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Girls basketball preview

REGION 8-AAAAA

Berkmar

Head coach: Randy Gowen

2004-2005 record: 5-19

Returning starters:

• Whitley Witherspoon, Sr., 6-0

• Sami Mateer, Sr., 5-9

• Brittany Boeshore, Sr., 5-4

• Kiara Evans, Jr., 5-8

• Kayla Thomaston, Jr., 5-9

Others to watch:

• Alex King, Sr., 5-6

• Jakia Ragland, Sr., 5-7

• Taylor Cliff, Jr., 5-4

• Nicki Threat, Soph., 5-4

• Nakeisha Johnson, Soph.,

5-4

Outlook: The Patriots expect to be improved in their second season under Gowen, who had a successful run previously as Lakeside's boys coach. They will rely heavily on Evans, an explosive scorer who averaged 13 points last season. A young team last season, Berkmar hopes a year of growing up will lead to more victories.

•Coach's take: "Hopefully we will be more competitive than last season. If we continue to learn and play together we should be able to compete as the seasons go along."

Brookwood

Head coach: Scott Terry

2004-2005 record: 19-10

Returning starters:

• Ashley Green, Sr., 6-0

• Chioma Okoli, Jr., 5-6

• Courtney McLane, Soph.,

5-7

Others to watch:

• Lisa Reid, Jr., 5-10

• Brooke Smith, Sr., 5-10

• Maurine Wrotto, Soph., 6-0

Outlook: The Broncos turned the corner last season, their fourth under Terry. They made the state tournament and pushed Marietta, led by 6-5 UGA signee Angel Robinson, to the brink in a close loss. Brookwood will feel the loss of Chika Okoli, its most athletic player, to graduation, but sister Chioma Okoli is one of the area's top shooters and Ashley Green is a four-year varsity player. McLane steadied the team at the point guard position as a freshman.

Coach's take: "Even though our region is a very competitive region, with as many as six or seven teams having a legitimate shot at one of the top four spots, we feel like we are capable of following last year's accomplishments with another state tournament appearance. Added depth should be a factor for us this season."

Central Gwinnett

Head coach: Cass Cassell

2004-2005 record: 21-9

Returning starters:

• Ashley Taylor, Sr., 5-11

• Amber Kirkpatrick, Sr., 6-1

• Ashley Rutledge, Sr., 5-5

• Jasmine Stovall, Sr., 5-8

Others to watch:

• Jasmine Scott, Soph., 5-9

• Alexandria David, Fr., 5-8

• Tori Bowker, Jr., 5-9

• Katie Bender, Jr., 5-10

Outlook: The potential is there for another state tournament run under Cassell, a coach with 519 career wins who is retiring after the season. Four starters return, including one of the region's top interior duos in the 6-1 Kirkpatrick and the 5-11 Taylor, who combined to average nearly 25 points and 16 rebounds last season. Stovall, a solid scorer, also has evolved into a team leader for the Black Knights, who were eliminated in the 2004-2005 state tourney by eventual champ Collins Hill.

Coach's take: "We have a good mix of youth and experience. We have more quickness than the previous few years. We need to be a good offensive rebounding team. The region is so good we could finish last and still be better than last year."

Grayson

Head coach: David Dowse

2004-2005 record: 16-9

Returning starters:

• Adrianne Griffith, Sr., 5-11

• Michelle O'Quinn, Sr., 5-10

Others to watch:

• Chaney Moon, Jr., 5-4

• Ashley Jones, Sr., 5-5

• Michaela Green, Jr., 5-5

• Alia Jackson, Jr., 5-4

Outlook: The Rams, coming off a solid 16-9 season, will build around a pair of strong posts in Griffith and O'Quinn. Dowse, who is 47-35 in three seasons as Grayson's head coach, knows success is tough in a region like 8-AAAAA, but he's optimistic about the team's' chances. Grayson should get a nice boost by its depth at the guard position.

Coach's take: "We are looking forward to the challenge of another competitive season in 8-AAAAA. The squad has worked extremely hard in the offseason getting stronger and faster and has shown significant progress in the areas of strength and overall athleticism. Along with an improved team chemistry, we hope that these physical improvements will translate into a cohesive and tenacious group of Rams."

