Due to the lack of games because of the snow storm, there are no changes in Class AAAAAAA. No. 3 Norcross picked up a 70-46 win over Marietta and No. 8 North Forsyth beat Archer 50-46 to highlight last week’s notable results.
No. 2 Harrison knocked Creekview (3-4) back out of the Class AAAAAA Top 10 with a 66-51 win in Region 6. Also exiting the poll is Bradwell Institute (6-2); the Lady Tigers were beat at Brunswick 65-64. Replacing the Grizzlies and Tigers are debutants No. 9 Tucker and No. 10 Northside-Warner Robins. The Tigers are no stranger to the state rankings but make their first appearance in Week 4. They have won four straight games following a season opening loss to Class 7A No. 3 Norcross, 63-52. The Lady Eagles enter the rankings following a 47-33 win at Bleckley County, dropping the Royals from the Top 10 in Class AA. Northside-Warner Robins also holds a 60-49 victory over Brunswick coming at the Jag Challenge at Spalding. 6-foot senior post Tamia Sapp anchors the Eagles inside averaging 11.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game.
Arabia Mountain (5-1) gets squeezed out of the Class AAAAA rankings to make way for No. 6 Harris County. The Lady Tigers bust into the Top 10 thanks to a dominant 75-57 win over No. 7 Bainbridge, who slides three spots. The Tigers have the best inside duo in the state between Mississippi State-signee Jessika Carter (23.5 ppg, 15.8 rpg, 5.5 bpg) and junior Taziha Fanning (15.7 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.5 bpg). Carter’s younger sisters are beginning to blossom, giving Coach Steffanie Ramsey an embarrassment of size and length. 5-foot-11 junior Ny’Azjha Carter-Ransom is averaging 10 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3 assists while 6-foot-4 sophomore ZiKeyah Carter-Ransom is fourth on the team in both scoring and rebounding. Outside shooting and guard play will determine how deep the Tigers will go this season.
The only movement in Class AAAA comes at the bottom of the poll with No. 8 West Hall jumping two spots following their 52-46 win over Class 2A No. 7 Banks County. Anna McKendree dropped 31 points to pace the Lady Spartans followed by Aashyah White’s 10.
Class AAA sees no shuffling. No. 2 Beach defeated Brunswick 38-32 and now travels to rival No. 6 Johnson-Savannah for a state championship rematch. The Atomsmashers have won five-straight including avenging a season-opening 46-41 loss to Camden County by edging the Wildcats 50-49 on the road. No. 7 Dawson County held on for a 56-52 win at Blessed Trinity without star Kaylee Sticker who sprained her ankle in the third quarter. Sticker finished with 16 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists before subbing out; it is likely she will miss some time.
To no surprise, No. 1 Laney is rolling in Class AA. Alabama-signee De’Sha Benjamin is averaging 28 points, 9.3 rebounds, 5 assists, 2.3 steals and 2.3 blocks to power the aggressive Wildcats. Jhessyka Williams is posting 19 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists per game as an athletic wing while junior Jaiden Hamilton is collecting 18 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists on average. No. 7 Banks County is down two spots following their loss to Class 4A No. 8 West Hall. The Lady Leopards see No. 5 Model and Region 8 opposition No. 6 Putnam County climb ahead of them for now. The Squaws of No. 8 Dodge County were inline for a major jump after wins against Class A-Public No. 7 Wilcox County 59-42 and Bleckley County 63-60, helping knock the Royals from the rankings at 2-3, but Dodge County was upset on a buzzer beater at East Laurens 52-51, keeping them locked at No. 8. Replacing Bleckley County is No. 9 Dublin. The Irish thrashed Treutlen 53-35 in Soperton.
There’s more madness in the middle of the rankings in Class A-Private. No. 4 Our Lady of Mercy has won five in a row and now is ranked for the first time following their 59-48 win over No. 5 Landmark Christian. Reigning Class A-Private Player of the Year Morgan Jones has been unstoppable again this season, averaging 36.2 points and 11.7 rebounds. The Florida State-signee torched Landmark Christian for 47 points and 20 rebounds. There will be more fireworks this week as Jones leads her Lady Bobcats against No. 6 Fellowship Christian. The Lady Paladins beat No. 10 Pinecrest Academy for the second time this season, 53-50, behind Cameron Swartz’ 36 points. The Colorado-signee is averaging 33.5 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 3.7 steals per game. Dropping out to make way for Our Lady of Mercy is Greenforest (1-3)
No. 2 Telfair County defeated No. 7 Wilcox County 53-49 in Class A-Public. No. 9 Woodville-Tompkins is teetering on falling out of the Top 10 along with Region 3 rival Treutlen (1-4). The Wolverines lost in overtime to Savannah Country Day 46-41, but rebounded with a 40-37 overtime win against Savannah Christian. Treutlen was blown out 53-22 by No. 3 Wheeler County and by Class 2A No. 9 Dublin 53-35.
The only movement in Class AAAAAAA is No. 3 Norcross swapping places with No. 4 McEachern. The Lady Indians lost to Class 3A No. 1 GAC 61-50. No. 2 Collins Hill beat GAC by the same score, 61-50. No. 6 Newton fended off No. 10 South Gwinnett 61-58. The Lady Comets proved they belong in the rankings and will stay in another week even after the loss. No. 7 Cherokee picked up quality wins over North Cobb (58-44) and Class 6A No. 10 Creekview (54-30). No. 8 North Forsyth’s Caroline Shope nailed a Raider-record 11 three-pointers in their 77-39 win over Chestatee. The King’s Academy transfer finished with 39 points, proving her scoring prowess can cross over competition levels.
Class AAAAAA sees more movement in the middle of the rankings and a couple new faces. No. 1 Lovejoy knocked off No. 8 Forest Park 60-48 in their first true test of the season. Sophomores Genesis Bryant (20 points) and Anaya Boyd (16 points 10 rebounds) led the way. No. 3 Winder-Barrow looked much better, beating Class 5A No. 2 Flowery Branch 50-48 on a late Chellia Watson layup. No. 4 Alpharetta surges ahead of Region 7 frontrunner No. 5 Northview following the Lady Titans’ 56-41 loss to Class 5A No. 2 Flowery Branch at the Wesleyan Showcase. The addition of Sydnie Ward changes the entire dynamic of the Alpharetta backcourt. Transferring in from Tennessee, the Mississippi Valley State-commit has already put the state on notice, winning Roswell Rotary Air Invitational Tournament MVP a few weeks back. No. 7 Sequoyah is down two spots after losing to rival No. 10 Creekview 60-45, helping the Grizzlies climb back into the poll. Debuting is No. 6 Bradwell Institute. The Lady Tigers have already secured wins over Class A-Public No. 8 Woodville-Tompkins (57-40) and last week’s Class AAA No. 10 Tattnall County (54-39). Their only loss came against defending Class AAA state champion No. 2 Beach 50-48. Junior guard Jasmine Blevins is averaging 23.2 points, 5.5 steals and 1.3 blocks per game. Valdosta (1-3) and Lanier (5-2) both exit the rankings. The Wildcats lost to Tift County 47-46 while the Longhorns faltered at South Forsyth 50-46.
No. 1 Buford and No. 2 Flowery Branch are beginning to stack up the wins in Class AAAAA. The Lady Wolves beat Morgan County 70-23 before sneaking past Class A-Private No. 2 Wesleyan in overtime at the Wesleyan Showcase, 48-46. The Lady Falcons regrouped after their loss to Winder-Barrow to beat Northview 56-41 behind Caroline Wysocki’s 18 points. No. 6 Eagle’s Landing drops three spots following their 49-41 loss to No. 5 Dutchtown, who skyrockets back into the Top 10. The Bulldogs take the place of Fayette County (5-1) who dropped a close one to red-hot Henry County.
In Class AAAA, No. 2 Henry County jumps undefeated No. 3 Spalding thanks to two wins against ranked opponents. The Warhawks beat Fayette County 59-50 and followed up with a 57-48 win over No. 4 Luella, who doesn’t lose any ground in the poll. No. 10 West Hall falls three spots after losing to Class AAA No. 7 Dawson County 60-47. Burke County (3-1) tumbles out of the Top 10 after a 61-51 loss to Josey. They are replaced by undefeated No. 9 Marist.
