How fans remember the 2019-20 girls basketball season will be a matter of individual perspective.
Out of 13 total teams spanning seven classifications to make the Georgia High School Association playoffs, one -- Buford in Class 5A -- won a state title, another -- North Hall in Class 3A -- advanced to the semifinals while two others got to the quarterfinals. However, six teams were dropped in the first round and three more were gone by the second in what was considered a strong area contingent before the playoffs.
What to expect from the 2020-21 season, which is slated to begin on Saturday around the state and in northeast Georgia, also will be a matter of perspective.
Reclassification could be as big a factor as roster changes. More than a dozen teams -- 13 to be exact -- are in new or revamped regions, including Gainesville (Class 7A) and Buford Class 6A) both moving up one class and Jackson County (Class 5A) bumping up two classes. Some teams like White County and West Hall, both now in Region 7-3A, have moved down.
Only two teams -- Jackson County (Christi Thomas) and Dawson County (Eric Herrick) -- sport new coaches.
But there are a few rebuilds that will be under way, for sure. And while it may take a while to see how things shake out, what we can expect is that most, if not all, of the 22 teams in the AccessWDUN coverage area to be in the playoff race.
We offer you below our 2020-21 season preview of every team in our coverage area.*
(* -- Information provided by coaches or team officials.)
(Teams are listed in alphabetical order.)
BANKS COUNTY LADY LEOPARDS
-- COACH, YEARS AT SCHOOL: Steve Shedd, 5th season
-- REGION: 8-2A
-- 2019-20 RECORD/ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 15-16 overall Region 8-2A runner-up, Class 2A Sweet 16
-- KEY PLAYER LOSSES: PG/SG Heather Vaughan (leading scorer), PF Sadie Simpson, PF Pollie Simpson
-- KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: Sr. G/F Jenna Reeves (2nd leading scorer, 2019-20 Region 8-2A Honorable Mention), So. PF Kamryn Grier (2019-20 8-2A Honorable Mention), So. G/F Jacy Ayers (2019-20 8-2A Honorable Mention)
-- STRENGTHS: The Lady Leopards should be well-balanced in terms of size and speed/inside and outside game. They will continue to play their fast, aggressive style on both ends of the court. They also could have some talented freshmen that could see action throughout the season to add to their depth.
-- QUESTION MARKS: Like many teams, Shedd said staying healthy while building chemistry could be the key for being competitive in a tough region once again.
-- KEY GAMES: The Lady Leopards have put together another tough non-region schedule that could contain as many as five ranked teams in their classifications to go with a competitive region schedule. Shedd said the key games would be a strong start to the region in January. Despite just four teams in the region that play girls basketball, 8-2A could still be one of the toughest in Class 2A.
BUFORD LADY WOLVES
-- COACH, YEARS AT SCHOOL: Gene Durden, 16th year, 406-71 record at school (839-215 overall)
-- REGION: 8-6A
-- 2019-20 RECORD/ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 31-1, Region 8-5A champions, Class 5A state champions
-- KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: Sr. W Blair Wallis (Region 8-5A All-Region), Sr. W Sara Viti, Sr. PG Ashyia Willis (Region 8-5A All-Region, Class 5A All-State, Georgia College and University-commit), Sr. W Abbi Perkins, Jr. P Tatum Ozment, Jr. P Tamori Plantin, Sr. P Andi Blake, Sr. P Courtney Martin, Sr. W Jordan Garrison, So. PG Samiya Wayne, So. W Kirby Walllis, So. W Olivia Orsley, Fr. PG Ava Grace Watson
-- STRENGTHS: Despite winning four straight titles and graduating several key players, experience and depth will once again be the foundation as the Lady Wolves move up a classification. Buford as always will play an aggressive, hustling, pressing defense from end to end to go with their fast-paced transition game on offense.
-- QUESTION MARKS: How quickly they adapt to what should be a much tougher region with the likes of 2019 state champion Lanier, 2020 quarterfinalist Dacula, an improved Habersham Central, and former 7A schools Central Gwinnett and Shiloh will decide their playoff future.