Meadowcreek

Head coach: Paul Ireland

2004-2005 record: 1-21

Returning starters:

• Genea Williams, Soph., 5-5

• Ashley Junior, Sr., 5-9

• Camille Jackson, Soph., 6-1

Others to watch:

• Aaryn Sells, Soph., 5-6

Outlook: The Mustangs continue to rebuild and there were plenty of positive signs in a preseason scrimmage with Chattahoochee. The goal is a .500 record and a strong sophomore class will lead the push.

Parkview

Head coach: Mike McCoy

2004-2005 record: 14-12

Returning starters:

• Jessica Geiger, Sr., 6-1

• Sczeny Hartry, Soph., 5-6

Others to watch:

• Ashleigh Fox, Jr., 5-6

• Kimberly Reeves, Soph., 5-8

• Morgan Kammer, Soph., 5-6

• Marissa Hicks, Jr., 5-6

• Corbynne White, Soph., 6-2

• Meghan Geiger, Fr., 5-8

Outlook: On a team full of youngsters, the Panthers will lean heavily on Geiger for points, rebounds and leadership. The only remaining contributor from Parkview's 2003 state title team is joined by returning starter Sczeny Hartry at guard. The rest of the lineup will be newcomers, who must grow up fast for the Panthers to fare well this season.

Coach's take: "We will be young with only two seniors and two juniors with experience. We will rely on our freshmen and sophomores to grow up quickly. We have a team of thinkers and playing up-tempo to get them to use their athletic ability will be a must."

Shiloh

Head coach: Dale Grant

2004-2005 record: 20-9

Returning starters:

• Jessica Baker, Jr., 5-6

• Courtney Strauthers, Sr., 6-3

Others to watch:

• Lauri Coward, Sr., 6-0

• Amanda Parker, Jr., 5-11

• Caneisha Bell, Jr., 5-8

Outlook: Graduation took a handful of key players away from the Generals, but the talent is there for another state playoff run. Alabama signee Courtney Strauthers, at 6-3, is an inside force, but just as important is the play of point guard Jessica Baker, a consistent player night in and night out. Amanda Parker, whose sister April (a Western Carolina signee) was a senior last season, has great potential.

Coach's take: "We hope to be competitive in the very tough region in which we play. I have a great coaching staff and a wonderful group of young ladies that are working hard and looking forward to a productive season."

South Gwinnett

Head coach: Mike Allison

2004-2005 record: 27-3

Returning starters:

• Gia Lockett, Sr., 5-9

• Emily Clarke, Jr., 5-10

• Antionette Howard, Jr., 5-11

Others to watch:

• Mandi Dudish, Jr., 5-8

• Bekah Richards, Sr., 5-11

• Alex Winchell, Jr., 5-8

• Lindley Hewatt, Jr., 5-9

Outlook: Injuries took their toll on the Comets in 2004-2005, particularly with a season-ending knee injury to Lockett that kept her out of the playoffs. But Lockett is back with a group of talented players for the defending 8-AAAAA champions, who were 27-3 last season. Emily Clarke and Antionette Howard, who becomes eligible Jan. 3, also are effective scorers for a team with high expectations.

Coach's take: "The Lady Comets should be a fun team and a very competitive team. We return some experienced girls and added some new girls and this should make us as competitive as last year. We will continue to play the up-tempo style we have in the past."

REGION 7-AAAAA

Collins Hill

Head coach: Collins Hill

Head coach: Tracey Tipton

2004-2005 record: 32-1

Returning starters:

• Shantell Black, Sr., 5-5

• Brittany Cade, Sr., 6-3

• Maya Moore, Jr., 6-0

Others to watch:

• Chauntel Ferdinand, Sr., 5-8

• Nikki Urbizo, Soph., 5-5

• Jordan Jones, Jr., 5-7

• Taylor Dalrymple, Soph., 5-11

Outlook: The Eagles have a new coach in Tipton, a former assistant to previous coach Angie Hembree (now with the Miami, Fla. women's team) who won't change much of what has helped Collins Hill win three state titles since 2001. Collins Hill rolled to last season's state title and has a good shot at repeating with Moore, one of the nation's top juniors, leading the way. Cade is a Charlotte signee and Black also is a top college prospect for a deep team. Transfers Jordan Jones (McEachern) and Taylor Dalrymple (Chattahoochee) add depth to a team that already sported a unbeaten JV team last season.