No. 1 Greater Atlanta Christian suffered their first loss to Class 7A No. 2 Collins Hill at the Wesleyan Showcase 61-50, but still remains in the top spot in Class AAA. Before their loss, the Spartans earned a 61-50 win over Class 7A No. 4 McEachern. No. 5 Lovett scored a 45-43 victory against Region 5 rival Cedar Grove. No. 7 Dawson County rises a spot after their 60-47 win over West Hall while Hart County stays put at No. 9 after another loss to Banks County. Tattnall County (4-1) slips out following a loss to Bradwell Institute, making way for No. 10 North Murray, who holds wins over Heritage-Catoosa (59-50) and Dalton (56-29).
Class AA’s No. 2 Rabun County survived a scare against Union County 48-45. No. 6 Model wasn’t as fortunate as the Lady Blue Devils are down two slots after getting blown out by Class 6A No. 7 Sequoyah 78-48 at the Wesleyan Showcase. No. 5 Banks County rises one position thanks to their second early season victory against Class AAA No. 9 Hart County, 57-53. No. 7 Putnam County now has a playmaker to pair with Rykia Pennamon. Sophomore guard Jashanti Simmons is averaging 21.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. No. 8 Dodge County disposed of Class A-Public No. 2 Telfair County 62-57.
Things are getting hectic in Class A-Private below the Top 3. No. 2 Wesleyan hammered No. 4 Landmark Christian 81-41, exemplifying just how wide the gap is from No. 1 Holy Innocents’, Wesleyan and No. 3 St. Francis from the rest of the classification. No. 5 Stratford Academy is up a spot after knocking off No. 8 Pinecrest Academy 70-50, but then were defeated by Landmark Christian 59-56. Region 8 teams Prince Avenue Christian (1-1) and Lakeview Academy (1-3) exit the poll. The Wolverines took a 47-44 loss at Elbert County while the Lady Lions were blitzed by St. Francis. No. 7 Christian Heritage and No. 10 Athens Academy get their first crack at the Top 10. The Lions have wins over Galloway (52-51) and Mt. Paran (49-26) with their only loss coming to Class 3A No. 5 Lovett 64-41. The Lady Spartans are the latest Region 8 team to make an appearance. Their best win is a 38-35 defensive battle against Tattnall Square Academy. They also have a 63-37 loss at Stratford Academy.
No. 10 Treutlen is down five spots in Class A-Public after losses to No. 8 Woodville-Tompkins 57-51 and to Dublin 57-27. No. 2 Telfair County was defeated by Dodge County 62-57 but rebounded with a 68-37 thumping of Turner County (0-1) who falls out of the Top 10. Into the rankings is No. 9 Terrell County.
Class AAAAAAA No. 1 Westlake has been impressive. They stifled No. 9 Brookwood at the Parkview Tip-Off Classic 64-48 behind Texas Tech-signee Taylor Hosendove’s 18 points, 5 rebound, 5 assists and 2 steals. The Lions went on to beat Ramsay, AL 63-58 for good measure at the Henry County Girl’s Night Out. No. 3 McEachern hasn’t played their best basketball this year. Indiana-signee Chanel Wilson was unavailable for the Lady Indians in their 61-56 come from behind victory over newly ranked Class 6A No. 10 Stephenson. Victoria Agyin came up big with 15 points while Georgia Tech-signee scored all 11 of her points in the second half. Against the nation’s No. 1 ranked team, Riverdale, TN, McEachern was blown out 82-38. No. 2 Collins Hill moves ahead of the Indians after crushing Hillgrove 86-37 and beating No. 7 Cherokee 69-53 before falling to Class A-Private No. 1 Holy Innocents’ at Holiday Hoopsgiving, 64-57. The Lady Warriors of Cherokee defeated No. 8 North Forsyth 57-46. The Lady Raiders rebounded with a 56-46 win over Class 3A No. 6 Johnson-Savannah.
No. 1 Lovejoy takes over the top spot in Class AAAAAA after No. 4 Northview wilted against Class A-Private No. 2 Wesleyan, 78-59 after opening up down 15-0. Ashlee Austin had a career-day with 31 points and 13 rebounds in the loss. Before the Wesleyan defeat, the Lady Titans scored a 49-43 win over Class 5A No. 3 Eagle’s Landing at the Johns Creek Gladiator Showcase. Lovejoy has been firing on all cylinders behind 2020 guards Anaya Boyd and Genesis Bryant. They helped the Wildcats to a 79-69 win over Ramsay, AL. Bryant led the way with 26 points while Boyd added 25. No. 3 Winder-Barrow slides down a spot instead of rising to No. 1. The Lady Doggs have not imposed their will on opponents yet. They slipped by Mill Creek 52-48 and rallied to knock off Class 4A No. 6 Jefferson in overtime 63-55 to win the Tabo’s Tip-Off Classic Championship. UConn-signee Olivia Nelson-Ododa dumped in 22 points while College of Charleston-signee Latrice Perkins chipped in 18. No. 2 Harrison rises two spots after beating Class 7A No. 6 Newton 48-40 and Class 5A No. 7 Southwest DeKalb 60-54 at the Parkview Tip-Off Classic. Douglas County (1-3), Creekview (1-2) and defending state-champion Mays (0-1) all drop out of the Top 10. The Lady Tigers lost to Lowndes 58-53, Class 7A No. 4 Norcross 69-39 and Woodland-Stockbridge 54-50. The Grizzlies lost to a pair of Tennessee schools in McMinn Central (48-43) and William Blount (54-47). The Lady Raiders were drilled by Brittany Davis and her Class A-Public No. 4 Greenville Patriots, 72-54. No. 6 Alpharetta benefits from the chaos and jumps four spots after beating Pebblebrook 68-43 to win the Roswell Rotary Air Invitational Championship. No. 8 Lanier, No. 9 Valdosta and No. 10 Stephenson all debut. Lanier has a 68-52 win over Class 3A No. 8 Dawson County under their belt while Valdosta has beaten Dacula 56-54 and lost in close fashion at the Craig Sager Memorial Tournament to Class A-Private No. 1 Holy Innocents’ 58-55 and Grayson 65-58. Stephenson has lost to McEachern twice and to Brookwood 70-44. They have beaten Woodland-Stockbridge 64-38.
Right now, Class AAAAA No. 1 Buford might be the best team in the state. They drilled Grayson 64-33 before winning the Craig Sager Memorial with a 57-45 win over Holy Innocents’. No. 5 Bainbridge moves up two spots with wins over Tift County 72-61 and at Lowndes 53-47. No. 7 Southwest DeKalb has played a difficult schedule and still is looking for its first win. Dutchtown (2-1) falls out of the poll following a tough loss to Class 3A No. 5 Lovett, 58-52. No. 10 Fayette County takes over with a 4-0 mark. The Lady Tigers defeated Pope 61-43 last week.
No. 2 Spalding and No. 4 Luella are quietly handling their business in Class AAAA. The Jaguars took out Eagle’s Landing at their Jag Challenge 45-37 while the Lions beat Jonesboro 75-65. No. 5 Jefferson ran out of gas against Winder-Barrow, losing in overtime 63-55. Jazmin Allen poured in 17 points to lead the way. No. 6 Northwest Whitfield beat Rome 62-56 but lost to East Hamilton, TN 47-31. LaGrange (0-2) exits the Top 10 following a winless start. The Grangers fell to Newnan 62-47 and to Morgan County 51-43. No. 10 Burke County makes an appearance in the rankings. Led by high scoring guard Quin’DeJa Hamilton and Cross Creek-transfer, shot blocker Kianni Westbrook, the Lady Bears have taken down Statesboro 61-33 and Calvary Day 50-37.
If there was any doubt as to whether No. 1 Greater Atlanta Christian deserved to jump No. 2 Beach for the top spot in Class AAA, doubt no more. The Spartans poured it on with their 81-37 win over Class 5A No. 7 Southwest DeKalb while Beach narrowly defeated Bradwell Institute 50-48. GAC is playing as good of basketball as anyone in the state and they get to test their mettle on Tuesday as they host four-time defending state champion McEachern. No. 5 Lovett is on the move, leaping five spots after knocking off Dutchtown 58-52. Stanford-signee Jenna Brown is back to her five-star form. No. 6 Johnson-Savannah falls two spots after losing to Camden County 46-41 and to Class 7A No. 8 North Forsyth 56-46. The Atomsmashers finished 27-3 last season with all their losses coming to Beach including in the state title game; they open 2017-18 at 0-2. Monroe (1-1) falls from the rankings after a 51-28 loss to Americus-Sumter. 2017 quarterfinalist No. 10 Tattnall County makes their debut. The Warriors are coming off a 60-41 win over Richmond Hill.
