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2020-21 GIRLS BASKETBALL PREVIEW: Team-by-team capsules
Jillian Bretz
Forsyth Central sophomore Jillian Bretz, left, puts up a shot over West Forsyth sophomore Calie Thrower during Wednesday's 51-42 win in the Region 5-7A tournament semifinal. Photo by Ben Hendren

Forsyth Central

Last year’s record: 19-9

Key returners: Aisha Dabo, Sr.; Elizabeth Pruitt, Sr.; Jillian Bretz, Jr.

Key newcomers: N/A

Season outlook: Forsyth Central looks to reach the playoffs for the third consecutive season, and should be one of the favorites to compete for a Region 6-7A championship.

Led by UMass commit Aisha Dabo and center Elizabeth Pruitt, the Bulldogs have several options inside. Jillian Bretz enjoyed a highly productive sophomore season and returns at wing for Central, while Carson Cloud can handle the point.

Central will rely a bit more on its depth this season after losing Tese Ajorgbor (Olgethorpe), Ansley Carver and Bri LeDonne to graduation.

Aisha Dabo
Forsyth Central junior Aisha Dabo dribble the ball up the court last week during a 65-55 win against South Forsyth. - photo by David Roberts

Denmark

Last year’s record: 7-19

Key returners: Sophie Smith, Jr.; Jessie DeNardo, Jr.; Clarissa Kelly, Sr.

Key newcomers: Mary Kate Leonard, Fr.; Emma Hempker, Fr.; Kylie Morris, Fr.

Season outlook: Denmark took a considerable step forward last season, finishing 7-19 in the program’s second season. The Danes will face another challenge this season as they move to Class 7A and join a talented Region 6-7A.

Sophie Smith gave Denmark an instant boost last season, averaging 18.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2 steals per game as a sophomore. Smith is one of eight returning varsity players, which includes Jessie DeNardo and Clarissa Kelly. 

Head coach Jaime Maxey said she expects several freshmen and sophomores to contribute, highlighted by a trio of freshmen in Mary Kate Leonard, Emma Hempker and Kylie Morris.

Jessie DeNardo
Denmark sophomore Jessie DeNardo, left, hits a jump shot Tuesday during the Danes' 68-41 loss to White County. Photo by Jay Rooney Photography

Lambert 

Last year’s record: 7-16

Key returners: Taylor Parrish, Sr.; Briley Elder, So.; Bri Cicione, Sr.; Lauren Houston, Sr.; Sam Tam, Sr.

Key newcomers: Sydney Colin, Jr.

Season outlook: Lambert boasts one of the county’s top young scoring threats in Briley Elder, an All-County honorable mention last year as a freshman. 

Second-year head coach Brian Moon said the Longhorns hope to improve on both sides of the floor, and that includes developing multiple scoring threats. Junior forward Sydney Colin rejoins the team after moving to Missouri last year and missing the 2019-20 season.

Briley Elder
Lambert freshman Briley Elder attempts a free throw Tuesday during the Longhorns’ 65-30 loss to Forsyth Central. - photo by David Roberts

North Forsyth

Last year’s record: 27-3

Key returners: Haelim Adle, Jr.; Maddie Erickson, Jr.; Anna Gliatta, Jr.; Leah Hall, Jr.; Ali Jones, Jr.

Key newcomers: Meredith Franklin, So.; Kamryn Garner, So.; Abby Gravitt, So.; Alison Hiddema, So.; Ella Holbrook, So.; Adeline Rosebush, So.; Erin Whalen, So.; Karissa Wilkins, So.

Season outlook: Head coach Brad Kudlas is looking to reload this season after graduating seven highly decorated seniors, including two-time Forsyth County News Player of the Year Caroline Martin (North Georgia).

North Forsyth’s junior class will step into pivotal roles, led by Haelim Adle, Maddie Erickson, Anna Gliatta, Leah Hall and Ali Jones. The Raiders will try to find their identity before the start of Region 6-7A play Dec. 8 against Lambert, but Kudlas is confident North will round into form and finish among the top teams in the region.

Anna Gliatta
North Forsyth sophomore Anna Gliatta looks for an opening Wednesday during the Raiders' 56-50 double-overtime win against North Cobb. - photo by Ben Hendren

Pinecrest Academy

Last year’s record: 4-17

Key returners: Meghan Sullivan, Sr.; Aryn Spain, Jr.

Key newcomers: Gracyn Washburn, Fr.

Season outlook: Pinecrest Academy looks to build off last year’s season, and the Paladins will be led by Meghan Sullivan and Aryn Spain on both ends of the court.

Sullivan will run the point and serve as the catalyst for the Paladins defensively, according to head coach Jonathan Oshinski. Spain enjoyed a breakout sophomore season and led the team in scoring. Oshinski will count on Spain’s ability to get to the rim and score from the outside.

Juniors Kate Prados and Jessica Osborne will take on more responsibility this season, while senior Casey Brenan will give the Paladins some depth. Oshinski expects freshman Gracyn Washburn to contribute as an outside shooter after a successful middle school career, while sophomore Carmen Fuentes and Margaret Caprara will also play significant minutes.

Aryn Spain
Pinecrest Academy sophomore Aryan Spain brings the ball up the court Friday during the Paladins' 47-37 loss to Tallulah Falls. Photo courtesy Jay Rooney Photography

South Forsyth

Last year’s record: 18-11

Key returners: Clara Morris, So.; Sharon Tolliver, So.; Ava McGlockton, So.; Maggie Thompson, So.

Key newcomers: N/A

Season outlook: South Forsyth returns a talented sophomore class, which logged serious playing time a year ago. 

Still, head coach Keith Gravitt highlighted seniors Natalie Jones and Lindsey Mankin and applauded their leadership during the unusual summer and preseason, adding that their contributions will help the War Eagles reach their goals.

Ryane Williams led the team with 4.8 rebounds per game last season, while Sophie Rosin averaged 3.2 assists per contest. Both players graduated, with Williams enrolling at Birmingham-Southern, which leaves a couple of holes in South’s lineup. Ava McGlockton impressed as a freshman and figures to be the War Eagles primary rebounder in 2020-21.

Tolliver
South Forsyth's Sharon Tolliver attempts a jumper against Walton on Friday, Dec. 20, 2019. - photo by David Roberts

West Forsyth

Last year’s record: 21-8

Key returners: Cayla Cowart, Jr.; Calie Thrower, Jr.; Kalie Thrower, Jr.; Haylee Dornan, Sr.

Key newcomers: Molly Quincy, So.; Emma Anderson, So.; Lindsey Pirkle, Fr.; Katherine Bottoms, Fr.

Season outlook: West Forsyth returns a talented nucleus in juniors Cayla Cowart, Calie Thrower and Kalie Thrower and should be a favorite to contend for a Region 6-7A championship. The Wolverines have only one senior — Haylee Dornan — on their roster.

Cowart averaged 11.5 points and 7 rebounds last season, while Calie Thrower averaged a team-high 15.2 points and Kalie Thrower averaged 8 points per game. The Wolverines raced out to a 13-0 start last season, handing North Forsyth its first region loss, but lost six of their last nine games to finish fourth in the region. 

With another year of experience under their belt, the Wolverines will aim for more consistency. Molly Quincy returns following a breakout freshman season, and freshman Katherine Bottoms offers plenty of optimism for West.

Kalie Thrower
West Forsyth sophomore Kalie Thrower, left, dribbles around Lambert junior Sam Tam during Friday's 80-25 win against the Longhorns. - photo by David Roberts