Coach's take: "Outside of the region this is the toughest schedule we've ever played. It's going to be tough. Redan has everybody back. Stephenson reloads every year. Those teams are going to be better so we have to be better, too."

Dacula

Head coach: Travis Young

2004-2005 record: 7-21

Returning starters:

• Brittany Jarrard, Sr., 5-7

• Abbie Daniel, Soph., 5-8

• Jenna Mooney, Sr., 5-2

• Eve Machovec, Soph., 5-11

• Vanessa Toussaint, Sr., 5-7

Others to watch:

• Melissa Harward, Soph., 5-6

• Dani Herd, Jr., 5-10

• Andrea Yepes, Jr., 5-9

Outlook: Young wouldn't have minded a higher win total in his first season as head coach, but his team really finished strong. The Falcons, a No. 6 seed in their subregion, upset No. 2 seed Norcross in the region tourney to earn a state tournament trip and every member of that team is back. The group includes two double-digit scorers in Daniel (12.3) and Jarrard (11.6), a four-year varsity starter.

Coach's take: "We return all of our players from last year's team. We will be led by our three seniors, Jenna Mooney, Brittany Jarrard and Vanessa Toussaint. We are also looking for strong play from two returning sophomore starters, Eve Machovec and Abbie Daniel. This year's team gained valuable experience from last season and I think they are eager to compete in Region 7-AAAAA."

Duluth

Head coach: Shane Roughton

2004-2005 record: 0-24

Returning starters:

• Laura Moore, Sr., 5-9

• Laurie Thomas, Jr., 5-10

Others to watch:

• Torlanda Poindexter, Sr., 5-7

• Emily Chavis, Jr., 5-7

• Breona Udofia, Jr., 5-6

• Mykala Walker, Fr., 6-0

• Daphne Adebayo, Fr., 6-1

Outlook: Times have been tough in recent years at Duluth, but the program looks to turn around under Roughton, a Duluth alum. The Wildcats will fill young players around Laura Moore, a Berry College signee and one of the county's most underrated players. Moore averaged nearly 15 points last season for a winless team. Thomas is one of the top veteran players on a team that will carry four freshmen on the varsity.

Coach's take: "We'll probably be one of the youngest teams in the region so we'll go through some growing pains. One of the many things I love about these girls is that they will work as hard as they can to continually get better and they have bought into the level of commitment our coaching staff expects from them."

Mill Creek

Head coach: Ashley Phillips

2004-2005 record: 13-14

Returning starters:

• Shelbie Pool, Jr., 5-9

• Rachel Oliver, Jr., 5-9

• Porsha Porter, Soph., 5-5

• Melia Watson, Soph., 5-5

Others to watch:

• Brittany Howes, Sr., 5-10

• Whitney Smith, Soph., 5-7

• Ashley Robertson, Jr., 6-0

Outlook: Expect the Hawks to really hit their stride in January when Porter, a phenom as a freshman, returns from a knee injury. Porter averaged 18.2 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.9 steals last season. Howes, out last season with a knee injury, really helps the second-year program and is a college prospect. Replacing the graduated Katie Herndon's height in the middle will be a priority for Mill Creek, which also returns nearly 17 points per game from the duo of Pool and Oliver.

Coach's take: "I am very excited about the upcoming season. While we are young with only one senior, we also have some experience with four returning starters from last year's team. We hope to build on the progress made last season and continue our improvement. The girls have been working very hard all summer and in the preseason to prepare for a very challenging schedule of games."

Norcross

Head coach: Mike Lee

2004-2005 record: 10-15

Returning starters:

• Jasmine Goodwin, Sr., 5-7

• D'Andra Moss, Sr., 5-10

Others to watch:

• Janee Thomas, Sr., 5-9

• Nelly Delcid, Sr., 5-3

Outlook: Lee expects to build around his four seniors, particularly Moss. The Virginia Commonwealth signee is talented enough to carry her team and she has at times during her high school career. A powerful interior player who also can score from the outside, she averaged 19 points and 12 rebounds last season and exploded for a 36-point game as a sophomore against a very good Collins Hill team. Goodwin's play at guard is important to the Blue Devils' season.