There is no movement in Class AA. No. 2 Rabun County scored a 62-52 win over Class A-Private No. 10 Lakeview Academy at the Piedmont College Hardwood Classic. No. 6 Banks County, Rabun’s Region 8 rival, earned a quality 79-63 win against Class 3A No. 9 Hart County. No. 3 Model lost 41-38 to Page, TN and No. 9 Berrien fell to Lowndes 64-58, but both maintain their respective spots in the rankings.
Class A-Private saw its top dogs knock heads with elite competition. No. 1 Holy Innocents’ lost to Class 5A No. 1 Buford 57-45, but their wins over Class 6A No. 9 Valdosta (58-55), Class 7A No. 2 Collins Hill (64-57) and No. 3 St. Francis (60-48) are enough for the Golden Bears to hold tight over No. 2 Wesleyan who blitzed former Class 6A No. 1 Northview 78-59, while also adding a 62-49 win over Lambert. The only change in Class A-Private is No. 10 Lakeview Academy moving down one spot. The Lions have challenged themselves this year, losing to Class 2A No. 2 Rabun County and Class 7A No. 4 Norcross, 67-31.
Class A-Public’s No. 4 Greenville has shot up four spots. The one-man show of reigning Class A-Public Player of the Year and Mississippi State-signee Brittany Davis has already beaten defending Class 6A state champ Mays (72-54) and Bowdon (78-55), Davis collecting her sixth career 50-point game along the way against the Red Devils. No. 10 Woodville-Tompkins is down six slots following an 0-2 start. The Wolverines lost to Bradwell Institute 57-40 and East Hall 69-51, both quality opponents. The loss of Jazmin Grayson hurts Woodville-Tompkins. The Preseason All-State Second Team pick has transferred out of state. The Wolverines have a major test Tuesday as they host No. 5 Treutlen.
Much like on the boys side, Class AAAAAAA’s top teams were dominant. No. 1 Westlake drilled Sandy Creek 65-19, No. 2 McEachern beat Stephenson 77-65 and blew past Class 5A No. 6 Southwest DeKalb 73-52 at the Parkview Tip-Off Classic while No. 3 Collins Hill dismantled Riverwood 91-7. No. 4 Norcross suffered a 64-51 loss to Class 3A No. 1 Greater Atlanta Christian but remains in the four-spot after beating Tucker 63-52 and Class 6A No. 4 Harrison 63-50. Coach Angie Hembree has not been on the sidelines yet this season as she battles with health issues. No. 9 Brookwood moves down one spot after struggling with ML King, 52-43. Lambert (1-1) slides out of the Top 10 for now after losing a tough 48-41 game to Class 5A No. 3 Eagle’s Landing at the Johns Creek Gladiator Showcase. The Longhorns are replaced by No. 10 South Gwinnett The Comets are 3-0 with wins over Duluth (47-37), Grovetown (54-36) and Miller Grove (49-29).
No. 2 Winder-Barrow didn’t necessarily open their season with an overly impressive start, the Class AAAAAA power struggling to score in a 35-24 win over Central Gwinnett at the Tabo’s Tip-Off Classic. Chellia Watson dumped in 15 points to lead the Lady Doggs. UConn-signee Olivia Nelson-Ododa is still trying to regain her form after dislocating her knee cap last season. The Doggs see a respected Mill Creek team in Round 2 today. No. 6 Douglas County breezed by Tri-Cities 88-33 behind Amari Robinson’s 18 points. The Tigers face a stiff challenge today against Norcross at the Parkview Tip-Off Classic. No. 9 Forest Park drops one spot after losing at Parkview 51-50, blowing a 39-28 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Nonetheless, 6-foot-3 freshman post Sania Feagin has been impressive to start the year. She had 15 points, 13 rebounds and 6 blocks in a 62-27 rout of North Clayton before adding on 10 points, 7 rebounds and 4 blocks against the Panthers.
Michigan State-signee Tory Ozment said the goal for No. 1 Buford is to repeat in Class AAAAA this year. The Lady Wolves looked sharp in their 71-31 win over Duluth at the Craig Sager Memorial Tournament, Ozment leading the way with 15 points. Ebony Grant added 11 while Air Force-signee Audrey Weiner netted 9. Region 8 rival No. 2 Flowery Branch shook off the rust with a 67-40 win at Chestatee and a 55-47 victory against No. 4 Carrollton, Alabama-signee Taniyah Worth going for 23 points and 7 rebounds while Caroline Wysocki, a junior that might be taking her game to the next level, finished with 19 points, 5 assists and 9 steals.
In Class AAAA, No. 2 Spalding has gotten a lift from freshman guard Kierstyn Milner. The spark plug is averaging 19 points per game for the 2-0 Jaguars. No. 4 Luella jumps No. 5 Jefferson after the Dragons were upset by Class 3A No. 7 Dawson County. The Lions did damage at the Hoops 4 A Cure Classic, pouring on a 78-40 win over Milton highlighted by Kamya Hollingshed’s 27 points and 12 rebounds. Keely Brown added 24 and Zaria Bankston netted 15. Hollingshed nailed 12 threes in the Lions two weekend wins.
There is a new No. 1 in Class AAA, but it’s no fault of defending state champion No. 2 Beach who hasn’t started their season yet. No. 1 Greater Atlanta Christian has made a statement behind Auburn’s Robyn Benton and Hofstra’s Caria Reynolds. The Spartans, who boast four D-I signees (Taylor Sutton – MTSU; MaryMartha Turner – Wofford), have already beaten Norcross (64-51), Woodward Academy (87-36) and Milton (98-15). Their firepower will be on display today against Southwest DeKalb. Near the bottom of the poll, Coach Steve Sweat was at it again, guiding his No. 7 Dawson County squad to a 68-56 win over Jefferson. No. 9 Hart County jumps into the rankings after beating Class 4A No. 7 Madison County 54-51. Inactive Cedar Grove (0-0) drops out of the rankings for now. No. 10 Lovett remains anchored in the final spot after losing in overtime to Class 2A No. 4 Model, but beating Class A-Private No. 5 Landmark Christian 56-37.
No. 4 Model was Class AA’s biggest mover, up two spots after beating Lovett 63-59 in overtime. South Carolina-signee Victaria Saxton was unstoppable inside, exploding for 32 points and 21 rebounds, outbattling Stanford-signee, guard Jenna Brown who had 21 points. Model’s only apparent competition in Region 7, Dade County (0-2) exits from the poll after losing at Collinsville, AL 42-28 and to Ringgold 62-50. Replacing the preseason No. 7 team is No. 10 Bleckley County. Jahnaria Brown is back in the fold as a versatile forward. She helped the Royals to a 46-19 win over Hawkinsville.
The race for style points in Class A-Private is officially on, as No. 1 Holy Innocents’, No. 2 Wesleyan and No. 3 St. Francis took turns boat-racing their opponents. The Golden Bears drubbed Archer 68-38, the Wolves beat Whitewater 68-33 and the Lady Knights blew out Brewbaker Tech and Carver, AL by an average of 47.5 points at the Hoops 4 A Cure Classic. Climbing two spots to No. 4, is Fellowship Christian. Colorado-signee Cameron Swartz poured in a career-high 45 to lead the Paladins past No. 10 Pinecrest Academy, 57-49.
There were no changes in Class A-Public. No. 2 Telfair County and No. 3 Wheeler County were scheduled to play on Saturday, but no score has been posted. (If you know the score or if the game was even played, please contact me.)
