The Holy Innocents’ girls’ basketball team has had an impressive streak of success over the past decade with 10 consecutive state tournament semifinal appearances.
The Lady Bears appear to be in prime position to make it to the state final four for an 11th consecutive season as they begin postseason play.
Holy Innocents’ entered the Region 6AAAA tournament with a 19-4 overall record and the tournament’s No. 1 seed as well as the No. 1 ranking in the ScoreAtlanta Class AAAA state girls’ basketball poll. The Lady Bears were scheduled to play Stone Mountain in their opening game Feb. 15.
“The kids have gotten in a lot of good reps every day in practice, they’ve committed to that, to get one percent better every day,” Holy Innocents’ coach Nichole Dixon said. “And the same thing with our games. Whether the games have been competitive, moderately competitive, very competitive — we’re really locked in and locked in from our starters all the way down to our bench. It’s really been fun to coach this group.”
Holy Innocents’ streak of making it to at least the state semifinals the last 10 years in a row includes seven consecutive state final appearances from 2014 to ‘20 and three state championships (Class AA in 2016 and Class A Private in ‘19 and ‘20).
Senior Olivia Hutcherson has led the young Lady Bears this season. The Princeton commitment scored her 1,000th career point in Holy Innocents’ 77-52 victory over Southwest DeKalb Jan. 16.
“She has really committed this year to helping us out on the offensive end in an area that we are honestly lacking,” Dixon said. “We don’t have anybody that really from a skill level or an experience level can help us in the post area and she’s really a (forward). She knows that’s an area that we needed someone to score from and she’s got the athleticism and size to be able to score those easy baskets and that’s been a big difference for us this year. We just don’t have the size in that area and she’s really embraced that and it was very selfless to do so. So being able to celebrate her 1,000th point was really special for our team.”
Holy Innocents’ has been able to maintain its level of success with a young roster that features six freshman and three sophomores. Dixon said that having the veteran leadership of seniors Hutcherson and Reese Neumann has helped a lot in the development of the younger players.
“They take care of business on and off the court,” Dixon said. “They make sure that all the little things are done in the right way and the talk in the locker room is more team-oriented and positive. We have four kids who have substantial experience on the court. But outside of that, we’re an extremely young team. We’ve got some young talent and some of the kids have been able to get some experience.”
Sophomore Hailee Swann, who has already committed to Stanford, is among the other key players for the Lady Bears, along with junior Zaynah Preston and freshman Elana McMasters.
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