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Area Girls Basketball: 2007-2008 Previews

POSTED: November 15, 2007 5:03 a.m.

East Hall

Coach: Joey Rider

Region: 7A-AAA

2006-07 record: 31,1, 14-1 Won the Lanierland, Region 7-AAA and Class AAA State championships

Returning starters: C Sada Wheeler (6-3, Sr.)

Key losses: SG Kela Coleman; PG Leania Bulloch; SF Lisa Coleman; C Jennifer Harris

Key newcomers: SG Hannah Strickland (5-9, Jr.); SG Erin McGonigle (5-8 Jr.); PG Dorreka Faulkner (5-6, Soph.); C Kristina Harris (5-10 Jr.); PF Symone Hampton (5-10, Jr.)

Notable: The Lady Vikings lone returning starter, Wheeler, was also their leading scorer and rebounder in 2006 averaging 13.1 points per game. ... East Hall has no freshmen on its roster and only two sophomores. ...Ten of the 12 girls on East Hall’s roster are 5-foot-8 or above, Wheeler and Tierra Benton, the two starters in the post are 6’3 and 6’2 respectively.

Key to success: The key to the Lady Vikings’ success lies in how quickly the inexperienced become experienced and the immature, mature. If East Hall plans on playing an up-tempo style they need to be able to go to the bench and bring in players that can give solid minutes, not just be bodies on the floor.

Gainesville

Coach: Manson Hill

Region: 7B-AAA

2006-07 record: 13-11, 6-4; Lost in first round of state tournament

Returning starters: PG Kiana Glasper (5-4, Soph.); PG Taylor Ricketts (5-3, Jr.); F Loren Thomas (5-6, Soph.); G Kiki Thompson (5-3, Jr.); F Abby Musslewhite (5-11, Sr.)

Key losses: F Tierra Washington, G Erin Tyre, F Ashley Burce

Key newcomers: F Jaymee Carnes (6-2, Soph.)

Notable: The Lady Elephants have a lot of experience and depth returning to their team. ... Hill said his team has four or five really good post players and won’t sturggle to score. ... Gainesville only has two seniors and six juniors on its roster. ... The Lady Elephants will benefit from newcomer Jaymee Carnes the most. She is Gainesville’s second player over 6-foot. ... Gainesville has at least seven players returning from last season that saw significant playing time. ... Gainesville lost to East Hall 39-35 in the Region 7-AAA tournament finals. ... The Lady Elephants will open their season Nov. 17 against Roswell in the South Forsyth Turkey Shootout.

Key to success: Defense and rebounding. Hill said his team has to get better defensively and still isn’t certain how strong it can rebound. If the defense catches up with the offense, Gainesville could be a contender in the region.

Chestatee

Coach: Web Daniel

Region: 7A-AAA

2006-07 record: 14-12, 7-8

Returning starters: F Erica Lackey (6-0, Sr., three-year starter); G Kasey Smith (5-7, Sr.)

Key losses: C Julianne Worley, F Jaymee Carnes

Key newcomers: G Megan Wilbanks (5-6, Jr.); G Chelsea Wilson (5-9, Soph.); C Peyton
Robertson (6-2, Fr.).

Notable: Coach Web Daniel said that his team is completely different from last year’s squad, which took advantage of size. This year’s squad, he says, will be smaller but quicker. ... The Lady War Eagles will run a basic motion offense and a man-to-man defense. ... The addition of Peyton Robertson gives Chestatee the biggest boost, especially after F Jaymee Carnes transferred to Gainesville. ... Experience and depth may be problems this year, as Chestatee has only two seniors and two juniors. ... Chestatee opens its season Nov. 17 in the Grey Hound Thanksgiving Tournament.

Key to success: Coach Web Daniel said that the faster his team gets used to a quicker style of play, the sooner they succeed. That includes learning how to play a high-pressure defense and shooting the ball better outside the paint. The Lady War Eagles will not be able to rely on their size this year, like last year.

