Basketball teams aim for successful 2013
by Chris Byess
January 03, 2013 12:48 AM | 2191 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
12-20-12 Cherokee at RR 03.Kiana Howell of Cherokee High tries for a rebound during Thursday's game against River Ridge. Staff/Todd Hull
12-20-12 Cherokee at RR 03.Kiana Howell of Cherokee High tries for a rebound during Thursday's game against River Ridge. Staff/Todd Hull
With just over half of the high school basketball season complete, teams across the county are looking to improve their records as they enter the new year with goals to push for a top seed in the region playoffs and a spot in the postseason.

For some teams, such as Cherokee’s girls and Sequoyah’s boys, achieving a top spot in their respective regions seems to be well within reach.

The Lady Warriors (12-1) have the best winning percentage of any team in the county.

Last week, Cherokee participated in the ESPN KSA Holiday Tournament in Orlando, Fla., where it went 3-0 and defeated teams from Illinois, New Jersey and Kentucky.

Though the Lady Warriors are off to their best 13-game start under coach Matt Cates, Cates feels his team still has room to improve.

“While we have been very successful, as being 12-1 after Christmas is a great start, we can’t be satisfied with that,” Cates said. “We are still not playing our best basketball.”

While Cates believes the Lady Warriors must do a better job at rebounding and limiting their turnovers, he has been pleased with the teamwork his squad has displayed so far this season.

If Cherokee can keep up its success, it will likely enter the Region 5AAAAAA tournament as the favorite.

On the boys side, Sequoyah is proving to be an early favorite in the race for the Region 7AAAAA title.

With two of its three losses coming by fewer than five points, the Chiefs (12-3) have averaged 73 points a game, 16 points more than any team in their subregion.

As the runner-up of last week’s Deep South Classic, in Snellville, Sequoyah coach Jeremy Adams believes his team will only continue to improve.

“We’re making good progress this season. We are getting better as we go,” he said. “The biggest thing for us is that, from our losses, we’ve gotten better.”

After winning its region two seasons ago, Adams believes Sequoyah has a good chance to do it again.

Another team that has broken double digits in the win column this year is the Creekview girls.

After starting the season 4-4, the Lady Grizzlies (11-4) have won seven in a row, the last being a 54-43 overtime win over North Oconee in the championship game of the Deep South Classic.

Other tournament winners from over the break included the River Ridge girls, who beat Chestatee 47-34 to win the Lake City Classic at Allatoona, improving its record to 8-5.

Other teams may be disappointed in their early-season performance.

After starting the season 5-0, the Cherokee boys have lost five straight. Though River Ridge scored an upset of Sequoyah earlier in the season, it will enter the second half with a 5-9 record.

Both of Etowah’s teams entered the new year with a sub-.500 record, though the boys have averaged 73 points a game with a roster that includes seven sophomores.

After beginning the season as one of the teams expected to contend for the Region 5AAAAAA title, the Woodstock girls have only managed to amass a 7-4 record.

It’s not the record coach Julie Crowe finds disappointing, but the team’s performance through its first 11 games.

“It’s not really so much the record as the way we are playing right now,” she said. “Honestly, we should not have lost a game.”

It is the Lady Wolverines’ lack of emotion that concerns Crowe the most.

“I’m disappointed in our energy level,” Crowe said. “We ended last season with such fire and emotion, and this year, we are lacking that.”

Despite their slow start, Crowe feels that her team can still win its second straight region championship.

“There is no doubt in my mind that we will,” she said. “We definitely want to repeat, and we have the talent to do so.”

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