Livingston, Cannon Top 8-AA Girls Contenders

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The more things change, the more they stay the same.

District 8-AA generally has been known as a girls basketball powerhouse and part of the reason is that teams don't rebuild, they reload.

That will be the case in 2011-12 as several of the district's top contenders lost key personnel from last year's rosters; however, it is safe to assume the league once again will showcase some of the state's top teams.

The first Cannon Courier District 8-AA Girls Preseason prognostications indicate many familiar faces will contend for the league title in 2011-12 with Cannon County, Livingston Academy and Upperman firmly in the mix; however, don't sleep on York. The Lady Dragons could once again be a major player in the league's landscape, particularly with Ashley Wright leading the charge.

In what is expected to be another tight race, The Cannon Courier projects Livingston Academy as the preseason favorite, followed by Cannon County, York Institute, Upperman, Smith County, DeKalb County and newcomer Central Magnet.

"Our district is wide open this season," Cannon County Head Girls Basketball Coach Michael Dodgen said. "Any number of teams could win it and we expect to be in the conversation. District 8-AA is the toughest in the state, in my opinion, and it should be another exciting, competitive race this season."

District 8-AA is highly-regarded because of tradition-rich teams with outstanding coaches and top-notch players.

Livingston Academy, which went 10-0 on its way to the District 8-AA regular-season title last season, has the greatest amount of experience returning. The Lady Wildcats are led by point guard Kayla Williams and forward Abby Miller, both of whom earned a spot on the Cannon Courier Players To Watch List. Miller and Williams are returning starters, and Sydney Staggs, Heather Cravens and Allison Dailey earned valuable time last season and will be key factors this year.

Cannon County is second in the Cannon Courier Preseason picks due to a number of players who have to prove they can handle the added responsibility of increased playing time and greater roles. If they are able to do that, expect the Lionettes to contend for another title. Sophomore Abbey Sissom and senior Lindsey Reed are returning starters who are on the Courier's Players To Watch List. Sissom and Reed have performed under fire, but the Lionettes still have to replace the fantastic foursome of Taylor King, Chelsey Payne, Lauren Ruehlen and Emily Sissom.

If Cannon County is in contention for the District 8-AA title guards Joanna Young, Jordan Hollis and forwards Madison Walkup, Ashley Basham will have solid seasons.

York has a strong tradition but the Lady Dragons have not been a postseason player of late. That could change in 2011-12. Ashley Wright, the Cannon Courier Preseason Player of the Year, is a prolific scorer who can change games. Kelly Jones is another playmaker to watch.

Upperman returns seniors Taylor Randolph, Kristin Smith and Rachel Conradi and the Lady Bees always find a way to contend. They round out a highly-reputable foursome of teams all of which are capable of claiming a district championship.

Smith County, DeKalb County and Central Magnet, round out the top seven, respectively.

Cannon Courier 8-AA
Preseason Girls Predictions
1 Livingston Acad.
2 Cannon Co.
3 York Institute
4 Upperman
5 Smith County
6 DeKalb Co.
7 Central Magnet

Cannon Courier 8-AA
Girls Players To Watch
Abby Miller - LA
Taylor Randolph- UHS
Lindsey Reed - CCHS
Abbey Sissom - CCHS
Kayla Williams - LA
Ashley Wright - York

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