Top boys, girls teams to watch

With the holidays nearing its end, the basketball season has its sights set on post-New Year region play. As the coming weeks and months will determine the playoff seeding, here’s a look at five Class AA teams to keep an eye on from both the boys’ and girls’ side.

Boys

South Atlanta Hornets
2016 finish: 25-7; lost 64-61 to Morgan County in the AAA semifinals.
2017 update: The Hornets have dropped down a class thanks to the GHSA reclassification and slide into AA’s top spot to begin the season. They’re off to a 12-1 start, with their lone loss coming at the hands of Crestwood (Sumter, South Carolina) on Nov. 22. Currently they’re on a 10-game win streak including an impressive showing at the Peach State Classic, where they defeated AAAA’s No. 2 Eagles’s Landing 61-47 and No.4 Fayette County 69-57. They also beat Region 6 rival and No. 2 Therrell 65-54 on Dec. 9. They’re currently 5-0 in the revamped Region 6.

Therell Panthers
2016 finish: 14-9, missed the AAA playoffs
2017 updateLed by sophomore Anthony Edwards, the Panthers are a team trending upward in their new classification, and are AA’s No. 2 team. They’re 8-4 thus far and some of the losses have come to formidable opponents in top-ranked South Atlanta and Eagle’s Landing and North Clayton. They’ll get another crack at South Atlanta on Jan. 20 when they host the Hornets.

Thomasville Bulldogs
2016 finish: 28-2; lost 78-48 to Pace Academy in the AA quarterfinals
2017 update:  The No. 3 Bulldogs opened the season 0-4, playing stiff competition in Tallahassee, Florida as part of a Thanksgiving tournament, losing to Rickards and Godby. Another loss came to Tift County, ranked No. 8 in the high class. However they’re currently riding a five-game win steak including a 53-47 win over Seminole County on Monday in the Holiday Hoopfest event they’re hosting. Key players include 6-8 sophomore and AJC All-State selection Reggie Perry.

Monticello Hurricanes
2016 finish: 21-11; Lost 63-59 to Manchester in the AA semifinals
2017 update: Ranked No. 5 and off to an 8-5 start, the Hurricanes with two of those losses coming at the hands of South Carolina schools. However, all three of their losses to Georgia schools have come against unranked teams (Henry County, Jones County and Banks County). Last season they flew mostly under the radar, making a deep playoff run as an unranked team. They’ll look to make another run with 5-foot-10 guard CJ Adams returning to lead.

Callaway Cavaliers
2016 finish: 18-4; lost to South Atlanta in the second round of the AAA playoffs
2017 update The Cavs are ranked No. 6 and are 3-2, with both losses against AAAA’s No. 3 LaGrange, and two wins against Troup County. Their next scheduled opponent currently ranked is Pace Academy, the No. 3-ranked team in AAA. That game will be on Jan. 21 at home. Fans will want to circle that game on their calendar because it will feature Pace’s Wendell Carter, one of the nation’s top prospects who led Pace to a AA title last season. They are led by 6-foot-2 point guard Braylon Sanders.

Girls

Model Lady Blue Devils
2016 finish: 
28-1; lost 51-42 to Putnam County in the AA quarterfinals
2017 update: The Lady Blue Devils return nationally recruited and AJC All-State selection 6-foot-1 center Victoria Saxton, a junior, and look to build off last year’s historic season. They have a pair of losses thus far and stand at 9-2, with both losses coming to ranked teams in A-Private’s No. 3 Holy Innocents’ and No. 10 Christian Heritage. The Lady Blue Devils are currently ranked No. 2.

Laney Lady Wildcats
2016 finish: 25-5; lost 62-53 to Morgan County in the AAA quarterfinals
2017 update: AJC All-State selection, junior De’Sha Benjamin returns to lead the Lady Wildcats, who are AA’s top-ranked team and off to a 10-1 start. Their lone loss was 62-56 to North Augusta (South Carolina), which is the No. 2 team in South Carolina’s highest classification. They’re currently riding a nine-game win streak.

Rabun County Lady Wildcats
2016 finish: 25-4, lost 67-53 to GAC in the AA quarterfinals 
2017 updateThe Lady Wildcats are ranked No. 3 and are off to an 11-1 start. Their only loss is to A-Private’s No. 4 Lakeview Academy in their third game of the season. They’re currently in North Carolina playing in a tournament hosted by Franklin. AJC All-State selection guard Savanna Scott, a senior, leads the Lady Wildcats.

Vidalia Lady Indians
2016 finish: 23-5; lost 77-30 to Wesleyan in the second round of the AA playoffs
2017 update: The Lady Indians are led by long-time coach Chunk Reid, who has led the program since the 1970-71 season and recently won his 863 game as a coach, making him Georgia’s all-time winningest coach. Reid has averaged 19 wins a season, and this season Vidalia is ranked No. 5 and are 8-1, well on its way to another winning season. Of the 11 players listed on the Lady Indians’ roster, eight of them are seniors.

Dodge County Lady Indians
2016 finish: 19-8; lost 55-44 to Westminster in the first round of the AAA playoffs
2017 update: The No. 4 Lady Indians are off to a 9-1 start, with the lone loss coming to A-Public’s No. 5 Telfair County by a score of 66-64. They’ll get another shot at Telfair County on Jan. 27, and currently they’re at Georgia College playing in a holiday tournament.

Note: All records and stats are according to those posted to MaxPreps.

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