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Boys Basketball Previews
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Girls Basketball Previews

Basketball Preview: Buford girls looking for more

Banks County Leopards
Coach: Mike Ruth
Last year’s record: 14-12
Key players: SG Chase Armour, 5-9 Sr.; SG Brett Armour, 5-9 Sr.; C Kevin Daniel, 6-4 Sr.; PG Bill Redmon, 5-7 Sr.
Coach says: The Leopards were primed to be top-heavy with seniors, but lost senior starter Kane Duncan, who transferred to Riverside Military. “We were senior loaded before we lost Duncan,” said Ruth. “Now with a little adversity we will come back and regroup. We’ll be very competitive in our region.”

Buford Wolves
Coach: Milt Travis
Last year’s record: 8-17
Key players: G Zac Lynn, 5-11 Jr. (8 ppg, 3 apg); C Tyshawn Holley, 6-3 Sr. (6 ppg, 4 rpg); PF/C TJ Shipes, 6-6 So. (8 ppg, 6 rpg).
Coach says: “This team worked very hard over the summer and thus far in practice to prepare for the upcoming season,” assistant coach Kayne Gibson said. “This group has the potential to have a good season, if we can improve on our decision making and shooting from a year ago.”

Chestatee War Eagles
Coach: Gary Barnes
Last year’s record: 11-14
Key players: G Lamar Brooks, 6-1 Sr.; F Jackson Chandler, 6-3 Sr.; F Brantley Beck, 6-4 Sr.; G Preston Smith, 6-0 So.
Coach says: Barnes, who enters his first season as Chestatee’s coach, is counting on the seniors to lead and the younger players to improve as the team is extremely inexperienced in most areas. Barnes expects his team to play hard every night and improve as the season progresses.

Commerce Tigers
Coach: Chad Bridges
Last year’s record: 13-13
Key players: PG Anthony Norris, 6-2 Jr.; SG Bubba Bonds, 5-8 Jr.; PF Deon Brock, 5-9 Sr.; PF Channing Anderson, 6-2 Jr.
Coach says: Commerce is looking to replace three starters from last year’s team and has lost Norris for at least six games. “Anthony injured his knee during the summer, (but) we hope to have him back at full speed by Christmas,” said Bridges. “This year’s team should be more athletic than last year.”

Dawson County Tigers
Coach: Thad Burgess
Last year’s record: 16-12
Key players: F Jacob Evans, Jr. (10 ppg, 9 rpg); PG Stephen Scaife, Jr. (8 ppg, 3 spg, 5 apg).
Coach says: Burgess says that while the team has no seniors, the Tigers do have a strong nucleus of juniors, five of which will make up the starting lineup. He also refers to this team as a ‘3-point dominated team’ who’s tasted much success having made the state playoffs each of the last three years.

East Hall Vikings
Coach: Joe Dix
Last year’s record: 12-14
Key players: G Kymmon Woods, 6-4 Jr. (13.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 4.5 apg, 3.5 spg); G Greg Edwards, 6-1 Sr. (8 ppg, 42 3-pointers); C Chaz Cheeks, 6-5 Jr. (7 ppg, 8 rpg); PG Charles Perry, 5-9 Sr. (9 ppg, 6 apg, drew 24 charges)
Coach says: “We must become a better finishing team after shooting just 32 percent as a team last year. If we shoot the ball better, we have a great chance to be a good team,” Dix said. “We have a very tough schedule as well so we will grow up quickly.”

Flowery Branch Falcons
Coach: Duke Mullis
Last year’s record: 16-13
Key players: C Ishmael Hollis, 6-6 Sr. (16 ppg, 8 rpg; led team in points, rebounds, FG percentage in 2008-2009)
Coach says: On the key to the team’s success: “The speed at which most of our players who have little to no varsity experience translate game experience into executing in pressure situations,” Mullis said.

Gainesville Red Elephants
Coach: Todd Cottrell
Last year’s record: 22-9, Region 7-AAA subregion and region Champions, Class AAA semifinals
Key players: G Blake Sims, 6-1 Sr. (12.6 ppg, 4.2 apg, 2.5 spg); G Chris West, 6-3 Sr.; G Ty Redmon, 6-3 Sr.; F A.J. Johnson, 6-3 Jr. (4 ppg, 7.7 rpg).
Coach says: “We like the make up of this season’s team,” Cottrell said. “Even though we will never be able to replace the outstanding players from last season’s final four team, we feel that we have players returning who are very capable of stepping in to fill those roles.”

Habersham Central Raiders
Coach: Don Ledbetter
Last year’s record: 5-18
Key players: SF Kyle Gunter, 6-4 Sr.; SF Kevin Ellison, 5-11 So.; SF Matt Armour, 5-10 Sr.
Coach says: The Raiders look to continue to improve after a rocky 2008-09 season that saw them win only five games. Habersham Central lost five key players, including a pair of 6-4 seniors: Sam Cantrell and Joseph
Lumpkin. Gunter can fill one slot, but the other three seniors (Armour, Zack Myers and Dee Ellison) will have to pick up any remaining slack.

Jackson County Panthers
Coach: Britt Beaver
Last year’s record: 3-17
Key players: G Joseph Smith, 6-1 Sr. (20 ppg, 5 rpg, 79 percent FT); G Alex Crawford, 5-9 Jr. (6 ppg, 9 apg); F Jusamar Harrison, 6-4 Sr. (10 ppg, 10 rpg).
Coach says: Beaver said the Panthers had a busy and productive summer and have worked hard to regroup after sustaining several injuries last season. The Panthers will rely on Smith, the team’s leading scorer for the past two seasons.

