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Girls High School Basketball Preview

Billingsley Bears

Coach: Arleshia Lane-Turner

Last year: 7-14

Class 1A, Area 6: Akron, Autaugaville, Holy Spirit, Maplesville

Starting five: PG-*Shanitra Kent-Sr., G-*Wendy Raines-Sr., F-*Breanna Kent-Sr., F-Mary Beth Walker-Jr., C-*Lucretia Love-Sr.

Next three: G-Brittany Brown-Jr., F-Charlotte McCary-Jr., G-Lori Davis-Fr.

Outlook: Billingsley, a senior-laden team, wants to make defense its calling card. “That’s what we focused on so far in practice,” Lane-Turner said. The Bears got off to a good start in that regard by holding Verbena to only three points in the first quarter of Billingsley’s season opener.

First game: defeated Verbena, 59-43, on Nov. 20

Chilton Christian Academy Patriots

Coach: Todd Stephens

Last year: 12-11

Alabama Christian Education Athletic Association Division I, Region B, Area I: Glen Iris, Mellow Valley, Trinity

Starting five: PG-Jessica Standifer-8th, G-*Summer Hall-Jr., G-*Courtney Wilson-Jr., F-*Greda Brock-Fr., C-Harley Gregg-Sr.

Next two: G-Alissa Harris-Fr., C-Destiny Richards-8th

Outlook: Do-everything point guard Ashley Velke is gone, so the younger players who earned valuable experience last season now must take on larger roles. “Everyone has to bring something to the floor and learn to gel together in order to excel this year,” Stephens said.

First game: The Patriots went 1-1 at the Brooklane Tournament in Hueytown and were 2-2 heading into this weekend’s West Florida tournament.

Chilton County High Tigers

Coach: Misty Jones

Class 5A, Area 5: Carver-Montgomery, Demopolis, Selma

Starting five: PG-*Tylita Harrell-Sr., G-*Vernice Trimble-Sr., G-Rachel Johnston-So., F-*Paris Benson-Sr., C-*Cannisha Dennis-Sr.

Next three: G-*Bevin Hawkins-Sr., F-Jasmine Ware-Fr., C-Xavi Parker-Sr.

Outlook: Chilton County should feature lots of depth, size and experience for first-year coach Jones. “We have a group of leading seniors this year that I think will motivate and lead our team to its highest potential,” Jones said.

Isabella Mustangs

Coach: Angela Jones

Last year: 6-12

Class 2A, Area 7: American Christian, Hale Co., Pickens Co.

Starting five: PG-*Kimi Jones-Fr., G-*Felicia Brasher-So., F-Sherrel Wilson-Jr., F-*Kimberly Littleton-Jr., C-*Amber Wyatt-So.

Next two: Savannah Kissel-Fr., Allison Mims-Fr.

Outlook: Four out of five starters return from last year’s team, but there isn’t much depth. Coach Angela Jones said the Mustangs must get the ball to their post players, Littleton and Wyatt. “Our whole goal is get the ball as close to the basket as possible, get a shot up, and, if doesn’t go in, get the rebound and put it back,” Jones said.

First game: Nov. 24 vs. Billingsley

Jemison Panthers

Coach: Leighsa Robinson

Last year: 0-20

Class 4A, Area 7: Bibb Co., Calera, Holt

Starting five: PG-*Emily Smithey-So., G-*Brandy Lott-Sr., G-*Kelsey Mims-So., F-*Codi Mims-Jr., F-*Katika Nunn-So.

Next four: G-Cookie Agee-So., PG-Shelby Lopez-Fr., F-Kortney Robinson-So., F-Shayna Robinson-Fr.

Outlook: Jemison returns intact from last year, so a year of experience—and the addition of some players from the junior varsity squad—should help the Panthers improve. “The way that this team has stuck together after such a tough season says a lot about their character and their love of the game and their love and respect for each other,” Robinson said.

First game: Dec. 1 versus Montevallo

Maplesville Red Devils

Coach: Eric Bailey

Last year: 7-13

Class 1A, Area 6: Akron, Autaugaville, Billingsley, Holy Spirit

Starting five: Senior guards *Tanisha Bailey and *Bridget Nichols are the only returning starters from one year ago. The other three positions will be filled by some combination of eighth grade utility player Kiana Andrews, eighth grade forward/center Keshia Bailey, freshman guard Lashundria Bailey, freshman forward/center Ebony Childers, freshman guard/forward Kortisha Morrow and freshman guard/forward Litisha Walls. Those that don’t start will see plenty of playing time coming off the bench.

Outlook: Maplesville will feature experienced play in the backcourt and lots of size—though not much experience—in the frontcourt. Coach Bailey said his team has much work to do before its opener next month. “We’ve got to get in basketball shape,” he said.

First game: Dec. 12 vs. Chilton Co.

Thorsby Rebels

Coach: Wendy Fortner

Last year: 15-7

Class 2A, Area 9: Fultondale, Shades Mountain, Vincent

Starting five: PG-*Sharonda Cooper-Fr., G-Stephany Harris-So., G-*Ashlin Hilyer-Jr., F-*Amanda Hubbard-So., F-*Brittany Maddox-Jr.

Next two: Jessica Jackson-Fr., Nikki Penton, Jr.

Outlook: Thorsby won the Chilton County tournament last year, but Advertiser Player of the Year Hollie Day was lost to graduation. There is quality with the four returning players—Cooper, Hilyer, Hubbard and Maddox—but the quantity will have to be found in first-time varsity players. “I have high expectations for our team even though we are young,” Fortner said.

First game: Nov. 21 at Indian Springs

Verbena Red Devils

Coach: Jennifer Ingram

Class 1A, Area 5: Autaugaville, Billingsley, Notasulga, Saint Jude

Starting five: G-*Britney White-Jr., G-*Brandy Driver-Jr., F-*Connie Dale-Sr., F-*Megan Whittle-Sr., C-*Imma Sanders-Jr.

Next three: G-Mattie Cleckler-Fr., G-Amber Pike-Jr., F-Marquiska Deramus-Fr.

Outlook: The Red Devils return intact from last year, giving first-year coach Ingram much to work with. “We have very high expectations for this season,” Ingram said. “This year’s team has a lot more confidence in themselves and hustles through all four quarters.”

First game: The Red Devils have compiled an 0-3 record so far.

*—returning starter