Class AAAAA girls basketball preview

By Stephen Black and Fletcher Proctor

Score Atlanta

Region 1

The lineup: A – Hardaway, Harris County, Northside-Columbus; B – Bainbridge, Lee County, Thomas County Central

Team to watch: Lee County

Players to watch: Chelsea McIntyre, Thomas County Central; Kaeci Guyton, Thomas County Central; Taylor Jakes, Northside-Columbus; Tiera White, Northside-Columbus

Strength of region: 2

Last season: Only Bainbridge won a playoff game last season, a 62-53 upset of Region 3-AAAA No. 1 seed Richmond Hill.

The skinny: This is not the strongest of basketball regions in the state when it comes to tradition, although Thomas County Central does claim state titles in 1967 and 1968. Center Chelsea McIntyre returns after leading Thomas County Central in points (11.3), rebounds (9.5) and steals (2.4). Defending subregion champion Lee County lost star forward Daquenna Moore, who led the region with 20.7 points and 15 rebounds. Hardaway went 4-4 in region play last season but lost guard Kym Ellison, who led the Hawks in scoring. However, junior guard Jamilia Burgos and her 11.7 points-per game return.

Teams that could win state: None.

Region 2

The Lineup: A – Evans, Greenbrier, Grovetown, Lakeside-Evans; B – Houston County, Jones County, Northside-Warner Robins, Warner Robins

Teams to watch: Evans, Grovetown, Lakeside-Evans

Players to watch: Allysha McFarland, Evans; Bria Baker, Lakeside-Evans; Morgan Taylor, Greenbrier; Alayah Canteen, Grovetown, Anna Maddox, Northside

Strength of region: 3

Last season: Warner Robins, Northside-Warner Robins each made the second round of the Class AAAA playoffs.

The skinny: Grovetown has gone 42-13 the last two years and with Alayah Canteen returning at guard, look for the Warriors to once again post some big numbers and challenge for the region title. Guard Allysha McFarland and coach Ryan Morningstar have helped turn the Evans program around. McFarland could add to her 13 points per game from one year ago. Lakeside-Evans’ Bria Baker does a nice job of finding her teammates, as she finished with nearly seven assists per game one year ago as a junior while averaging 10.6 points per game. Look for her to help senior Rosalyn Talley become a double-double machine this year for the Panthers. Greenbrier’s Morgan Taylor averaged 14 points and 14 rebounds last year as a freshman. Warner Robins lost a host of starters to graduation from last year’s region championship team. Jones County will try and get things going under new head coach Lamar Harris after the Greyhounds went 13-13 last season.

Teams that could win state: None.

Region 3

The lineup: A – Effingham County, Groves, Jenkins, Richmond Hill; B – Bradwell Institute, Glynn Academy, Ware County, Windsor Forest

Team to watch: Groves

Players to watch: Ty’Hesha Reynolds, Windsor Forest; Faith Sanders, Jenkins; Kizzy Pringle, Groves

Strength of region: 2

Last season: None of these teams won a playoff game.

The skinny: Richmond Hill entered the playoffs with a sparkling 24-2 record only to lose to fourth-seeded Bainbridge in the first round, and the Wildcats lost six players off last year’s squad. Bradwell Institute also lost six seniors off last season’s team that went 10-5 in region play. Super sophomore Kizzy Pringle leads a Groves team that went 7-4 in region play last year and will be looked at as an early favorite in the region. Effingham County will boast four seniors and three juniors off a team that made the playoffs.

Teams that could win state: None.

Region 4

The lineup: A – Drew, Forest Park, Mt. Zion-Jonesboro, Mundy’s Mill, Ola, Union Grove; B – Creekside, McIntosh, Northgate, Starr’s Mill, Whitewater

Teams to watch: Forest Park, Drew, Mundy’s Mill, McIntosh

Players to watch: Breasia McElrath, Forest Park; Kanisha Tharpe, Forest Park; Moneshia Dyer, Mundy’s Mill; Gabby Seiler, McIntosh

Strength of region: 3

Last season: Forest Park reached the Class AAAA quarterfinals.

The skinny: Forest Park lost four starters to injury last season but still managed to advance to the Elite Eight behind the efforts of Raven Wynn. The senior has left the team, but Steven Cole still has sophomore giants Breasia McElrath and Kanisha Tharpe. Also, look for Kayla Potts and Tiffany Wilson to return from knee injuries. Moneshia Dyer will have a chance to up her 12 points per game total from one year ago with Brianna McQueen having left the Mundy’s Mill program. Whitewater will have just two seniors on its roster, but a pair of juniors in Kaelyn Dugger and Natalie Prosper and sophomore Jada Coggins offering a strong presence in the frontcourt for coach Rashad Muhyee. McIntosh’s Gabby Seiler knows how to fill up the basket. The senior reached the 1000-point plateau just four games into her junior year and she posted 45 points in a game last year for coach David Dowse.