North Hall

Coach: Debbie Blake

Region: 7A-AAA

2006-07 record: 17-12, 4-6; lost in first round of state tournament

Returning starters: PG Elizabeth Williams (5-7, Sr. 10 ppg, 4.5 apg); C Letiecia Davenport (6-0, Sr., 17 ppg, 10 rpg).

Key losses: F Beth Ann Hamilton (8 ppg); G Brandi Syfan (7 ppg); G Brittney Crews (5 ppg)

Key newcomers: F Ana Porras (5-10, Sr.); G Bradee Burrell (5-10, Jr.); G Megan Carr (5-4, Jr.); G Shannon Haire (5-6, So.); F Mallory Rich (5-10, So.)

Notable: North Hall returns a pair of talented seniors in Elizabeth Williams and Letiecia Davenport to the court this season. ... Davenport is one of the best scoring threats inside the paint in Region 7-AAA, and worked on developing more versatile moves during the summer, according to Blake. Williams is one of the scrappiest defensive players and is willing to sacrifice her body on the floor for the team. Both Williams and Davenport spent the summer playing Nike AAU basketball during the summer to become more well-rounded players. ... North Hall lost one of its would-be seniors Brittney Crews when she moved to Jefferson.

Key to success: Blake’s emphasis is on physical, aggressive play and fluid transition running the court. The Trojans will be successful this season if they can develop some of the younger talent to match the veteran leaders.

"It’s always a tough road in Region 7-AAA," coach Blake said.

Johnson

Coach: Michael Youngblood

Region: 7B-AAA

2006-07 record: 14-13, 4-4; lost in first round of state playoffs to Carrollton

Returning starters: PG Shekeria Cooper (5-5, Sr. 4 apg.); SG Aryelle Bagley (5-9, Sr. 4 rpg.); SG Jordan Gustavel (5-10, Jr. 8 ppg.).

Key losses: C Laura Simmons (18 ppg.); PG Kady Farley (6 apg.); SG Alli Benefield (6 rpg.)

Key newcomers: G Annabeth Peace (5-8, Jr.); F Ansley Benefield (5-9, Jr.)

Notable: The Knights made a late season run last season into the playoffs that second year coach Michael Youngblood hopes they can translate into a strong season from beginning to end. ... Johnson returns seven players with experience at the varsity level, so depth isn’t going to be a primary concern. According to Youngblood, the Knights are going to continue to implement a fast-tempo game plan to help score points in transition.

"If we can shoot well, I like our chances," Youngblood said.

Key to success: After the graduation of Simmons, the Knights need to develop a primary scoring threat. Gustavel looks poised to take over that role after scoring eight points per game last season. Johnson can use its size to its advantage with five players standing at least 5-foot-8.

Flowery Branch

Coach: Angela Middleton

Region: 7B-AAA

2006-07 record: 6-16, 3-7

Returning starters: SG Jessica Harper (5-5, Soph.); SG Molly May (5-6, Sr.)

Key losses: SG Courtney Newton (averaged 24.6 points per game and 7.7 rebounds).

Notable: May and Harper were honorable mentions on The Times All-Area girls basketball team in 2006...the Lady Falcons open their season by playing host to Class A St. Francis at 6 p.m. Nov. 21.

Key to success: Making up for the scoring void left when Newton graduated and took her talents to the University of South Carolina.

West Hall

Coach: Lynn Jarrett

Region: 7B-AAA

2006-07 record: 3-21, 1-11

Returning starters: F Jayla Moon (6-0, Jr); F Kim Smigelsky (5-8, Sr); PG Savanna Rowe (5-7, Sr.)

Key losses: C Katelyn McFall

Key newcomers: PF Tiffany Black (5-10, Sr.); G Bailey Soucie (5-7, Soph.); G Shelley Smith (5-7, Sr.)

