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STATE HOOPS: Girls first-round previews

Class AAAAA

Archer Tigers

Head Coach: Ryan Lesniak

Record: 18-10

Region: 8-AAAAA, No. 4 seed

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

Last State Tournament appearance: First state appearance

Key Players: G Madison Newby, 5-7, Fr. (12.0 ppg, 4.6 apg); G Alesha Mann, 5-7, Soph. (9.0 ppg); G Kayla Rogers, 5-7, Soph. (8.9 ppg)

Outlook: In just their second varsity season, the Tigers are the debutantes of this year's state dance thanks to a young squad led by Newby, Mann and Rogers. But it may be a rough debut with a trip to two-time defending state champion Norcross on the horizon.

Brookwood Broncos

Head Coach: Scott Terry

Record: 16-12

Region: 8-AAAAA, No. 2 seed

First-round opponent: vs. Mill Creek, today, 6 p.m.

Last State Tournament appearance: 2011

Key Players: F Courtney Gardner, 5-10, Jr. (15.0 ppg, 8.5 rpg); F/C Rebecca Walker, 6-2, Jr. (15.6 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.0 apg, 4.1 bpg); G Alliah Jackson, 5-5, Sr. (5.5 ppg, 2.8 apg); F Nicole Plaisted, 5-8, Sr. (6.6 rpg)

Outlook: After struggling out of the gate, the Broncos are playing some of their best basketball of the season by winning nine of their last 11 games behind strong rebound and the formidable inside-outside presence of Gardner and Walker. But they will face a formidable challenge against Mill Creek and its quick, athletic backcourt.

Duluth Wildcats

Head Coach: Chad Pittman

Record: 17-11

Region: 7-AAAAA, No. 4 seed

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

Last State Tournament appearance: 2011

Key Players: C Katie Powell, 6-3, Soph. (15.0 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 4.0 bpg); G Joi Jones, 5-6, Jr. (10.4 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3 spg); F Tajai Pearson, 6-2, Sr. (7.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.2 bpg)

Outlook: The Wildcats have become somewhat of a fixture in the postseason, with tonight's game marking their fourth state appearance in the last five seasons. But this one won't be easy as they will have to travel to unbeaten and No. 2 state-ranked Parkview. And they may have to make it without Powell, who is questionable after suffering a concussion during last week's region tournament.

Mill Creek Hawks

Head Coach: Ashley Phillips

Record: 19-9

Region: 7-AAAAA, No. 3 seed

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

Last State Tournament appearance: 2011

Key Players: G Jasmine Carter, 5-8, Soph. (13.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 2.3 apg, 2.3 spg); F Nadia Miller, 5-6, Jr. (11.3 ppg); G Sierra Menzies, 5-4, Sr. (3.2 ppg, 4.1 apg, 1.6 spg); F Tamarr Williams, 5-8, Sr. (7.8 ppg, 1.6 spg); F India Dillard, 5-10, Jr. (6.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg)

Outlook: Another team with a strong postseason presence in recent years, the Hawks are battled-tested in rugged Region 7-AAAAA, and boast a quick, athletic backcourt, led by Carter and Menzies. But they have their hands full with a much bigger Brookwood team tonight, and will have to hold their own on the boards to advance.

Norcross Blue Devils

Head Coach: Angie Hembree

Record: 23-5

Region: 7-AAAAA, No. 1 seed

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

Last State Tournament appearance: 2011

Key Players: G/F Diamond DeShields, 6-1, Jr.; F Shayla Cooper, 6-1, Jr.; C/F Jasmine Kemp, 6-2, Sr.; C/F Patrice Butler, 6-2, Sr.; G Tori Carter, 5-7, Sr.

Outlook: The two-time defending state champions weather a major storm when DeShields went out with a fractured wrist last month. The 2011 Daily Post Player of the Year is now back, and the rest of the team for the most part held their own in her absence, which should make Norcross even more formidable a challenge to topple.

North Gwinnett Bulldogs

Head Coach: Bryan Sellers

Record: 23-3

Region: 7-AAAAA, No. 2 seed

First-round opponent: vs. South Gwinnett, today, 7 p.m.

Last State Tournament appearance: 2011

Key Players: G Lexie Brown, 5-10, Jr.; F/C Peyton Whitted, 6-3, Jr.; G Ariel Johnson, 5-5, Sr.

