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South Forsyth hosts War Eagle Classic basketball tournament
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Ally Welch and South Forsyth girls basketball, a Final Four team in Class AAAAAA last season, will get a chance to gauge where it stands when South hosts the War Eagle Classic over the Thanksgiving break. - photo by File photo

War Eagle Classic

All games at South Forsyth High School

Monday, Nov. 24

11 a.m.: Freshman Girls—South vs. West

12:30 p.m.: Girls—Woodstock vs. Dutchtown

2 p.m.: Girls—Mill Creek vs. Douglass

3:30 p.m.: Boys—Mt. Vernon Presbyterian vs. Hillgrove

5 p.m.: Girls—South Forsyth vs. Cherokee

6:30 p.m.: Boys—South Forsyth vs. Cherokee

Tuesday, Nov. 25

12 p.m.: Girls—Mill Creek vs. Woodstock

1:30 p.m.: Girls—Douglass vs. Cherokee

3 p.m.: Boys—Cherokee vs. Hillgrove

4:30 p.m.: Girls—South Forsyth vs. Dutchtown

6 p.m.: Boys—South Forsyth vs. Mt. Vernon

Saturday, Nov. 29

12 p.m.: Girls—Douglass vs. Woodstock

1:30 p.m.: Girls—Dutchtown vs. Cherokee

3 p.m.: Boys—Cherokee vs. Mt. Vernon

4:30 p.m.: Girls—South Forsyth vs. Mill Creek

6 p.m.: Boys—South Forsyth vs. Hillgrove

South Forsyth basketball’s War Eagle Classic on Nov. 24, 25 and 29 will feature five state tournament teams from last year and 10 boys and girls teams overall from the metro Atlanta area.

Of note in a strong field: the Hillgrove boys, who were eliminated in the Elite Eight by eventual Class AAAAAA state champion Tift County; the Dutchtown girls, who reached the Class AAAAA Sweet Sixteen; and the Mill Creek girls, who reached the state tournament and return two All-Region contributors.

South Forsyth’s girls made the deepest state tournament run (Final Four) of any team in the War Eagle Classic. The Lady War Eagles play Cherokee (2-24 last year, after 29-2 finish in 2012-13) at 5 p.m. on Nov. 24, Dutchtown at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 25 and Mill Creek at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 29.

"It should be some really good competition for our girls," South girls coach Keith Gravitt said. "It’s a really strong field that should give us a sense of where we are early on."

The Lady War Eagles beat Cherokee by 21 points last season. Dutchtown went 18-8 and fell to Monroe (Albany) in the Sweet Sixteen, and the Bulldogs return their three best players in Janessa Murphy (13.0 PPG, 4.4 RPG), Tiara Scott (12.2 PPG, 10.3 RPG) and Kamera Harris (5.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 7.5 BPG). Mill Creek finished 20-9 and lost in the first round to Roswell; Meredith Schulte (13.8 PPG, 5.1 RPG, First Team All-Region 7-AAAAAA) and Madison Phillips (Second Team All-Region) are back this year.

South does not play Woodstock, who finished 17-13 and made the state tournament last year, or Douglass, who went 8-14 in Class AAA in 2013.

On the boys’ side, South will get all it can handle from Hillgrove on Nov. 29 (tipoff at 6 p.m.).

Manson Hill’s team returns six seniors, the most veteran group the War Eagles have had in several years, and the hope is that they can improve upon last season’s 4-19 record.

Hillgrove, meanwhile, brings back several major contributors in guards Keenan Gayle (6-1, 170), Jourdan Julian (6-2, 165) and JD Datillo and forward Brandon Schick (6-4, 190) from last year’s 23-8 team. The Hawks reached the Class AAAAAA Elite Eight before losing, 56-47, to Tift County, who would go on to win the state title.

Also on the schedule for South’s boys are Cherokee (Nov. 24, 6:30 p.m.), which finished 15-10 and missed the state playoffs last year, and Mt. Vernon Presbyterian (Nov. 25, 6 p.m.), who reached the Class A private school state playoffs last year but lost Jared Harper (20.9 PPG, 5.2 APG) and Darius Perry (12.5 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 4.3 APG) to transfers to Pebblebrook and Wheeler, respectively.