As school starts back, region play will come to the forefront of the season and each team will be truly tested to see who’s a pretender and who’s a contender. Some teams are off to hot starts, while others have come out of the gate slow. We take a look at where each team is and grade them on their current play and tease where they can go in the near future.
Record: (0-12, 0-3 Region)
They haven’t won a game yet, but the the team is young in experience and is in the first year under Duane Kelley, a well-respected coach with the history of being able to turn programs around. Lately, the Tigers have been playing better and have been a few close games. The young Tigers are still cubs, but give them some time and they’ll eventually get some wins under their belt to build on for next season.
Record: (5-7, 1-1 Region)
The Lady Tigers are a pretty solid team with some big wins as well as a few big losses. Alcovy defeated Marietta, a team that was previously undefeated and took Newton to the brink, before losing on a buzzer-beater. Alcovy is strong defensively, but can be stagnant at times on offense. In the game against Newton, only four Lady Tigers were able to score. Outside of Kiara Bagby, Keidra Sears, Ayanna Wimbush, Alezhia Wilson and Tierra Hodges there isn’t much offensive firepower. If alcovy can find more scoring from players outside of the starting five, they’ll be tough to beat in the region tournament.
Record: (4-6, 2-3 Region)
Eastside lost its six top scorers from last year. That’s one heck of a turnover for any program, but Gregory Freeman’s grit and grind mentality is slowly sinking into the mindset of the team,as they’ve recently won two games in a row for the first time this season. Freeman wants more ball movement from his team, which if they buy into, should do wonders for the offense with players like Marquise Sims, Isaiah Miller and Timothy Haynes on the perimeter. The defense is up and down, but with Freeman’s many sets they can prevent teams from scoring for minutes at a time. Eastside’s season is looking up and will only get better.
Record: (3-8, 2-3 Region)
Eastside’s girls are also losing a good bit of talent from last year, but sophomore point guard Janelle Cook and seniors Tierra Smith and Raynesha Clay are doing their best to keep the Lady Eagles afloat. The team has struggled playing a complete game, something coach Matthew Jackson has been on harping on this season. Against rival Newton, the Lady Eagles were down big at halftime, but they came roaring back to lose a close one at 58-57. Eastside has a good suffocating trap defense, that forces turnovers that turn into points. Their consistency and defense will be the key to their success going forward.
Record: (11-1, 1-1 Region)
Newton was undefeated until it ran into a loaded Tucker team, easily the toughest competition its faced all season and likely the toughest competition it’ll face going forward. Newton, despite the loss of center Josh Tukes due to injury, has played well all season. They’re dominating the weak competition they play like they should and winning the close games like champions do. Still, its tough to say what Newton will do in the region tournament. Rockdale is solid and if Tucker stays healthy they’re going to be really tough to beat. The Rams could either finish as region champions or they could find themselves playing in the third place game.
Record: (8-3, 2-0 Region)
The regular season is composed of two seasons: out of region season and region season. Winning the region is the most important and its the goal for every team. You can lose every out-of-region game and go undefeated in the region and that’ll be all that mattered. The Lady Rams have been winning out of region games and are undefeated in region play with a huge win over Tucker, the defending state champions. Alexcia Chatman and Imani Broadnax are Newton’s female version of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompshon. So in a word, they can shoot your lights out. On defense, the Lady Rams thrive on causing turnovers and getting easy baskets, but if they have to back out into a halfcourt set Broadnax and Chatman are waiting on the wings to drain a three right in the defense’s face. Newton is looking like a team that can win the region back-to-back, which is why they have the highest grade.