Class AAAA girls basketball preview

Region 1

The lineup: Americus-Sumter, Albany, Cairo, Crisp County, Dougherty, Monroe, Westover, Worth County

Teams to watch: Westover, Crisp County, Americus-Sumter

Players to watch: Kayla Bowens, Americus-Sumter, Nasheema Oliver, Crisp County; Shanteria Williams, Westover.

Strength of region: 3

Last season: Monroe was the last team standing from Region 1-AAA last year, bowing in the third round to Washington County. Albany made the AA second round, while Westover, Crisp County and Dougherty all made the second round in AAA.

The skinny: Westover has won 97 games over the last four years, but sustained heavy losses to graduation. Williams, the daughter of Westover great Dontonio Wingfield, is expected to step into a leading role. Monroe also was hit hard by graduation. Americus-Sumter has most of its team back from year’s club that went 17-9, and Bowens is primed for a big year.

Teams that could win state: None.

Region 2

The lineup: Baldwin, Howard, Mary Persons, Perry, Rutland, Veterans, West Laurens, Westside-Macon

Teams to watch: Mary Persons, Howard, Westside-Macon

Players to watch: Keondria Calloway, Mary Persons, Aleah Holden, Mary Persons

Strength of region: 3

Last season: None of the state playoff representatives in 1-AAA last season made it past the first round of the playoffs.

The skinny: In Calloway (14 ppg last year) and Holden (12), Mary Persons has a strong one-two punch, and junior Maya Stewart gives the Lady Bulldogs a third option and a strong rebounder. Westside, which has topped 20 wins each of the past three seasons, lost five players to graduation, and the Lady Seminoles will have to replace key inside presence Tommitrise Collins.

Teams that could win state: None.

Region 3

The lineup: Subregion A – Liberty County, South Effingham, Statesboro, Wayne County. Subregion B – Burke County, Butler, Cross Creek, Glenn Hills, Hephzibah, Richmond Academy.

Teams to watch: Cross Creek, Hephzibah, Statesboro

Players to watch: Ashleigh Outler, Cross Creek; Tianna Germain, South Effingham

Strength of region: 3

Last season: Hephzibah was a state quarterfinalist last season in Class AAA.

The skinny: The most significant development in the region was likely Washington County staying in Class AAA with this year’s reclassification. Cross Creek could be primed for a big run. The Lady Razorbacks finished 21-8 a year ago and return all five starters, including Outler, who averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds. Statesboro went 27-2 in AAAA last season but suffered key losses to graduation. A slow start wouldn’t be a surprise, but neither would a strong finish.

Teams that could win state: Cross Creek.

Region 4

The lineup: Subregion A – Dutchtown, Eagle’s Landing, Locust Grove, Stockbridge, Woodland-Henry; Subregion B – Griffin, Jonesboro, North Clayton, Riverdale, Spalding, Upson-Lee.

Teams to watch: Jonesboro, Dutchtown, Woodland-Henry.

Players to watch: Dominique Clune, Dutchtown, Kimberly Dawkins, Jonesboro, Michaelle Smith, Jonesboro, Mahogany Hall, Jonesboro, Morgan Jones, Woodland.

Strength of region: 4

Last season: Jonesboro was a state semifinalist in Class AAAA.

The skinny: The Lady Cardinals have key components back from last year’s team that went 25-6, including Dawkins, who is rated the No. 14 player nationally by ESPN. Smith and Hall are both sophomores and with a year of experience figure to be stronger. A handful of other teams, led by Woodland (which went 21-10 a year ago), appear ready to make some noise in the region race.

Teams that could win state: Jonesboro

Region 5

The lineup: Alexander, Carrollton, Columbus, Fayette County, LaGrange, Sandy Creek, Shaw, Troup.

Teams to watch: Carrollton, Fayette County, Sandy Creek, Troup

Players to watch: Keyondra Jenkins, Fayette Co.; Aneesa Watson, Fayette County; Brittany Tatum, LaGrange; Alexia Manning, Columbus; La’Rice Walker, Sandy Creek; Kenyatta Henrix, Carrollton.

Strength of region: 5

Last season: Fayette County went to the quarterfinals in Class AAAA last year; Troup went to the third round in AAA, Carrollton and Sandy Creek each went to the second round in AA.

The skinny: Region 5 appears set for a season-long dogfight, with six teams back from winning seasons last year, including four that won 20 games or more. Fayette and Carrollton appear to be the favorites, by the thinnest of margins.

Teams that could win state: Carrollton, Fayette County.

Region 6

The lineup: Subregion A – Chamblee, Columbia, Lithonia, Marist, Redan, Stone Mountain. Subregion B – Banneker, Carver-Atlanta, Grady, South Atlanta, Therrell, Washington.

Teams to watch: Columbia, Chamblee

Players to watch: Miah Spencer, Columbia; Shaundericka Mann, Columbia; Brea Elmore, Redan, Destini McClary, Redan; Danielle Clark, Stone Mountain; Briana Bell, Marist.

Strength of region: 4

Last season: Columbia won the AAA state championship. Chamblee advanced to the third round in Class AAAA.

The skinny: Columbia lost guard Zuri Frost to graduation but the Eagles still have talent, and they’re accustomed to winning, having claimed two championships in the past three years. Chamblee lost its top two scorers, while Redan figures to take a step forward with a trio of juniors, including Elmore and McClary, who averaged double-figure scoring in a 19-10 season a year ago.

Teams that could win state: Columbia.

Region 7

The lineup: Subregion A – Cass, Cedartown, Gilmer, Pickens, River Ridge. Subregion B – Dalton, Heritage-Catoosa, LaFayette, Northwest Whitfield, Ridgeland, Southeast Whitfield.

Teams to watch: River Ridge, Dalton, Gilmer, Pickens.

Players to watch: Jordan Livesay, River Ridge; Tayla Pepin, River Ridge; Maddie Howell, Dalton.

Strength of region: 2

Last season: None of the teams in the region advanced past the first round of the state tournament a year ago.

The skinny: River Ridge returns all of its players from a 21-10 finish last season, but the Lady Knights will have to adjust to the jump from AA to AAAA. Dalton, two years removed from a state runner-up finish, has five seniors, including Howell, who combined to average nearly 40 points per game, and they have the motivator of having missed the state playoffs last year.

Teams that could win state: None.

Region 8

The lineup: Chestatee, Eastside, Johnson-Gainesville, Lanier, Lumpkin County, Madison County, Monroe Area, Stephens County, Walnut Grove.

Teams to watch: Chestatee, Madison County, Eastside

Players to watch: Elise Coberly, Madison County; Meagan Kenimer, Chestatee.

Strength of region: 2

Last season: Chestatee went to the second round in Class AAA.

The skinny: Kenimer leads a group of six seniors for Chestatee, which returns its entire roster from a 19-11 team a season ago. Eastside, Madison, Stephens County and Walnut Grove should all be in the mix for state playofff berths.

Teams that could win state: None.

2 comments Add your comment

GradyBaby...

November 8th, 2012
8:31 am

If I had to pick the 4AAAA championship finals right now..I can see Jonesboro and Columbia..But I see Columbia Winning it all again!!!!

yugolf42

November 10th, 2012
4:43 am

Lagrange High has of the best guards in the state Brittany Tatum and the lagrange grangers should win a tough region 5-AAAA, returning Stierra Mitchell and tatum going to be a dangerous duo