There weren’t any seismic shifts in the balance of power among girls basketball teams in Bartow County during the 2019-20 season.
Cass was still the class of the local teams. Although the Colonels didn’t quite match the heights of their previous campaign, when they won 22 games and reached the Class 5A state semifinals, they still proved to be the best of the Bartow bunch. Only placement in one of the toughest regions in the state could prevent the team, which had just one senior, from making the playoffs.
Elsewhere, Cartersville and Adairsville had seasons extremely similar to their previous 2018-19 ones. Each finished just one win shy of their previous totals. Woodland, meanwhile, saw its number of wins grow from one to five, thanks to a more experienced group.
Moving forward, the Colonels, Canes and Wildcats should benefit from realignment. Next winter, the trio of teams will make up half of the new Region 7-AAAAA.
Cass should be one of the region title favorites. As two of the toughest defensive teams in the area, Cartersville and Woodland will have much better chances of making it to state. In fact, the Canes held Class 4A finalist Troup County to its lowest point total of the season, while the Wildcats limited 5A runner-up Kell to its joint-second lowest score of the year.
Co-Players of the Year:
Claire Davis, Cass sophomore and Londaisha Smith, Cass junior
In some ways, choosing co-players of the year seems like a cop out, especially when the two are teammates. But with Davis and Smith, it would be unfair to separate them based on how dynamic of a 1A-1B combo they were on a nightly basis. Sometimes, Davis would be unstoppable; other times, Smith was a one-person wrecking crew. Most nights, both were outstanding, and that made Cass incredibly difficult to beat. At some point, it becomes difficult to tell where the influence of one ends and the other begins. Davis remains the better offensive player, but Smith certainly closed the gap this season. Likewise, Smith is still the superior defender — by far the best in the county — although Davis makes a significant impact on that end of the floor, as well. Davis was named first-team all-region, earned MVP of the Gordon Lee/Chattooga tournament and landed all-tournament honors for the AHS Tiger Christmas Clash. Smith ended up with second-team all-region honors, Gordon Lee/Chattooga all-tournament team selection and Adairsville tournament MVP. For the season, Davis averaged 19.6 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.1 blocks and two steals per game. Smith, meanwhile, contributed 16.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and four steals a night. Needless to say, the combination of Davis and Smith will be one that no team will look forward to facing next season.
Ariana Cochran, Cartersville senior — Cochran stepped up her play significantly during her final season with the Canes. In fact, Cochran might have been the most improved player in the county from her junior to senior years. She averaged 6.2 points to go with 4.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists per night. Defensively, Cochran led Cartersville in steals and charges taken. Cochran and the rest of the Canes’ Class of 2020 — Jada Cunningham, Naijah Evans and Cio Seigler — will be difficult to replace, but the region realignment could give Cartersville a slight reprieve the next couple of years.
Lexie Childers, Adairsville sophomore — One of two starting sophomore posts for Adairsville, Childers showed flashes of her potential throughout the season. While Childers and Haley Stiles, the other 10th-grade forward, both went through some ups and downs offensively, they managed to lead the Tigers in scoring. Childers, who averaged 7.2 points per game, also made significant contributions across the board. She pulled down five rebounds a night while also averaging 1.8 assists and 0.6 blocks per game. Childers also showed the ability to step outside and knock downs 3-pointers consistently.
Carli Clymer, Woodland senior — A quick comparison between Woodland’s games in which Clymer played and those in which she sat out do to injury, it’s clear she was a huge factor. Wins were still hard to come by in one of the toughest regions in the state, but Woodland managed to stay competitive with several top-notch teams once Clymer returned from injury. She averaged a team-high nine points per game to go with 2.1 assists per night. Clymer, a guard, even managed to be the team’s joint-leading rebounder, pulling down 4.5 boards. She also posted the highest player efficiency rate on the team.
Ariana Hames, Cass junior — While Davis and Smith were a formidable pair for any defense to handle night in and night out, the Colonels struggled to get consistent contributions elsewhere. Hames wound up as the team’s third-leading scorer, averaging 7.1 points per game. When Hames was hitting her outside shots, Cass was virtually unbeatable. If that shot starts to fall more often next season, the Colonels could very easily win a region championship. Even when she wasn’t knocking down 3s, Hames chipped in across the board, posting four rebounds, 2.8 assists and two steals a game.
Lehla Thomas, Cartersville sophomore — Thomas proved to be Cartersville’s most important player almost every time she stepped on the court. When she stayed out of foul trouble and found her rhythm offensively, the Canes were a particularly tough team to beat. Thomas averaged 8.8 points on 41% shooting from the field. Even though her shot could be somewhat inconsistent, she always showed up defensively and on the boards, averaging eight rebounds, including plenty on the offensive end. An underrated passer and dribbler, Thomas will be an even bigger focal piece for the Canes in the coming years.
Jordan Thompson, Woodland sophomore — Opponents often did everything in their power to take away Thompson on the offensive end, especially when Clymer was injured. The sophomore withstood those challenges to put together an impressive season. The team’s primary ball handler, Thompson led Woodland in total points (184), assists (54), rebounds (116) and 3-pointers made (24). She also finished second on the Wildcats in steals (53). With an easier region schedule on the horizon, Woodland could be in for a much-improved 2020-21 season, and Thompson will be a key to that happening.
Justice Bennett, Cass sophomore; Naijah Evans, Cartersville senior; Haley Johnson, Cass sophomore; and Ji’Leyah Mitchell, Adairsville junior.