-- KEY GAMES: A much tougher region schedule awaits but as always they have put together a challenging non-region schedule which includes state powers Norcross, Holy Innocents, Jefferson, Wesleyan, and defending Class 3A state champion GAC to prepare them for another postseason run.
CHEROKEE BLUFF LADY BEARS
-- COACH, YEARS AT SCHOOL: Lindsay Justice, 3rd season
-- REGION: 7-3A
-- 2019-20 RECORD/ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 5-21
-- KEY PLAYER LOSSES: P Madi Phillips (Columbus State University)
-- KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: Jr. PG Timber Gaither (Region 7-3A All-Region team, 12.3 ppg and 2 spg), Sr. Alexis Mize (Region 7-3A All-Region honorable mention), Sr. P Abi Whitaker, Sr. Taylor Click, Jr. Finley Millwood
-- STRENGTHS: The Lady Bears suffered their first growing pains last year after challenging for a playoff spot in their inaugural season. But they also return multiple players with starting varsity experience. The chemistry and leadership of a mostly-upperclassman team should have them challenging for a playoff spot this time around.
-- QUESTION MARKS: The loss Phillips of is a big hole inside to fill and they will have to find someone to fill that void.
-- KEY GAMES: The region once again will be tough with 2019-20 Class 3A semifinalist North Hall, Class 4A playoff team White County, Lumpkin County, and what is expected to be improved Dawson County and West Hall teams. They should be able to compete with an experienced roster but every game will be huge.
CHESTATEE LADY WAR EAGLES
-- COACH, YEARS AT SCHOOL: Sutton Shirley, 3rd season (30-28)
-- REGION: 8-4A
-- 2019-20 RECORD/ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 16-13 overall, Class 4A state tournament
-- KEY PLAYER LOSSES: Maggie McNair, 15 ppg in 2019-20, 1,000-point scorer
-- KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: Sr. PG Emma Easterwood (Region 7-4A 2019-20 All-Region, 2020-21 preseason All-State), Jr. W Bowen Corley (averaged 29 minutes/game, 8.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg), Sr. P Logan Wiggins (averaged 27 minutes/game, 7.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg), Sr. G Danielle Bull (averaged 26 minutes/game, 5.0 ppg, 3.0 rpg)
-- STRENGTHS: Solid depth should be factor this for the Lady War Eagles, who return four players that averaged over 25 minutes a game and started over 25 games last season. They also have 5 underclassmen that have an opportunity to play important roles this season.
-- QUESTION MARKS: Coach Sutton Shirley said not having a traditional summer and how long it will take to find the right pieces and right mixture of players could decide their success with so many new players looking to and able to contribute.
-- KEY GAMES: Chestatee's first two Region 8-4A games (in mid-December vs. Flowery Branch and East Hall) could have a significant impact on the region standings early and at the end of the season. It will be important for every team to get off to a solid start with 2019-20 Class 3A state runner-up Jefferson now in 8-4A as well.
COMMERCE LADY TIGERS
-- COACH, YEARS AT SCHOOL: Brad Puckett, 7th season
-- REGION: 8-A Public
-- 2019-20 RECORD/ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 15-11
-- KEY PLAYER LOSSES: P Ragan Allen, G Lauren Roach
-- KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: Sr. G Bryanna Sanders (leading returning scorer, closing in on 1,000th career points), Sr. G Maggie Mullis (led the team in steals last season), Jr. PG Lauren Massey, Jr. P Carson Hobbs (2nd-leading scorer last season), Sr. P Emma Davis (returning from ACL injury), Jr. G/W Sarah Webb, Jr. P Grace Hobbs (recovering from ACL injury, should be back by January)
-- STRENGTHS: The Lady Tigers are returning 4 of 5 returning starters and the top four scorers from last season. With a reamped region they should be among the teams to beat as no one in the new configuration made the playoffs last season. They have size, shooting ability, and depth and should give most teams a tough matchup.
-- QUESTION MARKS: They have two key players returning from injury so how quickly they get back to varsity speed may be a factor.
