Girls Basketball Power Rankings – Preseason
It’s about that time to tip off the 2020-21 season. Here are our initial Power Rankings with all relevant information to know about each team going into the season!
COACH: Greg Brown
LAST SEASON: 25-5; Region Champions; 3A Elite 8; #2 State Ranking
KEY DEPARTURES: Chole Hiatt (4.5 PPG, 5.6 RPG)
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Livi Blackstock (UNG signee; 16.4 PTS, 4.5 REB), Deshona Gaither (13 PTS, 4.3 STL), Courtney Kidd (9 PTS, 5.6 REB), Ellie Kinlaw (8.2 PTS, 40% 3PT), Allianne Clark (6 PTS, 3.3 STL)
TEAM STRENGTHS: Depth, Senior Leadership. “We feel confident in all 10 players on our varsity roster and they can all help our team be successful this year,” says coach Greg Brown.
EXPECTATIONS: “We are moving into a new region with several new opponents so that will be a challenge,” says Brown. “A lot of this season will depend on how we handle all of the uncontrollable circumstances that surround this season. If we can stay healthy and continue to improve each day we will have a great season!”
#2 RABUN COUNTY
COACH: DeeDee Dillard
LAST SEASON: 23-4; Region Champions; 2A Round 1; #1 State Ranking
KEY DEPARTURES: Laken Stiles (10.4 PPG, 1K pts), Destiny Deetz
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Gracie Deetz, Carley Haban
TEAM STRENGTHS: Reputation, great coaching, and a winning culture. That means everything. Watch and see how DeeDee Dillard reloads after losing YET ANOTHER 1K-pt scorer. Seems like the yearly tradition to plug in the next group of playmakers who will begin to make a name for themselves.
EXPECTATIONS: As always, the bar is set to make a deep playoff run. That starts with winning 8-AA, which Rabun is typically favored to do. Gracie Deetz will be a force to be reckoned with.
#3 LUMPKIN COUNTY
COACH: David Dowse
LAST SEASON: 15-11; 3A Round 1; #6 State Ranking
KEY DEPARTURES: Madisyn Echols
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Isabel Davenport (All-State; BLITZ Player of the Year; 7-AAA POY), Makenzie Caldwell, Lexi Pierce, Mary Mullinax, Kate Jackson (injured – out for this season)
TEAM STRENGTHS: Shooting, Athleticism, Competitiveness. “We have some kids who can shoot the ball well,” says coach Dowse. “This is one of the more athletic Lumpkin teams in quite some time. I believe these kids will compete hard every night.”
EXPECTATIONS: Region 7-AAA is on alert. This team has a chance to take the region and make a deep playoff run. Question marks include depth (beginning season with 10, but 3 are out due to injury for at least half the season). The size deficiency could be problematic with Jackson out. Youth…80% of the roster is freshman/sophomore.
#4 WHITE COUNTY
COACH: Jarvis Davenport
LAST SEASON: 21-8; Region Runner-Up; 4A Sweet 16; #10 State Ranking
KEY DEPARTURES: Naomi Crumley, Bentley Cronic, Rachel Lovell, Ellie Gearing
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Dasha Cannon (13 PPG, 4.6 RPG), Maddie Futch, Caitlyn Gailey, Madison Adams, Makenna Moose, Camryn McAfee
TEAM STRENGTHS: “We are solid from top to bottom with experience at all positions,” says coach Jarvis Davenport. “We can play up-tempo or slow it down and execute in the half court. We have 5 seasoned seniors and a bunch of players to go with them in the other classes.”
EXPECTATIONS: “We expect to be a tough game night in and night out for our opponents and to get into the State Tournament and be a tough out for anyone we play,” adds Davenport.
#5 TALLULAH FALLS
COACH: Brandy Corbett
LAST SEASON: 17-8; Region Runner-Up; 1A Sweet 16
KEY DEPARTURES: Lillie Free
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Katy Corbett (All-Region; third leading scorer, 10.4 PPG, and second leading rebounder), Denika Lightbourne (leading scorer, 13 PPG, and rebounder, 6.2 RPG), Veronaye Charlton (second leading scorer), Abby Carlan, Barrett Whitener
TEAM STRENGTHS: Solid nucleus of players returning and returning all key players
EXPECTATIONS: “To try and have another winning season,” says coach Brandy Corbett. “If we are able to meet this goal it would be a third consecutive winning season. This year our schedule is more challenging. We have added more opponents from higher classifications and some high ranking Class A Private teams at various times during the season.
This year we would like to win a region championship. I believe it would be the first in program history. We would like to make a third consecutive appearance to the Sweet Sixteen.”
#6 STEPHENS COUNTY
COACH: Laura Baker
LAST SEASON: 21-7; Region Champions; 3A Round 1; #7 State Ranking
KEY DEPARTURES: Mari McNeal (Warren Wilson)
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Ranajah Verdell, Kiarra Howard, Lindsay Moore, Nana Eades, Savana Broska, Brooklyn Steeple, Bre Taylor.
TEAM STRENGTHS: “I think our speed will be key in a lot of games,” says coach Laura Baker. “We had one senior last year, so we have 9 returning that played varsity last season, including 7 seniors.”
EXPECTATIONS: “To get to the state tournament again this year,” says Baker.
