Bartow County didn’t get any hardware from winning the state championships it wanted, but its five women’s basketball teams collectively did bulk up in their number of wins this season.
The teams also fared better in their region battles, too, several showing signs of taking steps toward scaling the top of their respective regions with an eye on moving into the state playoffs down the road.
Cartersville showed the strongest muscle in its region as the Lady Purple Hurricanes placed second.
The Lady Canes punctuated their season with an 18-9 overall record and compiled a 12-2 record in Region 5B-AAA, both losses to Sonoraville.
Cartersville also was the only Bartow County school to make the state playoffs, falling in the first round to Oconee County. Oconee lost in the second round to St. Pius, the eventual state winner in Class AAA.
A year earlier the Lady Canes earned a 21-7 overall record, 9-3 in the region, and lost in the first round of the state playoffs to Oconee County.
Woodland showed the most improvement in its overall record of all the Bartow schools as the Lady Wildcats notched five more victories over the season.
Woodland rose to 10-17 overall, 3-12 in Region 5A-AAAAA. It had earned a 5-20 record the previous year with a 1-13 record in Region 7-AAAA.
Adairsville also showed improvement in its overall record as the Lady Tigers finished with a 12-15 overall record. That tally included a 5-10 record in 5B-AAA. The previous year Adairsville went 8-17 with a 3-12 record in Region 7A-AA.
Basketball fans also were treated to a similar improvement by Cass, which collected six wins against 17 losses on the year. The Lady Colonels were 2-5 in Region 7A-AAAA.
Their numbers the previous year were 2-24 and 1-14 in region 7-AAAA.
Also adding to its victory totals over the year was Excel Christian Academy.
The Lady Eagles closed with a 6-18 record overall, including 2-10 in Region 6A-A. The year before those totals were 4-20 and 0-8 in Region 6A-A.
Player of the year
Basketball was about change and also about things staying the same for the Cartersville Lady Canes.
Cartersville lost Donna Enis, the winningnest women’s basketball coach in the school’s history, when she decided to return to Pickens County, her home.
The coaching mantle was shifted to the shoulders of Cindy Moore, who approached the job saying she just wanted to help the Lady Canes win.
Although there was a change at the top, Moore was able to realize her ambition as Cartersville started her tenure by making the state playoffs and adding 18 more victories to the more than 200 the Lady Canes’ coach already has to her credit.
A key reason behind the continued success of Cartersville was point guard Kaelyn Irby, a two-year starter for Enis who enjoyed similar success under Moore’s tutelage.
Irby led all Bartow County girls basketball players in two major categories, averaging 14 points and dishing out four assists to earn player-of-the-year honors from The Daily Tribune News.
The junior’s contribution didn’t stop there, however, as the point guard averaged four rebounds and three steals per outing.
Irby also was the floor leader for the Lady Canes, directing her teammates to easy shots to maximize their scoring opportunities.
Stefanie Will, Cartersville
Will, a junior, earned all-county honors largely through her defensive prowess.
The three-year starter is another in a line of speedy guards who have served as Cartersville’s defensive stoppers.
Will continued to broaden her impact on the team as she stepped up her offensive play and became a more-effective 2-point and 3-point shooter.
The guard averaged 11 points per game while robbing her opponents of two steals.
Kennedy Robinson, Woodland
Robinson was an offensive force for Woodland, averaging 12.5 points per game against the Lady Wildcats’ tough Region 5-AAAAA opponents.
The guard also was a steady defensive player for the Lady Wildcats.
She averaged 2.1 steals per outing and provided senior leadership at crunch time
Brooke Hummel, Woodland
Hummel was another Lady Wildcat who contributed in multiple ways to her team’s success.
The junior dropped in six points and claimed 3.6 rebounds for Woodland. She also averaged 2.7 steals and 2.5 assists.
Hummel also proved an effective ballhandler late in Woodland’s ballgames as well. She frequently scored more of her points from the charity line after opponents were reduced to fouling the Lady Wildcats to salvage a chance for victory.
Cassidy Howren, Adairsville
Howren, the floor leader for the Lady Tigers, stripped the nets for 6.6 points and averaged 4.5 rebounds.
She started every game for Adairsville and helped her teammates elevate their games and become more competitive throughout the season.
Andrea Taylor, Excel
Taylor was an example of how spread out the talent was this past season for the Bartow County girls basketball teams.
The sophomore transfer student torched the nets for 12 points per game in becoming the offensive leader for the Lady Eagles. She averaged 2.6 assists per outing as well.
Taylor also put up impressive numbers in steals, with 2.5 per outing, and rebounding, where she averaged 6.1.
Her pinpoint passing also helped the Lady Eagles become more competitive and take steps toward improving their level of play in their region.
Amber Bowen, Cass
Bowen has been the unquestioned leader for Cass several years and this season she again pointed the way offensively for the Lady Colonels.
Bowen torched the nets for 10.2 points while grabbing 1.5 steals per outing. She also helped spread the defenses to make slowing the Cass offense more difficult.
Jazmien Baldwin, Cartersville
Baldwin was a force in the paint
area for Cartersville this season, grabbing an impressive eight rebounds per game.
The senior also chipped in nine points and gave Cartersville an extra offensive weapon under the backboard when the Lady Canes were on the offensive attack.
Her play helped give the Lady Canes another weapon in their scoring arsenal and smoothed the path for their playoff appearance.
Marissa Dubose, Woodland
Dubose, a junior, is another player who earned her designation as county all-star through her whole body of work.
Dubose dropped in 8.5 points for Woodland while seizing 8.2 rebounds.
She also gave the ballhandlers for her opponents something to think about as she blocked 2.1 shots per evening and averaged 1.7 steals.
She made her presence known also by challenging shots in the paint area late in games, while also coaxing charges out of opponents.
Stephanie Kuhrt, Adairsville
Kuhrt was one of the architects of Adairsville’s improved season. She dropped in 7.9 points per game while pulling down 5.3 rebounds.
Kuhrt also took more than 10 charges as the Lady Tigers found ways to stymie the offensive efforts of their foes.
Emily Willingham, Excel
Willingham took over some of Excel Christian Academy’s games this year as the center averaged 11.1 points and 7.9 rebounds.
The senior scored 20-plus points three times for the Lady Eagles and registered five double-doubles.
She showed surprising thievery skills, with 2.5 steals per outing, while averaging 2.1 blocks.
Ashley Huskins, Cass
Huskins was effective as a scorer and rebounder for the Lady Colonels as the sophomore averaged 8.5 points per game.
The two-year starter also grabbed seven rebounds per evening as she found more and more ways to put her teammates in position where they had a chance to win.
Adairsville: Mallorie Collum, Julia Roberson; Cartersville: Maya Jones, Morgan Jones; Cass: Janee Callahan.