One team, however, reaped the rewards of its youth movement as the Cartersville Lady Purple Hurricanes (19-12) not only qualified for the Georgia High School Association state tournament but made some noise while there.
The Lady Canes won two home games in the first and second rounds -- against Stone Mountain and Chestatee, respectively -- before losing to defending state champion Columbia in the Elite Eight at the NorthWest Georgia Trade and Convention Center in Dalton.
With three freshmen in its starting lineup -- which included Georgia Athletic Coaches Association first-team all state selection Kaelyn Irby -- Cartersville seems a good bet to make a return trip to state, with a potential Region 7-AAA championship along the way after a runner-up finish behind Dalton this season.
Neither of the county's other teams -- Adairsville (2-23), Cass (4-20), Excel Christian (3-17) and Woodland (4-20) -- reached the Lady Canes' win total combined, but a few teams did show progress during the season and can hope for better results next season.
The Lady Colonels have a solid building block in sophomore post Carla Clemmons, the Lady Tigers possess two potentially superb players in freshmen Mallorie Collum and Stephanie Kuhrt, and the Lady Eagles' point guard Walker Bell could blossom in her final season.
The Lady Wildcats are the only team losing arguably their best player in shooting guard Olivia Rutledge but, as Cartersville proved this year, you never know what could happen once the ladies take to the court.
Without further ado, here is The Daily Tribune News' 2010-11 All-County Girls Basketball Team.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR -- Kaelyn Irby, Cartersville, Fr., G: It became evident early on -- even before the season started -- that Irby would not simply blend in during her first high school season. She scored 19 points in a season-opening win over East Paulding, 29 in a 10-point loss to Dalton in Game No. 2 and 22 in a win over rival Cass, her third career game. A first-team all-state selection, Irby averaged 17.1 points, tops in the county, as well as 5.8 assists, 3.7 steals and 3.3 rebounds. She shot 53 percent from the floor, made 36 3-point shots and was listed in the No. 1 slot on the 7-AAA All-Region Team. Irby was named Cartersville's December Player of the Month for the Northwest Georgia Tip-Off Club. After a great coming-out party, area coaches may shudder at the thought of facing the 5-foot-6 guard for the next three years.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR -- Mallorie Collum, Adairsville, Fr., F: Collum served as one of the building blocks for a young Lady Tigers team, averaging 10.5 points, 5 rebounds and 1 steal. She led Adairsville in points, rebounds and field-goal percentage. Collum was named Adairsville's Northwest Georgia Tip-Off Club Player of the Month in January.
Olivia Rutledge, Woodland, Sr., G: Even with other teams game planning to limit her effectiveness, stopping the sweet-shooting Rutledge often was more difficult than it looked. The 5-foot-9 guard, a three-year starter, averaged 12.5 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.6 steals. She hit 15 3-pointers. Rutledge, a two-time captain, was Woodland's player of the year as selected by the Northwest Georgia Tip-Off Club. Three times in her career, including 2010-11, she was chosen as the Lady Wildcats' December player of the month by the tip-off club. A 4.0 student, Rutledge makes her fourth appearance on the all-county team.
Kea Garnigan, Cartersville, Jr., G: Garnigan helped the Lady Canes stretch the defense with her shooting from behind the arc, where she finished behind Irby in 3s made with 35. Her rainbow shots routinely touched nothing but the bottom of the net as she averaged 8 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.8 steals. Garnigan was named Cartersville's Player of the Year for the Northwest Georgia Tip-Off Club.
Adrienne Green, Cartersville, Jr., F: Green supplied inside scoring to complement Cartersville's ability from the outside. She possessed the capability to sink jumpers in the lane but scored well closer to the basket, too. Green also rebounded the ball well for the Lady Canes. She averaged 11.3 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1 assist. Green was voted to the 7-AAA All-Region Team and was Cartersville's Northwest Georgia Tip-Off Club Player of the Month in January.
Carla Clemmons, Cass, So., C: When she hustled consistently and was clear of foul trouble, Clemmons could hardly be stopped, as evidenced in a December win over South Forsyth in a holiday tournament at Kell, where the 6-foot center scored 20 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and added four blocks. The sophomore post rebounded and scored against very tough competition in Region 7-AAAA and had season averages of 11 points and 11.5 rebounds.
SIXTH MAN OF THE YEAR -- Carlee Bragg, Cartersville, Sr., F: Whether starting -- like she did early in the season -- or coming off the bench -- as she did during the Lady Canes' playoff run -- Bragg played a major role for Cartersville and not just because she was the only senior for the team, although she did seem to always know what to do on defense and where to go with the ball on offense, a likely benefit of her experience. The 6-foot Bragg averaged 6 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.1 steals and shot 66 percent from the free-throw line as she got to return to the state tournament in her final season after making it as a sophomore.
Silken Solomon, Cass, Jr., G: A team captain who did whatever her team needed her to do, Solomon made the move from post to point guard, one of the hardest positions to play. The 5-foot-8 junior guard averaged 4.8 points and 5 rebounds. "Stats do not measure her worth to the team," her coach, Jamie Horton, said.
Stefanie Will, Cartersville, Fr., G: Will was among five freshmen on the Cartersville team that made it to the Elite Eight. She started every game and made 15 3s this year. Will averaged 4.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.7 steals. She made 57 percent of her free throws.
Walker Bell, Excel, Jr., G: A quintessential point guard, Bell was more apt to look for an open teammate than force her own shot. Out of necessity, though, the 5-foot-6 junior showed that she is able to score as well, leading her team in points with around 10 per game.
Tyshika Jackson, Cass, Jr., G: Jackson may have been the county's best perimeter defender. With her long arms and propensity for getting in the other team's passing lane, the 5-foot-9 wing came up with steals and fast-break layups going the other way. Jackson routinely drew the opponent's best player. She averaged 5 points.
Stephanie Kuhrt, Adairsville, Fr., F: Locating Kuhrt at a Lady Tigers game was never particularly hard as she seemed to be all over the court throughout. She averaged 6.5 points, 4 rebounds 1 steal and blocked 10 shots on the year. Kuhrt was a very versatile player that had the length and size to play in the post as well as the athleticism to line up on the wing. She led the team in free-throw percentage. Kuhrt was Adairsville's Northwest Georgia Tip-Off Club Player of the Month in December and made the 2010 Adairsville High Lady Tiger Thanksgiving Classic All-Tournament Team.
Honorable mention: Adairsville -- Cassidy Howren; Cass -- Amber Bowen, Jasmine Estwick, Octavia Pendleton; Cartersville -- Jazmine Baldwin, Katie O'Connor; Excel -- Abbey Hibbard, Sydney Howell, Hallie Wachsmuth, Emily Willingham; Woodland -- Lacey Fritz, Lyrica Solomon, Ashley Watkins.