Championship Preview: Girls Class AAAAA

Photo by Ty Freeman


28-4, REGION 6

Tucker has never won a state championship in girls basketball and this is its first trip to the title game. The Tigers have, however, made three quarterfinals appearances since 2004 and this current squad is ranked No. 2 in the state, so by no means has this postseason run come out of nowhere. It is no surprise that this group has delivered Tucker’s best-ever season. The Tigers are an experienced bunch with five seniors on the roster and all five are major contributors.

Twins Naima and Nuba Jackson are 5-foot-8 guards heading to Winthrop University. Their natural smarts (both have GPAs of just about 4.0) and experience on the hardwood (both have played since age nine) are evident in their abilities to play fundamentally-sound basketball while expertly running a mistake-free offense. The Jacksons’ speed, which they have also displayed as cross-country standouts, helps Tucker push the tempo on each end of the floor. Another Division I signee is Erykah Davenport, a 6-foot-2 post player. Davenport, on her way to Miami (Fla.), is averaging more than 13 points and seven rebounds per game. She has the ability to completely take over during stretches, such as when she poured in 11 first-quarter points in a quarterfinal victory over Salem.

Senior guards Jemilla Flanagan and Tori Robinson also make up part of a deep, dynamic backcourt. But don’t forget about sophomore forward Mariya Trimble, who scored a team-high 12 points along with Davenport in a semifinal win against Drew. The Tigers’ offensive prowess has led to 28 of 32 outings in which they have scored at least 50 points. It is also a big reason why they are playing some of their best basketball right now, when it matters most. They fell to Southwest DeKalb in the region championship game, but other than that they have not lost since Jan. 18 (to Class AAAAA semifinalist Forest Park).


30-2, REGION 6

Southwest DeKalb has been a dominant force in Georgia’s second highest classification since Kathy Richey-Walton took over as head coach in 2006. The Panthers have won four state championships in the last six years—the first three in Class AAAA from 2008 to 2010 and a fourth last year in Class AAAAA following realignment. They are now in their sixth title game under Richey-Walton after a 59-32 semifinal blowout of Forest Park last weekend. Holding teams to fewer than 40 points is nothing new for Southwest DeKalb, which continues to prove the old adage that defense wins championships.

Defensive tenacity has always been the Panthers’ trademark and this season is no exception. They have allowed no more than 44 points in three of four state tour- nament games. In a two-game stretch during mid-February they gave up a combined 26 points to M.L. King and North Atlanta. In a span of four mid-January games they surrendered a total of 93 points, or an average of 23.3 per contest. In the semis, Forest Park scored a mere three points on just one field goal in the entire third quarter.

While every girl gets in on the fun at the defensive end of the floor (each one has to if she wants to be rewarded with playing time by Richey-Walton), the offense is dominated by fellow juniors Tynice Martin and Davion Wingate. Martin, a 5-foot-10 forward, and Wingate, a 5-foot-7 guard, average more than 15 points per game apiece and account for almost half of the team’s scoring. Southwest DeKalb’s quarterfinal rout of Stephenson saw Martin drain a trio of three-pointers in the first half en route to a 20-point performance. Wingate scored nine points in the second quarter alone against Forest Park. Sophomore guard Daisa Alexander can fill it up when called upon. She scored 27 points in the second round against Sequoyah.

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