Here are five girls teams to watch in the Class AAAAA basketball tournament, which begins on Friday:
Alpharetta – No opponent has scored more than 51 against fourth-ranked Alpharetta (23-3), a up-and-coming program that has made its first three state tournaments the past three years under former Georgia State player Angela Anderson-Hurt. Seniors Alexis Alexander (UNC-Charlotte), 6-foot-5 post player Delaney Hollenbeck (Marist College) and Jasmine Newsome (Montevallo) have signed, and junior guard Kylee Smith (19 points per game) has committed to Vanderbilt.
McEachern – A national title contender, McEachern (28-0) has six players who have signed or committed to Division I schools. They are seniors Pachiyaanna Roberts (Syracuse), Kayla Montgomery (Clemson), Dominique Wilson (Arkansas) and Destinie Gibbs (Ole Miss), junior Mia Cooper (South Carolina) and Te’a Cooper (North Carolina). The team has several wins over national ranked teams and is rated No. 2 by ESPN Rise and No. 4 by MaxPreps.
Norcross – The two-time defending champion, Norcross (23-5) has perhaps the state’s best player in Diamond DeShields. How important is she? Norcross lost to Mill Creek by 14 and North Gwinnett by 18 this month when DeShields sat with a fractured wrist. With DeShields back, Norcross beat Mill Creek by 17 and North Gwinnett by 15 win the Region 7 tournament. Three other Norcross starters have signed or committed. They are 6-2 Patrice Butler to Furman, 6-2 Jasmine Kemp to East Tennessee and 5-7 point guard Tori Carter to UNC-Charlotte.
Parkview – With a 28-0 record, second-ranked Parkview is one of four unbeaten teams in Georgia, but beat only one Top 10 team in Alpharetta. The local schedule and the memory of first-round losses the past two seasons – including the 2010 team that also entered undefeated – mean Parkview still has something to prove. Erika Joseph, a 6-1 post player, has signed with Western Carolina. She scored 15 points with nine rebounds and six steals in the Region 8 championship game against Brookwood.
Stephenson – Stephenson (24-4) is a program with two state titles and 28 postseason wins over the past 11 seasons, but a first-round loss last year was shocking. The team has two returning starters from that team in 6-1 junior Kaliyah Mitchell (12.9 points, 3.3 steals) and 5-9 forward Joylyn Stroud (10.3 points, 8.1 rebounds). Stephenson has won 14 straight games and lost only to Norcross and St. Francis in state.