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High school basketball: Boys Previews
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High school basketball: Season Preview

High school basketball: Girls Previews

Starting five

Boys Basketball

Joshua Hampton

Sr., East Hall

Position: Guard

Height: 6-1

Notable: Averaged 19 points per game, 3.4 assists per game, 2.5 steals per game and was a 47 percent 3-point shooter in leading the Vikings to the third round of the state playoffs.

TJ Shipes

Sr., Buford

Position: Forward/center

Height: 6-8

Notable: Averaged 14.8 points per game, 8.6 rebound per game, 2.1 blocks per game, and shot 62 percent from the field to lead the Wolves to the Class AA state championship game.

Matt Hollis

Sr., Johnson

Position: Guard

Height: 5-11

Stats: Hollis averaged 23 points per game for the Knights as a junior.

Keelan Passmore

Jr., Chestatee

Position: Guard

Height: 6-0

Stats: Averaged 16.5 points per game, 4 assists per game, 3 rebounds per game and 3 steals per game for the War Eagles last season.

Shaquan Cantrell


Position: Forward

Height: 6-4

Notable: Averaged 10 points and 5 rebounds per game for the Red Elephants in 2010-2011.

Boys Previews

Banks County

Coach: Mike Cleveland

Region: 8-AA North

2010-2011 record: 6-18

Returning Starters: G Adam Hiten (5-9, Sr.), G Jacob Blalock (5-10, Sr.)

Key newcomers: F Greg Canon (Jr.), F Gaitlin Boswell (So.), F Graham White (So.), F Brenton Ruark (Sr.), C Isaiah Smith (So.)

Notable: Cleveland will be in his first year on the sidelines for the Leopards after spending the last four years at Hart County. ... As the head man in Hartwell, he had a combined record of 80-32, including a 36-15 region record. ... Luckily for Cleveland he will have plenty of senior leadership to help with the transition; he expects all seven seniors to contribute regularly this season.


Coach: Allen Whitehart

Region: 6A-AA

2010-11 record: 24-9, Lost in Class AA state championship game

Returning starters: PF TJ Shipes 

(6-8, Sr; 14.8 ppg, 8.6 rpg); SG Kyle Kellam (6-1, Sr.; 10 ppg)

Key losses: PG Alex Flagler (13 ppg), G Zac Lynn (8 ppg)

Key newcomers: SF Brad Mapes (6-5, Jr.); PG Isaiah William (6-0, Jr.)

Notable: Whitehart has a team that he says could potentially get back to the state finals. ... The team relies on an up-tempo offense created from defense. ...Former Greater Atlanta Christian star A.J. Davis (12.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg) is now at Buford, but he is not currently playing on the varsity team, although he is suiting up for junior varsity, according to the coach. ... Shipes has committed to Georgia State.


Coach: Gary Barnes

Region: 8-AAA North

2010-11 record: 5-20, Lost in first round of region tournament

Returning starters: G Cole Morgan (6-4, Sr.; 15 ppg); G Keelan Passmore (6-0, Jr.; 14.5 ppg, 5 apg); F Lucas Bennett (6-3, Sr.); G Jordan Degraff (6-1, Jr.)

Key losses: PG Scott Chewning

Key newcomers: G Austin Larsen (6-0, So.); PG Justin Jones (5-11, So.); F Kelly Arthur (6-2, Jr.); G Kirk Schneider (6-1, So.)

Notable: The War Eagles won just five games a season ago, but finished strong with four wins in region play. ... Chestatee struggled on offense at times last season, but the experience and scoring abilities of Morgan and Passmore should help the team improve. ... Barnes said the team had a strong offseason in the weight room, summer camps and preseason workouts, and he expects it to transfer onto the court.


Coach: Chad Bridges

Region: 8-A

2010-2011 record: 20-7, lost in second round of state playoffs

Returning starters: None

Key losses: G Tyler Gamble (11 ppg), G Brandon Romans (17 ppg), G Bubba Bonds (10 ppg), G Anthony Norris (10 ppg), F Channing Anderson (9 ppg, 8 rpg)

Key newcomers: G Thomas McMillan (6-3, Jr.); G Chase Klugh (6-0, Sr.); G/F Robert Hayes (6-3, Jr.)

Notable: Commerce must replace its entire starting roster this season with a young Tiger team that only has two seniors. ... The Tigers expect to start two sophomores and one freshman. ... In his fifth season, Bridges is looking forward to a new challenge this year. The Tigers will play at a slower pace than they did last year due to inexperience and spend more focus on being a solid defensive team.

