With 10 seniors back, most of them who have been in the program for four years, from last year’s 29-2 team, there’s no reason to think the Buford girls won’t make another run at the state championship.
The Wolves are led by Tory Ozment, a 6-foot-1 point guard who is headed to Michigan State. Ozment averaged 14.3 points, four assists and 3.5 steals as a junior, when she was named Class AAAAA Player of the Year, and bounced back strong from knee surgery. Ozment can take over a game, but prefers to keep everyone on the floor involved.
Buford has a strong inside presence in Jessica Nelson and some stellar outside shooting in Audrey Weiner, Mary Walters and Tate Walters. Kya Styles is another guard will ball-handling abilities.
Five other teams to watch:
Flowery Branch: Forward Taniyah Worth, a 6-1 senior, and center Julianne Sutton, a 6-1 senior, lead an experienced team. Coach Courtney Newton’s team went 24-7 a year ago and reached the state semifinals. The Falcons have a big stumbling block in Region 8 rival Buford. Flowery Branch had two competitive regular-season games with Buford and was beaten soundly in the region final.
Carrollton: The Trojans went 29-2 last year and won the Region 7 championship. They were eliminated by Flowery Branch in the third round of the playoffs. Carrollton is led by Taylor Brown, a 5-8 senior, who was an all-state selection last year. Joining Brown as senior co-captains are shooting guard Ansley Barge and point guard Adasha Hendrix.
Dutchdown: The Bulldogs could be on their way to a very good season. They are led by senior Jordan Maney (13.2 points, 5.7 rebounds) and junior India Bellamy (12.6 points, 9.4 rebounds). Coach Lamar Harris took last year’s team to a 16-9 season and second place in the region.
Bainbridge: Senior Nadia Marshall, a second-team all-state choice last year, leads an experienced group. She averaged 20.3 points, 10.8 rebounds and 4.7 steals per game. Tytianna Roseborough averages 13.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 4.0 steals. The Bears are building on last year’s 19-9 season, which saw them finish second in the region.
Villa Rica: The Wildcats, who went 25-4 last season, have one of the state’s most exciting players in forward Deasia Merrill. The 6-3 junior averaged 22.8 points, 104 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 2.8 assists a year ago. Jaila Orozco (13.9 points, 6.9 rebounds), Emerald Parham (7.6 points, 4.6 assists) and Aliyah Hindsman (6.7 points) all return.