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Girls state basketball capsules

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Photo by Brandon Brigman

Class AAAAA

Berkmar Patriots

Head Coach: Todd McCutcheon

Record: 18-10

Region: 8-AAAAA

First-round opponent: at Roswell, today, 7 p.m.

Last State Tournament appearance: 2010

Key Players: G Kenisha Watkins, 5-7, Sr.; C Teanna Robinson, 6-4, Sr.; G Sharmicka Martin, 5-9, Sr.

Outlook: The Patriots have managed to endure through multiple injuries and a tough region schedule that has included multiple games against state-ranked Brookwood and Parkview, plus up-and-coming South Gwinnett. They will have to call on that determination again tonight against the Hornets (20-7), who have bounced back from a bit of a lull at the end of the regular season to roll to the Region 6-AAAAA tournament title.

Brookwood Broncos

Head Coach: Scott Terry

Record: 25-2

Region: 8-AAAAA

First-round opponent: vs. Northview, today, 6:30 p.m.

Last State Tournament appearance: 2010

Key Players: G Jazmine Jackson, 5-5, Sr.; F Katie Mallow, 5-9, Sr.; F Autumn Adams, 5-11, Sr.; C Rebecca Walker, 6-2, Soph.

Outlook: After their season-long winning streak came to an end in the last week of the regular season, the Broncos shook off that disappointment to roar back in the tournament to claim the region crown. Next up is to continue that momentum into state, and with veteran leaders like Jackson, Mallow and Adams, that is a very realistic goal.

Duluth Wildcats

Head Coach: Todd Pittman

Record: 16-12

Region: 7-AAAAA

First-round opponent: at Etowah, today, 6 p.m.

Last State Tournament appearance: 2009

Key Players: G Kayla Nolan, 5-9, Sr.; F Tarlesha Boles, 6-0, Sr.; G Aliya Thomas, 5-7, Sr.; C Katie Powell, 6-2, Fr.

Outlook: After a rebuilding year last season ended a nice run, the Wildcats are back in the state tournament in their first season under Pittman, thanks to the production and shooting of Nolan and Thomas from the perimeter, plus the added presence of freshman Powell (who has been out with a high ankle sprain) to the low post game. But they face a formidable foe in the Region 5-AAAAA champion Eagles (22-4) and longtime coach Bob Westbrook, who posted his 500th career victory earlier this season.

Mill Creek Hawks

Head Coach: Ashley Phillips

Record: 15-13

Region: 7-AAAAA

First-round opponent: at Marietta, today, 7 p.m.

Last State Tournament appearance: 2010

Key Players: G Jasmine Carter, 5-9, Sr.; G/F Alicia Brookins, 5-5, Sr.; G Sierra Menzies, 5-8, Jr.; G/F Tamarr Williams, 5-9, Jr.

Outlook: There is no Porsha Porter or Moneshia Simmons this year, but the Hawks are back in the tournament behind a solid committee of contributors. And they do appear to have a new dynamic player to rally behind in freshman Carter, who has led the team in scoring at more than 14 points per game. Their opponent tonight is a Blue Devils (13-14) team that has come back from a slow start to make a big run in last week’s Region 5-AAAAA tournament in which they came within two points of toppling Etowah for the title.

Norcross Blue Devils

Head Coach: Angie Hembree

Record: 24-3

Region: 7-AAAAA

First-round opponent: vs. Walton, Saturday, 4 p.m.

Last State Tournament appearance: 2010

Key Players: F/G Diamond DeShields, 6-1, Soph.; C Dearica Hamby, 6-3, Sr.; F Alex DeMercy, 5-11, Sr.; G Tori Carter, 5-7, Jr.; F Shayla Cooper, 6-1, Soph.

Outlook: After avenging their only two losses to a Georgia team in their win over North Gwinnett in the region finals, the Blue Devils now take to the task of defending their state title. DeShields, the county’s leading scorer at over 19 points per game, is as dynamic a player as there is in Class AAAAA and she already knows how to deal with state tournament pressure, something many of her teammates are also familiar with. That should be more than enough to deal with a solid, if not spectacular, Raiders (14-12) team.

North Gwinnett Bulldogs

Head Coach: Bryan Sellers

Record: 21-6

Region: 7-AAAAA

First-round opponent: vs. Woodstock, today, 7:30 p.m.

Last State Tournament appearance: 2010

Key Players: G Lexie Brown, 5-9, Soph.; G Ariel Johnson, Jr.; F/C Peyton Whitted, 6-3, Soph.; G Rachel Brucks, 5-5, Sr.

Outlook: Despite having their 18-game winning streak snapped by Norcross in last weekend’s region title game, the Bulldogs seem primed for a deep state run behind one of the county's top guards in Brown, who leads all Gwinnett players in assists and is second only to DeShields in scoring, plus an excellent supporting cast. Their first test is the Wolverines (13-13), who shook off a late-season slump to get hot at the right time of the year.

