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Heritage girls ready for tipoff

CONYERS - The Heritage girls basketball team is looking to build on the momentum of Dave LaBarrie's first season as coach of the Lady Patriots.

Last year, the Lady Patriots showed a 10-game improvement in LaBarrie's first season, posting a 19-8 overall record and finishing with a 7-3 record in Region 8-AAAA South play.

Heritage had one key loss of last year's squads, losing center Jewel May, who is now playing in the collegiate ranks at the University of South Carolina.

With May's departure, the Lady Patriots will have a lack of size this season.

"My concern going into the season is a lack of size," LaBarrie said. "Our tallest player is 5-foot-10."

Even though Heritage lacks size inside, it has great depth in the back court.

Guard Neice Lewis is back for her senior year after leading the team in scoring last year at 14 points a game. She also averaged five rebounds and five steals a game last season

The Lady Patriots also have a pair of experienced junior guards in Sarah Herrington and

Jasmine Middlebrooks. Last year, Herrington averaged eight points a game and shot a team-high 78 percent from the foul line.

"Our team strengths are quickness and speed," LaBarrie said.

LaBarrie is expecting good things from three newcomers - senior guard Sylvia Elkins, junior forward Precious Elkins and junior guard Zaneta Gray. The Elkins sisters both played at Alcovy last year.

Even though they lack size, the Lady Patriots do have experience post players in Precious Elkins, senior Lauren Cummings and sophomore Jana Dixon.

"I expect us to go at least .500 this season," LaBarrie said. "In the subregion, Salem and Cedar Shoals are the two teams to beat. In the region, Madison County, Clarke Central, Dacula are three more teams to beat.

"Other than those top teams, there's a lot of parity in the region, but there are a lot of experienced coaches, too. Every game will be competitive this year."

Heritage tips off its season at 6 p.m. Wednesday against host Morrow in the Morrow Thanksgiving Tournament. The tournament resumes Friday and concludes Saturday. Morrow, a Class AAAAA school, posted a 23-4 mark last year.

Then, the Lady Patriots play road games at Madison County on Nov. 27 and Spalding on Dec. 1 before entertaining Brookwood in their home opener on Dec. 4.

Jeff Gillespie can be reached at jeff.gillespie@rockdalecitizen.com

SideBar: At a glance

Team: Heritage girls basketball

Coach: Dave LaBarrie

Last year: 19-8, lost to Madison County in Region 8-AAAA Tournament

First game: 6 p.m. Wednesday at Morrow in the Morrow Thanksgiving Tournament.