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2018-19 GIRLS BASKETBALL PREVIEW: Team-by-team capsules
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North Forsyth guard Caroline Martin attempts a layup against West Seattle on Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017, in the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix. - photo by Lily McGregor Photography

Pinecrest Academy
Coach: Jonathan Oshinski, first season

Last season: 16-9 overall, 11-4 Region 5-7A

Key returners: F Nika Brown (Sr.), G Meghan Sullivan (So.)

Key newcomers: G Ella Binkley (Sr.), F Aryn Spain (Fr.)

Outlook: New head coach Jonathan Oshinski comes up from Pinecrest’s middle school ranks to take Ken Lacy’s spot. The former coach, known for his grueling offseason workouts, leaves behind some pretty high expectations for this Paladins squad, a team that usually prides itself on punching above its weight with a small roster. Pinecrest will have to deal with the loss of three seniors from last season, including leading scorer Regina Metz, but will return Nika Brown at the forward spot as a senior leader. Learning to play together with six new players on the roster will be one of the bigger challenges the Paladins will face this season.

 

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West Forsyth guard Haylee Dornan is congratulated by teammates and head coach David May after hitting a 3-pointer at the buzzer to defeat Forsyth Central on Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2018. - photo by Brian Paglia

West Forsyth
Coach: David May, seventh season

Last season: 5-24 overall, 2-9 Region 5-7A

Key returners: G Abby Quincy (Jr.), F Allie Jackson (Jr.), G Haylee Dornan (So.), G Kassidy Kimbro (Jr.)

Key newcomers: G Calie Thrower (Fr.), G Cayla Cowert (Fr.), G Kalie Thrower (Fr.)

Outlook: With just one senior on the roster, the Wolverines are an ever younger group than they were last season. Being youthful could be a good thing, but the lack of experience might also be a detriment to West, along with a lack of size. Still, head coach David May sees a lot to be excited about, namely the kind of quickness that his team has exhibited from end to end so far. That, along with the kind of excitement that has come from knocking out Central in a nail-biter in last season’s region tournament, could go a long way.

 

Forsyth Central
Coach: Angela Hurt, 14th season

Last season: 11-15 overall, 3-7 Region 5-7A

Key returners: Post Gina Fishler (Sr.), G Ansley Carver (Jr.), F Morgan Day (Jr.), PG Carson Cloud (So.), Post Elizabeth Pruitt (So.)

Key newcomers: F/G Aisha Dabo (So.), G Jillian Bretz (Fr.)

Outlook: It was a heartbreaking end for Central last season, with the Bulldogs falling to West Forsyth by a single point in the Region 5-7A tournament, denying them a playoff spot in an otherwise resurgent season. It might be easy to rebound from that, though, with a good mixture of players coming back to go along with some newcomers. The Bulldogs have size inside to work with, along with the potential for consistent guard play with Carson Cloud holding down the point.

 

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South Forsyth's Olivia Woodison leaps to save a loose ball against North Gwinnett on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. - photo by Ben Hendren

South Forsyth
Coach: Keith Gravitt, 16th season

Last season: 18-11 overall, 6-4 Region 5-7A

Key returners: G Olivia Woodison (Sr.), G Ryane Williams (Jr.), G Ashley Breindl (Jr.), P Sara Stiers (Sr.),  G Kayla Casey (Jr.), G Sophie Rosin (Jr.)

Key newcomers: N/A

Outlook: The War Eagles lose their two leading scorers from last season, Zoe Maisel and Sara Idris, but with five seniors and five juniors coming back, there’s still plenty of experience coming back for this season. The roles look to be changing a little bit because of those two departures, though, which will be interesting to see. Longtime head coach Keith Gravitt sees a lot of team chemistry in his group, but sees improvements to be made in consistency and playing complete games.

 

Lambert
Coach: Chris Roy, first season

Last season: 18-10, 9-2 Region 5-7A

Key returners: F Katie Carmichael (Sr.), F/G Ansley Dean (Sr.), G Grace Gomez (Sr.), G Jenny McKenna (Sr.), F McLain Meriam (Sr.), G Lauren Webb (Sr.)

Key newcomers: G Taylor Parrish (So.), F Sydney Colin (Fr.)

Outlook: The Longhorns lost three all-county selections over the offseason, but that hasn’t dampened Lambert’s hopes for this season in the slightest. They still have plenty of returners from last year’s campaign, including six seniors. Former assistant Chris Roy was elevated to head coach after Jaime Fisher stepped down after last season, and he especially likes what he sees defensively out of his group. While free throw shooting also appears to be strength, the development of the team offense will be an aspect to watch as the Longhorns look to mesh together with roles changing.

 

Denmark
Coach: Jaime Maxey, first season

Last season: N/A

Key returners: N/A

Key newcomers: G Tyana Green (So.), G Clarissa Kelly (So.), G Jessie DeNardo (Fr.)

Outlook: As with the rest of the other athletic teams from Forsyth County’s newest school, the Danes will be starting fresh with a very young core for their first-ever season, and understandably, not much experience at the varsity level. Head coach Jaime Maxey previously served as an assistant for Chattahoochee, a team that reached the Class 6A Elite Eight in 2017. She’ll be looking to transfer her experience to Denmark, and her team will just be looking to get better in terms of communication and offensive fluidity as they go. Tyana Green is a versatile athlete that can play anywhere, and Clarissa Kelly adds some quickness.

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North Forsyth's Ansley Allen, left, and Catherine Shope, back, battle for a loose ball against Mountain View on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. - photo by Lily McGregor Photography

North Forsyth
Coach: Eric Herrick, eighth season

Last season: 28-3 overall, 10-0 Region 5-7A

Key returners: PG Caroline Martin (Jr.), SG Ansley Allen (Jr.), F Vekondja Ogbogu (Jr.), G Harley Helms (Jr.), G McCall Thomas (Jr.)

Key newcomers: F/G Lily Bales (So.), G Haelem Adle (Fr.), C Maddie Erickson (Fr.)

Outlook: The Raiders are coming off a 28-win campaign that saw them make a deep playoff run to the Class 7A Final Four. While leading scorer Catherine Shope has moved on, North still has leftover pieces to defend their Region 5-7A crown. That all starts with junior point guard Caroline Martin, the only non-senior girls player in the county to make the all-FCN team last season. She’ll be looking to carry a lot more of the scoring load, as will shooting guard Ansley Allen.

Head coach Eric Herrick says that speed should be a strength of this squad, but that outside of Martin and Allen, there isn’t much game experience among other guards. The Raiders are also looking to build more depth, particularly among their bigs.


Horizon Christian Academy
Coach: Damon Taylor, second season

Key returners: F Kailee Harper (Sr.), F Bennett Ross (Jr.), F Ava Green (So.), G Catherine Biddle (Jr.), G Erin Wisler (So.), G Clara Holtzclaw (Fr.)

Key newcomers: F Kaitlyn Strouth, G Yeoujun Yang (Sr.), G Macy Susung (Jr.), G Georgia Hutchinson (Fr.), F Riley Horton (Fr.)

Outlook: Experience won’t be an issue for the Warriors, with Horizon returning seven starters with varsity experience. Kailee Harper is the only senior on this team, and she’ll be looking to have an expanded leadership role. Head coach Damon Taylor has voiced his excitement about the shooting potential in his squad. Clara Holtzclaw played as an eighth grader last year and will be key on that front. The bench will be the biggest area for the Warriors to grow — they have five players there with little to no experience.