It finally might be time for a changing of the guard in Class AAAAAAA, but there is hardly any guarantee. On paper, No. 1 Westlake might be the team to beat and the one that finally knocks McEachern from their throne. Only two seniors graduate from last year’s roster and an influx of All-State transfers join Texas Tech wing Taylor Hosendove. 6-foot-1 wing Simone Lett moves in from Pebblebrook while 6-foot swingman Shekinah Howard transfers from Hapeville Charter. Senior guard Anastasia Warren and 6-foot-2 junior post Paris Mullins were both Region 2 First Team selections. Keep a close eye on 5-foot-8 freshman point guard Raven Johnson. The blue-chip prospect already holds offers from the likes of Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Georgia and Miami. Johnson will be accompanied by fellow freshman Brianna Turnage, a 6-foot wing that also holds High Major D-1 offers. Georgia’s highest classification has been dominated by No. 2 McEachern, the Indians winning four straight titles and five of six. Somehow, someway, Coach Phyllis Arthur has always found a way to reload. This year’s team will rely on Indiana-commit Chanel Wilson and future Kennesaw State Owl Jewel Smalls. State Championship hero Victoria Agyin is also back for her senior season. Junior post Kemia Ward is a banger inside that has worked on extending her range to the three-point line. Adidas All-American and Georgia Tech-commit Jasmine Carson has transferred in. Only Nia Lee graduates from No. 3 Collins Hill. Purdue-commit Bria Harmon enters her junior season as point guard for the Eagles. Interior play has always been a strength for Collins Hill with 6-foot-4 Jada Rice entering her senior year and 6-foot-3 junior Javyn Nicholson, a UGA-commit, anchoring the frontline. No. 4 Norcross will have an uphill climb to return to the state finals after seeing Taylor Mason (Miami) and Vanessa Blagmon (South Florida) graduate while the third member of their backcourt, Pittsburgh-commit Tehya Lyons, is out for the season with an ACL tear. Seniors Raven Etheredge and Breanna Ettrick will see increased roles their senior seasons. Senior forward Devyn Wilson is a strong rebounder while junior forward Tionna Carter might have the highest upside inside. No. 5 Colquitt County is the class of South Georgia, powered by one of the highest scoring duos in the state, seniors Za’Nautica Downs (22.9) and Diamond Hall (18.4). The Packers have their top seven scorers back from their breakthrough 23-win Elite Eight team. Only two seniors depart from a scrappy No. 6 Newton team that won 20 games. Scoring guard Lexii Chatman is a dynamo that now has not only Jurnee Smith to help score the ball, but Diamond Swift moves in from neighboring Rockdale County. Senior Takiya Cotton rounds out a veteran backcourt. No. 7 North Forsyth is ready to roll with their entire starting five back to challenge Lambert. Caroline Martin was an All-Region pick as a freshman, averaging 12.3 points per game. Senior forward Cassie Markle earned the same honors. Amber Jones and The King’s Academy transfer Catherine Shope provide scoring on the perimeter; Shope a GICAA All-State selection that averaged 21.1 points per game. No. 8 Brookwood loses Gwinnett County’s scoring and rebounding leader in Texas A&M center N’dea Jones, but the Broncos are still loaded with length heading into 2017-18. Junior Kierra Adams is a versatile forward at 6-foot that can bring the ball up the floor and attack the rim. Hannah Farr (5-10), Malia Grace (6-1) and Selma Kulo (6-4) compose a trio of long sophomores that should impact games in the paint this year. 5-foot-11 senior wing TaylorAnn Cushenberry is another interesting piece that first-year head coach Carolyn Whitney can use all over the floor. No. 9 Cherokee has a veteran backcourt in junior Olivia Herrera, senior Laiken Wade and junior Lacie McCoy. The Warriors play a nice non-region schedule that should prepare them for a state tournament appearance. No. 10 Lambert will try to defend their Region 5 crown following a spectacular 26-3 campaign, their best in school history and an 11-win increase from 2015-16. Region Player of the Year M.E. Craven tore her ACL and will forgo her senior season of basketball to focus on getting healthy for soccer, as she is an Auburn-commit. Fellow seniors forward Jaleah Greene and shooter Summer Edwards will be asked to step up. The Longhorns swept North Forsyth last year 3-0 by a total of nine points.
Class AAAAAA will be a dog fight all season long, but three teams slightly standout above the rest heading into the year. Health played a massive role in how the classification shook out last year, with major injuries to standouts across numerous teams deciding their respective team’s fate and state tournament path. No. 1 Northview came of age last season, posting a school-record 28 wins before going cold against Harrison in the Final Four. Star forward Shannon Titus is now at Mercer, but versatile 2019 twin towers Ashlee Austin and Maya Richards are back to anchor Coach Yarbrough’s frontline. Austin, 6-foot, has seen her recruitment take off with Mid-Major schools, highlighted by High Major Ole Miss being the first to pull the trigger with an offer. A notably strong rebounder, Austin is a handful on offense with her ability to put the ball on the deck and also stretch teams out to the three-point line. Richards, 6-foot-1, is one of the most physical players in the state, a true bull-in-a-china-shop on the low block. She overpowers defenders with her aggression, but has shown a tendency in the past to pick up silly fouls with her strength. The game should slow down for sophomore point guard Asjah Inniss in her second year at the helm of the Lady Titans. The athletic guard picked up her first offer over the summer from Delaware. Now with improved depth on the bench, outside shooting will determine whether Northview can become an elite team or not. Senior Megan Cistulli is a streaky shooter while freshman Eden Sample is regarded as one of the top incoming freshmen in the state. No. 2 Winder-Barrow is as dangerous as ever and saw their chances at a state title disappear when the nation’s No. 1 ranked 2018 post, 6-foot-5 Olivia Nelson-Ododa, went down with a season ending knee injury. Now healthy, Nelson-Ododa gets a chance at unfinished business. The Bulldoggs fell in the 2015-16 state championship in heart breaking fashion 49-48 to Southwest DeKalb before seeing injuries derail 2016-17. Nelson-Ododa is automatic around the rim with a soft touch and the basketball IQ to keep the ball high on rebounds out of the reach of defenders. She can knock down the outside shot and on defense, is an elite shot blocker. Kimberly Garren steps in for Brandon Thomas as head coach and has a state championship-caliber roster. Senior Latrice Perkins (College of Charleston) and junior Chellia Watson are experienced wings that can score the ball and round out Winder-Barrow’s big three. No. 3 Lovejoy was ahead of schedule last year – erupting for 26 wins and a Final Four appearance with a team anchored by fabulous freshmen – truly a scary thought. Now that the cat’s out of the bag and the 2020 class is a year older, expectations are through the roof for the Wildcats. Point guard Genesis Bryant took Class AAAAAA by storm with her mature beyond years play, earning All-State Honorable Mention. Bryant and 5-foot-11 wing Anaya Boyd have seen their recruitment explode over the summer heading into their sophomore seasons. Clemson, Georgia and West Virginia have all offered Boyd while Bryant claims a Jacksonville State offer with ACC and SEC interest. 6-foot-3 senior forward Kayla Brown is an athletic piece that is picking up steam heading into her final year under Coach Cedric King. No. 4 Harrison’s late rally wasn’t enough in the state championship, losing 52-51 to Mays. Four important seniors graduate including Rice-signee Sydne Wiggins, who was in-and-out of the lineup all year long due to an early season injury. Seniors will once again play a huge role for Harrison. UAB-commit Audrey Jordan will be a go-to option this year for the always balanced Hoyas. The forward is a knockdown three-point shooter that can craft her way to the basket with a variety of backdowns and spins. Harper Vick flourishes in the open floor, but is a dangerous three-point shooter as well. Mae Willis and Sarah Woghiren are athletic slashers that can get in the lane and play solid defense when called upon. All-in-all, the Hoyas will have a battled-tested group that will try to navigate their way to a Region 6 title after going 15-0 in the regular season, but getting upset by Creekview in the championship, 54-38. Hot on Harrison’s tail will be No. 5 Sequoyah. The Lady Chiefs return their entire roster except for fifth-leading scorer, Lauren Schletty. As the theme went for many Class AAAAAA contenders, Sequoyah also saw a major injury, leading scorer Alyssa Cagle going down with a season ending ACL tear on January 21. Cagle, now a senior, has worked tirelessly to be ready for the start of the season. The playmaker with a knack for hitting the big shot will go to war with fellow seniors Peyton Satterfield, one of the best three-point shooters in program history, and Colby Carden, a fiery off-guard. The late season addition of Sydney Rosant gives the Chiefs a fourth head to the scoring attack. Much of the rebounding and interior defense onus will be placed upon 5-foot-9 junior Emily Seres. No. 6 Douglas County turns the reigns over to junior forward Amari Robinson after Arsula Clark’s departure for UL-Monroe. 5-foot-11 senior forward Sayah Brooks should have an opportunity to pick up the slack. With six seniors gone, the Tigers will be in a tussle with defending state champion No. 9 Mays to win Region 5. The Raiders were swept by Douglas County and fell to the No. 3 seed heading into the playoffs after an upset 55-54 loss to New Manchester, but got the last laugh by riding Kennesaw State Owl Kamiyah Street to the title. The nucleus of Natoria Hill, Chardae Bell and Kyra McWhorter will be relied upon heavily to keep Mays in the state playoff picture. No. 7 Creekview is the third Region 6 team to crack the poll and the defending region champs. A defensive-minded team, the Grizzlies fell to Lovejoy in the Sweet 16, 35-32. Agile 6-foot-1 post Allison Luly is now at Belmont but Creekview still returns its leading scorer in senior Kennedy Cater and sophomore post Emily Wilkie. Coach Roger Nolan is respected as one of North Georgia’s best X’s & O’s minds and will always keep the Grizz competitive. No. 8 Forest Park was led by 2019’s Sarah Matthews and Alana Denson in scoring while 2020 guard Jasmine Jacob finished third. The young core comes off a 16-11 season in which the Panthers missed out on the postseason. Freshman center Senia Feagin is a 6-foot-4 difference maker in the low post. The power big earned rave reviews over the summer. No. 10 Alpharetta pushed Northview to the brink twice in Region 7 and gave Mays a run for their money in Round 1, losing 58-54. Freshman Chandler Davis led the team in scoring, but has since transferred to St. Francis. Junior point guard Croix Bethune will go back to being the engine that runs Coach David Walden’s team. Her speed, decision making and perimeter defense gets the Raiders going. Twin sisters Gogo and Juju Maduka crash the boards hard at 6-foot, and as a pair, alter countless shots inside. Junior Kendall Phillips is another long forward at Walden’s disposal. Juniors Jalyn Tillerson and 6-foot three-star prospect Grace Knutsen will play important roles. Knutsen’s size and outside shooting can give opponents mismatch problems.