Jefferson Dragons
Coach: Bolling DuBose
Last year’s record: 21-5
Key players: PF Hoytes Damons, 6-1 Jr.; J.J. Damons, 6-2 Sr.; PG Darius Minor, 6-1 Sr.
Coach says: Jefferson was on quite a roll last season during the regular season, winning 12 straight leading into the Region 8-AA tourney. However, the season ended abruptly with consecutive loses to North Oconee and Union County. DuBose has plenty of talent on this year’s squad with great athletes such as the Damons’ and Minor.

Johnson Knights
Coach: Jeff Steele
Last year’s record: 13-12
Key players: SF Tre Dudley, 6-1 Sr.; SG Matt Hollis, 5-11 So.; SG Grant Cagle, 6-4 Sr.; SG Chris Henry, 6-0 Sr.
Coach says: “We will be relying on our defensive effort and intensity this season,” Steele said. “This year, we seem to have much more team chemistry and better leadership within the team. We hope this will carry us to a successful season.”

Lakeview Academy Lions
Coach: Seth Vining
Last year’s record: 18-11
Key players: PG Daniel Olvera, 6-2 Sr. (7.2 ppg, 56 steals); G Jordan Chastain, 6-1 Sr. (6.5 ppg, drew 18 charges); F Ross Bielger, 6-3 Sr. (4.7 ppg, 75 rebounds).
Coach says: “Eleven players return from last year’s varsity, plus several talented freshmen,” Vining said. “We must replace first-team all-region (performers) Haughton Carswell and Tyler Ward. We have a most difficult schedule and we have good depth and should get better throughout the season. We hope to compete for a region championship.”

Lumpkin County Indians
Coach: Bobby Smith
Last year’s record: 13-11
Key players: PG E.J. Young, 5-10 Sr.; G Austin Tolbert, 5-9 Sr.; G/F Taylor Guthrie, 6-6 Jr.
Coach says: According to Smith, while the loss of center Shawn Chapman left Lumpkin County with less size, the Indians are a quicker team this year. The Indians will ‘heavily rely’ on point guard Young to set the tone on offense and defense. He will be complimented by fellow starters Tolbert, Lemarco Lewis and Guthrie, who are all skilled players and will be relied upon to contribute scoring and solid defensive play.

North Hall Trojans
Coach: Benjie Wood
Last year’s record: 21-9
Key players: SF Chase Syfan, 6-0 Sr.; SG Robby Hill, 5-9 Sr.; G Robert Humphrey, 5-11 Sr.; PF Trevor Ross, 6-1 Sr.; SG Ty Smith, 5-11 Sr.
Coach says: “We’re all guards, so we must run the floor to get easy shots and shoot the ball to offset our lack of size,” Wood said.

Riverside Military Eagles
Coach: Rico Zackery
Last year’s record: 15-7, Region 8-AA champions
Key players: PF Brandon McKinney, 6-6 Sr. (16 ppg, 11 rpg.); SG Richard Tribble, 6-1 Sr. (12 ppg, 8 apg); PF Dylen Setzekorn, 6-5 Sr (11 ppg, 7 rpg).
Coach says: “We must defend, limit our turnovers and play team basketball,” Zackery said.

Towns County Indians
Coach: Chet Kendall
Last year’s record: 6-15
Key players: Matt Beni, 5-10 Sr.; Will Adkins, Sr.; John Bleckley, 6-4 Sr.
Coach says: The Indians start the season with a more experienced team than last year and boast a roster with five seniors and five juniors, while losing only three seniors from last season: Ezekiel Gribble, Andy Page and Chase Ellis.

Union County Panthers
Coach: Tim Hunter
Last year’s record: 10-20
Key players: SG Coleman Sullivan, 5-9 Jr.; PF Trey Thomas, 6-0 Jr.; SG Seth Merritt, 6-2 Jr.; C Jake Gooch, 6-6 Jr.
Coach says: “Our focus is to be extremely disciplined offensively and defensively and keep the pace of the game slow,” said Hunter. “We should be much more deep this season so we will look to push the ball a little more in transition and to increase our defensive pressure. Our goal is always to be the team that no one really wants to face at the end of the season.”

White County Warriors
Coach: Mark Carroll
Last year’s record: 7-18
Key players: F Luke Crumley, 6-5 Jr. (14 ppg, 8 rpg); PG Ashely Lowery, 6-2 Jr. (13 ppg, 6 rpg); G Tyler Dotson, 5-11 Sr. (8 ppg); G Luke Fincher, 5-11 Sr. (5 ppg).
Coach says: “This year should be an improvement over last year’s 7-18 team,” Carroll said. “With four starters back and seven players with varsity experience, we should be an improved team.”

West Hall Spartans
Coach: Warren Sellers
Last year’s record: 24-7
Key players: PF Shunquez Stephens, 6-4 Jr. (15.8 ppg, 8.5 rpg); PG Jarquise Young, 5-7 Jr. (5 ppg); SF Manny Mata, 5-10 Sr.; F Dylan Bartlett, 6-4 Sr., C William Stroup, 6-6 Jr.
Coach says: “We have some quality young players coming up from a successful junior varsity team last year,” Sellers said. “Stroup and Stephens are recovering from injuries sustained during football, and we plan to be in the thick of a good 7-AAA region.”
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