McEachern’s girls basketball program will be going for its fifth straight state championship, but right now, the Lady Indians are still working on their post-Que Morrison plans.
The five-star recruit is now at Georgia after averaging 13 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.9 assists in leading McEachern to its fourth straight title last winter.
“We’re going to have to find three girls to play her spot,” McEachern coach Phyllis Arthur said. “We’re going to have to try some different things. We need to find someone who not only has her endurance and speed, but also her heart.”
McEachern also lost Lyndsey Whilby, a top-30 wing player now at Texas Tech.
Junior guard Victoria Agyin, the hero of the Lady Indians’ championship-clinching win over Norcross, has been penciled in as one of those girls after averaging 6.6 points and 1.3 assists. Another is senior Jasmine Carson, a 5-foot-10 guard and 3-point specialist who transferred in from Tennessee’s Memphis Central High School and has signed with Georgia Tech.
Mikaylyn Glover, a sophomore transfer from Clarke Central, can play point guard and shooting guard. Freshman Denim DeShields, the younger sister of former Tennessee star Diamond DeShields and daughter of former baseball player Delino DeShields, is another addition to McEachern’s roster.
Joining Agyin among the returning players for McEachern are Indiana signee Chanel Wilson and Jewel Smalls, a Kennesaw State commit.
“We’re scrappy and we’re playing with heart,” Arthur said, “but there is a lot of stuff we have to learn.”
McEachern may not be in peak form until after the new year, when it is deep into its Region 3AAAAAAA schedule, and most of the Lady Indians’ region counterparts are returning with talented rosters. They are looking to gain some respect after struggling to match up with McEachern last season, and they want to win as many as they can.
North Cobb is among them, as are Hillgrove and Marietta.
“We’re excited about region play,” North Cobb coach John Speeney said. “We can’t promise anything, but we will play hard.”
Azonya Austin is entering her sophomore season with the Lady Warriors after averaging 13.8 points and four assists a game in her varsity debut. Speeney said the point guard has already taken a leadership role, as she is already familiar with her teammates and the system.
Austin will have a strong supporting cast around her, with sophomore guard Sydney Thomas, junior forward Babin Van Der Waal, senior guard Angel Ledesma and senior forward Sydney Solomon.
Hillgrove is expected to be more well-rounded with the addition of sisters Laren and Logan VanArsdale, who came up through the the Lady Hawks’ feeder program before beginning their high school careers Whitefield Academy.
Laren VansArsdale, a junior point guard who often scored in the 20s and 30s at Whitefield, is expected to bring a similar style of play to Hillgrove. She and her sister will join a predominantly upperclass squad led by senior forwards Kierra York, Jayla Early and Taylor Thompson, along with senior guard Aisya Davis.
“They will certainly make us better,” Hillgrove coach Susan Milam said of the VanArsdales. “We’re obviously not going to be a team centered around one person, but they will make us more well-rounded and a multi-faceted team.”
Marietta is expected to be in the mix as well. Although the Lady Blue Devils graduated guard Tatiana Foster, they still return scoring threat in senior forward Taylor Smith. Marietta also has four freshmen who could potentially work their way into the lineup.
Kennesaw Mountain is looking to improve as well, with hopes of getting into the running after winning just one region game a year ago.