Team that could win state: Forest Park

Region 5

The lineup: A – Allatoona, East Paulding, North Paulding, Paulding County, Rome, Woodland-Cartersville; B – Hiram, Lithia Springs, New Manchester, South Paulding, Villa Rica

Teams to watch: Allatoona, Rome

Players to watch: Elsie Spann, Allatoona; Alexis Ezell, Allatoona; Tashara Jones, Lithia Springs; Zarriah Pierce, Hiram; Rhianna Warren, Villa Rica; Britney Rice, Villa Rica

Strength of region: 4

Last season: Allatoona made the Elite Eight in the AAA tournament; Rome made the quarterfinals in the AAAA tournament before losing to eventual state champ Miller Grove.

The skinny: Rome, which finished 14-1 in Region 7-AAAA, loses three seniors off last year’s quarterfinals squad. Villa Rica loses three seniors off a team that finished in fifth place in Region 5-AAAA last season, just out of the playoff mix. New Manchester will be playing in its second varsity season ever, after a 5-19 inaugural campaign. Allatoona returns three all-region players and should contend for the region title with Rome, Hiram and Villa Rica despite moving up two classifications. Scott Green takes over the head coaching position at North Paulding after a 5-18 season. East Paulding stands to improve on an 8-19 campaign as the Raiders return five seniors after losing just two off last year’s squad.

Team that could win state: Allatoona

Region 6

The Lineup: A – Clarkston, Dunwoody, Lakeside-DeKalb, North Atlanta, Stephenson, Tucker; B – Arabia Mountain, M.L. King, Mays, Miller Grove, Southwest DeKalb

Teams to watch: Miller Grove, Southwest DeKalb, Stephenson

Players to watch: Kaliyah Mitchell, Stephenson; Tashi Thompson, Miller Grove; Klarissa Weaver, Miller Grove; Mariah Wilson, North Atlanta

Strength of region: 5

Last season: Miller Grove defeated Southwest DeKalb for the Class AAAA state title. Stephenson won Region 2-AAAAA and advanced to the second round before falling to state finalist Hillgrove 50-48.

The skinny: Miller Grove won the 2011-12 Class AAAA title thanks to a 16-game winning streak to cap an incredible year. The Lady Wolverines lost Tabitha Fudge but return a host of incredible players including GSWA Class AAAA Player of the Year Tashi Thompson, Klarissa Weaver and Aniefiok Udofia. Miller Grove will once again look to attack down low and play aggressive defense under head coach Renee Breedlove. Southwest DeKalb, which won three straight titles from 2008-10, will need to rebuild on the fly after losing Shayla Rivers and Jasmine Coleman, but Kathy Walton still has Nicole Martin and Deja Clay to work with in the frontcourt. Stephenson’s Kaliyah Mitchell is a star in the post that can bottle up the lane in the halfcourt but also get out and help press and trap when going full-court. She will help Stephenson offensively with her power and her ever-improving mid-range game.

Teams that could win state: Miller Grove, Stephenson

Region 7

The lineup: A – Cambridge, Creekview, Forsyth Central, Northview, Sequoyah; B – Kell, Osborne, Pope, Riverwood, Sprayberry

Teams to watch: Creekview, Kell, Sprayberry

Players to watch: Hannah Hunter, Creekview; Deanna Blankenship, Creekview; Naomi Stuger, Kell; Neena Carter, Sprayberry

Strength of region: 3

Last season: Only Creekview made the second round.

The skinny: Roger Nolan’s Creekview Grizzlies lost just one region game in 7-AAAA last season, but lost four seniors off last year’s squad. However, leading scorer Hannah Hunter (13.2) and leading rebounder Dee Blankenship return. Kell lost just one senior off a team that went 20-5 (13-3 in Region 5-AAAA) and lost to eventual AAAA finalist Southwest DeKalb in the first round of the playoffs. Forward Naomi Stuger returns to anchor the Longhorns in the middle. Sprayberry finished 9-7 in Region 5-AAAA last season and loses just three players. Forward Neena Carter led the Jackets with 17.5 points per game last season. New coach Derrick DeWitt arrives at Sequoyah and will try to make the Chiefs the state power they once were. Sequoyah won state titles in 1994 and 1996.

Teams that could win state: Creekview, Kell

Region 8

The Lineup: A – Apalachee, Flowery Branch, Gainesville, Winder-Barrow; B – Cedar Shoals, Clarke Central, Heritage-Conyers, Loganville, Salem

Teams to watch: Cedar Shoals, Salem

Players to watch: Ayanna Mitchell, Salem; Danielle Thomas, Salem; Ebony Fleming, Clarke Central; Nyasha Craft, Clarke Central

Strength of region: 2

Last season: Gainesville, Clarke Central, Salem and Flowery Branch all lost in the first round of the playoffs.

