The Lady Warriors fought eventual Class 4A state champion Jacksonville tooth and nail in the Area 10 tournament, but fell short 58-53.
“We were ahead late, but we just couldn’t grab it at the end like we needed to,” forward Tori Davis said at the time. “We could have lost by several more points, but we came and fought, and that excites me (for next season).”
Davis and the rest of the Lady Warriors have reason to be excited. They return three starters from last year’s 18-9 squad and have five seniors overall, including Davis, who led the Lady Warriors with 13 points and 7.2 rebounds last season. She also shot 73-percent from the free-throw line.
Getting Davis the ball will once again be a focal point for head coach Travis Barnes, and he has six guards which are more than capable of feeding her in the post or taking shots themselves in seniors Chelsea Ray, Darbie Rosser, Madison Brannon and Emily Perry, as well as juniors Jessen Burk and Haley Welsh.
Juniors Autumn Aloi and Jennie Price will provide the Lady Warriors with depth at the forward spots.
Barnes likes the mix he has on his roster this season.
“With five seniors this year, we are looking to lean on our experience to make for a competitive season,” he said. “We will be competing in a tough area again this season (Class 4A, Area 11 with Jacksonville, Alexandria, Hokes Bluff), but we feel we will be able to make a run at an area championship and hopefully a regional and state berth this year.”
The Lady Warriors got off to a good start to their season on Tuesday against Crossville. They defeated the Lady Lions 59-45 in their season opener.
Davis led the way with 24 points and 12 rebounds. Burk added 16 points and eight boards. Rosser netted 10 points and Brannon pulled down 11 rebounds.
The following is a preview of the 2012-13 girls basketball season.
Cedar Bluff Lady Tigers
The Star Wars character Yoda seems to have inspired Joe Carpenter’s Lady Tigers this season. Their motto for the 2012-13 season is “Do or do not, there is no try.”
Four starters from last year’s 14-15 Class 1A sub-regional team return, including senior forwards Audrianna Hargitt and Hannah Leach.
Hargitt averaged 13.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and an assist per game last season. Leach averaged 9.6 points and 5.9 rebounds.
Also returning to the Lady Tiger lineup is a pair of junior guards in Rylie Johnson and Katie McGinnis. McGinnis tallied 8.2 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists per contest last season.
Providing the Lady Tigers with depth at the guard positions are sophomore Jasmine Adams, freshmen Alexia Moten and Delilah Price, and eighth grader Mikenzie Gossett.
Backing up Hargitt and Leach in the post are freshman Marigrace Wilson and eighth graders Kiana Dobbins and Ollina McClellan.
“The girls are working very hard to reach their peak performance level each and every time they take the court,” said Carpenter, who’s beginning his 29th overall coaching season. “We are in a very tough area as well as region. Right now, we are going to take it one day at a time and continue to improve throughout the year.”
Cedar Bluff competes in Class 1A, Area 10 with Collinsville, Coosa Christian, Gaylesville and Spring Garden.
Gaylesville Lady Trojans
Depth will be the major obstacle facing Gaylesville second-year coach Ashley Steele. The Lady Trojans have nine players on this year’s roster, which is composed of five juniors, a sophomore and three freshmen.
“After losing one starter from last year (Katlin Hammett), the 2012 team is much more experienced but still young. We’re starting a ninth grader, a 10th grader and three juniors,” Steele notes.
The Lady Trojans lost their points and steals leader from last season’s 9-16 squad in Katlin Hammett. However, Steele does return leading rebounder Sydney Hammett and assists leader Taylor Tomlin. Both players are juniors.
Surrounding Sydney Hammett and Tomlin are junior forwards Hannah Van Pelt and Sissy Woodall, as well as sophomore forward Angie Calvert. Freshmen Lauren Hammett and Heather Hamilton will play at the guard positions. Junior Alex Montgomery and freshman BreAnna Boman will anchor the center positions.
Gaylesville competed in Class 1A, Area 10 with Cedar Bluff, Collinsville, Coosa Christian and Spring Garden.
Sand Rock Lady Wildcats
Sand Rock coach Lisa Bates expects a solid year with all of last season’s starters returning.
“I am expecting to be deeper this year and be able to get more people contributing in scoring,” Bates said. “We had a year to get our feet wet. Now I’m ready to run with these girls and see how good they can be. I am being very positive about what this bunch will achieve with good attitudes and defense. We will play and work hard. I am looking forward to a good year.”