No. 1 Buford routed their way to a Class AAAAA title last year, winning in the postseason by an average of 30 points per game. Michigan State-commit Tory Ozment was masterful in the state championship game and will lead the Wolves one last time before heading off to East Lansing. Fellow senior Audrey Weiner committed to Air Force in September. Sophomore guard Tate Walters looked good over the offseason while Coach Gene Durden still has length inside in 6-foot-3 physical post Jessica Nelson and 5-foot-10 Cambridge transfer Sierra Sieracki. No. 2 Flowery Branch was swept in three Region 8 meetings with Buford losing 53-44, 51-46 and 53-38. The Lady Falcons almost had a chance for a fourth showdown with the Wolves in the state title game, but ran out of gas late and lost to Southwest DeKalb 66-63 in the Final Four. Star forward Taniyah Worth (Alabama) heads into her senior season as a do-everything wing and one of the best players in the state. Worth has proven she can carry a team, dumping in 33 points in their season ending loss to the Panthers. With 6-foot-1 post Julianne Sutton now at North Georgia, Coach Courtney Newton might elect to play a faster pace style with Emmanuel College-commit Lexie Sengkhammee controlling the tempo. Caroline Wysocki, Ashley Woodroffe and Ashley Scott round out an experienced backcourt. Freshman forward Ashlee Locke, 6-foot-1, is one to watch over the next four years. No. 3 Eagle’s Landing burst onto the scene last year with a 26-4 record and a trip to the Elite Eight. 5-foot-8 senior guard Ashley Foster is a Western Carolina-commit while fellow 2018 point guard Kiera Howard has some of the quickest hands in the state, scooping up 6.2 steals per game as a junior. The play of Reyonna Hopkins and Sahara Wells inside along with blossoming sophomore wing Jaleah Storr may determine the ceiling of the Eagles. Senior guards Taylor Brown and Ansley Barge along with bruising 6-foot-1 post Elexus Bell have No. 4 Carrollton in a position to flirt with the 30-win mark again after going 29-2 with an Elite Eight exit at the hands of Flowery Branch, 61-46. The Trojans have been one of the winningest programs over the past decade with a state championship coming in 2009. Incoming freshman point guard De’mauri Flournoy is the next big thing in West Georgia and will have the Trojans playing at a high level even after this year’s seven-man senior class graduates. Region 5 All-Region picks Alina Shoemake, Kennedi Manning and Iyanna McMillan are all set to return with 6-foot-2 Ole Miss-commit Iyanla Kitchens anchoring the paint for No. 5 Arabia Mountain. Only one player graduates for the Rams opposed to Region 5 rival No. 6 Southwest DeKalb who sees their big three of Jada Walton (Texas A&M), Chantz Cherry (Stony Brook) and Ogheneruona Uwusiaba (Central Florida) all move onto the next level. Junior Lanee Edwards and senior Michaela Bennefield return with the most experience. No. 7 Bainbridge was sneaky good last year, finishing with a 19-9 record. Now that Region 1 power Warner Robins has graduated a bulk of its scoring from a 27-2 roster, the Bearcats might be able to seize control of the region if they hold off the Demonettes and the intimidating frontline of Harris County. Though it will be no easy task, Bainbridge can rely on one of the best players in South Georgia, Nadia Marshall. The 5-foot-9 forward averaged 20.2 points, 10.6 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 1.3 blocks as a junior. The Bearcats bring back their top five leading scorers and see just one player graduate. If the likes of seniors Tytianna Roseborough and Tyra Smart along with sophomore post India Parris can take their game to the next level, Bainbridge could be a tough out come state tournament time. No. 8 Villa Rica has great cohesion with everyone but shot blocking specialist April Battle back. Coach Tammy Norred steps in after a wildly successful three-year stint at Haralson County where she went 74-14. She will be tasked with getting the Wildcats over the hump in the state playoffs. Villa Rica has been one-and-done the past two years, bowing out in the first round. Last year the Wildcats lost at Arabia Mountain 52-45 after slipping to the No. 3 seed following an upset loss to Cass in the Region 7 tournament. Norred will have her most talented roster in years as she inherits 6-foot-2 four-star 2019 forward Deasia Merrill, a 22.8p/10.4r/5.8a/2.8s/1.9b per game wrecking ball. Senior wing Jaila Orozco is a lethal three-point shooter that can also bang on the boards while Emerald Parham is a savvy 2018 guard and Aliyah Hindsman, a talented sophomore. No. 9 Maynard Jackson takes a big blow with an important 2017 class graduating, but Coach Michelle Powell has always found a way to keep the ball rolling. Leading scorer Jamila Mitchell and defensive specialist Tamara White are both back. White, 5-foot-3, pilfered 6.8 steals per game as a junior. Dyniste Taylor rebounded well last year and will be asked to control the paint now that 6-foot-6 Dominique Banks has graduated. No. 10 Dutchtown has a chance to carve out space as one of the top teams in Region 4 behind Eagle’s Landing. 5-foot-10 senior Jordan Maney was trouble on the low block averaging 14 points and 7 rebounds per game. The Bulldogs get a massive boost along the frontline with ELCA transfer 6-foot-1 junior India Bellamy joining Maney down low. Bellamy was a First Team All-Henry County selection after averaging 17 points and 8 rebounds. The ability to stretch the floor will be in question now that 42% three-point shooter Asia White has graduated. Senior Mariah Holder and junior Kennedy Freeman must keep defenses honest and keep them reluctant from packing in the paint to slow down Maney and Bellamy.
