Coach: Angela Hurt (fourth season)
Last season: 11-15
Key returners: G Sophie Kurtz (Jr.), G Maria Hansen (Sr.), F Gina Fishler (So.)
Key newcomers: Morgan Day (Fr.)
Outlook: The Lady Bulldogs will be making their transition from Class 5A to Class 7A—a big leap that’s sure to cause some growing pains for the program. Complicating that matter is the fact Julie Richards, a 1,000-point scorer for her career, graduated, and the Lady Bulldogs only return four players from last season; Sophie Kurtz is the lone returning starter.
As such, with a young roster, the most important for head coach Angela Hurt is how quickly players develop effective communication on the court. Hurt also likes how coachable the young group is. "We are young," Hurt said, "but are working hard to make up for the lack of experience and look to be able to compete in our new region."
Coach: Jaime Fisher (third season)
Last season: 15-11
Key returners: G Molly Williams (Sr.), G Kara Kidwell (Sr.), F Leah Cote (Sr.), G M.E. Craven (Jr.), F Jaleah Greene (Jr.), G Summer Edwards (Jr.)
Key newcomers: G Skylar Aledia (Jr.), G Katie Schwind (Jr.)
Outlook: The Longhorns should be in the running for a region title. Lambert was up and down last season, but returns an experienced core of players and a familiar face from the past. Kara Kidwell saw playing time with the Longhorns as a freshman and a sophomore before playing a year overseas in Singapore. The North Georgia signee will join scoring guard Molly Williams and Summer Edwards to form a solid backcourt.
The wing will have a special talent in M.E. Craven. Although she’s already committed to Auburn for soccer she became a go-to scorer for the Lady Longhorns on the hardwood last season. Jaleah Greene returns from injury while Leah Cote will be asked to do more down low with the departure of Shayna Lawrence.
“We just need to build team chemistry. We graduated many seniors from last year so it’s important for us to just learn how to play together,” Fisher said.
Coach: Erick Herrick (sixth season)
Last season: 18-7
Key returners: G Amber Jones (Jr.), F Cassie Markle (Jr.), F Maddie Palmer (Sr.), G Kate Ware (Jr.), G Bella Caracciolo (Jr.), F Madison Moye (Sr.), G Sydney Bartlett (Sr.)
Key newcomers: G Caroline Martin (Fr.), G Ansley Allen (Fr.), G Sophia d’Oliveira (Fr.), F Vekondja Ogbogu (Fr.)
Outlook: North loses talent, but gains some. The Lady Raiders will be without Haley Simpson, who decided to stick to softball—she’s signed with South Carolina—instead of continuing to play two sports. She’s still been around the program as a mentor, and that leadership has been useful for a talented group of five freshmen. “I don’t blame Haley at all,” Herrick said. “Honestly I’d be nervous to put her out there. She’s still been great for the program, and she’s always poking her head in and out.”
Caroline Martin adds the most talent as a versatile scorer who can play any position, while Amber Jones returns after hitting 86 3-pointers a season ago. Cassie Markle made rounds as a sure rebounder and hustle player last year as a sophomore and should add physicality in the post. Bella Caracciolo also returns as a veteran presence with significant playing time as an underclassman.
Coach: Ken Lacy, third season
Last season: 16-9
Key returners: G Margaret Metz (Sr.), Regina Metz (Jr.), F Haley Hawk (Sr.), G Christina Brinson (Sr.)
Key newcomers: N/A
Outlook: Pinecrest was oh so close last season, finishing the season with an 88-42 loss to St. Francis—not surprising at all considering the opponent—and missing out on the Class A-Private playoffs despite a more than formidable record. That included a 6-4 mark in region play and some very impressive non-league wins along the way.
This year they’ll look to get back, only losing Tessa Stubbs in the post from last year’s squad. The Metz sisters facilitate on the floor, while Haley Hawk and Christina Brinson are slated to return to fill out the team. The Lady Paladins will need to stay conditioned without a lot of depth and experience, but surely will compete once again for a postseason position.
Coach: Keith Gravitt (14th season)
Last season: 20-6
Key returners: G Mari Jonassen (Sr.), G Emily Dreslinski (Sr.), F Zoe Maisel (Jr.), F Olivia Poff (Sr.), F Sara Idris (Jr.)
Key newcomers: G Olivia Woodison (So.), G Ryane Williams (Fr.), G Ashley Briendl (Fr.)
Outlook: South says goodbye to Sarah Myers and K.K. Storms—a scary thought considering the team had just eight varsity players for the entirety of last season. Head coach Keith Gravitt isn’t that worried though—the team will have plenty of time in non-region play to gel the returners with newcomers. “We have scheduled some traditional powers like Parkview, South Gwinnett and Collins Hill. Our goal is to use these games to prepare for the new region that we are excited to be a part of.”
Jonassen returns as a reliable, steady point guard, while Dreslinski might come back as South’s most potent weapon. Last season she made big plays in big moments, especially when Myers was on the bench or unavailable. Zoe Maisel also sprouted up as a sophomore last year and could continue to develop into one of the county’s best post players. Sara Idris returns after being sidelined most of last season with a leg injury.
Coach: David May (fifth season)
Last season: 25-7
Key returners: F Kalie Schlegel (Sr.), G Ella Madson (So.)
Key newcomers: G Abby Quincy (Sr.), G Maggy Quincy (Fr.), G/F Sarah Padgett (Fr.)
Outlook: West will have to replace a lot from last season. Gone is Miss Georgia Basketball, Jenna Staiti, as well as steady shooting wing Jane Ortlip and a group of reliable juniors. Carsen Parker and Brooke Pirkle, who both played huge roles in West’s run to the state semifinals, are sticking to soccer after joining a more time-consuming club. That means West’s only returning starter is Kalie Schlegel, who was the primary forward outside of Staiti last year. The team will have to get used to playing without a 6-foot-5 center to feed down low.
Ella Madson, a tall and athletic young guard, could become a go-to player in her sophomore season. The Lady Wolverines will also add two sisters and a freshman forward.
“Defense, learning concepts and rotations. This is a great group of hard working kids. Youth and inexperience could be an issue but we’re looking forward to improving every day,” May said.