Dawson County

Coach: Thad Burgess

Region: 8-AA North

2010-11 record: 16-9; Lost in second round of region tournament

Returning starters: G Tyler Dominy (6-4, Jr.; 17 ppg)

Key losses: SG Jacob Evans (16 ppg, 10 rpg)

Key newcomers: G Will Anglin (5-10, Jr.); G Lucas Pain (6-4, So.); F Bruce Clark (6-4, Jr.)

Notable: Burgess said he expects Dominy, who averaged a team-high 17 points per game last year, to have a breakout season for the Tigers. ... With only one senior and one returning starter on the roster, the Tigers will count on a number of young players to step up. ... The Tigers will try to make it back to the state tournament after last season’s early exit in the region tournament that broke a string of four consectuve appearances at state.

East Hall

Coach: Joe Dix

Region: 8-AA North

2010-11 record: 26-6; lost in state quarterfinals

Returning starters: F Chris Orr (6-5, Sr.; 8 ppg, 6 rpg, 125 blocked shots); G Joshua Hampton (6-2, Sr.; 20 ppg)

Key losses: C Sterling Bailey (9 ppg, 14 rpg, 2.7 bpg); G/F Kymon Woods (14 ppg, 4 apg, 3.7 spg); F Chaz Cheeks (4 ppg, 6 rpg)

Notable: East Hall will look to defend its Region 8-AA title and return to the state championship game for the first time since 2007. ...The Vikings reached the championship game six times in the past decade, winning titles in 2001, 2003 and 2005. ...East Hall was 256-53 over the last decade. ... After losing three starters, the Vikings will be looking for big contributions from forward T.D. Teasley (6-3 Sr.), guard Hayden Chapman (6-2 Jr.) and forward Daniel McCreavy (6-3 Jr.).

Flowery Branch

Coach: Duke Mullis

Region: 8-AAAA

2010-11 record: 9-17

Returning starters: G Tyler McBroom (6-0, Sr.; 4 ppg), F James Hodges (6-0, So.; 7 ppg, 4 rpg).

Key losses: PG Rudy Deaza (8 ppg, 3 apg), F Marquise Wise (7 ppg, 5 rpg)

Key newcomers: G/F Kanler Coker (6-4, Sr.)

Notable: The Falcons have been shut out of the postseason each of the past two seasons, but are looking to get back in the chase for the postseason with the addition of a key inside player. ... Coker brings size and experience to Flowery Branch after starting for three seasons at North Hall. ... Flowery Branch opens with a tough stretch with games against East Hall on Dec. 2 and North Hall on Dec. 3 right off the bat.


Coach: Todd Cottrell

Region: 8-AAA South

2010-11 record: 19-9; Lost in first round of state playoffs

Returning starters: F Shaquan Cantrell (6-4 Jr.; 10 ppg, 5 rpg)

Key losses: F/C A.J. Johnson (10 ppg, 9 rpg)

Key newcomers: C Ty Brown (6-3); F Garfield Hart (6-2); F Jeremiah Ledbetter (6-3); G Ty Cockfield (5-10); G Kane Smith (6-1)

Notable: Gainesville plays in one of the most difficult regions in the state; the last three region champs have advanced to the state final. ...The Red Elephants also play a tough non-region schedule, with games against East Hall, McEachern, Rabun County, Carrollton and Christ School of North Carolina, which was nationally ranked last season. ... Cottrell is expecting big things out of sophomore Deshaun Watson, who averaged nine points and four rebounds per game last season.

Habersham Central

Coach: Don Ledbetter

Region: 8-AAAA

2010-11 record: 17-8

Returning starters: G/F Pat Burns (6-1, Sr.; 14.2 ppg, 5 rpg, 3 apg, 3 spg); G/F Kevin Ellison (6-0, Sr.; 13.2 ppg, 6 rpg, 4 spg, 3 apg)

Key losses: Cody Anderson, Jake Brooks, Chasten Howard, Brian Owen, Jordan Sanders

Notable: Despite the loss of five key contributors, Ledbetter said this year’s team could be more talented than the one that tied for the second most wins in a season in the program’s history. ... Burns and Ellison will again lead the Raiders; both were football standouts, as well. ... Ledbetter is looking for 6-4 center Justin Banks and 6-2 forward Slater McCullough to step up. ... Sophomore Conner McCullough is the leading candidate at point guard.