Notable: The Lady Spartans should not be lacking in depth with five seniors and two juniors on the starting roster. ... The team was dealt a blow this summer when starting point guard Savanna Rowe went down with a knee injury. ... West Hall’s only win in the subregion last year came against Gilmer, 55-44. ... This is Jarrett’s third year as coach of West Hall. She expects an improved team with more experience and excitement. ... The Lady Spartans open their season Nov. 17 against Forsyth Central before competing in the South Forsyth Turkey Shootout.

Key to success: Improving on last year’s record should be possible. The faster Rowe recovers, the faster the Lady Spartans will know how good they could be. West Hall will have to rely heavily on its core of seniors.

Lakeview Academy

Coach: Buster Brown

Region: 8N-A

2006-07 record: 15-12, 9-3...ended the season by losing to Landmark Christian in the first round of the state tournament.

Returning starters: PG Janelle Francis (5-7 Sr.), Brittany Moore (5-5, Soph.), Brooke Windle (5-6 Sr.), Louisa Jacobs (5-8, Soph.), Meghan Rochester (5-7, Soph.)

Key losses: Lydiann Jacobs (5-10), Kate Norton (5-10), Nadia Muhanna (5-10)

Notable: The Lady Lions are young and small, there backup point guard from last year, Louisa Jacobs, will be a starting post player this year...Lakeview is, according to coach Buster Brown, "starting from scratch," and as a result focused on the fundamentals of the game during the summer and early part of the season...the Lady Lions begin the season by hosting Union County on Nov. 27.

Key to success: According to Lakeview coach Buster Brown, "We are going to have to keep our heads up when times are tough and we are going to have tough times early. We have to keep confidence level up so that we can come together and be there at the end when it matters."

Buford

Coach: Gene Durden

Region: 6-AA

2006-07 record: 19-12, 7-7; last season advanced to state quarterfinals

Returning starters: F Jocely Danley (5-10, Jr.; 8 ppg, 8 rpg.); PG Michelle Godwin (5-5, Jr.; 5 ppg); P Abby Johnson (5-10, Jr.; 5 ppg); P Audrey Dorsey (5-8, Jr.); SG Jennifer Tucker (5-6, Sr.).

Key losses: SG Victoria Peevy (10 ppg.); C Sarah Scott; SG Kelly Tucker (8 ppg.)

Key newcomers: G Blanche Alverson (6-3, Jr.); F Sara Dempsey (5-7, Jr.); G Katie Lynn (5-6, Jr.); PG Channe Carson (5-6, Jr.)

Notable: The Lady Wolves are loaded to make a run at perennial powers Wesleyan and Greater Atlanta Christian for the Region championship in 6-AA. ... Buford has solid depth that goes about 10 deep with most of those players having playing experience on the Lady Wolves’ run to the AA state quarterfinals last season. Buford also added another big time player when 6-foot-3 Blanche Alverson moved in from Andalusia, Ala. this year. According to coach Gene Durden, she averaged 10-12 points last season at here previous school and already has offers on the table from Auburn, Arkansas and Penn. State.

"Our ability to play strong defense and press is going to be one of our strong points this season," Durden said.

Key to success: Seizing the opportunity. The Lady Wolves play in the toughest region in the state as evident by the fact that Wesleyan and Greater Atlanta Christian played in the state championship game last season. Wesleyan is always a team to beat. GAC lost all five starters from its state championship squad. The Lady Wolves should be considered an early season favorite.

White County

Coach: Jody Watkins

Region: 7A-AAA

2006-07 record: 16-9; 9-7

Returning starters: G Kayla English (5-11, Sr.); PG Lindsey Wiley (5-6, Sr.)

Key losses: Erica Crumley, Addi Post, Kara
Pilgrim

Key newcomers: SG Kaley Dover (5-5, Jr.); SG Hillary Kinsey (5-7, Sr.); P Amanda Watkins (5-9, Sr.); G Kristen Jarrard (5-8, Jr.); PG Morgan Ledford (5-4, Fr.); P Lindsey Messmore (5-9, So.).