-- KEY GAMES: They have a very tough non-region schedule with larger schools such as Madison County, Oconee County, Franklin County, Banks County, who all made the playoffs last season. The region schedule is set for late December and January and they should compete for a region championship and a possible deep run in the playoffs.
DAWSON COUNTY LADY TIGERS
-- COACH, YEARS AT SCHOOL: Eric Herrick, 1st season (moved over from Dawson boys)
-- REGION: 7-3A
-- 2019-20 RECORD/ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 13-14, 1st round Class 3A playoffs
-- KEY PLAYER LOSSES: Marlie Townley, Sophia D'Olivera
-- KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: Sr. G Maddie Anglin (12 ppg), Sr. F/C Mariah Benson (8 ppg, 6 rpg), So. G/F Kirklyn Porter (7 ppg), Jr. Ella Suita (missed the 2019-20 season due to injury)
-- STRENGTHS: The Lady Tigers should be a good shooting team and should be good defensively.
-- QUESTION MARKS: With a coaching change and little time together, the biggest issue will just be everyone getting on the same page. It may take some time and they will need to adjust quickly with a tough region schedule looming.
-- KEY GAMES: They will use their non-region schedule to build chemistry and cohesion to get ready for a tough region schedule. Rivals Lumpkin County and White County are games they will to during the season.
EAST HALL LADY VIKINGS
-- COACH, YEARS AT SCHOOL: Justin Wheeler
-- REGION: 8-4A
-- 2019-20 RECORD/ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 9-16
-- KEY PLAYER LOSSES: Tessa Rider
-- KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: Jr. G Alexis Burce (Region 7-3A All-Region), Jr. G Audrey Griffin, So. G Callie Dale, So. G Maleah Harrison
-- STRENGTHS: The Lady Vikings return a solid guard-heavy nucleus led by Burce, Griffin, and Dale and should be assemble to use their quickness and shooting to put pressure on opposing defenses.
-- QUESTION MARKS: Height and depth will be an issue in what is expected to be a very tough and balanced region.
-- KEY GAMES: The Lady Vikings will look to a tough non-region schedule, including Lanierland, to prepare for region play and try to return to the playoffs for the first time in three seasons.
EAST JACKSON LADY EAGLES
-- COACH, YEARS AT SCHOOL: Cherrelle Pullen, 2nd season (11-16)
-- REGION: 8-3A
-- 2019-20 RECORD/ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 11-16
-- KEY PLAYER LOSSES: No key losses
-- KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: So. G Antonia Pittman (14.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.9 apg, 3.3 spg; (Region 8-3A 1st Team All-Region), Jr. G Haven Rollins (10.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.9 apg, 2.6 spg), Sr. P Maurissa Thomas (7.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.1 apg, and 2.9 spg), Sr. G Kenzie Whitehead (6.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.1 apg, and 1.6 spg)
-- STRENGTHS: The Lady Eagles return the bulk of their team from last year and should be improved in their second season under coach Pullen. They should have a quick defense that will most teams trouble and help create transition offense.
-- QUESTION MARKS: They have just an 8-person bench so depth will be an issue. They also will be small with their tallest player 5-foot-9.
-- KEY GAMES: They will play a tough non-region schedule to prepare for a tough region slate. But without St. Pius in the region it should be more wide-open and a playoff berth is a possibility this season.
FLOWERY BRANCH LADY FALCONS
-- COACH, YEARS AT SCHOOL: Courtney Newton-Gonzalez, 6th season (122-32)
-- REGION: 8-4A
-- 2019-20 RECORD/ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 16-12, Class 4A state tournament
-- KEY PLAYER LOSSES: Lost just one player from last year’s team
-- KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: Sr. P Ashlee Lock (Region 7-4A Player of the Year, 2nd Team Class 4A All-State, GACA North-South All-Star Team Member, Atlanta Tipoff Club All-Metro Team), Jr. G Shaina Kriews (Region 7-4A All-Region), Sr. PG Morgan Aguilar, So. G Bella Brick, Jr. G Alana Veiga
-- STRENGTHS: The Lady Falcons return their entire starting unit from last year. After a step back last year after a tremendous 4-year run, the Branch looks poised for another big year with experience at every position and depth. Locke is a tough matchup for any defense and if their defense returns to form they should challenge for the region title.