Coach's take: "Our four seniors - Nelly Delcid, Janee Thomas, Jasmine Goodwin and D'Andra Moss will steer the course of this year's team. The work ethic and attitude of this year's team has been terrific. It should be a fun group to watch."

North Gwinnett

Head coach: Tony Watkins

2004-2005 record: 11-15

Returning starters:

• Jolie Efezokhae, Sr., 6-1

• Lisa Jennings, Sr., 5-9

• Stephanie Schuck, Soph., 5-8

• Mandy Beasley, Sr., 5-9

Others to watch:

• Elizabeth Sledge, Soph., 5-9

• Kortney Easterly, Jr., 5-8

• Katie McDannald, Jr., 5-8

• Jessica Whalen, Soph., 5-8

• Jessica Hart, Soph., 6-0

• Jocelyn Danley, Fr., 5-11

Outlook: A successful boys coach with 414 career wins, Watkins has enjoyed the transition to the girls game, one that has been made easier by veteran assistant Lynn Jarrett. The team's most athletic player is Efezokhae, an active post who can be a force on the inside as she gains more basketball experience. Watkins, as always, will play a number of players which should help build the Bulldogs' depth.

Coach's take: "The girls are working very hard. I am sure the style is an adjustment but I have been very pleased with their effort. We plan to play a lot of girls, especially early to see what kind of depth we have. We are a work in progress but I think we have a chance to have a pretty good year."

Peachtree Ridge

Head coach: Chad Rogers

2004-2005 record: 7-17

Returning starters:

• Emily Wortmann, Soph., 5-7

• Rhea Taylor, Jr., 5-9

• Sandy McAfee, Sr., 5-7

Others to watch:

• Natasha Willemse, Sr., 5-10

• Jasmine Johnson, Jr., 5-7

Outlook: The program is beginning to take shape under Rogers, a Shiloh grad who built a perennial poor Newnan program into a winner before starting at a new school, Peachtree Ridge. Youth is a concern with eight first-year varsity players as his height with only two players taller than 5-10. To offset the size issue, the Lions will get up and down the court in a hurry with a pack of capable guards.

Coach's take: "We are young and small. We will try to run an up-tempo style and should be fun to watch. We expect our girls to play smart, aggressive and confident. I believe they will. We know this is a tough region and look forward to the challenge."

REGION 8-AA

Buford

Head coach: Gene Durden

2004-2005 record: 19-10

Returning starters:

• Shannon Wilson, Sr., 5-7

• Sarah Scott, Jr., 6-2

• Victoria Peevy, Jr., 5-9

• Vicky Wilson, Sr., 5-6

Others to watch:

• Angela Morgan, Jr., 5-3

• Grace Marlowe, Jr., 5-9

• Brittany Reese, Jr., 5-6

• Kelly Tucker, Jr., 5-6

Outlook: Durden had plenty of success as Dade County's girls coach - reaching the state finals last season - and he hopes to build a similar tradition at Buford, which is coming off a strong 19-10 season. Durden's team likes to play up-tempo, but the 6-2 Scott will still be a factor. The new style fits the Wolves and speedy guard Shannon Wilson well, which should translate into another state tourney trip.

Coach's take: "We feel that our strengths this year are our depth, versatility and experience. We will need these because of playing in one of the toughest girls regions in the state. We must play great defense and have the ability to score in the halfcourt."

GAC

Head coach: Mike Mitchell

2004-2005 record: 23-8

Returning starters:

• Sally Carroll, Sr., 5-5

• Cree Nix, Jr., 5-10

Others to watch:

• Bria Smith, Jr., 5-3

• Courtney Samuels, Sr., 5-8

• Sarah Grace Pate, Sr., 6-3

• Kiara Swanier, Jr., 5-7

• Lisa Warren, Sr., 5-7

• D'Nay Daniels, Jr., 5-8

• Julio Stephens, Jr., 5-9

• Mollie Mitchell, Soph., 5-7

Outlook: The Spartans are loaded for another state tournament run with one of the deepest teams in AA. A long list of contributors return, including the athletic Nix on the inside and Carroll, a solid shooter who has signed with Berry College. Daniels, after sitting out last season because of a transfer, is an emerging star and seven other players who saw key minutes last season also are back.