The balance of power in Class AAAA remains located in West Georgia, but it has solely swung to State Runner-Up, No. 1 Carver-Columbus. The Tigers lost in overtime to rival Columbus in an instant classic in front of a sold-out McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta, 68-67. Senior guards Mariah Igus and Alycia Reese return as Coach Anson Hundley’s leading scorers, with junior Ja’nya Love-Hill coming off a 25-point outburst in the title game. Carver’s only weakness last year was a lack of impactful size inside to stop Columbus’ SEC duo of Tatyana Wyatt (Kentucky) and Ariyah Copeland (Alabama). That won’t be a problem this year now that 6-foot-3 sophomore Olivia Cochran has moved in from Hardaway. As a freshman, Cochran earned All-State Second Team honors after averaging 17.2 points, 10.9 rebounds and 2.4 blocks. On paper, Carver-Columbus looks to be head and shoulders above the competition. The rest of Class AAAA will have to sort itself out. No. 2 Spalding will open the season in the two-hole following a trip to the Elite Eight where they fell to eventual state champion Columbus by 28. All-State Honorable Mention pick Kiana Banks enters her senior season at forward. Corriana Evans looks to capitalize after a strong freshman campaign in which she averaged 10 points and 7.7 rebounds. Junior Aniaya Jester was third in scoring at 9.6 points per game. No. 3 Henry County has the best player in the classification in Auburn-commit Brooke Moore. The All-State First Teamer poured in 24.1 points per game while adding 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 3.4 steals. Her ability to take over games should lead to the Warhawks being able to build off their Elite Eight run. Senior Janaya Wadsworth will play an important role as second in command. Janiyah Jones brings in a scoring presence as a 5-foot-8 wing from Whitewater. No. 4 Jefferson sees Abbie Franklin (North Georgia) move to the next level, but left behind is a more than competent eight-man senior class. Trevecca Nazarene-commit Jazmin Allen is a double-double machine inside that helped the Dragons to the Elite Eight. Guards McKenzie Tyner and McKenzie Ulmer will pick up the slack left behind by Franklin. No. 5 Luella played a strong schedule last year seeing the likes of Lovejoy, Griffin, Henry County, North Clayton, Spalding, Eagle’s Landing and Morgan County in the regular season, posting a sub-par 2-8 record. In the state playoffs, the Lions defeated Perry on the road 68-54 before dropping at Jefferson 70-45. Overall, Luella finished 17-11 and with a year of taking their lumps against top level opposition, but still managed to clinch a Sweet 16 berth. The Lions should be battle-tested enough to get over the hump and contend with their top four scorers all returning. Seniors Kamya Hollingshed and Zaria Bankston can fill it up with junior Imani McNeal and sophomore Keely Brown doing damage as well. The Lions will have to build depth behind their big four in order to compete all season. Finishing at just 15-15 last season, No. 6 Madison County came out of nowhere to upset their way to an Elite Eight appearance. No longer flying under the radar, the Red Raiders return everyone from their Cinderella season. Jordan Bailey enters her junior season at center after posting 19 points and 9 rebounds per game. Senior point guard Adryanna Maxwell added 14 points per game while Sydney Armstrong heads into her junior season following an All-Area Honorable Mention campaign. No. 7 Northwest Whitfield loses three seniors, most notably Region 6 Player of the Year Bria Clemmons, a two-time All-Area Player of the Year selection. The playmaking point guard leaves behind seniors Holly Heath, Nicole Bates, Rylee Maret and Hallie Brooker as veterans that will try to keep the Lady Bruins’ winning tradition alive in North Georgia. Opposite of Northwest Whitfield, much of the supporting cast is gone, but potent point producer Anna McKendree is still in the navy and silver of No. 8 West Hall. The senior scoring specialist pumped in 31 points in a Sweet 16 loss to Columbus, 50-47. The high-volume shooter will once again average over 20 points per game this season but to play at a high level in college, she will need to focus on giving more consistent effort on the defensive side. All-Region 5 selections Aryan Dozier and Chnairiea Strozier enter their senior seasons at No. 9 LaGrange. Center Shania Woodward will need to be replaced but she is the only player gone from last year’s 18-12 season. The Grangers scored a 46-43 First Round win at home over Marist before falling on the road at Cross Creek in respectable fashion, 44-35. No. 10 Baldwin loses its leading scorer but brings back options two through five. Senior Akirah Robinson is a versatile guard that filled up the stat sheet with her defensive prowess. The development of juniors Crystal Corley and Arecia Williams along with sophomore center MiKayla Waller will determine whether the Braves can take over a Region 3 that has seen plenty of turnover.
Region 3 ran roughshod over the competition in Class AAA, leading to a showdown between Savannah rivals, No. 1 Beach and No. 4 Johnson-Savannah, their fifth meeting of the year. In the end, Beach raced out to an early lead and never looked back, scoring a dominant 59-44 state title victory. Both the Bulldogs and Atomsmashers’ only losses came against each other, Beach going 29-2 and Johnson-Savannah 27-3. Though they don’t have as much D1 talent as other schools in the classification, the state title will still run through Beach. With leading scorer Judasia Hills graduated, Coach Olufemi Gordon still has a physical and aggressive team that loves to crash the offensive glass led by senior Jabrekia Bass. Sophomore guard Madison Evans paces the offensive and defensive attack while seniors Tatiannya Morris and Maryyana Page buy into their roles. Beach landed All-State wing NaTeari Chaney from Savannah. If she is healthy, Chaney provides a dynamic scoring option that posted 20.5 points and 8.8 rebounds a game for the Bluejackets. Johnson-Savannah might take a step back this year with Alexis Pierce (Jacksonville) and Olivia Owens (Iona) off to play college ball, but Sy’Marieona “Bubbles” Williams and 6-foot-5 post Giana Copeland are still game changers. Bubbles is a spunky 5-foot-3 guard that can bomb from three and coming off a 16-point-per-game junior season. Copeland is long, lanky and raw, but she has improved every day since first stepping foot on campus. She is beginning to see her recruitment pick up after blocking 6.4 shots per game. Junior guard J’mya Cutter should have a breakout year with a full season at Johnson under her belt. She averaged 11.1 points per game. Talent-wise, No. 2 Greater Atlanta Christian is the best team in the classification. They were clipped in controversial fashion in the Final Four by Beach in overtime, 56-47. Auburn-commit Robyn Benton is one of the best players in the state and also in the entire nation, ranked a five-star prospect as the No. 6 guard in the country. Forward Caria Reynolds is headed to Hofstra while Taylor Sutton is Middle Tennessee State bound. No. 3 Central-Macon has a ton back from their 21-6 team that lost to Beach 46-45 in the Elite Eight. Experience will be aplenty for the Lady Chargers. Power-post Jada Clowers is a big body at 6-foot-2 that can control the paint with her scoring touch and rebounding. Defensive specialist Jenya Wilder brings toughness and Tyleia Williams is the team’s leading scorer at 15 points per game. 2015-16 leading scorer ReNesha Goolsby is back after missing last year with an ACL tear and 5-foot-11 center Nakaiya Samone provides another post presence for Coach Sheila Toombs. No. 5 Franklin County put together a 20-7 season but didn’t quite reach their potential with a 53-52 loss at home to Ringgold in the first round of the playoffs. Coach John Strickland takes over the program, coming in from Blackman, Tennessee with everyone back from last year’s roster. Sisters Mya and Asia Jones have been dynamite since starting their careers at Commerce and now will try to go out with a bang. Ivey Ginn is another tough scoring guard with size that gives the Lions one of the best trios in the classification. No. 6 Monroe exited earlier than expected when they were upset in the Sweet 16 by Dawson County. Seniors Alissa Jones and Kelsey Davis along with sophomore Denver Bryant will be the straws that stir the drink this year for the Tornadoes. Levi Wigley takes over for Tammy Norred at No. 7 Haralson County, who returns All-Region 6 selections Alexis Boykin and Tori Causey. Shooting guard Claire Robinson is the third spearhead of the veteran senior class. The Rebelettes fell to Peach County in the Sweet 16, 56-55 after leading for the entire length of the game except for the final three seconds, losing on a game-winning layup. Long-time head coach Steve Sweat put together another masterful coaching job when the season was on the line for No. 8 Dawson County. The Lady Tigers finished just 12-18 after facing a grueling non-region schedule, but it paid off in the long run with a surprise trip to the Elite Eight. Dawson County has a chance to ride their late season momentum into 2017-18 as the entire roster returns. Juniors Kaylee Sticker and Anna Lowe team up with seniors Abi Chatham and Cadey Ayers to share the scoring duties. Sophomore Marlie Townley showed promise in her first varsity season. No. 9 Cedar Grove leans on senior forward Jayda Jackson. The All-Region 5 pick averaged over 16 points and 9 rebounds per game. Seniors Gemini Wilson and Leanna Ramos also were All-Region. Ramos stuffed the stat sheet averaging 7.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 5.8 steals per game as the Saints’ engine. No. 10 Lovett was Dawson County’s initial victim in the First Round of the state playoffs. Region 5 Player of the Year Quinn Barry has graduated along with All-Region pick Janie Salmon, but Sydney Johnson enters her junior season at guard. Most importantly, Stanford-commit Jenna Brown, a blue-chip five-star prospect, is back after missing all of the 2016-17 season. She can immediately turn Lovett into a contender now back at full strength.