-- QUESTION MARKS: The Lady Falcons have 5 freshmen and how quickly they adapt to varsity play to give them some key minutes could be a factor.
-- KEY GAMES: Newton-Gonzalez always puts together a challenging non-region schedule and should be tested early with some Thanksgiving as well as Lanierland before jumping into a tough region with East Hall, Jefferson, Chestatee, and Madison County.
GAINESVILLE LADY RED ELEPHANTS
-- COACH, YEARS AT SCHOOL: Alan Griffin, 3rd season (20-30)
-- REGION: 6-7A
-- 2019-20 RECORD/ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 8-15
-- KEY PLAYER LOSSES: None
-- KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: Sr. P Lauren Teasley (Region 8-6A All Region), Sr. W Sadie Roach (Region 8-6A All Region), Sr. Ariah Jeffers (3-year starter), So. PG Zaria Williams, So. G Keke Jones
-- STRENGTHS: The Lady Red Elephants will have plenty of speed and should be tough on the defensive end. They also have 4 of their key starters back from last season as Griffin and his staff continue to rebuild the program.
-- QUESTION MARKS: Consistent scoring was the biggest issue last year and they are still searching for that element. But with the experience back they should see some improvement.
-- KEY GAMES: They got no favors in the move up to Class 7A into one of the best and deepest regions in the state. North Forsyth was a quarterfinalist last season and the region as a whole looks to be even better this year. The Lady Red Elephants will need to make quick improvements to have a shot at a playoff spot.
HABERSHAM CENTRAL LADY RAIDERS
-- COACH, YEARS AT SCHOOL: William Bradley
-- REGION: 8-6A
-- 2019-20 RECORD/ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 13-15 record. Lost 1st round State Tournament
-- KEY PLAYER LOSSES: Did not lose any starters from last season
-- KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: Sr. PG Addie Penick (All-Region Region 8-6A team), Jr. P Taylor Wade (leading rebounder from 2019-20), Jr. W Nykerriah Brown (leading scorer from 2019-20), Sr. W Liz Pollitt, Jr. W Hailey Wade
-- STRENGTHS: The Lady Raiders have moved beyond the youth movement from the last three seasons and should be ready to challenge for an upper-tier spot in the region with experience and depth.
-- QUESTION MARKS: They are still in a tough region and the addition of defending Class 5A state champion Buford will make things tougher. One key question could be how soon can rising Fr. Kyia Barrett be an impact player.
-- KEY GAMES: The region still has 2019 state champion Lanier, 2020 quarterfinalist Dacula and now Buford so every game will be of paramount importance to secure a top seed in the region tournament.
JACKSON COUNTY LADY PANTHERS
-- COACH, YEARS AT SCHOOL: Christi Thomas, 1st season (former Flowery Branch and Cherokee Bluff assistant)
-- REGION: 8-5A
-- 2019-20 RECORD/ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 5-22, 1st round Class 3A playoffs
-- KEY PLAYER LOSSES: Bailee Bejin, Carson Anderson, Sydney Hayes
-- KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: Sr. PG Mikenna Duffy, Jr. Kennedy Harris, Sr. Naomi Sims
-- STRENGTHS: The Lady Panthers are coming off their first playoff appearance since 2017 and have several key players returning. Coach Thomas should instill some toughness and expect them to be competitive.
-- QUESTION MARKS: It always takes time during a coaching change and with summer workouts limited because of COVID that could make things more difficult. They will be in a new region and size could be an issue.
-- KEY GAMES: The Lady Panthers should be able to compete for another playoff run but face a tough region slate with the likes of Loganville and Greenbriar. However, half of the playoff teams from last season are now in other classifications which could make it wide-open until the final game.
