The Greater Atlanta Christian girls team has an impressive 11-3 (4-0 in region) record, but the Lady Spartans faced a setback in Naples when team leader Robyn Benton tore her ACL and will be out for the season.
Benton, described as the team's leader, will have surgery this Thursday .
"But we have a senior nucleus that will continue to lead our team," GAC coach Lady Grooms said. "Taylor Sutton, Caria Reynolds and Mary Martha Turner understand that this is their last season and that we must come together as a team.”
GAC suffered after Benton’s loss, dropping two games at the Naples Holiday Shootout. Since then, the Lady Spartans have gotten back on track and moved past Lumpkin County (71-38) on Jan. 2 and Fannin County (65-29) on Jan. 5.
“Our team was rolling great,” she said. “We are playing the top teams in our state and abroad. We were in the Top 25 in the nation in some polls. I like our chances in our region and for making a state run. We are a team that will fight together.”
Benton, a 5-8 senior guard, had averaged 17 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists, before the injury.
Here's a look at some of the other top-performing girls teams:
-- Second-ranked Beach has two big victories under its belt this year, moving past Baldwin on Jan. 1 (66-47) and Duluth on Jan. 2 (53-33).
-- Franklin County’s 67-23 victory against Stephens County on Jan. 6 brought its record to 16-0, 2-0, earning the third spot in the poll. The Lady Lions will put their unbeaten streak to the test against Monroe Area on Jan. 9.
-- No. 4 Johnson-Savannah is gearing up for its Jan. 9 rivalry game against Savannah. The Lady Atom Smashers are riding a three-game winning streak, with victories against Bradwell Institute (48-34), Tattnall County (57-38) and Beach (48-43).
-- Fifth-ranked Central-Macon defeated Pike County (68-25) on Jan. 2 and Southwest (61-46) on Jan. 6 as it builds momentum for its Jan. 9 game against Kendrick.
Only three of the AJC's top-10 teams hail from the metro Atlanta area – No. 4 Cedar Grove, No. 6 Greater Atlanta Christian and No. 9 Pace Academy – with the rest scattered across the state and fueling crosstown-rivalry chatter.
Savannah, a heralded basketball town, features three programs near the top – No. 2 Jenkins, No. 3 Johnson-Savannah and No. 8 Windsor Forest.
The city of Macon features two programs – Central and Westside – in the top 10.
No. 10 Dawson County and top-ranked Morgan County are the only two teams not fighting for cross-town bragging rights. But they are just an earshot outside of the perimeter.
-- Top-ranked Morgan County’s 15-0 record is still intact after it moved past Franklin County (67-37), Hart County (62-53) and Heritage-Conyers (64-49) last week.
-- No. 2 Jenkins (9-3, 4-1) is gearing up for its game against Windsor Forest on Tuesday night. The Warriors were scheduled to play Savannah rival Beach on Jan. 5, but the game cancelled/postponed due to weather. Against Windsor, the Warriors will be tested. Senior guard Benjamin Mitchell averaged 12 points through the first 11 games for the Knights. Three other players – Shamar Norman (11.6), Lamon Page (10.5) and Zimbabwe Fields (10) -- averaged double figures through 11 games.
-- Third-ranked Johnson-Savannah has gotten back on track since falling to Jenkins on Dec. 18. The Atom Smashers defeated Heritage Academy, S.C., (73-66) Jan. 1 and Andrew Jackson, Fla., (74-66) Jan. 6.
-- Since falling to St. Francis in the Lake City Classic at Allatoona, No. 4 Cedar Grove has impressed. On Jan. 2, the Saints defeated Woodland-Stockbridge, 64-63, in overtime. On Jan. 5, they got the best of Westminster (69-38) and Jan. 6 defeated McNair (98-57).
-- Following the loss to McEachern on Dec. 27, No. 5 Westside-Macon has gotten back to its winning ways. On Jan. 2, the Seminoles defeated Southwest (60-53) and three days later they got a huge victory against Jackson (87-60). On Jan. 6, Westside defeated Baldwin (81-74) and will look to carry the momentum into the road game against Rutland on Tuesday .