Coach's take: "I am very excited about this team this year. We have several girls who played a great deal last year. We have some very talented individuals and good depth at each position. We play in a tough region and we have a very competitive schedule. I hope we are up to the challenge and will play like we are capable of."

Providence

Head coach: Dan Davis

2004-2005 record: 11-15

Returning starters:

• Carli West, Sr., 5-3

• Georgia DeMoss, Jr., 5-8

• Asheton Ward, Jr., 5-9

• Kara Darr, Jr., 5-5

Others to watch:

• Daron Dominguez, Jr., 5-9

• Caitlin Jones, Jr., 5-9

• Liz Gilman, Sr., 5-9

• Hannah Reiswig, Jr., 5-6

• Cassi Flowers, Soph., 5-5

• Summer Corley, Soph., 5-11

• Kristy Garland, Sr., 5-9

• Danielle Johnston, Jr. 5-7

Outlook: Providence must recover from the graduation loss of Becca Lightfoot, a Liberty signee who was one of the county's top players. Davis hopes his balanced team can do the job, but he's still looking for West, a four-year starter at point guard, to be the leader. The team doesn't have a lot of height, but it hopes to overcome that with hustle and hard work.

Coach's take: "I am excited about the upcoming season. For the first time since I have been here we will be made up of 10 upperclassmen. We all know we lost Becca but I feel this is more of a well-rounded team instead of a one-person team. Carli West is the heart and soul of the team and I am expecting her to have another great year and finish her career as one of the best to play here."

Wesleyan

Head coach: Jan Azar

2004-2005 record: 31-2

Returning starters:

• Carolyn Whitney, Sr., 5-8

• Elise Whitney, Sr., 5-8

• Le Le LeSeur, Sr., 5-11

• Alison Watt, Sr., 5-11

• Sarah Delk, Jr., 6-1

• Kelly Hall, Jr., 5-5

Others to watch:

• Amaris Wilson, Sr., 5-10

• Michelle Pope, Jr., 6-0

• Amy Spignola, Jr., 5-8

Outlook: The Wolves, winners of three of the past four state championships in their classification, have become one of the state's most feared powers under Azar, whose 2004-2005 team went 31-2 on its state title run. Although they lost talented senior Sarah Moye, six players return who started at times during last season. Included in that group are sisters Carolyn and Elise Whitney, both Georgia Southern signees, and LeSeur, a Bucknell signee. Azar expects a breakout season from Delk, a junior who's a Division I prospect.

Coach's take: "I am looking forward to coaching the most experienced team I have had at Wesleyan. We have five returning seniors who will provide great leadership, six returning juniors, two sophomores and one freshman. If this group of girls continues to put team goals ahead of individual goals, they could prove to be the best team to come out of Wesleyan in our nine-year history."

REGION 8-A

Hebron

Head coach: Betsy Hensley

2004-2005 record: 26-4

Returning starters:

• Meredith Montgomery, Jr., 5-9

• Courtney Odum, Jr., 5-7

• Britt Pecht, Soph., 5-5

Others to watch:

• Sydney Couch, Sr., 5-6

• Rachael Duval, Soph., 5-9

• Amy Herald, Sr., 5-10

• Landon Johnson, Sr., 5-7

Outlook: Hebron made the jump from Georgia Christian Athletic Association play to Georgia High School Association play an easy one, going 26-4 last season and reaching the state Final Four. Some key players graduated, but the team's leading

scorer, Meredith Montgomery (15.2 ppg) is back along with guards Britt Pecht and Courtney Odum (who is nursing a knee injury). Both Pecht (11.5) and Odum (11.0) were key scorers last season.

Coach's take: "We are working hard on our weaknesses and looking to improve on our overall game. It is a more comfortable beginning this season knowing what to expect, and we hope to be competitive every night we take the floor. Although we graduated three talented players, our younger players are excited to have the opportunity to step up."