Is Sonoraville ready to soar with elite?

One of this season’s success stories has been the ascension of the Sonoraville girls to the top of Region 5 standings.

“It’s really hard to know what to expect going into a season,” said Sonoraville coach Stephanie Caudell. “I knew we had a really good group of kids and great team chemistry, but they have really surpassed my expectations.”

No. 5-ranked Sonoraville was 21-7 last year, but did not reach the state playoffs. This year the Phoenix is 18-1 and riding a nine-game winning streak going into tonight’s game against Cartersville. The Purple Hurricanes are in second place and will be trying to avenge a 54-39 loss to Sonoraville from Dec. 11.

“I attribute our success to a lot of hard work, great team leaders and the willingness of our players to buy into what we’re trying to accomplish,” Caudell said.

The team’s top two players have been Carrie Cheeks, a 6-foor-2 junior post who averages 15.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.9 blocks, and Payton Smith, a 5-7 point guard who averages 11.5 points and 5.2 steals.

Cheeks has been a force on the inside. Caudell said the center is “a great defender and rebounder and keeps getting better on the offensive end.”

Smith is the floor leader who has made herself into a better scorer. “Defensively, she gets her hands on a ton of balls, as is evidenced in her number of steals,” Caudell said.

Sonoraville has played outstanding defense, especially within its league. The girls have allowed 31 or fewer points to six of their region opponents. They’ve not allowed more than 47 points in a league game.

“The challenge is to prepare the same way for each game and not get ahead of ourselves,” Caudell said. “We only have region games remaining, so each game is more important than the last. We just need to keep focusing on getting better leading into tournament play.”

Cedar Grove boys join the hunt

Add the Cedar Grove boys to list of contenders in Region 6. The Saints, who broke into the state rankings at No. 8, officially joined the fray last week whey they beat St. Pius. The only league loss of the season for coach James Martin’s team came in overtime against Woodward Academy.

The Saints are paced by some young players. Sophomore Christopher Frederick averages 10.9 points to lead the team in scoring and is shooting 50 percent from the floor. Freshman Jacari Cross is among the DeKalb County leaders in field goal percentage (56.0). Senior Delvin Thurmond is shooting 53 percent on field goals. Senior Jerome Acie and sophomore Kenneth Lewis are both adept 3-point shooters.

Buford boys, girls continue success

The Buford boys and girls both won holiday events over the weekend.

The No. 1-ranked girls beat Holy Innocents’ 66-43 in the Girls Night Out Classic at Starr’s Mill. Kaela Davis scored 28 points and Kristina Nelson scored 11 for the Wolves, now 13-3.

The No. 4-ranked boys won two games at the Flyin’ to the Hoop Showcase in Dayton, Ohio. Buford defeated Xenia (Ohio) 52-50 on Saturday, with Isaiah Williams scored 17 points and Kyle Doyle getting 14 points and five rebounds. The Wolves beat Fairmont (Ohio) Kettering 67-56 on Monday, as A.J. Davis scored 23 points and grabbed 16 rebounds and Doyle added 23 points and nine rebounds. The boys (13-5) have won nine straight.