No. 1 Laney is locked, stocked and loaded for another state title run in Class AA. The Wildcats will be the heavy favorites to repeat as champs with Alabama-commit De’sha Benjamin still in the red & white. Benjamin’s size and versatility is the cornerstone to Coach Otis Smart’s relentless fast-pace full court pressing style of play. Long and athletic wings Jhessyka Williams and Jaiden Hamilton round out the Laney big three. State Runner-Up No. 2 Rabun County pushed Laney to the limit, 85-76, before seeing their comeback fall short. The balanced LadyCats lose a few key pieces including 1,000-point scorer Savanna Scott (North Georgia), but juniors Brooke Henricks, Georgia Stockton and sophomore Laken Stiles have already proven they can excel at the highest level. The trio combined for 38 points in the championship. No. 3 Fitzgerald lost in the Elite Eight at Rabun County 70-54. Leading scorer Kirstin Crook is one of South Georgia and Class AA’s top guards. Crook averaged 17 points per game and will be counted on to set the tone. Sophomore guard Trinity Jones along with juniors De’Quasha Thornton, Keyara Boone and Hayleigh Ross are all a year older with important experience under their belt. Region 2 has been hit hard by graduation, but No. 4 Swainsboro is set to return its top four scorers including junior Dynesha Brown who averaged 16.3 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.6 steals per game. Juniors Charlsey Kelly and Aaliyah Hughes along with senior Chloe Moore will support Brown on both sides of the ball. The Tigers faltered in the region tournament, slipping to the No. 4 seed after losing to Bryan County and Jeff Davis. Swainsboro saw its season cut short with a 70-44 loss in the opening round of state at Laney. Region 8 will be a war behind Rabun County as No. 5 Banks County and No. 8 Putnam County look ready to put a little pressure on the LadyCats. Banks County was the only team in the region to hand Rabun County a loss last year, winning 49-45 after losing in overtime 63-62 and before dropping the Region 8 title game 78-67. The Leopards were upset by South Atlanta in the first round of state 68-62. Only three seniors are gone from last year’s team. The Leopards have size and skill in junior post Jaycie Bowen, a banger that can score around the basket at 5-foot-11. Maddie Thomas and Amber Williams suit up at the forward positions. Allison Smith, who has recovered from a torn ACL, is a versatile scorer that can go inside and out. Putnam County might have the most dynamic player in the region in 5-foot-7 senior forward Rykia Pennamon. The Region 8 Player of the Year averaged 17.1 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists. She is the unquestioned leader of a War Eagle team that returns its top seven players. For the first time in years, No. 6 Model might be flying under the radar just a bit. Since star center Victaria Saxton stepped foot on campus in 2014-15, the Blue Devils have gone 79-10. Last year as a junior, Saxton powered Model to a Final Four berth but her 21 points weren’t enough as the Blue Devils were eliminated by eventual state champion Laney 65-49. Saxton has one last season to capture a ring, but it will be difficult with All-Region picks Bailey Upton and AnnaGrace Turrentine graduating. Second Team selection Kyla Reynolds heads into her junior season at guard. The Blue Devils remain the heavy favorite in Region 7, with No. 7 Dade County trailing behind. The Wolverines were swept by Model, 63-48 and 53-44. A misstep against Armuchee led to Dade County taking the No. 3 seed. They defeated Callaway 58-30 on the road before losing to Bleckley County 45-43. Only Hannah Monday graduates, leaving fellow All-Region First Teamers Tori Reed and Raven Stone to carry the load. The seniors bring size at 6-foot and 5-foot-10. Six 2020 prospects look to breakthrough their sophomore seasons. On paper, it looked at times as if No. 9 Dodge County could be able to take a run to the state championship, but instead an upset loss to Heard County 56-55 in the Sweet 16 after losing to Bleckley County in the Region 3 title game sent the Indians home early. Leading scorer Tierra Hamilton and third-leading scorer Jurnee Powell have graduated, giving way to junior forward Destanee Wright to bust out after averaging 12.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.9 steals. Wiry junior wing Europe Brown should see an uptick in her offensive production. No. 10 Berrien finished an unassuming 16-13 coming out of Region 1, but made a statement come tournament time with a 57-38 drubbing of Washington County before losing by 34 in the Sweet 16 to Model, buried by a 33-2 run. Treyonna Boone, Devinity Jackson and Mikayla Alexander are back for a Berrien team that graduates just one player.
Class A-Private will be a three-team race again with State Runner-Up Holy Innocents’ getting the first crack at No. 1 to open the year. The narrative across the classification is the turnover among top rosters, as a star-studded 2017 class is now gone. The Golden Bears’ return the most out of the top three contenders, with just three players graduating. Veteran experience led by Georgia-commit Kaila Hubbard and Penn bound forward Kennedy Suttle gives Coach Nichole Dixon two of the class’s best players. Holy Innocents’ will need to replace three starters to fit in with Hubbard and Suttle. Sophomore Jada Farrell saw the most time off the bench last year and was the only sub to get on the floor in the Golden Bears’ 51-48 loss to Region 5 rival No. 2 Wesleyan in the state championship, a game in which Holy Innocents’ led by as many as 17 points and led for over 26 minutes, only trailing for the final minute and 56 seconds. The Wesleyan Wolves undergo a major overhaul of their roster with eight seniors graduating including McDonald’s All-American, Mikayla Coombs (UConn), and much like the Golden Bears, will need to replace three starters. The Wolves fell to Holy Innocents’ twice during the regular season, but took care of business when it mattered most, winning the Region 5 title and state championship. A mix of seniors and underclassmen will be charged with helping the Wolves repeat. Point guard Amaya Register is committed to play at Old Dominion while shooter Sutton West is off to Furman after the season concludes. The 2020 class and 2021 incoming freshmen will have opportunities to assert themselves in the Wesleyan rotation. Sophomore AC Carter is a physical post presence that gave Coach Jan Azar good minutes last year while Izzy Larson and Lauren Hill look to be developing into reliable options. Freshman Paige Lyons is the younger sister of Norcross standout Tehya Lyons, a future Pitt Panther. Lyons is an exciting playmaking guard with a bright four years ahead of her. Two All-Americans weren’t enough for No. 3 St. Francis to three-peat as state champs, the Knights losing 63-61 to Holy Innocents’ in the Final Four. Four Division-I standouts depart from the roster, but the Knights have attempted to reload by landing a trio of new faces in 6-foot-2 junior Jordan Isaacs (North Paulding) and sophomores Chandler Davis (Alpharetta) and Kennedi Philson (Chattahoochee). Davis led Alpharetta in scoring as a freshman shooting guard while Philson is a long 6-foot forward with upside. Sophomore Amirah Abdur-Rahim should fill the void left behind by Maya Dodson (Stanford) as a 6-foot-2 versatile forward that can disrupt offenses. She averaged 8 points, 4 rebounds and 1.7 blocks as a freshman. Senior Arynn Eady, 6-foot-1, is a College of Charleston-commit. Guards Kennedy Powell, Olivia Swanston and Eliza Snyder will try to replace Taja Cummings (Georgia Tech) and Nichel Tampa (Western Kentucky). Snyder, a sophomore, transferred in mid-season last year from Cambridge and has all the makings of a D-1 recruit. No. 4 Landmark Christian improved from 13-14 to 22-5, powered by rising junior Elizabeth Gibbs. The War Eagles got 16.