Notable: The Lady Warriors usher in first year coach Jody Watkins, who spent the past four seasons at Banks County. She also spent a season as assistant coach with Truett-McConnell. According to Watkins, a strength in the early stages is the competitive nature of the Lady Warriors. White County’s new coach also likes her team’s quickness and ability to run the floor.

"We did lose some key players from last season, but I feel like we’ll be able to compete," Watkins said.

Key to success: White County is going to have to get the most out of its two returning starters Kayla English and Lindsey Wiley. The Lady Warriors are going to have about six new players hit the court this season that have limited varsity experience or didn’t play at all last season. According to Watkins, freshman Morgan Ledford is probably going to hit the floor early in the season.

Lumpkin County

Coach: Jill Armstrong

Region: 7A-AAA

2006-07 record: 17-10, 9-6

Returning starters: SG Ashley Brown (Jr.), C Lacey Wallingford (Jr.), SG Bailey Whitaker-Lea (Sr.)

Key losses: PF Autumn Shedd (Sr.), SG Holly Farmer (Sr.), C Emily Lott (Sr.)

Notable: The Lady Indians are returning their leading scorer from last year, Brown. ... New coach Jill Armstrong, who is replacing Greg Murray who took a coaching job at North Georgia College and State University, is a 1987 graduate of East Hall High where she was a standout basketball player for the Lady Vikings. ... Lumpkin County was had four wins to seven losses against Hall County competition last year in only its second year in Class AAA.

Key to success: With four players returning in 2007 who saw significant playing time on varsity in 2006 (Brown, Wallingford, Whitaker-Lea and sophomore Cara Malone) Lumpkin County’s key to success will be in-game leadership. If those four players, including 2006 leading scorer Brown, keep their wits about them the Lady Indians could be a team to watch in just their second year in Region 7-AAA.

Jackson County

Coach: Chad Pittman

Region: 8A-AAAA

2006-07 record: 3-18, 1-12

Returning starters: F Alyssa Esco (5-8 Sr.); SF Haley Zorn (5-8, Sr.); G Canzuelo Rodriguez (5-7. Sr.)

Key losses: SF Brooke Hughes; G Jessica Robinson

Notable: According to Coach Chad Pittman, who is entering his seventh year at the helm, is in the process of a rebuilding year this season. ... With the opening of East Jackson High this year, Jackson County lost 10 players off its roster. ... The Panthers improved greatly during the summer, and team camaraderie will play a huge role this year. ... Jackson County has no juniors on its roster this year, as sophomores and five freshman will see significant playing time this season. Currently, freshmen Ashley Skelton, Brianna Drew and Emily Elrod are all vying for roles on the starting lineup.

Keys to success: With the array of young players, Jackson County must improve quickly on its ability to play at an up-tempo style of play. The progress of the freshman/sophomores will heavily impact the Panthers’ level of success.

Jefferson

Coach: Jason Gibson

Region: 8N-A

2006-07 record: 19-11, 7-1, lost in 2nd round of state playoffs

Returning starters: PG MiMi DuBose (5-7, Jr.); SG Caroline Adams (5-7 Jr.); SF Emily Jacobs (5-11, Jr.)

Key losses: SF Marti Davis; PF Amanda Lampley; SG Tylena Moon

Key newcomers: G Brittany Crews (5-6, Sr); SG Danielle Busch (5-7, Sr.); PG Whitney Vinson (5-4, Sr.); SG Callie Holloway (5-3, Jr.); PF
Brittany Digby (5-9, Jr.); Kristina Reynolds (Soph.); PG Erin Knight (5-6, Soph.); SG Marcayla Hester (5-6, Soph.)

Notable: Jefferson returns Region 8-A’s Player of the Year MiMi Dubose, who averaged 15.8 points per game and 6.9 assists per game as a sophomore. ... Lady Dragons’ coach Jason Gibson will look for North Hall transfer Brittany Crews, Caroline Adams and Callie Holloway to provide leadership and scoring on the perimeter. ... Junior forward Emily Jacobs returns as the anchor in the paint to provide inside scoring and rebounding. ... Seniors Kayla Adams, Whitney Vinson and Danielle Busch will add perimeter depth and scoring. ... Kristina Reynolds and Brittany Digby will add much needed depth in the post, along with an inside scoring punch.