Jackson County

Coach: Britt Beaver

Region: 8-AA South

2010-11 record: 12-13

Returning starters: PF Jared Scott (6-1, Sr.; 10 ppg, 8 rpg); SG Kolin Zimmer (6-0, Sr.; 18 ppg, 3 spg, 89 percent FT)

Key losses: PG Alex Crawford (8 ppg, 6 apg, 4 rpg, 3 spg), G Jarvis Shaw, G Nick Oney

Notable: The Panthers lost six seniors from last year’s team, which was the program’s winningest in more than a decade at Jackson County. ... Replacing Crawford, a four-year starter, will be crucial. ... 5-10 sophomore Xavier Harper, a wide receiver for the football team, could get the call at point guard. ... Of the 25 players in the Panthers program, 18 are freshmen and sophomores.


Coach: Bolling DuBose

Region: 8-AA South

2010-11 record: 15-12, lost in second round of region tournament

Returning starters: PG Andre Daniel (5-11, Sr.); SG Austin Thompson (5-10, Sr.; 12 ppg); C Dustin Casey (6-2, Sr.)

Key newcomers: PF Will Puckett (6-4, Sr.)

Notable: With a strong core returning, DuBose believes he has a team that can challenge 8-AA’s elite teams. ... The backcourt should be a strength, with both starters back. ... Daniel led the team in assists last year and is the team’s best defender, DuBose said. ... Jefferson expects to be dangerous from beyond the 3-point line with at least six capable shooters. ... Puckett, the team’s tallest player, is back after missing last year due to injury. ... The Dragons advanced to the Class AA semifinals in 2009.


Coach: Jeff Steele

Region: 8-AAA South

2010-11 record: 12-15

Returning starters: G Matt Hollis (6-0, Sr.; 22 ppg), F Ty Odem (6-2, Sr.; 12 ppg, 10 rpg), F A.J. Benefield (6-3, Sr.), G Jalen Bowens (5-11, Sr.; 9 ppg), F Cedric Harris (6-1, Jr.; 7 rpg).

Key losses: F Cam Schofield (6 ppg).

Key newcomers: F Montrell McKenzie (6-5, Jr.), G Drew Dunham (5-10, So.), G Carter Cagle (6-4, So.), F Chris Howard (6-6, Sr.).

Notable: The Knights will have some of the best depth and experience in the region this season with five returning starters and talented young prospects. ... Hollis is one the area’s most prolific scores and was a Times Second Team All-Area pick in 2011. ... Odem also averaged a double-double last year. ... Harris is the only member of the starting five for the Knights who is not a senior.

Lakeview Academy

Coach: Seth Vining

Region: 8A-A

2010-11 record: 14-12; Lost in first round of region tournament

Returning starters: SG Austin Pearson (6-0, Sr.; 12 ppg); C Austin Montgomery (6-8, Jr.; 9 ppg); SG Matt Askounis (6-0, Sr.; 6 ppg); SG Derek Fadool (6-2, Sr.; 5 ppg)

Key losses: Jackson Wells (10 ppg, 9 rpg); Jake Kendrick (5 ppg, 4 rpg)

Key newcomers: PG Rick Valentine (5-10, Jr.); SF Joel Larsen (6-3, Jr.)

Notable: The Lions have put together six consecutive winning seasons. ... Vining said he expects 10 to 12 players to contribute on a nightly basis, and noted the starting lineup could change nightly as well. ... The Lions play a difficult schedule with eight of the first 12 games against teams in Class AAA and three of the other four games against state tournament teams.

Lumpkin County

Coach: Chris Guthrie

Region: 8-AAA North

2010-11 record: 8-18; Lost in first round of region tournament

Returning starters: PG Devonte Anderson (5-10, Sr.; 6 ppg, 2 spg); C Hunter Polk (6-5, Sr.; 9 ppg, 52 percent FG)

Key losses: PG Taylor Guthrie (11 ppg, 6 rpg)

Key newcomers: SF Cain Almedia (6-0, Sr.); PF Jacob Haskel (6-4, Jr.)

Notable: Seven of 13 players on the varsity team are sophomores, as compared to just three seniors on the roster. ... The Indians must replace Taylor Guthrie, the leading scorer the last two years; Polk, one of the best scorers a season ago, will play a big role in making up for that lost production. ... This is Chris Guthrie’s first year as head coach of the Indians.

North Hall

Coach: Benjie Wood

Region: 8-AAA North

2010-11 record: 16-11, 7-4; 3rd in 8-AAA North

Returning starters: G Ethan Smith (6-2 Jr.; 8 ppg)

Key losses: G Chris Barnes (13 ppg), Hamilton Harper (8 ppg), G/F Kanler Coker

Key newcomers: F Avery Cagle (6-3, Fr.)

