the postseason in years past but No. 9 Callaway broke through the glass ceiling making it to the Elite Eight for the first time in school history, albeit not the most difficult road. At 15-7, the Cavaliers beat 2-13 Union County 75-32 in the first round thanks to an automatic bid in the four-team Region 8, then rallied to win a thriller in overtime against 13-8 Chattooga 66-61 before running into a Washington County buzzsaw 71-46. While the Cavaliers may have a little more to prove before becoming a fixture in the Top 10, Coach Deyano Martin has quietly been building a talented program. Callaway’s top five are back led by Region 5 Player of the Year 5-foot-3 senior Gabrielle Johnson, a potent scorer. Outside of Johnson, the Cavs have imposing size. The sophomore class is led by 5-foot-11 wing Jazmin Thornton and double-double machine 6-foot-1 Lacey Thomas. Seniors 6-foot-0 Camryn Stargell and guard Niakoe Burks round out the starting five. Chasing Callaway in Region 5 will be No. 10 Heard County. The Braves went 20-6 with a 54-46 loss to Fannin County in the Sweet 16. They won their first meeting with Callaway 48-40 but fell 58-53 and 56-50 in the region championship. Three Region 5 First Teamers return led by 5-foot-8 sophomore Jayden Boykin, a physical downhill guard that stuffs the stat sheet on both ends of the floor. 5-foot-7 junior forward Jasmine Owens plays bigger than her size and is effective on the glass while senior Zekylah Boyd brings experience.

Class A-Private

The tides have been turning in Class A-Private. Last year Hebron Christian made history with their first-ever state championship and now this year, while it certainly won’t be easy, it’s within reach for No. 1 Mt. Paran. The Eagles have all the ingredients to bring home the hardware. Coach Stephanie Dunn’s team made strides a season ago, recording big non-region win after big non-region win to build their legitimacy. Maybe their most important victory came against former region rival St. Francis, who they finally beat 64-51. The Eagles claimed the No. 1 ranking briefly for one week after beating the Knights but were subsequently blown out 64-34 at Holy Innocents’. The two met again in the Sweet 16 but once again it was the Golden Bears getting the best of the Eagles, 46-38 ending Mt. Paran’s season at 23-4. All of Coach Dunn’s key contributors return highlighted by daughter 6-foot wing Kara Dunn. A recent Georgia Tech-commit, Dunn’s uncanny ability to make everyone around her better gives the Eagles a trump card against the rest of Class A. Dunn averaged 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 2.4 blocks per game. 5-foot-3 West Georgia-commit Katelyn Dunning is a tenacious playmaker that excels in the pick-and-roll and averaged 8.3 points, 4.1 assists and 2.6 steals per game. Mt. Paran has versatility and athleticism on the wings with 5-foot-9 senior Shamaria Jennings, 5-foot-9 junior Libby Hein and 5-foot-10 senior combo-forward Kaylynn Kirklen. What puts Mt. Paran over the top is their elite freshman class. 6-foot-1 Jessica Fields is the missing piece for the Eagles. The long-armed forward gobbles up rebounds, finishes in traffic and blocks shots at a high level and already holds offers from the likes of Ole Miss, Georgia Tech, Florida State and Marquette. 5-foot-5 point guard Jacalyn Myrthil pushes the ball extremely well and picks up the entire length of the court with on-ball pressure. 5-foot-8 Jada Harvey is a versatile wing that provides strength, rebounding and passing while 5-foot-6 guard Kitali Youmans holds plenty of upside as a scorer. Expect the Eagles to run the table in Region 7 and potentially be in the discussion as one of the best teams in the entire state regardless of classification. No. 2 Galloway has too much firepower to ignore. The Scots finished 19-7 in unforgiving Region 5, the best in Georgia and lost 68-54 to region foe Hebron Christian in the Final Four. Outside of Jada Ryce (ETSU) who came back from injury later in the season, Coach Kiesha Brown returns her top three contributors and adds a dynamic guard to the mix. 5-foot-11 sophomore point guard Tianna Thompson took the state by storm, averaging 18 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals while shooting 53% from the field. The do-it-all star guard has help in juniors 5-foot-9 Allison Hoffmann (15 ppg, 4 rpg, 2 apg, 2 spg), a knockdown shooter and 5-foot-11 Kyla Cain (14 ppg, 10 rpg, 2.5 spg), a power wing that does her damage in the paint. The Scots picked up 5-foot-8 junior combo guard Kailyn Fields from Wheeler in the summer, a Region 6-6A Honorable Mention pick known for her slick handles and well-rounded scoring. The foursome gives Galloway one of the strongest nucleuses in the state moving forward. No. 3 St. Francis fell 51-46 in overtime to Hebron Christian in the state championship, finishing 23-5. Leading scorer Mia Moore (15.1 ppg – Mississippi State) must be replaced as the only outgoing senior, but 5-foot-7 junior Erica Moon (9.