Bates has a pair of seniors from last year’s 12-17 team: post player Amber Ashley and guard Karla Rodriguez.
Ashley was the team’s top rebounder and second-leading scorer last season, averaging 7.4 rebounds and 8.9 points per game. She also averaged two steals per contest.
Surrounding Ashley in the post is a pair of juniors in Madison Smith and Leslie Mackey, sophomores Shelley Sonaty and Maggie Lyn Lumsden, and freshman Sabryn Chandler.
Smith returns to the lineup after averaging 6.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.5 steals per contest last season.
Bates also has a lot of depth at the guard position in addition to Rodriguez. The Lady Wildcats return junior Jolonna Silva, freshmen Emily Langley (9.7 points, 2.2 assists, 1.3 steals) and Madison McCullough (7.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 1.3 steals), as well as sophomores Courtney Rowe (4.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 4.3 steals) and Ashley Norris (2.8 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 1.3 steals). Freshman Morgan Bone is also expected to contribute at the guard spots.
Sand Rock competes in Class 2A, Area 11 along with Gaston, Westbrook Christian and West End.
Spring Garden Lady Panthers
Ricky Austin spent the off-season trying to get the Lady Panthers back to what he calls “Spring Garden girls basketball standards.”
The bad news for Austin is he lost a versatile player in Jordan Sides, but the good news is he returns everyone else from last year’s squad that went 17-12.
“We should see improvement from last year,” Austin said. “We lost a good senior in Jordan, but the rest of the team has a lot of experience. I think that will show up early in the season and we will try to build on that.”
Austin has a pair of senior forwards in Tori Pierce and Kelsey Bailey, with depth being added by freshman Tykeah Leek. Junior Haley Motes and freshman Jessica Smart are hybrid guard/forward players. Junior Auburn Kirk and freshman Madison Sides will be the Lady Panther point guards. The rest of the Lady Panther guards consist of junior Kaylee Cronan and sophomores Emory Reedy, McKenzie Micha and Darian Gaines.
Spring Garden competes in Class 1A, Area 10 along with Cedar Bluff, Collinsville, Coosa Christian and Gaylesville.
Piedmont Lady Bulldogs
Expectations are even higher this season for Piedmont head coach Matt Deerman. The Lady Bulldogs are coming off a 20-12 season with three starters returning in senior point guard Brittany Holloway, senior center BreAnna Thompson and senior forward Sarah Garner.
Thompson and Garner led the Lady Bulldogs in scoring and rebounding last season. The duo is approaching 1,000 points for their varsity careers. Holloway led the Lady Bulldogs in assists last season.
Senior point guard Caitlyn Coogler and sophomore guard Tatinya Green – both key reserves last year – will be Piedmont’s other two starters.
Piedmont has a lot of depth throughout its lineup. Sophomore Riesha Thompson can play one of the point guard positions. Other guards consist of junior Mallory Roberts, sophomore Paige Gowens, and freshmen Keyshauna Jones and Gena Prater.
Senior Tivis Green, junior Tiffany Prater, sophomore Ashlynne Rivers, and freshmen Jaylen Major and Taylor McCord will provide depth at the forward positions. Sophomore Carlie Flowers could see action at center.
Deerman believes this may be quickest team he’s coached at Piedmont.
“I believe our defense will give teams fits and will be our strongest asset,” he said. “Our schedule is really tough, but by playing those tougher teams, it will hopefully prepare us for the area tournament.”
Piedmont competes in Class 3A, Area 10 with Saks, Weaver and White Plains.
Collinsville Lady Panthers
Coach Jon Tidmore’s Lady Panthers have a lot returning for the 2012-13 season, including senior guard Brittney Tidmore and senior forwards Christy Cox and Kiana Ford. All three were vital in Collinsville’s 22-11 season, which saw the Lady Panthers win an area championship and return to the Northeast Regional Tournament in Jacksonville.
The center positions will be anchored by junior Savannah Boyles and sophomore Bailey Click. Junior Hanna Hornbuckle and sophomore Sydney Jones return to give depth at guard, as do newcomers in freshmen Maci Sparks and Kelsay Sanchez, and eighth grader Kendria Moore.
Providing depth at the other forward positions will be sophomore Jamie Roberts and eighth grader Kendall Willingham.
Collinsville competes in Class 1A, Area 10 along with Cedar Bluff, Coosa Christian, Gaylesville and Spring Garden.