Parkview Panthers

Head Coach: Mike McCoy

Record: 22-5

Region: 8-AAAAA

First-round opponent: vs. Milton, today, 7:30 p.m.

Last State Tournament appearance: 2010

Key Players: G Katie Carroll, 5-9, Sr.; F Erika Joseph, 6-1, Jr.; C Mia Marshall, 6-3, Soph.; G Marissa Mandledove, 5-2, Soph.

Outlook: After being shocked in the first round a year ago following an undefeated regular season, the Panthers will likely be looking to make a statement in tonight’s opening-round game. While there might not be quite the same kind of internal pressure, the Eagles (17-5) won’t be any easier of a first-round opponent than Marietta was last year. At 6-4, Tori Waldner is as formidable a post presence as the Panthers have faced, while Nikki Dixon is also a proven commodity on the perimeter. However, Parkview’s depth may prove a difference, especially on the low block, while Carroll’s senior leadership may also come in handy. And as mentioned, the Panthers have a point to prove.

South Gwinnett Comets

Head Coach: Jaime Kruppa

Record: 17-11

Region: 8-AAAAA

First-round opponent: at Alpharetta, today, 7 p.m.

Last State Tournament appearance: 2007

Key Players: C Tina Odume, 6-1, Sr.; G Kiara Baker, 5-6, Sr.; G Colette Onenda, 5-5, Soph.

Outlook: A key figure on South’s 1995 state title team, Kruppa has guided the Comets back to the state tournament for the first time since finishing as Class AAAAA runner-up in 2007. They’ve used a mix of Odume’s powerful presence in the post to a nice combination of Baker and Onenda on the perimeter to gradually improve throughout the season. To continue that trend, they must try to take down a Raiders team that beat them 49-40 back in November.

Class AA

Buford Wolves

Head Coach: Gene Durden

Record: 24-3

Region: 6-AA

First-round opponent: vs. East Hall, today, 7 p.m.

Last State Tournament appearance: 2010

Key Players: G Andraya Carter, 5-8, Jr.; G/F Kaela Davis, 6-2, Soph.; G Maya Dillard, 5-5. Soph.; F Sheresse Williams, 5-10, Sr.; C McKenzie Darrah, 6-3, Soph.

Outlook: The Wolves have quieted any whispers that may have started from losses to Wesleyan and GAC late in the regular season by rolling through the region tournament, which included a convincing win over the Spartans in a rematch in the title game. With experienced, though youthful, difference makers like Carter and Davis, they will certain be a handful for the Vikings (15-11).

GAC Spartans

Head Coach: Cal Boyd

Record: 21-7

Region: 6-AA

First-round opponent: vs. Union Co., today, 7 p.m.

Last State Tournament appearance: 2010

Key Players: C Kristina Nelson, 6-3, Soph.; G Shannon Cranshaw, 5-8, Soph.; F Sierra Lawrence, 5--8, Sr.

Outlook: It will be a little different going into the state tournament without Chaney Means for the first time in four years, and the Spartans are a bit young. However, they are also tournament tested, with Nelson and Lawrence getting plenty of experience in last year’s state semifinal run and Cranshaw having gotten similar experience in Florida. They welcome the Panthers (14-13) to Long Forum for the first round, and hope to build momentum for another deep postseason run.

Class A

Hebron Lions

Head Coach: Judy Conner

Record: 14-14

Region: 8-A

First-round opponent: at Wilkinson Co., today, 7 p.m.

Last State Tournament appearance: 2008

Key Players: G Jalisa Tucker, 5-6, Sr.; F Lacy Stephens, 5-7, Sr.; F Tai Stringer, 5-7, Sr.

Outlook: The Lions’ late-season surge in which they have won six of their last nine, including a play-in win over Holy Innocents’ on Tuesday, has given them their first state tournament appearance in three years. But they will be facing Warriors team that has taken a similar path, recovering from a nightmarish start to the season to claim the Region 7-A title.

Wesleyan Wolves

Head Coach: Jan Azar

Record: 26-2

Region: 5-A

First-round opponent: vs. Warren Co., today, 6 p.m.

Last State Tournament appearance: 2010

Key Players: F Grace Leah Baughn, 6-0, Sr.; F Holli Wilkins, 6-0, Jr.; G Jordan Frazier, 5-4, Jr.; G Brittany Stevens, 5-3, Soph.; C Kaelyn Causwell, 6-4, Jr.

Outlook: Another year, another opportunity for the Wolves to roll to a state championship. This year’s Wesleyan team looks a lot like many of the others that have won three straight titles, six in the last seven years and seven since 2002. Look for the Wolves to come at the Screaming Devils in waves, hoping to overwhelm them early and often.