Future remains bright for Lady Hawks

by Doug Gorman

alt

Heritage School's Kate Jones tried to get a good look at the basket during Friday's game against Stratford. The Lady Hawks capped off a season that included a Region 1-AAA championship and its first trip to the GISA Class AAA Final Four. 

The Heritage School girls basketball team came just two victories short of a GISA Class AAA basketball championship, but head coach Derrick Clay feels there's several reasons to embrace the program's future.

Next year's returners are a big reason.

Despite falling to top-ranked Stratford Academy 50-28 Friday at Mercer during the program's f i rst trip to the state semifinals, the majority of contributors from a 25-4 season expect to return in 2014-15.

They include sharpshooter Lillie Smith, who will head into her senior year after missing for a small stretch in January.

Smith drilled a 3-pointer to cut Stratford's lead to one before the Lady Eagles closed out the game, turning a close contest into a double-digit victory.

Freshmen siblings Karlee and Kara Groover immediately translated their talents to the varsity level after helping lead Madras to a middle school championship as eighth graders. Maggie Crosby and Ruthie Powell will also be back for their senior year among a group of nine returners from this year's lineup.

The Lady Eagles, who played Bulloch Academy in Saturday's championship game in Macon, handed Heritage two of its four losses. The school, however, is headed to the GHSA play starting in the fall, opening up a potential avenue to the finals next season.

The GISA will move to just two classifications, named AA and AAA, starting with the 2014-15 school year.

This season will remembered, though, as a year of accomplishments for the Lady Hawks who went undefeated in Region 1-AAA and captured a region title for just the second time in the school's 40 year history.

It was also the first ever trip to the Final Four, but Clay predicts it won't be the last.

'We really laid the groundwork this year,' he said. 'It's disappointing to see it end the way it did, but I am so proud of this team. Everybody knew their roles.'

Clay knows his four seniors - Ansley Dieckmann, Abbie Farr, Amanda Windom and Kaytlin Squires - were a huge part of returning the team to a winning program.

'I told my seniors they will always be a part of my life,' he said. 'I told them I hope I can coach their daughters someday at Heritage.'

After losing twice in early January, including the first time to Stratford, the Lady Hawks peaked at the right time, rolling off 17 wins in a row, including beating Holy Spirit in the Region 1-AAA title game.

The Lady Hawks rattled off playoff wins against Mount De Sales and Southland in the first two rounds of the state tournament en route to setting up their contest with topranked Stratford in Friday's showdown.

One thing won't that won't change next year is the value the Lady Hawks put on defense. Heritage has held 15 opponents under 30 points, and five to 10 points or less.

'We are going to keep stressing the importance of defense,' Clay said. 'Offensively, we want to do a better job shooting from the outside, but we know if we can play good defense that is going to help us win games.'



More Sports

High School Baseball

Cougars fall at Northside

Newnan followed up a late victory over Chapel Hill with an early morning trip to Columbus, and the results Saturday saw a sluggish Cougars t ... Read More


High School Baseball

Johnson sharp as Cougars shake off rust in win

Newnan may have needed three innings to shake off the rust in Friday’s 6-2 road win over Chapel Hill following a six-day layoff. But j ... Read More


Vikings rout Dutchtown; Indians fall to Starr’s Mill

Northgate improved its record to 2-2 Friday with a 12-1 victory over Dutchtown on the road Friday in McDonough in a game called after six in ... Read More


High School Spring Sports

Northgate drops tennis openers to Starr’s Mill

After having matches rained out twice earlier this week, Northgate tennis teams finally got their season under way Thursday, losing to tough ... Read More


GISA state basketball

Hawks, Lions bow out in first round

Heritage School and Trinity Christian boys teams had respective 2014-15 basketball seasons come to an end in the opening round of the GISA C ... Read More

High School Soccer

EC gets back on field in split with Houston Co.

Mother Nature hasn’t been a best friend to East Coweta soccer teams so far this season. Despite starting the year nearly three weeks a ... Read More