JEFFERSON LADY DRAGONS
-- COACH, YEARS AT SCHOOL: Greg Brown, 3rd season (50-8)
-- REGION: 8-4A
-- 2019-20 RECORD/ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 25-4, Region 8-3A champions, Class 3A quarterfinals
-- KEY PLAYER LOSSES: P Chloe Hiatt, Natalia Bolden (injury)
-- KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: Sr. PG Livi Blackstock (UNG-commit, Region 8-3A All-Region, Class 3A All-State), Sr. G Allianne Clark, Sr. F Courtney Kidd (Region 8-3A All-Region), Jr. G Deshona Gaither (Region 8-3A All-Region, Class 3A All-State), Jr. G Ellie Kinlaw (Region 8-3A All-Region)
-- STRENGTHS: The Lady Dragons return the bulk of their team that lost to eventual state champion GAC by just 3 points last season. They will have depth at every position and multiple scoring options.
-- QUESTION MARKS: The biggest issue may be moving up a classification and into a region that should be tough from top to bottom.
-- KEY GAMES: Brown has put together a tough non-region slate with nine playoff teams from last year, including what should be a tough Region 8-4A schedule.
JOHNSON LADY KNIGHTS
-- COACH, YEARS AT SCHOOL: Jared Hodge, 3rd season
-- REGION: 8-5A
-- 2019-20 RECORD/ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 2-23 overall, won first region game since 2016
-- KEY PLAYER LOSSES: PG Amy Berry, Jazmyn Gooch (leading scorer last 2 seasons, Region 8-5A All-Region selection)
-- KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: Jr. P Sarah Johnson (5 ppg/led the team with 153 rebounds last year), Jr. G Carleigh Odell (5 ppg/27 steals), Jr. G Ashley Mintz (4 ppg/36 steals), Jr. Emely Trejo, So. Alana Young
-- STRENGTHS: The Lady Knights return 5 players, including 3 starters, from last year’s team and all have gained quality experience. Johnson, Odell, and Mintz give them a solid triumvirate.
-- QUESTION MARKS: Depth and scoring production will be concerns but with plenty of experience returning those could be improved areas as the season moves along. However, they also will have a lot of girls stepping into new roles that are untested.
-- KEY GAMES: The Lady Knights will open the season with a Lanierland play-in game against arch-rival West Hall on Nov. 21st so getting into the tournament for the first time in two years would be immediate progress. They open Region 8-5A play on Dec. 8th vs. Clarke Central.
LAKEVIEW ACADEMY LADY LIONS
-- COACH, YEARS AT SCHOOL: John Carrick, 11th season
-- REGION: 6-A Private
-- 2019-20 RECORD/ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 21-9, 2nd round Class A Private playoffs
-- KEY PLAYER LOSSES: Graduated 6 seniors, including Mercer-signee Eliza Snyder
-- KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: Jr. G Joelle Snyder, (17 ppg, 34% 3-pt line), So. Sydney Corbin
-- STRENGTHS: They have Snyder, who can take over a game. And they will be well-coached with Carrick.
-- QUESTION MARKS: This could be considered a rebuilding year. The Lady Lions have no seniors and 7 freshmen on the roster. Snyder and Corbin are the only two players that were on the roster in 2019-20. Finding the right combinations on the floor will be paramount.
-- KEY GAMES: Lakeview joins a new region for the first time in its history after spending its entire existence in 8-A. St. Francis out of 6-A was the state runner-up last season and three other teams made the playoffs. How they use their non-region schedule to prepare, including the Lanierland tournament, could shape their season.
LUMPKIN COUNTY LADY INDIANS
-- COACH, YEARS AT SCHOOL: David Dowse, 4th season (41-35)
-- REGION: 7-3A
-- 2019-20 RECORD/ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 15-11, Class 3A 1st round playoffs
-- KEY PLAYER LOSSES: Madisyn Echols
-- KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: Sr. PG Isabel Davenport (Region 7-3A Co-Region Player of the Year, Class 3A All-State), Sr. F Makenzie Caldwell (Region 7-3A Honorable Mention), So. G Lexi Pierce (Region 7-3A Honorable Mention), So. F Mary Mullinax, So. F Kate Jackson (Region 7-3A All-Region, injured and out for this season)
-- STRENGTHS: The Lady Indians should be outstanding offensively, led by Davenport. They have multiple shooters to complement Davenport and Caldwell. Coach Dowse said it may be the most athletic Lumpkin team in several years.
