The high school basketball’s postseason begins in earnest on Monday as region tournaments kick off on the Georgia side of the CSRA and the South Carolina High School League starts its state tournament action.
Before we get to it, here’s how we’re ranking the top 10 girls teams in the area, regardless of classification. We’ll release a boys top 10 a little later, along with region tournament and state tournament schedules.
1. Josey (23-2, 14-0)
Since the 2015-16 season, Josey’s been one of the most stalwart programs in Class AA. During that time, the Lady Eagles never finished lower than third place in region standings, including the 2021 season when coach Jawan Bailey led Josey to its first state title (Class AA) since winning the Class AAA crown in 1998. But after a Region 4-AA finale win against Glenn Hills on senior night, current Josey head coach Nichelle Chapman has accomplished something that even those past championship squads did not — an undefeated regular season region record.
2. Cross Creek (20-4, 10-0)
Speaking of championship pedigree, Cross Creek’s regular season region crown was made possible by a hungry senior class led by one of the best point guards in the state, regardless of classification, in Michaela Bogans. The Morgan State-bound senior is playing her best ball of the season at the right time while averaging 17 points, six rebounds, five assists and five steals per game. Her senior counterpart Tahjae Hawes (16.9 ppg, 7 rpg) isn’t far behind. After a 47-45 non-region loss against Grovetown just before Christmas, the Lady Razorbacks won their last 14 games of the regular season. Bogans has said multiple times throughout the season that she wants desperately to leave Cross Creek the same way she came — as a state champion.
3. North Augusta (21-5, 8-0)
Fresh off last seasons South Carolina High School League Class AAAA state title, and the departure of certain standouts such as P’eris Smith, now a freshman at Campbell University, some may have wondered if it would be a rebuilding year of sorts for the Lady Yellow Jackets. But North Augusta captured another region crown after finishing the regular season with a 69-44 win over Aiken Thursday, making this season look more like a reload. That’s 11 straight wins, most of which coming in blowout fashion. The crazy part is the team’s highest scorers are freshman Ashley Walker and sophomore Celena Grant, which means the Jackets are set to be state title contenders once again this year and for the next several seasons to come.
4. Silver Bluff (20-1, 8-0)
On Dec. 1, Silver Bluff fell in heartbreaking fashion to Richmond Academy, 54-51. It was the Lady Bulldogs’ first loss of the season, and would be the last. Five-foot-10 senior Krystal John on and 5-foot-5 senior Ahminah Taylor have been ultra impressive in helping Silver Bluff look the part of being the best Class AA squad in South Carolina.
5. Thomson (21-3, 12-2)
Much has been made of the success of the Thomson boys basketball team this season, but the girls squad may have just as good a chance of bringing a basketball state championship trophy back to McDuffie County. Junior Jada Kendrick has been dominant and well-rounded with her 18.5 points and nine boards per contest. She’s also dishing out 2.5 assists and recording four steals a night. Two of Thomson’s three losses came at the hands of Region 4-AA top seed Josey. Those were classic contests, with Josey winning the first matchup 57-56 back on Jan. 12 then the second 53-50 at Thomson. That latter win clinched home court for Josey during the region tournament. Safe to say it’s prudent to expect those two teams to see each other again in the next few days — and maybe in March.
6. Lakeside (20-5, 9-3)
Arguably no team in the CSRA has made a more impressive one-season turnaround than the Lady Panthers. From last year’s 14-11 overall finish and 6-6 Region 2-AAAAAA mark that caused Lakeside to barely sneak into the postseason to this year’s 20-win squad that wouldn’t surprise anyone if it made a championship run during the region tournament. Given the three region losses by a combined point differential of 12 points — two of those came in narrow setbacks to region-leading Glynn Academy — Lakeside looks just as dangerous in the postseason as any team in the area. It will take a six-game winning streak into Monday’s 7:30 p.m. region tournament game against crosstown rival Evans.
7. Butler (16-9, 10-4)
The Lady Bulldogs have had a solid two-year run, including top-3 region finishes and state tournament appearances. That’s saying something given how stacked their region has been, especially this season with Thomson and Josey — two legitimate state title contenders — sharing space with them. Still, Butler has held its own as the unquestioned third best team in Region 4-AA, and the Lady Bulldogs boast one of the highest scoring players in the CSRA also in junior Brayla Harris. The 5-foot-7 combo guard averages 20.1 points per contest to go along with 5.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and more than three steals each time out. Having that kid of a scorer on your roster makes you a tough out any night, especially if Harris gets hot like she did when she poured in 31 in a lopsided win against Westside or when she scored 22 in Butler’s 42-39 loss to Josey on Jan. 30.
8. Westminster (17-4, 5-2)
Speaking of high-scoring guards, Westminster’s India Williams is one of the top scorers in the area already as a sophomore. The 5-foot-9 guard has scored almost 24 points per game for the Wildcats, and she’s already eclipsed the 1,000 career points milestone despite her short time on the court. Williams is joined with junior Jaliyah Terry (16 ppg) to make up one of the most potent backcourts in the CSRA.
9. Augusta Christian (19-7, 3-4)
It’s been a bit of an up-and-down season for the Lady Lions who started the season on the high note of a six-game winning streak. A late November loss to Lakeside ended that, but Augusta Christian ripped seven more consecutive victories before hitting a three-game skid after the Christmas break. Then in mid-January, the Lady Lions dropped two 20-point losses to Heathwood Hall Episcopal and Hammond, the top two teams in their region. They closed out regular season play strong, winning four of its last five with the only loss coming last Thursday to Hammond. The Lions have generally played solid defense this season, but lack a bit of scoring punch. But hitting the 70-point mark in two of its last five games of the season could be a sign that Augusta Christian’s offense is peaking at the right time.
10. Warren County (18-5, 9-3)
Warren County’s 18 wins are the most since the 2012-13 season when that Screaming Eagles bunch finished 17-9 (including the postseason). After that campaign, Warren County suffered through nine straight losing seasons before a 15-10 mark and Class A state tournament berth last year. This young squad has matured and features a pair of sophomores in Courtney Bray (19.1 ppg) and Jailee Allen (16.4 ppg) who lead Warren’s scoring charge. Winners of the last four games of the season, Warren County defeated those opponents by an average margin of defeat of 25 points per game.
Just Missed: Burke County, Richmond Academy, Aiken, Alleluia, Washington County.