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Basketball preview: Duluth Wildcats

Duluth's Katie Powell

Duluth's Katie Powell

DULUTH WILDCATS

BOYS

Region: 7-AAAAA

Coach: Eddie Hood

2010-11 record: 5-21

Returning regulars:

Michael Randle, Sr., 6-2

Zach Erwin, Sr., 6-5

Myles Campbell, Jr., 5-8

Others to watch:

Devonte' Sims, Sr., 5-10

Eddie Clary, Soph., 5-10

Gregory Blackshear, Jr., 6-5

Ryan McClendon, Soph., 6-5

Joshua Rhodius, Sr., 6-2

Outlook: Duluth graduated its two top scorers, but returns three regulars and hopes to make strides toward ending a state tournament absence that dates back to 1999. Michael Randle averaged 10.1 points and a team-best 6.7 rebounds last season. Zach Erwin was third on the team with 4.8 rebounds per game and football standout Myles Campbell was the assist leader with 3.8 per game. The trio brings experience as the Wildcats compensate for the loss of Avonte' Hall and Zane Cobb, who averaged 15.6 and 11.8 points, respectively. Five sophomores are on the roster.

Worth noting: Eddie Hood was hired to replace Jonathan Hemingway and is getting his first chance to lead a program after serving as an assistant at Newton, Shiloh and Central Gwinnett. Hood played basketball and ran track at South Gwinnett, graduating in 2000, and went on to be an all-conference runner at Campbell University. He qualifed for the NCAA regional.

Roster

No. Name Ht. Class

1 Devonte' Sims 5-10 Sr.

3 Savion Griffin-Bey 5-9 Soph.

10 Myles Campbell 5-8 Jr.

11 Ify Imachukwu 6-2 Jr.

12 Romelo Stryon 5-9 Soph.

20 Eddie Clary 5-10 Soph.

22 Bryce Wooten 6-2 Soph.

23 Zach Erwin 6-5 Sr.

24 Michael Randle 6-2 Sr.

25 Gregory Blackshear 6-5 Jr.

33 Joshua Rhodius 6-2 Sr.

35 Chris Wallace 6-3 Sr.

40 Ryan McClendon 6-5 Soph.

GIRLS

Region: 7-AAAAA

Coach: Chad Pittman

2010-11 record: 16-13

Returning regulars:

Katie Powell, Soph., 6-3

Regine Howard, Sr., 5-6

Others to watch:

Abby Powell, Sr., 5-9

Joi Jones, Jr., 5-6

Tajai Pearson, Sr., 6-2

Aerial Carruthers, Jr., 5-8

Tajmah Muhammad, Jr., 5-9

Outlook: The Wildcats made it back to the state tournament in Chad Pittman's first year as coach only to suffer a heartbreaking 44-43 loss to Etowah in the first round. Duluth, a No. 4 seed from the state's most powerful region, almost pulled off the upset against the Region 5-AAAAA champion, but made just 2 of 10 free throws. Katie Powell was a first-team all-region choice as a freshman, averaging 11.8 points and 7.3 rebounds. Joi Jones, the key reserve last season, averaged 8.1 points. Regine Howard is known for her defense.

Worth noting: It won't be easy to replace Kayla Nolan, who joined Powell on the all-region first team, and two other graduates now playing in college. But Duluth should get a boost from the return of Abby Powell, Katie's older sister. Knee injuries cost her the past two seasons. Pittman calls her his "coach on the floor."

Roster

No. Name Ht. Class

4 Brittany Ashley 5-10 Sr.

5 Aleexis Lyons 5-9 Jr.

11 Joi Jones 5-6 Jr.

12 Sarena Sutton 5-6 Jr.

14 Alyah McGriff 5-11 So.

15 Abby Powell 5-9 Sr.

21 Kiki Roker 5-6 Jr.

23 Tajai Pearson 6-2 Sr.

25 Regine Howard 5-6 Sr.

30 Aerial Carruthers 5-8 Jr.

32 Keisha Washington 5-11 Jr.

33 Meredith Bauer 5-8 Jr.

34 Katie Powell 6-3 Soph.

40 Tajmah Muhammad 5-9 Jr.

SCHEDULE

Nov. 18 at S. Cobb

Nov. 19, 22, 26 at Jefferson Tip-Off

Dec. 2 N. Cobb

Dec. 6 Meadowcreek

Dec. 9 at N. Gwinnett

Dec. 10 Dacula

Dec. 16 at Chattahoochee

Dec. 17 at Northview

Dec. 27-29 at Pickens tourney (boys); Peach State tourney at Holy Innocents' (girls)

Jan. 3 at Mill Creek

Jan. 6 at Norcross

Jan. 10 at Collins Hill

Jan. 13 at Peachtree Ridge

Jan. 17 Mountain View

Jan. 20 at Meadowcreek

Jan. 24 N. Gwinnett

Jan. 27 Mill Creek

Jan. 31 Norcross

Feb. 3 Collins Hill

Feb. 7 Peachtree Ridge

Feb. 10 at Mountain View