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game from Gibbs along with 14 points and 6.4 rebounds a night from 2019 wing Paige Aronhalt, but Landmark Christian was knocked off in the Sweet 16 by Pinecrest Academy, 69-65. One senior graduates from No. 5 Stratford Academy, who went 20-6 with a 52-36 Sweet 16 win over Aquinas before losing to Holy Innocents’ 78-39 in the Elite Eight. Dynamic athlete Aysha Roberts will need to be replaced. Sophomores Mary Elaine Mitchell and Nadia Reese excelled as freshmen and will get a chance to take on even bigger roles in Year 2. Much like Stratford, No. 6 Fellowship Christian graduates just one senior and returns Colorado-commit Cameron Swartz to the backcourt. The 5-foot-11 wing was a Second Team All-State pick and a Region 6 First Teamer. Swartz is an agile athlete that can score at all three levels and can carry the Paladins, who went 14-10 with a 49-42 First Round loss at Aquinas. Second Team All-Region selection Sadie Schulz solidifies the backcourt. No. 7 Greenforest fell in the Sweet 16 to Lakeview Academy, 59-55. The Eagles finished 12-9 after going 27-1 in 2015-16. Forward Uloma Enyogasi is gone but Memphis-commit Joy Nnamani is back. The 5-foot-9 wing averaged over 13 points and 11 rebounds per game while adding 4.8 steals and 1.3 blocks. Senior point guard Taylor Riggins averaged 11.7 points and 3.3 steals. Region 8 will be an interesting race between No. 8 Prince Avenue Christian and No. 10 Lakeview Academy. The Lions had their best run in school history, going 26-5 and taking a trip to the Final Four for the first time since 2005 behind prolific scorer Hanna Grogan and 2017’s Christen Copeland and Ryann Moody. Now that the trio has graduated, Lakeview Academy’s stranglehold over the region may loosen. The pressure will be on the likes of Kennedy Payne, Maddie Blackburn, Sadie Thrailkill and sophomore Maddy Towles to continue the Lions’ winning ways. Upstart Prince Avenue Christian recorded its best record in over a decade, improving from 12-13 to 21-8. The Wolverines lost both meetings with Lakeview Academy, losing 50-26 in the regular season, but cutting the gap to 41-34 in the Region 8 championship. Prince Avenue fell in the Elite Eight to Wesleyan 63-31 before the Wolves defeated Lakeview 77-35 in the Final Four. The young Wolverines have their top two players returning in sophomore guard Ansley Hall and junior Madison Britt. As a freshman, Hall earned First Team All-Region honors along with an All-Area selection after averaging 14.9 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists. Her play has helped put the Wolverines on the map as a playoff contender. No. 9 Pinecrest Academy sees the school’s all-time leading scorer Margaret Metz graduate after leading the Paladins to their first state playoff win in the GHSA, but little sister Regina is back for her senior season after dropping in 18.6 points per game. Depth will be a glaring issue for the Paladins who come off a 21-7 season with wins over Savannah Country Day and Landmark Christian in the state playoffs.
Class A-Public’s No. 1 Pelham rumbles into 2017-18 after capturing the school’s first title since 1997 by beating Telfair County 60-42; the Hornets winning their four playoff games by an average of 30.5 points. Pelham loses some firepower headlined by Clemson-signee Destiny Thomas, but leading scorer Mahogany Randall is back for her senior season along with 6-foot-3 shot blocker Willeshia Kemp. Pelham must replace three starters. No. 2 Telfair County proved to be a scrappy opponent for powerful Pelham, but a 4-of-33 shooting night from beyond the arc gave the Trojans no chance at the upset. Junior guard India Wells led the team in scoring last year at 14.9 points per game. NyAsia Howard chipped in 10 points per game as a junior while rising junior Brandy Mackey added 8.6 on average. Tyshiana Rozier’s scoring will need to be replaced. No. 3 Wheeler County played Pelham the toughest in the state tournament before falling in the Final Four, 81-67. Senior guard Brianna Hinton played the role of catalyst, averaging 12.2 points, 4.5 assists and 3.1 steals. She will be tested this year even more now that 6-foot-4 Second Team All-State center Lakaitlin Wright has graduated after averaging a double-double. Senior Mlya Mackey likely will see the interior play fall on her shoulders now. At 5-foot-7, Mackey collected 7.1 points and 7 rebounds per game, but wasn’t a rim protector like Wright, a dynamic that will be sorely missed. Sameria Bryant has a chance to take a big step forward in her sophomore season after playing big minutes as a freshman. Wheeler County isn’t the only beast looming in Region 3. No. 4 Woodville-Tompkins and No. 5 Treutlen both call the basketball rich region home. Woodville-Tompkins split with Wheeler County 1-1, while Treutlen was swept in three games by the Bulldogs from Alamo. In their only meeting, the Wolverines lost at home to Treutlen 61-59. All-State junior guard Jazmin Grayson did it all last year for Woodville-Tompkins, averaging 10.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 5.5 steals. The 5-foot-7 playmaker will need to pick up the slack left behind from Savanna Walker. Rising sophomore Antalazia Baker averaged 9 points and 6 rebounds while junior Charde Hutchinson and 5-foot-11 senior LaNaya El-Amin do the dirty work on the glass. All-State First Teamer Le’Andrea Gillis is one of the best players in the entire classification and gives the Treutlen Vikings an opportunity to win every time out. The 5-foot-9 senior averaged 20.8 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.4 steals and 4.5 blocks. The Vikings return their entire roster including junior Kayla Blackshear and senior Denesha Beacham. Treutlen fell to Wheeler County in the Elite Eight 42-38 while Woodville-Tompkins lost to Telfair County in the Final Four, 62-60. Following a run of Region 3 schools in the 3-5 spots, Region 4 takes slots 6-8. No. 6 Marion County could be a dark horse to take a deep run this year after graduating just two players from last season’s 23-6 Elite Eight team that lost 59-49 to Woodville-Tompkins. 5-foot-7 sophmore guard Jameisha Williams and 5-foot-11 senior Torriunna Myers power a lengthy lineup. Twin sisters Ashley and Ansley Whitley head into their junior seasons as 5-foot-11 shot blockers. Senior point guard Kamille McCannon is the smallest on the roster at 5-foot-2, but is a sparkplug scorer. No. 7 Macon County will try to keep momentum from their 18-8 season rolling, but they will have to do so with a new head coach in place after Quantavias Allen left for the Lovejoy boys job. A strong core remains intact for the Bulldogs however as All-State First Teamer Jasmine Larry is back for her senior season after pumping in 22.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5 assists and 4.4 steals per game. Senior Erykah Skinner stands 6-foot-2 and is coming off of a year in which she posted 10.4 points, 12.6 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. The inside-out duo also sees Fredreaka English back for her junior season. Can having the best player on the court at all times win you a championship? No. 8 Greenville has one last opportunity to see if it’s possible with Mississippi State-commit Brittany Davis. The reigning Class A-Public Player of the Year is the most feared player in the classification. At 5-foot-9, Davis hung 36 points, 11.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 5.7 steals and 2.4 blocks per game – video game numbers. Davis scored 32 of her team’s 35 points in Greenville’s 75-35 Elite Eight loss to Pelham. The Patriots’ second leading scorer at 12.9 points per game, Munyana Colton, has graduated, leaving Greenvile in dire need of someone that can score the ball. Senior Talencia Toney is the Pats’ leading scorer behind Davis, after averaging 3.3 points per game. Davis took over 40% of her team’s shots last year. Region 2 places two tough teams at the bottom of the poll in No. 9 Turner County and No. 10 Wilcox County. The two squads were as even as it gets, with Wilcox County going 2-1 vs. the Rebels, picking up wins 55-54 and 60-54 in double overtime before losing 40-37 in the Region 2 tournament. Turner County gets the slight edge over the Patriots to open the year thanks to the dynamic duo of Zakiyah Office and Miya Byrd. Office, a 5-foot-8 senior, is a Preseason All-State First Team selection following her breakout 2016-17 season in which she averaged 24.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.5 steals. Long term, Byrd, a 5-foot-7 sophomore point guard, might have the highest ceiling. As a freshman she tallied 11.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 8.2 assists and 4.4 steals a night. Her size, body control and vision is a rare combination to find at the Class A-Public level. She’s someone that D-1’s should begin tracking. The final cog to the Rebel attack is 5-foot-10 center Aerial Hamilton, who put up 8.6 points and 11.6 rebounds per game as a junior. Wilcox County counters with senior Trajata Colbert, a 6-foot-1 center that gobbles up double-doubles. Sophomore post Asia Montgomery teams up with Colbert inside for the post-game-minded Patriots.