-- QUESTION MARKS: Depth and size have been an issue the last two seasons and maybe the only thing keeping them from a deep playoff run. They will be small and could struggle inside until Jackson returns. They also will be young with Davenport and Caldwell the only players above sophomore status.
-- KEY GAMES: Dowse will have them hosting the 1st annual "Kelly King Holiday Classic" just before Christmas and the region schedule will be tough as always with half of the field coming off of playoff appearances.
NORTH HALL LADY TROJANS
-- COACH, YEARS AT SCHOOL: Kristi House: 11th season (183-110)
-- REGION: 7-3A
-- 2019-20 RECORD/ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 23-9, Lanierland champions, Region 7-3A champions, Class 3A Final Four
-- KEY PLAYER LOSSES: Maci Gillespie, Grace Hollifield, Ansley Smallwood, Lauren Swanson
-- KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: Jr. G Rylee McCall
-- STRENGTHS: The Lady Trojans may give the appearance of a rebuild but look for them to be able to play defense and shoot the ball as always.
-- QUESTION MARKS: Youth and inexperience will be the theme for the Lady Trojans. They graduated 4 of their starting 5 from last year and also return no seniors and only 2 juniors. How quickly the younger players step up and mature could be the difference in whether they can challenge to defend their title.
-- KEY GAMES: All eyes in northeast Georgia will be on them in every game as defending Lanierland and 7-3A champs as well as a Final Four team. They will face a tough non-region schedule and a tougher 7-3A with the addition of Class 4A 2nd round playoff team White County.
RABUN COUNTY LADY WILDCATS
-- COACH, YEARS AT SCHOOL: DeeDee Dillard
-- REGION: 8-2A
-- 2019-20 RECORD/ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 24-4, 1st round Class 2A playoffs
-- KEY PLAYER LOSSES: G Laken Stiles, C Destiny Deetz, W Hanna Cannon
-- KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: Sr. F Beth Payne, Sr. F Natalie Nix, Jr. F/W Gracie Deetz (All-Region 8-2A), Jr. PG Sophie Woodard, Jr. G Carley Haban, Jr. G Loren Stiles
-- STRENGTHS: The system that Dillard has installed through the years will always have the Lady Wildcats in the mix. They will be a small but quick team that will solid on the defensive end. Deetz gives them a legitimate inside threat.
-- QUESTION MARKS: The Wildcats in 2020-21 will be young and how quickly the sophomore and freshman classes adjust to their roles could be the key to the season.
-- KEY GAMES: Dillard will have the Lady Wildcats playing a very tough non-region schedule, which includes Jefferson, the 2019-20 Class 3A state runner-up as well as Stephens County and Dawson County. Despite just four teams in Region 8-2A it will once again be a tough with Union County (quarterfinals) and Banks County (2nd round) challenging for a region title.
TOWNS COUNTY LADY INDIANS
-- COACH, YEARS AT SCHOOL: Brian Hunnicutt, 4th season
-- REGION: 8-A Public
-- 2019-20 RECORD/ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 9-16
-- KEY PLAYER LOSSES: G Sophia Shook (2nd leading scorer last season)
-- KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: - Sr. G Vanessa Floyd (2nd team Region 8-A All-Region), Sr. G Kennedi Henson (1st team Region 8-A All-Region in 2018, injured in 2019), Sr. G/F Jayce Young
-- STRENGTHS: The Lady Indians return four starters, and five seniors, from last year's team. Henson should be ready to return to 2018 All Region form after missing all of 2019.
-- QUESTION MARKS: How quickly young players step up to fill out the depth for the team will be a key for sure. But with only two juniors, the Lady Indians will have to rely on several sophomores and freshmen to provide that depth. Henson was one of the top 2 scorers for Towns her first two seasons and if she comes back to that form that will add a ton to the offense.