Key to success: If the Lady Dragons stay healthy, a run back to the Class A state playoffs should be possible. With a solid core of upper classmen, look for the Lady Dragons to make some noise in Region 8-A.

Habersham Central

Coach: Amy Hood

Region: 8A-AAAA

2006-07 record: 8-16, 5-9

Returning starters: None

Key losses: PG Cathy Caroline, SF Courtney Cantrell, PF Kayla Lovell, SG Nicole Hood, PF Ansley Pealock, PF Katie Barron, PF Lauren Bellamy.

Key newcomers: C Samantha Shouppe (6-3, Sr., 8 ppg); SF Jade Herrin (5-6, Sr.)

Notable: Habersham Central will not look much like the team that took the court last year. Including first-year coach Amy Hood, the Lady Raiders will be replacing their starting five from 2006-2007. ... Despite losing six seniors from last year’s squad, Habersham will have six seniors on this year’s squad. Their experience, however, has been limited. ... Habersham Central ended its season last year on a three-game losing streak, including a loss to Rockdale County in the first round of the region tournament.

Key to success: Cohesiveness. This completely new team has to come together quick to improve on last year’s eight wins.

Banks County

Coach: Jerry King

Region: 8B-AA

2006-07 record: 13-10, 2-6

Returning starters: C Andrea Hunter (5-11, Sr.)

Key losses: Kayla Parks and Ashley Blevins

Key newcomers: Lauren Kennedy (Jr.); Lacy Saxon (Jr.)

Notable: Jerry King steps in to take the helm at Banks County, following a six-year stint as the assistant coach at Franklin County High. ... According to King, the Lady Leopards are in the process of learning a new offensive system and working hard on improving on a daily basis. ... Banks County has a large nucleus of juniors and a great deal of freshman who hope to build a strong program in the years to come.

Key to success: If one thing is apparent before the season tips off, it’s that Banks County can’t go anywhere but up. Depending on how fast the Lady Leopards learn King’s new system, and if they can continue to work hard, watch Banks County to begin its transition to a Region 8-AA team to contend with on a yearly basis.

Dawson County

Coach: Steve Sweat

Region:8B-AA

2006-07 record: 10-16, 1-7

Returning starters: C Rachel Biddy (5-10, Sr.); SG Katie Lebel (5-8, Sr.), PG Katelyn Westbrook (5-9, Sr.).

Key losses: PG Heather Wehunt

Key newcomers: PG Amanda Daly

Notable: The Lady Tigers bring a wealth of experience to the 2007-2008 season. Dawson County has nine seniors on its roster and return the majority of its scoring from last year. ... Dawson County relies heavily on a press-style of defense. ... The Lady Tigers opened the 2006-2007 season with consecutive wins over Athens Christian but only won consecutive games once more.

Key to success: Coach Steve Sweat plans on emphasizing teamwork this season, saying every player must do their part for this to be a successful year. That includes being prepared for every region game. Offensively, the Lady Tigers need to have better shot selection and make the shots they are supposed to.

Commerce

Coach: Eddie McCurley

Region: 8N-A

2006-07 record: 2-17, 0-12

Returning starters: G Brittany Sewell (Sr.); C Terra Hancock (Sr.); SG Kaylin Canup (Sr.)

Notable: Senior guard Brittany Sewell enters her fourth year as a starter on the Commerce roster. ... Terra Hancock and Caylin Canup, who have also seen playing time since their freshman campaigns, should help provide court experience and leadership this year. ... Sophomores Jesse Flint and Brittany Beauchamp will both see a great deal of playing time this year for the Lady Tigers.

Key to success: Eddie McCurley enters his first year as head coach at Commerce, and depending on how fast the Lady Tigers pick up on his new system could play a major role on Commerce’s success in the 2007-08 season.



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