Lady Hawks freshman led Heritage School’s first trip to GISA Final Four
by Doug Gorman
When Heritage School freshman Kara Groover stepped on the floor to begin her high school basketball career with the Lady Hawks, there was no way she could have imagined the special season that lay ahead over the next few months.
Freshmen don’t always make an immediate impact.
In Groover’s case, however, she was a catalyst in helping Heritage to its winningest ever — one that ended in the GISA Class AAA Final Four in Macon on the heels of a 17-game winning streak.
A 25-3 season was highlighted by an undefeated 11-0 mark in Region 1-AAA action en route to a postseason tournament title.
For her effort, Groover was named The Newnan Times Herald’s “Small County” Girls Player of the Year for the 2013-14 season, even though her contributions on the court loomed large in the Lady Hawks’ success.
The Heritage School freshman’s accolades included a 14.7 points-per-game average. But Groover’s ability to snatch the ball from opponents is what made the point guard so dangerous.
The Lady Hawk immediately added her name to school record books with a 187 steals — most ever in a single season — while averaging 6.7 per game.
Groover also added 5.2 rebounds per contest en route to GISA All-State and All Region accolades.
She wasn’t alone, however, in garnering “Small County” honors.
Heritage School teammates Lillie Smith and Amanda Windom were selected to the inaugural Small County Girls Team while joined by Trinity Christian teammates Sara Bryan and Ashley Caldwell as well as Heritage Christian super-sub Ce Ce Carter en route to an Independent Christian Schools of Georgia and Alabama championship.
The Heritage School came a victory away from reaching the title game in the GISA’s largest classification. While Groover led the team in most statistical categories, there were plenty of key contributors, all of which knew their selected roles according to head coach Derrick Clay.
“You don’t have to have a bunch of superstars, but if you can have a bunch of players who know their roles, you are going to have success,” Clay said. “We really don’t have too many standouts, but I have eight or nine girls who average three or four points and that adds up.”
Smith, a junior who battled through injuries, was as much a scoring threat for the Lady Hawks during their run through the GISA state playoffs, averaging 8.5 points and 3.2 steals en route to All- Region 1-AAA honors. Her 45 3-pointers this season were the second most in school history.
Windom closed out her career with the Lady Hawks by averaging 6.7 points per game and leading the team in rebounds with a 6.1 average per contest while joining teammates Groover and Smith as All-Region selections.
The GISA Region 1-AAA team equally included both Trinity Christian standouts. The Lady Lions went 2-1 in the postseason region tournament to finish as the No. 3 seed in the state playoffs.
Caldwell led Trinity’s girls by averaging 13 points and 7 rebounds per game. This year’s single-game efforts from the junior forward included standout performance against Loganville Christian that included game highs of 15 rebounds and seven steals en route to her second consecutive All-Region selection.
“She is relentless on both ends of the court,” said Lady Lions coach Brian Long of the junior.
Bryan was equally described by Long as both a “team player” and “unselfish” while contributing 11.8 points per game. She also averaged 5 rebounds, 3 steals and 3 assists per contest while posting a season-high 12 assists against Oak Mountain while also earning All-Region honors in consecutive years.
Carter turned in a banner freshman campaign for Heritage Christian leading her team to the ICSGA title with an 8.4 points per game average, and 4 assists per contest.
Carter did most of her scoring and rebounding coming off the bench, but those around her took notice as she was named league’s MVP for her ability to spark her team in a reserve role.
Next year, Carter and her teammates will play in a new league since the ICSGA has folded after several years of operation.
Heritage Christian is expected to make that announcement about a new league within the month.
Four players earned “Small County” honorable mention honors. They included Heritage School teammates Maggie Crosby and Karlee Groover and Heritage Christian players Chastity Scott and Heather Wallace.
NEWNAN TIMES-HERALD ‘SMALL COUNTY’ GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
G Kara Groover The Heritage School Fr.
?Stats: 14.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, 6.7 steals; School record 187 steals GISA All-State, All-Region 1-AAA
SMALL COUNTY TEAM
(Listed Alphabetically; Statistics in parenthesis)
Pos. Player School Year G Sara Bryan Trinity Christian Jr. All-Region 1-AAA; 11.8 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 assists per game F Ashley Caldwell Trinity Christian Jr. All-Region 1-AAA; 13 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists per game SG CeCeCarter HeritageChristian Fr. ISCGA MVP, 8.1 points, 4 assists per game for league champions F Lillie Smith The Heritage School Jr. All-Region 1-AAA, 8.5 points, 3.2 assists per game, 45 3-pointers C Amanda Windom The Heritage School Sr. All-Region 1-AAA, 6.7 points, 6.1 rebounds per game
Honorable Mention: Heritage School —Maggie Crosby, Jr., Karlee Groover, Fr.; Heritage Christian —Chasity Scott, Jr., Heather Wallace, Jr