The Bremen High School girls' basketball team opened its hardcourt campaign in promising fashion and head coach Billy Pollard believes this group is primed to make a run at the Class AAA state playoffs in 2017-18.
The Lady Blue Devils (3-0) swept their way through the Thanksgiving Bash at Bowdon by knocking off Class AAAAAAA Kennesaw Mountain, Temple and Ranburne leading up to the home opener against the rival Red Devilettes on Tuesday evening.
Led by a core trio of senior post Morgan Cashen and junior guards Ashlynn Hodges and Alyssa Taylor, Bremen features a quality inside-outside balance and a good bit of varsity experience between that big three.
"Been playing together a long time. Those juniors, they won the state championship when they were like in fifth grade. So they've been together since they were little kids," Pollard said. "I feel very confident with the season we're going to have. It's a very tough region that we're playing in, but we've got everybody on the same page and it's really nice to have everybody on the same page this early in the season and not have to re-teach everything."
Along with the experience coming back, Pollard is also upbeat about some of the newcomers to the varsity stage in guards Jada Parham, Abigail Teal and Lyndi Dewberry, while wing Sydney Dailey and posts Madison Musick and Colby Redding are also expected to be key contributors in the rotation.
"I'd like to get (the rotation) to 10 just to give them some more breaks. Morgan and Hodges very rarely come off the floor. Without a ball-handler, we're in trouble," Pollard said.
Pollard wants to implement an up-tempo style of play with an aggressive, pressing defense that sets the tone and creates some high-percentage offense off of turnovers.
"We want to run. We like to run, and we've got to get them in the shape to run. We want to play fast and trap. I think that's a big part of girls' basketball. If you can run and trap, you can beat a lot of people on their mistakes," Pollard said. "That's what we want to do. We want to play fast and get down the court."
Bremen will have to deal with a tough Region 6-AAA once again this winter where local rival Haralson County is the defending champion, while Calhoun, Ringgold and Sonoraville rounded out the state qualifiers, respectively. The Lady Blue Devils feel this is the year they can step in there with the heavyweights and make a little noise of their own.
Bremen last made the postseason in 2015-16 as a No. 4 seed in its final season in Class AA and have not won a state playoff game since the 2012-13 season when it finished second in Region 5-AA and knocked off Union County in the opening round of the Class AA bracket.
But with one of the most experienced and talented teams that he's fielded since taking over the girls' program, Pollard is excited about the potential of this year's ballclub.
"I think we mix in well with everybody. We were almost there last year. We just weren't good enough. This year, talent-wise, we're a year older and we're a lot faster and bigger," Pollard said. "I think we can play with anybody. We'll see how it goes. We've just got to stay healthy … But we're about two or three weeks ahead of where we usually are and that's just because we've been together so long."