Bartow County high school basketball teams are now over one-third of the way through the season as the Christmas break has begun and teams are out of action until at least Wednesday.
For some teams, the early part of the season has given a glimpse of where they stand and what they’ll have to do to make a push for the state playoffs.
Rivalry game on tap
The big matchup this week in basketball will be the Cass-Cartersville game on Wednesday at the Chattooga Christmas Tournament. Both the boys and girls teams will match up for the only time against their rivals, as they are not scheduled to play a home-and-home series this year.
Both boys teams are off to strong starts. Cartersville is 6-1, with the team’s only loss coming to Meadowcreek in the LakePoint Showcase before the team’s football players returned to the hardwood.
Cartersville won the Dalton Tip-off Tournament to begin the year, and have reeled off three straight wins since the football team has returned to action, led by junior Jaylon Pugh’s 23.7 points per game.
Cartersville has not played a region game yet, but will look for a fifth consecutive region title in a loaded Region 5-AAAA that includes the No. 1 team in the classification, Sandy Creek, and the No. 3 team, LaGrange.
While Cartersville will not get region play started until January, Cass is already making waves in Region 7-AAAAA. The Colonels are 7-3 overall, but 4-1 in region, which is second behind Kell. Cass’ big win came Dec. 3 at Villa Rica. Villa Rica is third in the region and the Colonels won that game on the road by a score of 61-48.
Cass’ one loss came to first-place Kell, and the Colonels still have yet to play fourth-place Carrollton and fifth-place Rome.
In the last five games, Cass has four different players averaging between 10 and 13 points per game, including C.J. Bennett, Ashton Burley, Jake Collum and Ian Whittington.
As for the Lady Colonels, they are off to a 6-3 start, 3-2 in region play, which is good for fifth currently.
The Lady Colonels have yet to play the two undefeated region teams, Rome or Carrollton, but have lost to the No. 3 and No. 4 teams in the region, Villa Rica and Kell. Villa Rica is ranked No. 7 in the Class 5A rankings, while Carrollton is No. 6.
Reigning DTN Player of the Year Jana Morning is averaging 15 points per game.
Morning and the Lady Colonels will take on a 5-3 Cartersville team Wednesday. Cartersville has yet to play a region game, but will have some tough competition with seventh-ranked Sandy Creek the favorite.
The Lady Canes are currently on a three-game win streak and received a boost when move-in Camila Rodriguez began to play in the Paulding County game. Rodriguez led the team in scoring Friday against Paulding County with 17 points. The junior adds to an already strong nucleus of seniors with Madison McKinney, Kimora McClinic and Monica Motuba. McKinney scored 20 in a prior game to Paulding and McClinic had a big game against Sonoraville with 18 points.
The thick of things
The Adairsville boys and Excel girls teams are over .500 so far and a little ahead of the middle of the pack in region play.
The Tigers are on a three-game win streak and are currently 7-4 overall and 3-2 in Region 6-AAA. That record is tied for third in all of Region 6-AAA behind Calhoun, Coahulla Creek and Sonoraville. Adairsville has yet to play any of those three teams, but has defeated North Murray, Murray County and Bremen, and has lost to Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe and Ringgold.
Cody Henderson is emerging as a scorer for Adairsville and has led the team in points in three of the last four games.
The Adairsville girls also are in the middle of the pack in its region, sitting at 4-6 overall and 2-3 in region. The Lady Tigers are in third in the sub-region, but have yet to play a sub-region game, going 2-3 against the five teams from the North sub-region.
Nakiyah Washington is averaging 16.5 points in the last four games, while Emily Collum is averaging 13 and Zay Harris is scoring 12 per contest in that span.
The Lady Tigers defeated Excel by 20 points in Excel’s first game of the year, but since then, the Lady Eagles have played solid basketball. They are now 5-3 overall and 1-1 in region play.
Excel took a tough one-point loss to North Cobb Christian on Dec. 16, and will have a long layoff before a Jan. 3 game against Trion.
Excel’s big region win came against Mount Zion, but the Lady Eagles won’t know where they stack up until the initial Class A Private Power Rankings are released.
Excel has been led by Whitney Harris’ 11.3 points, Rylie Boston’s 9.5 points and Kalli Beth Scheff’s 9.25 points per game. Harris and Boston have been particularly consistent, not scoring less than seven points in any game so far this season.
Ground to make up
The Woodland boys basketball team is coming off a hard-fought game against Cartersville Thursday. However, while the Wildcats gave the Canes a tougher test than may have been expected, they still have work to do to catch up in the Region 7-AAAAA standings.
Woodland is 1-7, with its win coming against Adairsville to open the season. Since then, Woodland has lost seven straight. Some of those losses have come to some top teams in the region, including Villa Rica, Rome and Carrollton. Woodland has yet to play Cass or Kell, the other two teams near the top of the region standings.
A loss to Paulding County set the ’Cats back in region play, and an overtime loss to Model has made Woodland’s record not so indicative of improved play as of late.
The Woodland girls also have improved with the return of Lexie Robinson from injury, although the boost has yet to show on the record, as the team sits at 0-9 overall, 0-4 in region play.
Robinson already has games of 22 and 19 points in just five games of action.