The teams from Callaway, LaGrange and Troup are each looking forward to what they hope will be a productive 2012-2013 season.
Some of the teams return their rosters nearly intact, while other teams are having to replace a lot of key players.
The Troup Lady Tigers fall into the latter category.
Last year, the Lady Tigers sported a 23-6 season record and earned a trip to the state basketball tournament’s quarterfinals in Columbus before being eliminated by Columbia. The Lady Tigers had state-tournament wins over Riverwood and Chestatee before bowing out. They also finished 10-2 in Region 6-AAA and won the tournament championship.
The Lady Tigers open this season on the road Nov. 30 when they travel to Columbus to play Northside High School.
Coach Carla Thornton said after practice on Monday it’ll be a rebuilding year for her team.
Last year’s team included three key seniors including 6-foot-4 post player Shamiya Brooks, who is now at Prarie View A&M, Maurissa Swain, and point guard Tanisha Jackson, who is now a member of the West Georgia basketball team.
The new-look Lady Tigers got practice started on Monday, and head coach Carla Thornton said she “thought it went pretty well.”
“We had a lot of girls out there for the first time so we were trying to get them up to speed,” Thornton added. “We have a couple of returning players, so I think it’s going to be interesting.”
The Lady Tigers will be looking to fill that void in the middle left by Brooks’ graduation with Tamayah Potts, a 5-9 senior who started next to Brooks as a junior last season.
Joining Potts will be Sydni Jackson, a 6-foot senior who came off the bench for Thornton last season.
Also back is senior Jessica Gilbert, a starter last season.
For the LaGrange Lady Grangers, coach Jan Jones’ team finished with a 16-13 record, including an 8-4 mark in Region 6-AAA. The Lady Grangers lost to Columbia in the first round of the state tournament.
Jones is only missing a pair of seniors from last year’s team , and neither of them got a whole lot of playing time.
All of the starters return, including standout post player KaBrenna Smith, as well as leading scorer and point guard Tanisha Jackson.
This year’s team includes five seniors and seven sophomores.
The Lady Grangers will be the first local girls’ team to play when they host Lithia Springs on Nov. 20.
Callaway, meanwhile, will look to build on what it did last season.
Although the Lady Cavaliers went 5-17, that was an improvement on the previous two seasons when they won a combined four games.
Head coach Deyano Martin, who’ll return for his second season, lost two players to graduation, including Tyshelle Armstrong and Tyeria Cameron.
Callaway returns three seniors and a large group of underclassmen that includes three juniors and five sophomores.
On the boys’ side of the ledger, the Troup Tigers finished with a record of 19-8 last season, including a 10-3 Region 6-AAA mark. The Tigers were hit hard by graduation, though.
Seven Troup players marched down the aisle and picked up diplomas, including leading scorer Eric Bridges, who was the team’s statistical and emotional leader the past two seasons.
Head coach Thermond Billinglsea will look for help from six seniors and a group of underclassmen to fill out this year’s ranks.
Leading the way will be senior Lakeithin Buckner, the second-leading scorer behind Bridges last season.
Troup opens the season Dec. 7 at home when it hosts cross-county rival Callaway.
While Troup is having to replace a lot of players, LaGrange is in a different situation.
LaGrange finished with an 18-11 overall record that included an 8-5 Region 6-AAA record. Coach Mike Pauley will miss the services of four players who graduated, but will reload his senior corps with 10 returning players.
The toughest player to replace will be sharp-shooting guard Jake Pauley, coach Pauley’s son.
The other four starters and many of the key reserves from last season’s team all return, though, including standouts Justyn Olson, Drew Moody, Kwame Brown, Dee Gates, Don Leak and Baron Smith. “
I feel like we had a pretty good first day,” Pauley said Monday night after conducting tryouts for sophomore and junior hopefuls.
Seniors practiced later in the evening, although two of them are busy with the football team.
”That’s a lot of folks,” Pauley said of the 10 seniors. “There are probably five of the 10 (seniors) that have a chance to really push the envelope. Pauley
LaGrange plays a scrimmage on Nov. 15 at Upson-Lee before opening the season at home against Lithia Springs on Nov. 20.
At Callaway, head coach Terry Hayes’ Cavaliers finished 12-15 a year ago, but went 6-4 in Region 5-AA.
Hayes has his hands full this season after losing five players to graduation and will be looking to four seniors to take over leadership roles, plus three underclassmen returning from 2011-12.
Senior point guard Tyrell Tigner will be one of the key returnees for Callaway.
Hayes opened practice Monday after he finished practice as assistant football coach for the football team.
The Cavaliers open the season Dec. 7 when they play at Troup.