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High School Girls Basketball Team Previews: Burke County

Freedom High’s girls basketball team is among the strongest in Burke County this season
Freedom High’s girls basketball team is among the strongest in Burke County this season

Here is the Observer’s preview of girls high school basketball teams in Burke County

DRAUGHN

Head Coach: Elizabeth Taylor (1st year as Draughn basketball coach; Former Draughn J.V./varsity assistant).

2016-17 Record: 9-16 (4-12 in the South Mountain Athletic 2A/3A Conference).

2017-18 Conference: Northwest Foothills’ 2A Conference.

Returning Starters (5): Jenna Davis, Jr., PG (5-5); Shaedyn Housch, Sr., G/F (5-5); Triniti Bryant, Sr., F (5-6); Eboni Johnson, Jr., F (5-8); Hope Ramsey, Sr., F (5-9).

Key Newcomers: N/A.

Outlook: The Wildcats return all five starters and will feature a balanced attack led by Bryant (6 ppg, 6 rpg), Davis (9 ppg) Housch (11 ppg), Johnson (12 ppg 10 rpg) and Ramsey (9 ppg, 7 rpg). That combination of experience and talent should give Draughn a chance to contend in the new, Northwest Foothills’ 2A conference and be a team no one wants to play in the playoffs.

EAST BURKE

Head Coach: Crystal Bartlett (3rd year as East Burke basketball coach).

Coaching Career Record: 49-14 at East Burke.

2016-17 Record: 27-4 (15-1 in the South Mountain Athletic Conference).

2017-18 Conference: Northwest Foothills’ 2A Conference.

Returning Starters (3): Josie Hise, So., PG (5-7); Brooke Arney, Jr., G (5-6); Arianna Hawkins, Jr., G (5-7).

Key Newcomers: Riley Haas, So., F (5-11); Graleigh Hildebran, So., F (5-9); Ashlynn Stillwell, So., PG (5-5); Gracie Ruff, So., PG (5-3).

Outlook: The Cavaliers have won 49 games in the last two years, and also boast a 19-game home winning streak. With an experienced backcourt returning in Arney, Hawkins and Hise and a talented group of sophomores on the rise, Coach Bartlett believes East Burke can challenge for the new, Northwest Foothills’ 2A conference title and more. Just how deep they can go in the postseason (2A state semifinalist last year) will depend on how their young frontcourt emerges as the season progresses.

FREEDOM

Head Coach: Amber Reddick (14th year as Freedom basketball coach).

Coaching Career Record: 285-86.

2016-17 Record: 29-2 (14-0 in the Northwestern 3A/4A Conference).

2017-18 Conference: Northwestern 3A/4A Conference.

Returning Starters (3): Madison Bailey, Jr., G (5-9); Blaikley Crooks, So., G (5-8); Sierra (C.C.) Davenport, Jr. C (5-11).

Key Newcomers: Amaiya Williams, Sr., G (5-9); Adair Garrison, Fr., F (5-10).

Outlook: The Patriots have won 20-plus games in each of the last nine seasons, and went 29-2 last year, falling in 3A state semifinals to Hickory Ridge. With 85 percent of their scoring graduated, it won’t be easy for Freedom to remain one of the state’s best with Coach Reddick missing beginning of the season as her daughter is due in early November. Freedom will look to its all-conference trio in Bailey, Crooks and Davenport to keep their winning streak going, contend for another conference title and again be a factor in late February, or even March.

--JAY EDWARDS

Note: Patton High did not respond to a request for preseason information.

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