Monday, March 3, 2008

Girls Final Four Previews


Duluth vs. Redan: Neither team was expected to advance this far. The Duluth Wildcats had never even reached the semifinal round before, while Redan was a No. 3 seed out of Region 2 and did not get to play a single state tournament game at home. Duluth’s not-so-secret weapon Mykala Walker exploded in the quarterfinal round, scoring a game-high 22 points – including 11 points in the fourth quarter – and the Wildcats’ defense shocked the state by holding top-seeded Parkview to just 37 points. For Redan, Alisha Andrews is lethal scorer and can score 20 points at will. So don’t let that “No. 3 seed” label fool you, Duluth: Redan beat their three state tournament opponents by an average of almost 16 points.

Mill Creek vs. Stephenson: Mill Creek went through the majority of the 2007-08 season as the top-ranked team in the Score Prep Top Ten poll. Porsha Porter eclipsed the 1,000-point mark as a junior last year, and she was selected to the North-South Senior All-Star Game as well. She is joined by stars Moneshia Simmons and Olivia Towers-Solis, among several other well-rounded players. Their opponents, the Stephenson Jaguars, have experienced much frustration in the past three seasons, falling to the Maya Moore-led Collins Hill Eagles twice and South Gwinnett once. With Score Prep DeKalb Player of the Year Jylisa Williams, the Jaguars know there is no better time than now to get over the hump and win a state title.
Tad Arapoglou can be reached at


Fayette County vs. Madison County: The Tigers made it 2-for-2 in reaching the state semifinals along with the boys team, but they won’t be sitting in the shadow. Sophomore Anma Onyeuku has led the team thus far and did again in the quarters with 14 points. Junior Tessa Holt can do a little bit of everything. The Tigers know how to win close games, and they proved it by beating Jonesboro by two points in the quarterfinal round. On the other side, head coach Dan Lampe’s Red Raiders rely on junior center/forward Courtney Freeman to lead the team. Freeman helped the Red Raiders score a bit of an upset as they shut down Mays 67-57 in the quarterfinals and advanced to the Final Four.

Southwest DeKalb vs. Westlake: Head coach Kathy Richey-Walton’s Southwest DeKalb team has never won a state title, but the Panthers could change that this season. Future South Carolina Gamecock Charenee Stephens has been unstoppable thus far and Kayla Lewis is more than pitching in during this run. Both scored 20 points in the quarterfinal round. The Panthers entered the tournament as the No. 1 team. Meanwhile, Westlake is led by junior Tamika Willis and sophomore Dalia Robinson, who both play beyond their years. Willis has averaged 20 points per game so far this tournament. Westlake, No. 3 entering the tournament, blew out Baldwin 66-40 to reach the semifinals.
Fletcher Proctor can be reached at


Kendrick vs. Carrollton: The Kendrick Lady Cherokees have come so close to winning a state title over the past few years, and this year may be their best chance to do it. Seniors Jane McKinney and Mukia Merrick will be two of the best players on display this weekend. The team’s only weakness could stream from their dominance. Will they stay composed if someone finally plays them close? Carrollton was eliminated in the Elite Eight in the past three seasons, but under the leadership of point guard Velicia Bell, they finally got over the hump this season. The Trojans have been blowing away the competition, winning all of their tournament games by at least 12 points.

Monroe Area vs. Glenn Hills: Monroe Area rely heavily seniors Maya Brown and Brittany Kirkland. Both of them can fill up the stat sheet. Dee Gober is also a threat. A lack of size could provide a problem. Brown is the tallest of the bunch at 5-9. Glenn Hills’ Ciara Lyons is a pure scorer. She averaged 25 points per game in the regular season. Stopping her is out of the question. But Glenn Hills will need their supporting cast to step up to win a state title. The Spartans flew under the radar this season due to seven losses, but they have had tremendous success since winning the Region 3-AAA Tournament. They even opened the state tournament with a 74-29 victory over Crisp County.
Josh Bagriansky can be reached at


Randolph-Clay vs. Paideia: The Randolph-Clay Lady Red Devils, like the boys team, is headed to Macon. The girls lost in dramatic fashion in the semis against Wesleyan last year (and guess who is lurking on the other side of the bracket?). Paideia’s Cinderella story continues, as the private school will take on Randolph-Clay’s girls on Thursday. Paideia, coached by Paul Meire, Jr., enjoyed a 14-game winning streak up until the region semifinals loss against Greater Atlanta Christian. Meire’s Lady Pythons are certainly battle-tested, and will look to pull off the upset over Randolph-Clay, a powerhouse that comes into the contest with a 26-3 record.

Wesleyan vs. Savannah Christian: Wesleyan isn’t all about Anne Marie Armstrong (the Score Prep Gwinnett Player of the Year), but the versatile player was near the top of the Gwinnett statistics in points and rebounds. She’s helped out by Erin Hall, a 5-foot-8 sophomore shooting guard and the team’s second-leading scorer. Wesleyan’s girls are going for their fourth state AA title in five years, but have Savannah Christian to contend with first. The Lady Raiders will be underdogs coming into this matchup, but Adrienne Defillipis and Meredith Stephens can really fill it up from beyond the arc. They will have to continue their hot shooting if there is to be an upset on Thursday.
Alex Ewalt can be reached at


Calvary Day vs. Towns County: It seems opposites always attract, whether it be in relationships or sports, which is the case between these two teams. Calvary Day brings height and a little bit of an older roster, while Towns is led by their youth and excitement. Calvary Day’s Katie Covington and Anna Moody are excellent players on the interior for the Cavaliers. For Towns, however, junior Nikki Winn and sophomore Kerri Abernathy lead the Towns attack. Their youthful exuberance helps fuel their high-scoring offense and somewhat counteracts their inexperience. Towns County rarely has trouble putting up points, and before from squeaking away with a 45-40 win last round, the team scored 63 and 71 in the first two rounds, respectively.

Terrell County vs. SW Atlanta Christian: While this game will feature two teams who have won titles in the last three years, most eyes will be following Terrell County’s Monshay Thomas. This all-state player won Region Player of the Year last year and is averaging six assists and eight rebounds on the year. To balance out, Southwest Atlanta Christian will rely on their balanced offensive attack with Latanya Scott, Mariah Eades and Briana Brown. Eades led five double-digit scorers with 15 in their quarterfinal victory. Southwest Atlanta Christian’s offensive game has been on fire lately, as the team has averaged 66 points per game in the state tournament and has scored 70-plus points in its past two games.
Jason Boral can be reached at