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 4.5 apg, 4.9 spg) has proven she’s ready to be the go-to option in the backcourt and have a breakout season. 6-foot-1 junior Trynce Taylor (12 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.5 apg, 2.2 spg, 1.3 bpg) is the team’s returning leading scorer. She leads a large frontline that also boasts 6-foot sophomore Sa’mya Wyatt (8.5 ppg, 4.4 rpg), 6-foot-4 junior Anaja Hall (6 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 1.7 bpg) and 5-foot-11 senior Ryin Tillis (4 ppg, 5 rpg). Sophomore guard Nya Young will see a much bigger role after averaging 5.2 points as a freshman. No. 4 Holy Innocents’ always has a legitimate shot at winning a state title as long as Coach Nichole Dixon is on the sidelines. An annoying COVID-ridden 2020-21 campaign saw the Golden Bears go just 12-7 out of Region 5 but still take a trip to the Final Four before falling 58-50 to St. Francis. Dixon, a two-time title winner in 2019 and 2020, has a unique blend of youth and experience on her roster. 5-foot-8 senior point guard Naja Reeves is an underrated playmaker that earned Region 5 Second Team honors. 6-foot junior Olivia Hutcherson was a First Team pick while 6-foot sophomore wing Brooke Suttle earned Third Team and has picked up offers from Kennesaw State and Alabama over the summer as has been touted as the team’s best player by Dixon. 5-foot-6 sophomore point guard Zaynah Preston will likely see an increased role in the offense. The prized jewel for Holy Innocents’ is 5-foot-8 freshman Hailee Swain. The No. 1 ranked freshman in Georgia already holds offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State, North Carolina State, Xavier and Ole Miss. The third team in the Top 5 out of Region 5 is No. 5 Wesleyan. The Wolves battled COVID pauses all throughout the year and leaned heavily on a young backcourt. Wesleyan finished 12-6 with a 59-48 loss to St. Francis in the Sweet 16. Graduating Georgia State-signee 6-foot center Alyssa Phillip is a big blow, but the guard duo of sophomores 5-foot-6 Chit-Chat Wright and 5-foot-7 Eva Garabadian is one of the best young tandems in the state. Wright is a skilled playmaker with great vision while Garabadian is a dangerous three-level scorer. Seniors 5-foot-9 Imani Washington and 5-foot-9 Sade Ojanuga provide toughness and length inside. Defending state champion No. 6 Hebron Christian is the fourth school out of Region 5 to be ranked. The Golden Lions went 29-2, holding off St. Francis 51-46 in overtime to earn their first title. Four D-I starters graduate leaving 6-foot-2 Wofford-commit Jessie Parish as the lone returner with key experience. The Golden Lions nearly landed 6-foot-3 junior Aaliyah Hunt this offseason before she decided to stay put at Peachtree Ridge. 14-time state championship winning Head Coach Jan Azar will turn to 5-foot-10 senior Malia Melton, 5-foot-5 senior Kennedy Truitt and sophomores Amiya Porter, Gabi Lowe and Nickyia Daniel to help keep the Golden Lions competitive. No. 7 Trinity Christian posted a 16-9 mark, bowing out in the Sweet 16 to ELCA 53-48. UAB-signee Anna Dénes (18 ppg, 9 rpg, 4 apg, 4 spg) must be replaced and will be by fellow Hungarian 6-foot-2 Kansas-commit Zsófia Telegdy who was ineligible last season. She will be joined by 5-foot-9 junior Madison Morge (12 ppg, 5 rpg, 3 apg, 2 spg), an experienced guard with a strong offensive game. 5-foot-11 sophomore Aliyah Shaffer is active inside while 5-foot-11 senior Kendall Wells provides a physical presence. 5-foot-8 senior Ashlyn Settle was a Second Team All-Region 4 pick along with Wells. No. 8 Deerfield-Windsor was a late season surprise. The Knights were unranked all of last year until the final poll, finishing No. 10 in the state with a 18-9 record. Deerfield-Windsor upset Calvary Day in the Sweet 16 in punishing fashion, 66-45 before losing 60-34 to Holy Innocents’ in the Elite Eight. The Knights’ top three return led by 6-foot-2 junior Margaret Sadler who hung 31 points and 16 rebounds on Calvary Day. Multi-sport standout sophomore guard Joi Hubbard was a Region 1 First Team selection while 6-foot sophomore Gabrielle Harris earned Second Team honors and had 12 points and 19 rebounds in Deerfield’s Elite Eight victory. The Knights’ size and experience could help them become a regular in the Top 10 over the next few seasons. No. 9 Calvary Day had their lack of size exploited in their Sweet 16 loss to Deerfield-Windsor, but the Cavaliers still had another strong season going 18-4. Star guards 5-foot-7 junior Hannah Cail (19.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 4.5 apg, 3.5 spg) and 5-foot-5 senior Mahkayla Premo (17.