The skinny: Apalachee will be breaking in a new coach this season in Gary Compton as will Heritage-Conyers with Lauren Chambers. Cedar Shoals’ head coach Harry Bufford is back along with seven other players from last year’s 20-6 team. Ty Davis and LaDaimond Lett provide Bufford with some size in the post. Flowery Branch has Tavia Sykes back along with Marissa Ivey, offering a stout inside-outside game for Hazel Hall. Last year Flowery Branch went 20-9 but suffered an early loss in the playoffs. Salem, meanwhile will look to once again start off hot just as the Seminoles did one year ago before eventually dropping their last two games of the year. Danielle Thomas is quickly rising in recruiting circles across the country, and sophomore Ayanna Mitchell is back after receiving All-State honorable mention recognition last year.

Teams that could win state: Cedar Shoals, Salem

12 comments Add your comment


November 7th, 2012
10:57 am



November 7th, 2012
11:05 am

Elise Spann is the real deal and one of the best point guards in the state! Not sure how far Allatoona will go, but you better believe Elise will be a major part of it. She is definitley a part of any POY discussions.


November 7th, 2012
4:20 pm

If you want the 5A championship Boys or Girls you’ll have to come thru region 6. Another State Championship for DeKalb.

Dekalb County

November 7th, 2012
8:40 pm

Dekalb county girls basketball. Let’s see. Here is the run down. Clarkston – not a good team, lakeside – not a good team, n. Atlanta – mmm, not to sure yet, Stephenson – has an ok team. No stand out player, Tucker – mm, they will do ok. Tucker has those twin girls who are aggressive and will work hard on the court, Arabia Mtn – not a good team, ML King – Not a good team, Mays – some what ok team, Miller Grove – definately the team to beat. Great team chemistry and they work well together on the floor. no one believes they are better than the other and thats what makes them play well together, SWD – not a power house this year. So really this region has no real good teams, so it should be easy for any of the above teams to win the REGION. Let’s see what happens when it is time for STATE..


November 8th, 2012
10:18 am

Please dont sleep on Villa Rica Lady Cats!!!! They are loaded with talent and will be a team to look out for!!!!!


November 8th, 2012
12:53 pm

You can’t replace good coaching. The guy with the blonde hair is back after some illness, as well as N.C. States Nikita Gartrell. The hard work just may be back on the hill. LOok Out.


November 8th, 2012
12:54 pm

Oh , Im speaking of Mays.


November 8th, 2012
4:13 pm

cedar shoals is GOING ALL THE WAY !!!!!!!!! I BELIEVE IN THEM!

Turkey Sandwitch

November 8th, 2012
4:26 pm

The Lady jags are the best in Region 8-AAAAA. The Lady Jags have 8 seniors returning including Tiyonda Davis(Second Team all area) and Quinnesha Turner(All region team, First team all area). The jaguars are going to be tough to beat this 2012-2013 season!

Forsyth County

November 9th, 2012
9:22 am

Your “research” regarding Region 7 is incorrect sir. Forsyth Central’s girls – in their 3rd consecutive appearance in the state tournament – in fact made it to 2nd round of the playoffs last year and lost to eventual state champion MIller Grove by the narrowest margian that Miller Grove had throuhgout the playoffs.
Altough they don’t get a lot of press for basketball up here, those girls have buiit quite a program. They will be young this year, but… only a small handful of teams have made it to the “big dance” 3 years running.


November 9th, 2012
11:33 am

You all better not sleep on Miller Grove. Evryone seems to forget that their Middle School Girls basketball team has won the championship 3 years straight. Where are those girls at now? Guess where, Miller Grove HS. Yep. So that is the team to beat. Unlike other Dekalb schools in the area who keep losing players year after year. You need to ask yourself the question, “Why am I losing players every year?” Something must be wrong with your program. I see Miller Grove girls stay at their school. Unlike STEPHENSON… Also as Stephenson continues to lose girls, they go and recruit girls. So they have a few who are not in the district on the roster. But no worries Dekalb, they are beatable and will be beat by Miller Grove.


November 12th, 2012
7:41 pm

Stephenson recruiting girls? Really, think about what you are saying. Who are they recruiting/or who have they recruited? NO-ONE. They have no talent. Who would go there other than the left overs that other schools don’t want. Besides, to much controversy over there. That is why I removed my daughter and several other parents I know removed their daughters. Problem number is the varsity coach shows favorites and he lets it be known. his favorites can say and do whatever they want. They can mistreat their team-mates and he says nothing. He goes as far as even allowing players to not have to pay dues. The JV coach runs his mouth to much. He talks about other kids to other kids and parents and of course kids share information as do parents. Removing my daughter from the program has been the best move I ever made. Stephenson use to be such a good program, but that is no longer the case. How many people have left since 2009-2010. Count them up coaches… SMDH…. You all need to do better.