Preseason girls basketball rankings

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Photo by Ty Freeman

Norcross earns the No. 1 ranking to open up Class AAAAAAA girls play. The Blue Devils finished 25-5 a year ago with a heartbreaking 39-37 loss to Westlake ending their season in the second round. Leading scorer Vash Perry is now at Florida Atlantic, but a powerful senior class led by Miami-commit Taylor Mason paves the way. Mason averaged 10.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. 5-foot-10 senior Tylia Gillespie has big game experience and returns as the team’s leading scorer at 11.4 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. South Florida-commit Vanessa Blagmon averaged 8.1 points as a junior.

In Class AAAAAA, No. 1 Winder-Barrow took a Cinderella trip to the state finals after not being ranked out of Region 8-AAAAA and earning the No. 4 seed in the playoffs. The Bulldoggs, who lose just one senior off last year’s team that fell to Southwest DeKalb in the title game 49-48, is a logical pick to open up 2016-17 as the favorites. 6-foot-5 rising junior Olivia Nelson-Ododa exploded onto the scene (17 ppg, 10.6 rpg). She is now ranked the No. 1 post in the Class of 2018 and played with Team USA over the summer.

The No. 1 ranked Wolves now jump up to Class AAAAA and will lean on a now fully experienced roster that boasted four juniors and six sophomores a year ago. After tearing her ACL and missing her freshman season in 2014-15, 6-foot guard Tory Ozment flashed her big time potential as a sophomore, averaging 10.6 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists while being named Region 8-AAAA Player of the Year.

Everyone returns for Columbus, who stakes its claim to being No. 1 in Class AAAA. The Blue Devils went 23-6, losing to Southwest DeKalb in the Elite Eight, 65-50. Senior twin towers anchor the paint at 6-foot-3 in Tatyana Wyatt and Ariyah Copeland. The two bludgeoned teams in the post, Wyatt posting 21.7 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.3 blocks and Copeland tossing in 15.1 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocks on average.

As long as Toledo-commit Tatyana Davis is still in a Morgan County uniform, the Bulldogs will remain a favorite. MoCo opens at No. 1, trying to defend their state championship, a 68-61 win over Jackson-Atlanta. Coach Joshua Reeves’ Dogs finished 28-2 and were powered by Davis. The 5-foot-9 senior dominated in the title game, going for 32 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists and 7 steals.

With the departure of Region 6-AA private school powers such as Holy Innocents’, Wesleyan, Lovett and Greater Atlanta Christian, Class AA is now open for a public school to hoist the trophy for the first time since Kendrick did it in 2014. Behind the dominant play of rising junior post Victoria Saxton, Model opens at No. 1 in the state. Saxton at 6-foot-1 led the Blue Devils to a 28-1 record, their only loss a 51-42 defeat in the Elite Eight against Putnam County.

Class A-Private is absolutely loaded now that Wesleyan and defending Class AA state champion Holy Innocents’ join the fold. Region 5 is a nightmare with No. 2 through No. 6 all housed in the same region, but still, the state title will run through No. 1 St. Francis who bids for a three-peat. The Knights cruised to a 63-35 state title over Greenforest and finished 31-2, their only losses coming in national showcase tournaments.

It would be poetic justice if No. 1 Pelham was able to finally capture their first state championship since 1997 upon dropping down to Class A-Public this year. Over the past four seasons, the Hornets have accumulated a 106-10 record, with nothing to show for it but losses to private school power Holy Innocents’ the past two seasons, 78-70 and last year 71-60, ending their season in the Final Four and Elite Eight, respectively.

Class AAAAAAA
1. Norcross
2. McEachern
3. Archer
4. Collins Hill
5. Westlake
6. Newton
7. Cherokee
8. Brookwood
9. Woodstock
10. Duluth

Class AAAAAA
1. Winder-Barrow
2. Douglas County
3. Mays
4. Grovetown
5. Jonesboro
6. Harrison
7. Gainesville
8. Sequoyah
9. Brunswick
10. Northview

Class AAAAA
1. Buford
2. Flowery Branch
3. Southwest DeKalb
4. Griffin
5. Bainbridge
6. Villa Rica
7. Warner Robins
8. Loganville
9. Carrollton
10. Harris County

Class AAAA
1. Columbus
2. Cross Creek
3. West Hall
4. North Oconee
5. Marist
6. Henry County
7. Carver-Columbus
8. Americus-Sumter
9. St. Pius X
10. Northwest Whitfield

Class AAA
1. Morgan County
2. Johnson-Savannah
3. Greater Atlanta Christian
4. Beach
5. Calhoun
6. Ringgold
7. Kendrick
8. Lovett
9. East Hall
10. Franklin County

Class AA
1. Model
2. Putnam County
3. Vidalia
4. Rabun County
5. Swainsboro
6. Laney
7. Dodge County
8. Heard County
9. Jeff Davis
10. Armuchee

Class A-Private
1. St. Francis
2. Wesleyan
3. Holy Innocents’
4. Greenforest
5. Our Lady of Mercy
6. Southwest Atlanta Christian
7. Calvary Day
8. Tattnall Square Academy
9. Lakeview Academy
10. Darlington

Class A-Public
1. Pelham
2. Terrell County
3. Taylor County
4. Greenville
5. Wheeler County
6. Treutlen
7. Telfair County
8. Hancock Central
9. Wilcox County
10. Mitchell County

 


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