Winter Sports Teams of the Year

Plenty of local basketball, wrestling, and swim teams had fantastic seasons. We give you our Teams of the Year for each sport for 2022-23!


Union County Panthers

Coach: Corey Garrett
Record: 19-10
Accomplishments: 2A Sweet 16, Region 8-AA Regular Season Champs & Tournament Runner-Up

The Union County Panthers probably weren’t the top of the list for Team of the Year coming in. But the young but talented group made a stellar run on the way to the Sweet 16, being just one of two local boys teams (Rabun County) to advanced past the first round. Union went 19-10 overall and were the regular season region champions before dropping the tournament title game to finish as Runner-Up. The Panthers went 8-2 in region play, and were one of only 5 teams all season to beat Providence Christian Academy, the 27-5 team that went all the way to the State Championship and fell in OT. Providence had been ranked #1 overall most of the season, and had a 12-game win streak going into a loss in Blairsville in which Houston Henry launched a half-court shot to win at the buzzer, 81-78. The Panthers carried a lethal offense (64.2 PPG), and went 11-3 on the home court. Union County featured such standouts as senior Eli Underwood (15.0 PTS, 13.0 REB) and the sophomore trio of Hayden Hughes (12.0 PTS, 4.0 REB), Jude Ellis (13.0 PTS, 3.0 REB, 3.0 AST), and Houston Henry (10.0 PTS, 5.0 REB, 5.0 AST). Add in freshmen Cade Dockrey and even sophomore Maddox Young, and this group has such a bright future ahead.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Rabun County (Region RU; State Sweet 16), White County (Region Champions, State Rnd 1, #9 State Ranking); Habersham Central (State Rnd 1; #10 State Ranking); Jefferson (Region RU; State Rnd 1), Tallulah Falls (State Rnd 1; #4 State Ranking); Stephens County (Region RU; State Rnd 1; #9 State Ranking); Banks County (State Rnd 1); Towns County (State Rnd 1)


Lumpkin County Lady Indians

Coach: David Dowse
Record: 26-5
Accomplishments: 3A State Runner-Up, Region 7-AAA Runner-Up, #1 State Ranking

Not many teams can live up to the expectations of what Lumpkin County had to…a State Championship team with zero seniors meant bringing everyone back for an encore and a huge bullseye on the back. David Dowse and his team embraced the expectations and the challenge. It didn’t seem like the team struggled at all. With a tough non-region schedule and arguably the toughest region in the entire state (Lumpkin and Wesleyan both ranked #1 during the season, White County ranked #2, Dawson County #8, Pickens #5), it’s phenomenal that Lumpkin was able to claim the regular season region title. They fell to Wesleyan in the tournament title game, but rebounded with a dominant run through the postseason. The Lady Indians had to beat #4-ranked Lakeview FO (Sweet 16), #5 Cross Creek (Elite 8), and #8 Calvary-Day (Final 4) all on the road or on neutral ground. The 78-31 win in the Final 4 was the 2nd-largest margin of victory in over a decade in GHSA history in a Final 4 girls game. Lumpkin dropped the state title game in Macon to an undefeated, #1-ranked Hebron Christian powerhouse. The Fantastic Five – seniors Mary Mullinax (17.7 PTS, 7.6 REB, 3.7 AST, 2.9 STL; Region POY, BLITZ POY), Lexi Pierce, Kate Jackson, and juniors Averie Jones (16.9 PTS, 4.1 REB, 3.2 AST, 2.7 STL) and Ciera Brooks were unbelievable. Lumpkin averaged 64.3 PPG and allowed only 41.8.

Banks County Lady Leopards

Coach: Steve Shedd
Record: 28-4
Accomplishments: 2A State Runner-Up, Region 8-AA Champions, #1 State Ranking

The Lady Leopards made history by making just their second-ever Final 4 run and first-ever State Championship game appearance. Banks County earned a #1 state ranking and really took off after a big win over #2-ranked Rabun County early in the season. It was part of a 21-game win streak, as Steve Shedd and his Lady Leopards powered on to an undefeated region slate, winning the regular season and tournament Region 8-AA Championship, and then marched through North Murray, North Cobb Christian (Sweet 16), Central Macon (Elite 8), and Josey (Final 4) into the title game against a 32-1 Mt. Paran juggernaut. The Lady Leopards featured the Region Player of the Year in seniors Kamryn Grier (14.0 PTS, 10.0 REB, 2.0 STL, 2.0 BLK) and Madison Adams, juniors Addison Hoard (11.0 PTS, 4.0 AST, 4.0 REB, 4.0 STL) and Carley Segars (8.5 PTS, 7.5 REB), and sophomores Rylee and Reese Murphy. The future is bright with so many players coming back next season.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Towns County (Region RU; State Elite 8; #6 State Ranking); Dawson County (State Elite 8; #8 State Ranking); Rabun County (Region RU; State Sweet 16; #2 State Ranking); Habersham Central (Region RU; State Sweet 16); White County (State Rnd 1; #2 State Ranking); Jefferson (Region Champions; State Rnd 1); Union County (State Rnd 1); Tallulah Falls (State Rnd 1; #6 State Ranking)


Jefferson Dragons

Coach: Kyle Baird
Accomplishments: 5A Duals & Traditional State Champions, Area Champions, #1 State Ranking

The Dragons are as dominant as ever. Jefferson under coach Kyle Baird have stud wrestlers in literally every single weight class. That was never more evident than in the Traditional State Tournament, where Jefferson had 13 grapplers going for state titles, and 7 of them claimed the top podium spot. That list included freshmen Roman Belardo (BLITZ Wrestler of the Year) and Dallas Russell, juniors Sammy Brown and Creed Thomas, and seniors Luke Cochran, Davis Dollar, and Chaz McDonald. Jefferson rolled to a Duals title as well, claiming a pair of state titles. An unforgettable group to be certain.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Commerce (6th at Duals;4th at Traditional); Union County (5th at Traditional); Banks County (7th at Traditional); Lumpkin (7th at Traditional); White County (13th at Traditional)



Coach: Tess Nunnally
Accomplishments: 4A-5A State 7th Place Boys; 8th Place Girls

The Dragons swim team had both teams place in the top-10 at the GHSA State Championships. The Lady Dragons finished 8th and the Dragons 7th. Several talented swimmers competed and placed in multiple events at state, including BLITZ Swimmer of the Year Kyle Davis. Davis had a pair of top-5 finishes, and teammate Justin Duke had two 6th-place finishes. Two of the boys relay teams also were top-10, one of which was a 5th-place finish. For the girls, it was Katherine Dunagan (2 top-10s), Aubree-Clare Alewine-Flores (2 top-10s), Ansley Nunnally (2 top-20s, 1 top-10), and Ximena Young (2 top-20s, 1 top-10) leading the way. A couple of girls relay teams, including the state runner-up 200 Free Relay team, got tons of points for the program.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Tallulah Falls (Girls 8th, Boys 12th), Habersham Central

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