#7 HABERSHAM CENTRAL
COACH: Bill Bradley
LAST SEASON: 13-15; 6A Round 1
KEY DEPARTURES: None
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Addie Penick (All-Region), Taylor Wade (leading rebounder), Nykerriah Brown (leading scorer, 13.5 PPG), Liz Pollitt, Hailey Wade
TEAM STRENGTHS: “After 3 years of saying we are young and inexperienced, we can now say we have some experience and depth,” says coach Bill Bradley
EXPECTATIONS: This team surprised a lot of people last year, and this season return the entire main cast. Even in an ever-tough region, look for more of the same…and even better…from the Lady Raiders this season. “Rising freshman Kyia Barrett could be an impact player (will be in the future) but how soon is the question,” says Bradley.
#8 UNION COUNTY
COACH: Crystal Beach
LAST SEASON: 23-7; Region Champions; 2A Elite 8; #5 State Ranking
KEY DEPARTURES: Andelin Hill, Kait McCarter, Brooke Dockrey
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Ava Hunter, Ellie Cook
TEAM STRENGTHS: Overall Speed, Power in the Post
EXPECTATIONS: Young team with lots of potential. “Each day we get to practice/play is a win for us,” exclaims coach Crystal Beach.
COACH: Brad Puckett
LAST SEASON: 15-11
KEY DEPARTURES: Ragan Allen, Lauren Roach
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: 4 of 5 returning starters, Bryanna Sanders (leading scorer, nearing 1K pts), Maggie Mullis (steals leader), Lauren Massey, Carson Hobbs (second leading scorer), Emma Davis, Sarah Webb, Grace Hobbs
TEAM STRENGTHS: Hard-working team that won 15 games last season and top 4 players returning from last season.
EXPECTATIONS: Our non-region schedule is brutal with all larger schools such as Madison Co, Oconee Co, Franklin Co, Banks Co….and more,” says coach Brad Puckett. “However, no matter what, we hope to compete in all these games against tougher competition to prepare for our region schedule in late December and January. Our goal is to compete for a region championship and a deep run in the playoffs.”
#10 DAWSON COUNTY
COACH: Eric Herrick
LAST SEASON: 14-14; 3A Round 1; #4 State Ranking
KEY DEPARTURES: Marlie Townley (13.1 PPG, 11 RPG), Sophia D’Oliveira (11.1 PPG, 5 APG)
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Maddie Anglin (12.7 PPG), Mariah Benson (10.5 PPG), Kirklyn Porter (8.2 PPG)
TEAM STRENGTHS: Key pieces like Porter, Anglin, and Benson. It starts there.
EXPECTATIONS: This is a new era with long-time legend Steve Sweat no longer with the program. That by itself is very strange. Losing also Marlie Townley and D’Oliveira will certainly be felt early on, but true to form, the Lady Tigers will probably improve as the season moves along, and find themselves in the mix for a region title.
#11 BANKS COUNTY
COACH: Steve Shedd
LAST SEASON: 15-16; Region Runner-Up; 2A Sweet 16; #10 State Ranking
KEY DEPARTURES: Heather Vaughan (leading scorer), Sadie Simpson, Pollie Simpson
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Jenna Reeves (2nd leading scorer), Kamryn Grier, Jacy Ayers, Carley Segars (incoming FR), Addison Hoard (incoming FR)
TEAM STRENGTHS: “We should be very well balanced in terms of size and speed/inside and outside game,” says coach Shedd. “We look to play faster and more aggressive offensively and defensively this year. We will definitely play to our strengths. We have outstanding junior and senior leadership coming back this year. We have some really good freshmen that we think will have a chance to play varsity this year and add to our depth. We have 2 returning sophomores poised to have breakout years after getting a ton of varsity time as freshmen.
EXPECTATIONS: “We peaked at just the right time last year and have the majority of that talent returning,” says Shedd. “We look to carry that momentum into the new season. We may actually be more athletic overall than we have been in a couple of years. As usual, we have a very tough schedule but we feel that it will prepare us for our region in January. I think we may play as many as 5 current teams on our schedule that are ranked in their classifications. We like our chances and think we can compete with each of those teams. We see ourselves as a team that will be young overall but experienced. We will be battle tested by the time we start region which will hopefully help us get back to the region championship game.
#12 TOWNS COUNTY
COACH: Brian Hunnicutt
LAST SEASON: 9-15
KEY DEPARTURES: Sophia Shook (top defensive player and point guard)
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING: Vanessa Floyd (leading scorer 13.5 PPG & team captain), Kennedi Henson (returning from ACL injury during season), Jayce Young (team captain)
TEAM STRENGTHS: “This team has five seniors that have seen varsity action,” says coach Brian Hunnicutt. “Vanessa Floyd and Kennedi Henson have started every year of high school ball. The veteran leaders are close as a unit and have provided a wonderful team chemistry for the younger girls. Group is hungry to return to state playoffs after missing out in 19-20.”
EXPECTATIONS: “With the realignment of Region 8A, Towns County will be facing a new region this year (except for traditional rival, Commerce),” adds Hunnicutt. “Towns County figures to be in the mix for a playoff spot out of Region 8A. If key players return from injury in previous form and some veteran leaders step up, this team could compete for the Region Title.”