The start of the basketball season is almost here.
With a new season brings some new expectations and some familiar faces back to lead their teams.
There are also several new players that will have to step up to help assure that their teams are successful.
Here is a look at the teams in the county:
Coach: Adam Watts
Last season record: 16-10
Returning starters (2): G Aillee Pattillo, Kim Lawson
Others to watch: G Kiara Watson, G Michelle Pollack, G Abby Crawford, G Brittany Pressley.
Primary strengths: Ball-handling with a guard-oriented lineup with the ability to handle pressure.
Potential problems: Rebounding with a small line up. Also, there is only one senior with a lot of playing experience.
The Outlook: The Cougars graduated seven seniors from last season’s team that was nine points away from a state tournament berth. Senior guard Aillee Pattillo is the last holdover from the 2015 that reached the state tournament. She will be counted on to provide leadership for the team. Watts is hopeful that Watson has made a full recovery from knee surgery that sidelined her the entire last season. Watts brings some height and ball-handling skills to the lineup. The Cougars must replace their two leading scorers from a season ago. Alexander will have a guard-oriented line up, which Watts said will make it difficult for most teams to apply full court pressure.
Coach Watts says: “We have five girls that can basically dribble and shoot which will make it difficult to press us. I think we have some good decision-makers handling the ball.”
Chapel Hill Panthers
Coach: Amber Lee
Last season record: 15-11 (second round of state playoffs)
Returning starters (1): G/F Taylor Hall
Others to watch: G Madison Jackson, G Savannah Howard, F/C Nicole Paul, G Amber Bullock.
Primary strengths: This will be a young group that is eager to learn under first-year coach Amber Lee.
Potential problems: Experience at key positions and finding leadership among a young group.
The Outlook: The two three scorers and rebounders from last season’s team that reached the second round of the state playoffs have graduated. Lee steps into her first high school head-coaching position as only the third coach in program history. Lee spent the majority of her young coaching career on the college level, with a stop most recently at Shorter University in Rome. She inherited a young group that can be molded into her image. The Panthers will play several non-region games to get ready for their Region 5-AAAA schedule. Lee said that she will use the first part of the season to evaluate and see how well the team picks up her system. The second have could bring some tweeting and chances as the team prepares for the stretch run of the region schedule. With such a young group, the Panthers must develop some leadership among the few returning players.
Coach Lee says: “These girls have been very open-minded in accepted new things. Our style will not be too different from the way it use to be. I think they are hungry and want to win.”
Douglas County Tigers
Coach: Chet Forsh
Last season record: 26-4 (lost in the Class AAAAAA quarterfinal)
Returning starters (2): G Sayah Brooks, F/C Amari Roinson.
Others to watch: G Dymon Cook.
Primary strengths: Robinson is one of the top players in the state as a junior. If Brooks can be consistent with perimeter shot, it will help Robinson in the paint.
Potential problems: The lack of experience among several new players. Quickly learning Forsh’s system in a short time of younger players.
The Outlook: This is potentially one of the younger squads that Forsh will put on the court this season. The team will be built around the nucleus of Brooks and Robinson. Robinson has averaged 15.9 points per game the last two seasons, and is only 47 points away from a 1,000 for her career. Brooks has been the Tigers biggest offensive threat from 3-point range, but must be more consistent. Forsh is entering his 38th season as the Tigers’ coach. The team has won the Region 5-AAAAAA title the last two seasons and reached the quarterfinals last season. Coming into the season, Douglas County has won 32 straight region games.
Coach Forsh says: “We are spending a lot of time each day on the little things. Everybody has to play hard because that is not an option. We have a lot of young people and we have to show them how it is done.”
Lithia Springs Lions
Coach: David Mills
Last season record: 15-13 (lost in second round of Class AAAAA playoffs)
Returning starters (2): F Demeara Hinds, G Sheryl Sarpong
Others to watch: G Kayleigh Franklin.
Primary strengths: Experience in playing in big games. Post game with the return of Hinds.
Potential problems: Replacing the program’s all-time leading scorer in Kiana Johnson. Looking for someone to step up on the offensive end.
The Outlook: Gone is four-year starter and one of the county’s all-time leading scorer in Kiana Johnson, who is now at Jacksonville State. The Lions reached the region championship game last season and made it to the second round of the state tournament. Replacing 3-point specialist Ayanna Dinkins will also be a major concern. Hinds averaged 4.9 points last season as a freshman. Sarpong will be counting on for her leadership and guard skills. Lithia Springs looks to run more transition as a true scoring leader emerges. The Lions enter the season a legit contender for the Region 6-AAAAA title.
Coach Mills says: “I think the region is wide-open because of a lot of graduation. We got some girls that are capable of shooting well from the perimeter. It will not be one single girl but we will have shooters by committee.”
New Manchester Jaguars
Coach: Vincent Parks
Last season record: 16-12
Returning starters (4): G Ja’Lisya Glover, C Kyndall Golden, F Makaila Cange, F Anaya Cone.
Others to watch: Cambria McClure, Megan Pickett
Primary strengths: Experience at the point guard position and returning starters in the paint.
Potential problems: Must find a consistent scorer and limit the number of turnovers.
The Outlook: There is a lot of exciting surrounding the Jaguars program this season after a runner-up finish in the region tournament last year. The team clinched its first-ever state playoff berth and return four starters from that group. Another season of experience should help Glover develop as the point guard in leading the team. Cone is the team’s leading returning starter after averaging 8.9 points. With all three of its inside players back, the Jaguars should be a good rebounding team. Staying among the region’s elite teams like Mays and Douglas County will be the goal. New Manchester played at several camps this summer to continue its push to make another run at the playoffs.
Coach Parks says: “We have to step up and be more aggressive. It all starts with Ja’Lisya as she is our point guard. We feel that we can compete with anybody on our schedule. Our expectations have definitely risen this year.”