Championship Preview: Girls Class AAAA

Photo by Columbus HS


30-1, REGION 5

The Columbus Blue Devils had a strong 2012-13 season as they won 20 games and made the state playoffs as a No. 3 seed. But Chestatee was able to take them down in the first round of the tournament and the Blue Devils’ hopes of reaching the state championship game for the first time since 2004 came to an end. The Blue Devils used that for motivation this season having only suffered one loss, which was to Northside- Columbus back in December. A big reason for Columbus’ success is the play of senior guards Alexia Man- ning and Jacqueria Gunter. Manning has averaged 14 points per game while Gunter has averaged 11 points per game. Head coach Joe Cherrone said after the semifinal win against Woodland-Henry that since Manning is a four-year starter, it’s important to get her going and her leadership on the court is vital to the team’s success. The Blue Devils also got valuable production out of freshman guard Tatyana Wyatt who has scored 11 points per game this season. And let’s not forget about freshman center Ariyah Copeland who scored 12 points in the semifinal win. One of the reasons the Blue Devils have only lost one game this season is their stingy defense. Colum- bus averages five blocks per game, 21 rebounds per game and nearly 10 steals per game. And the reason they can play defense is they have a lot of size. Both Copeland and Wyatt stand over six-feet tall and so does sophomore center Shardonee Hayes, who is 6-foot-3. Back in February, Cherrone told the Columbus Ledger-Inquirer that his defense could be the best in the city and possible the state. Cherrone and the rest of the Blue Devils will have a chance to find out how good the defense really is against undefeated Redan in Macon this weekend.


33-0, REGION 6

Over the last few years, Redan has been one of the top basketball programs in the state. The Raiders’ last championship came in 2009 under head coach Rhonda Malone. After Malone won the state title, she retired and opened the door for current head coach Jerry Jackson. Jackson and the Raiders came close in 2010 when they lost to Norcross in the state championship game, which was their only loss of the season. They also had an opportunity to win the title last year, but fell short against Sandy Creek in the quarterfinals. Now Redan comes into this state championship game like they did in 2010 and that’s not having a single loss on its record. One of the things that makes the Raiders dangerous is how effective they are at the three- point line. No girls team in DeKalb County shot and made more three-pointers than Redan and it finished the regular season shooting 40 percent from the arc. The team’s best three-point shooter is senior guard Brea Elmore, who shot 42 percent during the regular season. Elmore also averaged 19 points per game, which was the second-best mark in the county. Elmore signed to play college ball at Memphis in November. Another player that can score is senior forward Jada Byrd. She averaged 13 points per game during the regular season to go along with her seven rebounds and three assists. She has signed to play with Xavier next season. Senior guard Destini McClary is another player to watch for the Raiders. McClary averages 14 points per game and has a 39 percent three-point percentage. Byrd, Elmore and McClary have all reached 1,000 career points this season, making Redan the first school in DeKalb County to have three players reach that mark in the same season.

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