The Ware County girls are one of the teams in Georgia crying out for a little respect.
The Gators have opened the season with 14 straight wins and won two tournaments, but so far they haven’t been able to break into the rankings.
Ware is an aggressive team that feasts on turnovers; the Gators forced 32 against Harlem. They have allowed as many as 54 points just once, that coming in a 62-54 win over Vidalia in the Christmas Tournament. They have held seven opponents to 20 or fewer points.
The offense is balanced, with Shondell Vickers (11.4 points, 8.5 rebounds), Matea Boyd (10.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 3.1 steals) and Waynisha Coleman (six points, 4.2 rebounds) leading the way.
Here’s a look at some other top girls teams knocking on the door:
McIntosh: The Chiefs (11-2) have won five straight games, including the Mary Persons Holiday Tournament. Coach David Dowse’s team hopes to challenge Fayette County and undefeated Griffin in Region 3. They play at Griffin on Saturday.
Rome and Cass: The two Region 7 rivals are trying to nudge aside Carrollton and Villa Rica, their two state-ranked rivals. Rome (10-2) and Cass (10-3) play each other on Wednesday in Rome, with the loser likely out of the running for the top seed in the region.
Bainbridge: The Bearcats are in a difficult league with Warner Robins and Harris County. But coach Kelvin Cochran’s team (10-4) has played well against a difficult schedule and beat Tift County last weekend. Junior Nadia Marshall (20.2 points, 9.1 rebounds) is the centerpiece of the team. Bainbridge will get a big test on Saturday when it travels to unbeaten Warner Robins.
Here are some boys teams eager to get in the state rankings:
Riverwood: The Raiders (12-3) are the early leaders in Region 6. Elijah Jenkins (18.3 points), Elijah Dudley (15 points) and Josh Brown (10.5 points, 8.4 rebounds) lead Riverwood. Riverwood will know more after Wednesday night when it plays Lithia Springs (10-3), which is looking for its own path into the state rankings.
Kell: The Longhorns (10-3) own a share of first place in Region 7, pretty solid basketball league that currently does not have a ranked team. Kell went 2-2 in the recent Tournament of Champions, one of the wins coming against perennial power Johnson of Savannah.
Woodland, Stockbridge: The Wolfpack (8-4) are 5-1 in Region 4, just behind No. 5 Eagle’s Landing. They’ve established themselves as an aggressive defensive team. Woodland takes a three-game winning streak into Tuesday’s game against Jones County, a team that defeated Woodland on Nov. 29 before either side was back to full strength because of football.
Stockbridge: Don’t sleep on the Tigers. They’re only 9-6 overall, but they’re 5-2 in Region 4 and just beat Union Grove, then ranked No. 10. Kavonte Ivery, a 6-6 junior, leads with 20.0 points and 11.7 rebounds. Ivery scored 39 against Henry County and has been held to single-digits only once.