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3.6 apg, 4 spg) form the best backcourt in Savannah and one of the highest scoring guard tandems in the state. Coach Jackie Hamilton graduates key role players in Tynley Smeltzer (10.9 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 1.8 bpg) and Nevaeh Hamilton (7.6 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2 apg, 2.4 spg). Others will need to step up in support of Cail and Premo. 5-foot-7 senior Megan Halford could see herself playing a crucial role after averaging 4.8 points and 4.1 rebounds a season ago. No. 10 Athens Academy edged out a Region 8 title and finished 17-5, but were rewarded with crossing over with Region 5 in the first round resulting in a sweep, the Spartans losing 45-24 to Galloway. Region 8 Co-Coach of the Year Brian Olson returns 5-foot-5 senior Jaila Salley-Barnett, a high-energy playmaker that tallied 14 points, 4 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3 steals per game as a First Team All-Region selection. Second Teamers junior India Sheats and 5-foot-4 senior Meredith Reynolds are back in support. They will battle with Tallulah Falls for the top-seed, the Indians expected to return their top two guards in Bahamian juniors Denika Lightbourne (13.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 3.9 apg, 3.1 spg) and Veronaye Charlton (12.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.6 apg, 2.5 spg). The Spartans took two out of three in their meetings including winning 45-35 in the region championship.

Class A-Public

Class A-Public was a nightmare to decipher last year with delayed starts, shortened seasons and overall COVID disruption everywhere. The state’s smallest classification can be a crapshoot at times and looks like it very well may be one this season as nearly all of last year’s top contenders hit the reset button, struck by graduation. While there doesn’t look like any ready-made D-I players in the classification this season, there still are some quality players that are getting looks. No. 1 Mt. Zion-Carrollton gets first crack at being the team to beat as they graduate just one senior from last year’s 21-8 team that went to the Sweet 16 before losing 84-56 to Greenville. 1,000-point scorer 5-foot-8 senior Jordan Kierbow is one of the best players in the classification. Not only does she score at a high level, but she’s a terrific passer that gets teammates open looks. Kierbow, a D-III target, gets major help from 5-foot-6 junior Zoey Holland, a sharpshooter that averaged 10 points per game and nailed 77 threes en route to earning All-Region 6 honors. 5-foot-5 junior Katelyn Hindsman provides energy and speed in the full court press while 5-foot-7 junior Nesaiah Farley is a versatile piece that contributes in different ways. The Eagles are now battle-tested and have come of age. Region 6 nearly swept Region 7 a season ago, sending three teams to the Sweet 16. While Mt. Zion-Carrollton did go 0-4 against Armuchee and Trion, both teams lose their top players, giving way for the Eagles to open up as favorites to win the region title. No. 2 Montgomery County turned in a 16-6 record and lost 57-38 to state runner-up Clinch County in the Sweet 16, one of many teams that graduate nearly everything. The Eagles however, are scheduled to return their top five players highlighted by the Bell sisters, 5-foot-6 senior MaKyla “Munchie” Bell (19.2 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 2.9 apg, 4 spg) and 5-foot-8 sophomore Marley Bell (12.9 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 1.4 apg, 3.3 spg, 1.7 bpg) who won Class A-Public Freshman of the Year. Much like with Mt. Zion-Carrollton, graduation of others in the region will help open the door for a big year. Both Dublin and Telfair County graduate their top scorers in Region 4. No. 3 Pelham is a far cry from what they once were back in 2017 when they captured their first state title since 1997, but a 7-2 season points to the program moving forward in the right direction. Coach Dillon Presley takes over as head coach and will try to carry Jeray Randall’s momentum. The Hornets fell 60-45 to ECI in the Sweet 16 after beating Wilcox County 50-45. Losing leading scorer Quedasha Ervin (12.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.1 apg, 3 spg) hurts, but 5-foot-8 senior Aniyah Bennett (9.4 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1 apg, 2.4 spg, 1.8 bpg), 5-foot-10 junior Tashay Gay (9.4 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 2.6 spg, 1 bpg) and 5-foot-5 sophomore Truth Wimberly (4.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 4.7 apg, 2 spg) should have enough to contend for a Region 1 title after defending state champion Calhoun County graduates nearly everyone except for seniors Jateriah Winbush and Carmen Cannon and no longer has 6-foot-2 human eraser Takia Davis (USC Upstate) to control the paint. No. 4 Claxton should see a bump in Region 3 with Emanuel County Institute graduating Kennesaw State-signee Class A-Public Player of the Year Prencis Harden (29.7 ppg, 11.7 rpg, 4.3 apg, 4.8 spg) and running mate Nuturi Smith (15.1 ppg, 10.8 rpg). The Tigers bring back their top four scorers from last year’s 13-5 team that lost 58-55 to Brooks County in the opening round of state. 