Outlook: Despite a loss to Norcross in the region finals, the Bulldogs remain a serous contender for the state crown. Brown and Whitted make up an outstanding 1-2 punch, and Johnson leads a solid supporting cast to give any opponent a major challenge to overcome.

Parkview Panthers

Head Coach: Tony Watkins

Record: 28-0

Region: 8-AAAAA, No. 1 seed

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

Last State Tournament appearance: 2011

Key Players: F/C Erika Joseph, Sr. (11.8 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 2.4 apg); G Marissa Mandeldove, 5-3, Jr. (8.2 ppg, 5.4 apg); G Genesis Perrymond, 5-7, Soph. (8.6 ppg, 3.3 apg); C/F Victoria Harris, 6-1, Fr. (7.4 ppg, 7.7 rpg); F A.J. Jefferson, 5-9, Sr. (5.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg); G Tatiana Wayne, 5-5, Fr. (7.1 ppg)

Outlook: The Panthers, who bring a 28-game winning streak into tonight's game make their sixth straight state appearance, but hope to put an end to a not-so-good trend after being eliminated in the first round the last two seasons. They will have to shoot better than they did in their region championship game win over Brookwood, but their effort on the defensive end and the boards should give them an advantage against Duluth, especially if Powell is unavailable.

South Gwinnett Comets

Head Coach: Jaime Kruppa

Record: 18-10

Region: 8-AAAAA, No. 3 seed

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

Last State Tournament appearance: 2011

Key Players: G Yvonna Dunkley, 5-8, Sr. (7.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.8 apg); C Tiffany Jenkins, 6-1, Sr. (7.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg); F Samantha McCombs, 5-9, Sr. (9.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg); F Alysia Johnson, 5-11, Jr. (6.8 rpg)

Outlook: After helping South to a state title in 1995, Kruppa appears to have the program on the rise again, with the Comets making their second straight state appearance after at three-year absence. Led by the all-around skills of Dunkley, South is playing quite well right now, with victories in eight of its last 11 games. But the task tonight in traveling across the county to North will be a big one.

Class AA

Buford Wolves

Head Coach: Gene Durden

Record: 21-7

Region: 6-AA, No. 1 seed

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

Last State Tournament appearance: 2011

Key Players: G/F Kaela Davis, 6-2, Jr. (19.8 ppg); G Andraya Carter, 5-8, Sr. (8.0 ppg); C Kristina Nelson, 6-4, Jr. (10.3 ppg)

Outlook: The Wolves begin their quest for a third straight state title by welcoming Kendrick to town tonight. And after enduring injuries and the always strong competition in Region 6-AA, they seem ready for another deep state tournament run behind the veteran talent of Davis and Carter, plus the inside power of Nelson.

Greater Atlanta Christian Spartans

Head Coach: Cal Boyd

Record: 19-8

Region: 6-AA, No. 3 seed

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

Last State Tournament appearance: 2011

Key Players: F/G Brianna Cummings, 5-11, Soph. (14.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 2.9 spg); G Sydni Means, 5-4, Soph. (10.3 ppg, 3.9 apg, 3.9 spg); F CiCi Buford, 5-10, Jr. (8.9 ppg); F/G Cosette Mahre, 5-7, Fr. (8.4 ppg); G Sierra Lawrence, 5-8, Sr. (6.2 ppg)

Outlook: The Spartans have made the state quarterfinals six of the last seven seasons, including the final four in four of those years. But their road back to Macon will be a long one, beginning with tonight's game against Jordan in Columbus. And they will rely on a fairly young nucleus, though many of those youngsters -- including Cumnings and Means -- have plenty of experience on the big stage after playing a major role on last year's state runner-up team.

Class A

Wesleyan Wolves

Head Coach: Jan Azar

Record: 24-4

Region: 5-A, No. 2 seed

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

Last State Tournament appearance: 2011

Key Players: F Holli Wilkins, 6-0, Sr. (16.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.2 spg); F Katie Frerking, 6-1, Jr. (7.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.6 bpg); G Brittany Stevens, 5-4, Jr. (6.6 ppg, 2.8 apg, 2.6 spg); G Jordan Frazier, 5-4, Sr. (6.3 ppg, 2.7 apg, 4.2 spg)

Outlook: The Wolves find themselves in a most unusual position by opening up as a seed other than it's region's top seed for the first time in four years. But with yet another deep and veteran roster led by Wilkins, the four-time defending state champions should once again be among the favorites to reach Macon.