Coach: Angela Hurt, third season.
Last year: 12-15.
Key returners: F Abbey Fagan, Sr.; PG Caroline Hearn, Jr.; F Julie Richards, Sr.
Key newcomers: F Gina Fishler, Fr.
What to know: The formula for the Lady Bulldogs is simple. When Central held opponents to less than 40 points last season it went 12-2. When it allowed more than 40 points it was 0-13. Still, the Lady Bulldogs came within two seconds of making the state playoffs. So defense will once again be the focus for Angela Hurt’s bunch in his third season.
How far Central can go will depend on finding more scoring. Senior forward Julie Richards (11PPG, 8.9RPG) provides a strong presence in the paint, Abbey Fagan (9.5PPG, 4.9RPG, 2.7SPG) is a capable outside shooter and Caroline Hearn (6.0PPG, 2.3APG) is an experience point guard. Outside of that trio, the Lady Bulldogs’ scoring options are limited.
Hurt says it will take a scoring-by-committee approach to find that extra scoring punch.
“Our team does not have a standout superstar, and we know that and embrace it as a team,” Hurt said. “We depend on every player on the floor to score.”
Coach: Jaime Fisher, second season.
Last year: 16-14, lost in Class AAAAAA second round.
Key returners: G Corrie Baker, Sr.; F Kylee Beecher, Sr.; F Leah Cote, Jr.; G Ashley Johnson, Sr.; G Molly Williams, Jr.
Key newcomers: F Shayna Lawrence, Sr.; G Kaylynn Wilkerson, Sr.
What to know: Perhaps no team in the county made as much progress last season from November to March than the Lady Longhorns. At first just a collection of young talent, Lambert squeaked into the state playoffs as a No. 4 seed and then upset No. 1-seed Pope for the program’s first-ever state playoff victory – quite a feat in head coach Jaime Fisher’s first season.
Now, the challenge for Lambert is to become a serious contender in Region 6-AAAAAA that can push North, South and West. Returning virtually every significant piece of last season’s team will help – point guard Ashley Johnson, shooting guard Molly Williams, outside shooter Corrie Baker, versatile big Leah Cote and post bruiser Kylee Beecher.
Also a help – Shayna Lawrence and Kaylynn Wilkerson, two senior move-ins from Plant High School in Florida. Lawrence is a North Georgia signee and 6-foot presence in the post who averaged 11.4 points, 8.9 rebounds and 4.1 blocks a game last season. Wilkerson is a capable 5-foot-9 guard who averaged 6.6 points, 4.7 assists and 3.1 rebounds a game.
All of which might make Lambert the most intriguing team in the county.
Coach: Eric Herrick, fifth season.
Last year: 25-5, lost in Class AAAAAA second round.
Key returners: G Bella Caracciolo, Soph.; PG Morgan Grindle, Sr.; G Amber Jones, Soph.; F Maddie Palmer, Jr.; G Kate Ware, Soph.
Key newcomers: G/F Cassie Markle, Soph.
What to know: It’s doubtful any county team has as much to replace this season as the Lady Raiders, foremost the tandem of Caroline Bowns and Lochlain Corliss who over their four-year careers won 98 games. But North has two other starters to replace, leaving senior guard Morgan Grindle as the lone returning starter.
Still, fifth-year head coach Eric Herrick says he has a team that is “very quick and athletic” and will “play hard and really compete every day.”
North will be counting on more production from junior forward Maddie Palmer and sophomore guards Bella Caracciolo, Amber Jones and Katie Ware. Cassie Markle transferred from Horizon Christian Academy to provide more depth on the wing. How much this group grows over the course of the season will determine whether the Lady Raiders maintain a contender in Region 6-AAAAAA.
“We have a bunch of kids in unfamiliar roles, but we still expect to be a good basketball team,” Herrick said.
Coach: Ken Lacy, second season.
Last year: 18-10, lost in Class A private school first round.
Key returners: F Bailey Evans; G Mary Margaret Metz, Jr.; G/F Regina Metz, Soph.; G Wendy Oshinski; C Tessa Stubbs, Sr.;
Key newcomers: N/A
What to know: The Lady Paladins were one of the better stories in Forsyth County last year, catapulting to 18 wins and their first state playoff appearance since joining the Georgia High School Association – all in head coach Ken Lacy’s first season.
At the forefront of Pinecrest’s improvement were the Metz sisters. Mary Margaret, a junior now, led the way averaging 18.2 points a game while Regina, now a sophomore, added 11.2. Wendy Oshinski contributed 6.4 points a game and tough defense. Bailey Evans and Tessa Stubbs give Pinecrest a presence down low.
Coach: Keith Gravitt, 13th season.
Last year: 25-5, lost in Class AAAAAA second round.
Key returners: F Caroline Diem, Jr.; G Emily Dreslinski, Jr.; G Mari Jonassen, Jr.; G Sarah Myers, Sr.; G KK Storms, Sr.
Key newcomers: F Sara Idris, Soph.; F Zoe Maisel, Soph.; G/F Olivia Poff, Jr.
What to know: The reigning Region 6-AAAAAA champions enter the season as experienced and talented as it has ever been, starting with University of Maryland signee and shooting guard Sarah Myers (20.2PPG, 6.3RPG, 3.1SPG) and point guard KK Storms (8.4PPG, 5.0RPG, 4.0APG).
Then there’s the junior bunch of forward Caroline Diem, scrappy guard and shooter Mari Jonassen and guard Emily Dreslinski who made big strides during last season’s region and state tournaments.
Whether the Lady War Eagles can repeat as region champs could depend on what they get from sophomore newcomers Sara Idris and Zoe Maisel, two big forwards that give South size in the post.
“This team has established a certain level of high expectations,” Gravitt said. “…They want to still be playing basketball in March.”
Coach: David May, fourth season.
Last year: 21-6, lost in Class AAAAAA first round.
Key returners: G Carsen Parker, Jr.; G Jane Ortlip, Sr.; F Kalie Schlegel, Jr.; G Hayla Seitz, Sr.; C Jenna Staiti, Sr.
Key newcomers: G Madison Bowers, Sr.; G Ella Madson, Fr.; F Brooke Pirkle, Jr.
What to know: For the last time, the Lady Wolverines will form a team around the unique talents of senior center Jenna Staiti.
The 6-foot-6 University of Maryland signee averaged 29 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks a game last season to be named the Forsyth County News’ Girls Basketball Player of the Year. She gives West a difference maker on both ends of the court unlike few teams in the country possesses.
But fourth-year head coach David May’s groups only go as far as the pieces around Staiti, and this season’s is a mixed bunch. Guards Carsen Parker, Jane Ortlip and Hayla Seitz are experienced with West’s system. Kalie Schlegel will have a bigger role as a frontcourt compliment to Staiti after flashing her potential last season. Brooke Pirkle returns after a year away from the team to provide depth down low.
West has come achingly close to playing for the Region 6-AAAAAA championship two years in a row.
“It will take time to get on the same page offensively and defensively,” May said.