January 23, 2012
The news is great in Buford, not so much for the rest of Class AA.
After a lengthy recovery from knee surgery, Andraya Carter joined her teammates on the Wolves' girls basketball team in an actual game over the weekend. It's been long overdue for Buford, which needed its veteran leader, four-year starter and Tennessee signee badly as it worked through a brutally tough non-region schedule.
Most people assumed Carter would be back long before now, though her recovery turned into a longer saga as her doctors held her out a little longer. Not surprisingly, Tennessee didn't want to rush back a prized recruit and not have her for the 2012-13 college season.
Buford is just glad to have her back for this season. Her return comes at a good time as the Region 6-AA regular-season schedule finishes up, followed by the region and state tournaments. It's just enough time for Carter to sharpen her game up, while giving the Wolves the boost they need at a crucial time in the season.
Without Carter, Buford's state championship reign — the Wolves are seeking their fourth straight in Class AA — would have been much tougher.
With her, Buford is firmly entrenched as the state title favorite in AA.
Wesleyan's still impressive
I got to see the No. 1 Wesleyan girls basketball team play again last Friday — when it beat second-ranked St. Francis — and left impressed once again.
Sometimes the players aren't physically imposing (though with 6-foot-4 Kaelyn Causwell and 5-11 Holli Wilkins, this year's team has more height than ever), but every player that head coach Jan Azar puts on the court is skilled and ready to contribute. Every one of them plays hard, especially in the form of intense defense, and Azar uses that deep roster to wear opponents down. It's a formula that's worked year after year, and has led to seven state championships in the past eight seasons (including the last four straight).
I also liked the play of Wilkins, the daughter of former NBAer Gerald Wilkins. When the Wolves needed a big basket against St. Francis, she always delivered and her big second-half was the reason the hosts pulled out a win. Her presence in point production (she's in her third season as the team's No. 1 scorer) is important as Wesleyan seeks another state title.
In case you missed it, check out the GDP's Sunday sports centerpiece on Peachtree Ridge girls basketball player Melissa Turvy.
I interviewed Turvy, her family and coaches a few weeks ago and came away inspired by her courage and positive attitude. She suffers from cystic fibrosis and celiac, diseases that dictate her life and daily schedule, but doesn't let it slow her down. She maintains a refreshingly positive attitude and uses basketball (and intense training away from hoops) to fight her cystic fibrosis.