5-foot-10 junior Aniya Smith (13.6 ppg), 5-foot-6 junior Azaria Goethe (8.6 ppg), 5-foot-7 senior Sydney Jernigan (7.5 ppg) and 5-foot-5 senior Elajiah Smith (6.8 ppg) compose a balanced scoring attack. Though they beat them 57-39, keep an eye on Screven County who returns their top five from their 11-9 group. Last year was a wasted opportunity for No. 5 Central-Talbotton as 2020 Class A-Public Player of the Year Bernyla Sparks quit basketball and left a talented Central-Talbotton team without their star player after losing 55-50 in the state championship. The Hawks would finish 7-4 and lose 45-37 to Towns County in the first round of state. Only one senior graduates however leaving veteran Renijua Johnson in charge to lead the way for a team with some upside in Region 5 now that semifinalist Greenville graduates 38.7 points per game between stalwarts Jabrica Leslie, Shabrica Leslie and Adrianna Perdue. No. 6 Lake Oconee Academy turns to Oglethorpe University Men’s Assistant Ed Wilson to take over for Kevin Furtado (Walnut Grove) who led the Titans to an undefeated season before losing 57-53 to Clinch County in the Elite Eight, finishing the year 25-1. All-State guard Destiny McClendon (22 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.3 apg, 2.3 spg) is now at Chattanooga after an illustrious career. Center Piper Bosart (11.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg) also needs to be replaced. 5-foot-7 sophomore Georgia Bosart returns as the team’s leading scorer at 7.6 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.5 steals per game. 5-foot-9 junior Hannah Heinen (7.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.6 apg, 2.5 spg), 5-foot-8 junior Jada Williams (6.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.7 apg, 3.7 spg) and 5-foot-7 junior Kensi Stevens (5.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.6 spg) all have enough experience to keep Lake Oconee Academy afloat and near the top in Region 8. No. 7 Trion emerged as a serious threat, piecing together a 19-5 record and a perfect 10-0 mark in Region 6 before nightmarish free throw shooting cost them the region championship against Armuchee, losing 57-56 in overtime and then being eliminated 63-48 by Lake Oconee Academy in the Sweet 16. Region Player of the Year Chloe Murdock has graduated, as has First Team All-Region pick Summer Vaughn, but Region Coach of the Year Justin Gentry still has 5-foot-4 sophomore I’ziah McCutchins, an electric playmaker that earned First Team All-Region as a freshman. Joining her is Honorable Mention selection 5-foot-7 senior guard Jenna Mosley, a Tennessee softball-commit. Outside of two losses to undefeated Lake Oconee Academy, No. 8 Commerce roared through the home stretch red-hot, winning 17-straight before falling 46-38 in the Final Four to eventual champion Calhoun County, finishing their season 19-11. The Tigers lose All-State Honorable Mention guard Bryanna Sanders (12.5 ppg – LaGrange) and Maggie Mullis (7.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.9 apg, 2.2 spg) to graduation but have an experienced core back in seniors Carson Hobbs (9.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.3 apg, 1.4 spg), Lauren Massey (5.3 ppg) and Anna Taylor (4.6 ppg). Sophomore Raven Parks saw important minutes as a freshman, averaging 4.8 points and 4 rebounds. No. 9 Dublin will either sink or swim without All-State wing Brianna McRae (20 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2 apg, 5.3 spg). Following a 7-17 season in Class 2A, the Irish dropped down to A-Public and went 22-4 winning Most Improved Team but losing 60-40 to Turner County in the Sweet 16. Dublin will need to find scoring to replace McRae and replicate last year’s success. 6-foot-3 senior Terrionna Wilburn is a game-altering post presence on defense averaging 8.5 points, 9.6 rebounds 2.1 steals and 4.1 blocks per game. 5-foot-10 sophomore Nahallie Turely provides more length around the rim and averaged 4.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.8 steals and 1 block as a freshman. No. 10 Telfair County squeezes into the final spot after 9-8 season and a 64-32 loss to Calhoun County in the first round. The Trojans quietly had some nice wins last year, beating Montgomery County (39-37), Wilcox County (55-46), Dublin (41-39) and Dooly County (54-44). Gone is double-double machine Shalan Nelson (13.4 ppg, 11.5 rpg, 1.5 bpg) but back are Coach Shalonda Troupe’s next three leading scorers in 5-foot-2 senior Raven Wooten (8.3 ppg), senior Elizabeth Murphy (8.2 ppg, 6 rpg) and sophomore Zahmya McDuffie (8.1 ppg).