For the past decade, Holy Innocents’ has been a consistent presence among the top girls’ basketball teams in the state.

The Lady Bears have made it to at least the state semifinals every year since 2013 and made it to the state finals every year between 2014 and 2020, winning three championships during that stretch in Class A Private in 2019 and 2020 as well as AA in 2016.

The 2021-22 season appears to be more of the same for Holy Innocents’, which was 14-2 as of Jan. 6 and was ranked No. 1 in the state in Class A Private.

The Lady Bears have notched a number of big wins in a tough early-season schedule — including two wins over Grayson (top-ranked team in Class AAAAAAA) — 73-70 Nov. 13 and 66-59 Dec. 29 — a 72-59 win over Brookwood (ranked second in AAAAAAA) Dec. 9, a 56-47 win over Woodstock (last year’s AAAAAAA state runner up) Dec. 4, a 56-44 win over Buford (ranked fourth in AAAAAA) Dec. 7.

Holy Innocents’ has gotten key contributions from a number of younger players this season, including sophomores Olivia Hutcherson and Ciara Alexander and freshman Hailee Swain, Brooke Suttle and Zaynah Preston as well as junior Naja Reeves.

The Lady Bears got the new year off to a strong start with another impressive win as they defeated West Forsyth — the sixth-ranked team in AAAAAAA — 69-56 Jan. 4. Swain scored 17 points, while Suttle added 16 points and Preston and Alexander each chipped in 12 points.

With such a tough early, non-region schedule under its belt, Holy Innocents’ appears ready to tackle a challenging Region 5A Private schedule that includes defending Class A Private state champion Hebron Christian and local rivals Galloway (A Private state semifinalist in 2021) and Wesleyan (who the Lady Bears have played five years in a row in the state finals from 2015 to 2019).

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