-- KEY GAMES: Of course, the key games will be in Region 8-A play. The two meetings with Commerce as will the meetings with Lake Oconee Academy, who is expected to return a solid team in the new region. Those three teams may well challenge for the region title.
UNION COUNTY LADY PANTHERS
-- COACH, YEARS AT SCHOOL: Crystal Beach, 2nd season (23-7)
-- REGION: 8-2A
-- 2019-20 RECORD/ACCOMPLISHMENTS: Record: 23-7, Region 8-2A champions, Class 2A Elite 8
-- KEY PLAYER LOSSES: Andelin Hill, Brooke Dockery
-- KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: Jr. P Ava Hunter (16.3 ppg, 9.1 rpg; Region 8-2A All-Region Team, Class 2A All-State Team), Ellie Cook (6.9 ppg)
-- STRENGTHS: The Lady Panthers return the bulk of their lineup from last year’s playoff team. - They should be strong inside with Hunter and will have plenty of speedy guards to run their up-tempo offense.
-- QUESTION MARKS: They did lose 2 of their top 3 scorers from last season and will have to find production to make up for that. They will be in a tough region again despite just four teams.
-- KEY GAMES: Beach said the region games will be the most crucial, and with so much uncertainty still surrounding the season will COVID, every region win will be gold.
WEST HALL LADY SPARTANS
-- COACH, YEARS AT SCHOOL: Shawana Harrison, 3rd season
-- REGION: 7-3A
-- 2019-20 RECORD/ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 4-21
-- KEY PLAYER LOSSES: Kinsey Wilson
-- KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: Sr. Adrianna Lipscomb, Jr. Riley Harkin, So. Angelica Mallak
-- STRENGTHS: The Lady Spartans are still in rebuilding mode but do return three players from last season. They will play hard and should be better in Harrison’s third season.
-- QUESTION MARKS: Depth will be an issue in a tough, deep region. They will need to find some offense to replace Kinsey and will have to be better on defense.
-- KEY GAMES: They have a challenging non-region schedule but will look to rivals Cherokee Bluff and Johnson as games they will certainly want to win.
WHITE COUNTY LADY WARRIORS
-- COACH, YEARS AT SCHOOL: Jarvis Davenport, 5th season (53-52)
-- REGION: 7-3A
-- 2019-20 RECORD/ACCOMPLISHMENTS: 20-9, 2nd round Class 4A playoffs, 1st-ever state playoff win
-- KEY PLAYER LOSSES: Naomi Crumley, Ellie Gearing, Rachel Lovell and Bentley Cronic
-- KEY RETURNING PLAYERS: Sr. G Dasha Cannon (Region 7-4A All-Region, Class 4A All-State 2020, 1,000pt scorer, UNG-commit), Sr. W/P Maddie Futch (Region 7-4A All-Region Emmanuel College-commit), Sr. G Madison Adams, Sr. W Makenna Moose, Sr. P Camryn McAfee, So. G Caitlyn Gailey, Jr PG Chesnee Freeman, So. W/P Naomi Roberts, Jr. W/P Kinsey Dockery, So. PG Chandler Weaver, So. G/P Maci Shelnut
-- STRENGTHS: The Lady Warriors have experience and depth with size inside and some speed on the perimeter. They can play uptempo or slow it down and grind it out when needed.
-- QUESTION MARKS: The Lady Warriors also graduated four of their main cogs from last year’s historic team. How they get the younger players to adjust to playing major minutes and being more involved could be a key to the season.
-- KEY GAMES: They will play a challenging schedule, including what should be a very wide-open and balanced Region 7-3A package. They should be a playoff-caliber team and possibly an upper-tier team by the end of the season.
--Key: Sr: senior, Jr: junior, So: sophomore, Fr: freshman, PG: point guard, G: guard, SG: shooting guard, W: wing, F: forward, PF: power forward, SF: small forward, P: post, C: center, PPG: points per game, RPG: rebounds per game, APG: assists per game, SPG: steals per game, FT: free throws