Notable: The Trojans are a relatively small team, so Wood stress good defense and running the fast break, as well as improving each week so that the team can peak for the region tournament ...Wood has gone 100-38 in five years coaching at North Hall. ...North Hall last reached the state tournament in the 2009-2010 season, when the team went 27-4 and reached the semifinals before falling to LaGrange.


Coach: Ron Smith

Region: 8-A

2010-2011 record: 8-13

Returning Starters: G Adrian Humphrey (5-8, Jr.; 18 ppg); G JaRontae McGordon (5-11, Jr.; 8 ppg)

Key losses: F Tarvin Dukes (14 ppg, 6 rpg), PG Brandon Taylor (6 ppg, 6 apg)

Key newcomers: PG Dy’Avis Martin; G Jake Weiner

Notable: The Eagles will be looking to run the ball up-and-down the court with the addition of a speey duo in Martin and Weiner, who Smith expect to provide a big boost. ... Riverside will be playing with a smaller lineup than a year ago, but they boast a guard-heavy rotation, with plenty of outside shooting talent.

Towns County

Coach: Ken Hamilton

Region: 8-A

2010-2011 record: 5-21, 3-11

Returning Starters: None

Key losses: SG Bradley Swanson (15.4 ppg); F Brett Bradshaw (8.6 ppg)

Key newcomers: PG Rylen Albach (5-10, Sr.); F Brandon Henderson (6-5, Sr.); SG Ryan Tallent (6-0, Jr.)

Notable: The 2011-2012 season will be a transition year for the Indians and their second year coach. ... Towns will have plenty of freshmen and sophomores see action off the bench. ... On defense, Hamilton plans to play a tight man-to-man 100 percent of the time.

Union County

Coach: David Tucker

Region: 8-AA North

2010-11 record: 19-5

Returning starters: PG Zach Odom (5-6, Jr.; 8.4 ppg, 2.6 apg); F James Rowe (6-0, Jr.)

Key losses: C Skylar Smith (9 ppg, 8 rpg); F Seth Merrit (14 ppg, 4 rpg); C Jake Gooch; PF Trey Thomas; PG Andrew Walker; G Pete Danek

Notable: Despite winning their first 15 games last season, the Panthers fell short of the postseason when they lost their last three games. ... This year, they’ll try to rebuild after losing six of their top eight players, including their leading scorer (Merrit) and rebounder (Smith). ... Tucker, in his second year with the boys team, will be assuming control of the girls team as well this season.

West Hall

Coach: Warren Sellers

Region: 8-AAA South

2010-11 record: 24-6; lost in second round of playoffs

Returning starters: None

Key losses: PF Shunquez Stephens (18 ppg., 12 rpg.), PG Jarquise Young (16 ppg., 5 apg.), SG Dre Pou (12 ppg.), C William Stroup (7 ppg., 7 rpg.), SG Jamaad Stephens.

Key newcomers: SG A.J. Stephens (5-9, Sr.), SF Leetavous Pittman (6-0, Sr.), PF Rico Jones (6-1, Sr.), C Hunter Atkinson (6-6, So.), SG Corey Burnett (5-9, Sr.), SG Tyswon Cantrell (6-1, Jr.).

Notable: West Hall has started over this season without Stephens, The Times Boys Basketball Player of the Year in 2011, Young and Pou, last year’s three leading scorers. ... The departures represent 91 percent of last year’s offense and keyed a run to the second round of the playoffs. ... Sellers says that inexperience will be an issue early, but quickness on the perimeter will help the learning curve.

White County

Coach: Sam Borg

Region: 8-AAA North

2010-11 record: 16-9

Returning starters: G Andrew London (5-10, Sr.), G Eddie Hurst (6-1, Jr.)

Key losses: SG Cam Segraves, PG Ashely Lowery (13.2 ppg, 8.3 rpg), SF Cole Segraves, C Rick Anglin, SF JR Hurst (10.2 ppg, 4 rpg).

Notable: The Warriors were one game away from making the state playoffs last season, something the program hasn’t accomplished since 2004. ... Borg, who is in his first year as a head coach, has two players back at the school with varsity playing experience. ... “This team will go through some growing pains early, but could be tough to beat late in the season as players adjust to playing varsity basketball,” said Borg, who coached previously as an assistant at West Hall.







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