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SBLive’s Top 25 in Georgia high school girls basketball: Class A Private is particularly strong

Undefeated Holy Innocents' debuts at No. 1, and fellow Class A Private schools Mount Paran and St. Francis are close behind.
Scenes from Elbert County at Buford, November 27, 2021

The girls basketball season is underway in Georgia, and a Class A Private school has stood out early as the best of the best.

Our initial Top 25 in Georgia high school basketball has Holy Innocents' atop all the big-school powers, with two other Class A Private schools close behind.

The rankings cover all classifications.

Pictured above is Elbert County's Aaniyah Allen (photo by Jamie Spaar), who scored a game-high 19 points in a loss at Buford last week.

SBLIVE’S GEORGIA TOP 25

1. Holy Innocents' (6-0)

Holy Innocents’ is the only 6-0 team in the state, and the Golden Bears have defeated some quality opponents such as No. 19 Grayson, St. Pius X and Charlotte (Florida), which they beat by 41 points. Charlotte’s only other loss this season came to IMG Academy, and it has a win over SBLive's second-ranked team in Georgia.

2. Mount Paran (4-1)

The Eagles are led by one of the best players in the state in Georgia Tech signee Kara Dunn, but they’re not a one-woman show. Her running mates include West Georgia signee Katelyn Dunning and freshman Jessica Fields, who looks like a phenom in the making. Her brother Justin recently began his NFL career with the Chicago Bears, and her sister Jaiden stars for the University of Georgia softball team. The Eagles’ one loss this season came to Charlotte (Florida), 55-51. 

3. Kell (3-0)

With the lights-out shooting junior Crystal Henderson provides, Kell can score in bunches. On Dec. 4, the Longhorns will have one of their toughest tests of the young season when they take on Class A-Private powerhouse St. Francis in the Tournament of Champions.

4. St. Francis (3-1)

A perennial power in Class A Private, St. Francis returns most of the players from last year’s state runner-up team. The Knights have three strong wins to their name after beating Luella, Carver (Columbus) and Greater Atlanta Christian. Their only loss came at the hands of Hoover (AL), 62-54. They have another big game coming up Tuesday when No. 1 Mount Paran comes to town. 

5. River Ridge (3-0)

River Ridge has two impressive wins over county rivals Woodstock and Cherokee, bolstering its resume and sending a message to the rest of the state. Junior guard Mataya Gayle has scored over 1,000 points and counting and runs the show for the Knights, who open region play Dec. 3 at Johns Creek (3-1).

6. Woodstock (4-1)

Woodstock has won four games in a row since dropping its season opener to No. 3 River Ridge, 77-71. The Wolverines are led by Central Michigan signee Bridget Utberg, one of the top guards in the state who is known for her ability to shoot the three-ball. Woodstock hosts No. 1 Holy Innocents’ on Dec. 4 before getting into region play next week against Alpharetta and No. 22 Cherokee. 

7. Brookwood (5-1)

The Broncos made the 7A final four a season ago, and they return most of their top players, including Diana Collins. The junior guard is considered one of the top recruits in the country for the Class of 2023. Brookwood already has wins this year over Wesleyan and defending 7A state champion Marietta, and its only loss came to Cardinal Mooney (Florida).

8. Jefferson (5-0)

One of a few teams in the state with at least five wins and zero losses, Jefferson is off to a hot start as it begins its run for a 4A state championship. The Dragons have beaten No. 9 Buford and St. Pius X, and they have upcoming games against Stephens County and Loganville. The win over Buford came on a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Natalia Bolden, who missed her sophomore and junior year with injuries after a breakout freshman year. 

9. Buford (4-1)

The Wolves were undefeated last year until falling to Lovejoy in the 6A elite eight, marking the first year they didn’t win a state championship since 2016. They return key pieces from last year’s group such as sophomore Ava Grace Watson, one of the top underclassmen in the country. Buford hosts Parkview this week before a big matchup with No. 1 Holy Innocents’ next week. 

10. Campbell (6-1)

Campbell is undefeated this season against in-state opponents. Led by senior guard Laila Battle, the well-rounded Spartans started out 6-0 with wins over Sprayberry, Archer and others before losing their first game to Meridian (Mississippi), 56-48.

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11. Carrollton (3-0)

The Trojans picked up a big 28-point win over No. 12 Maynard Jackson in their season opener and have since defeated Warner Robins and Collins Hill by over 20 points each. They’re set to play East Coweta on Tuesday before opening region play next week against South Paulding and Rome.

12. Maynard Jackson (2-1)

Jackson put the rest of the state on notice when it upset the defending 5A state champion Woodward Academy 54-50 in its most recent game. Led by Georgia State commit Xaviera Dyer, one of the top bigs in the state, the Jaguars are seeking their first state title in program history. 

13. Forest Park (3-0)

The Panthers came up a few points short of Woodward Academy in last year’s 5A state championship game, and they figure to be in the mix for a title once again this season. Their next game is against Mundy’s Mill on Friday.

14. Woodward Academy (3-1)

With Georgia signee Sydney Bowles, Woodward Academy has one of the best seniors in the country on its side. The War Eagles lost to No. 12 Maynard Jackson but had quality wins over New Manchester, Lovejoy and Blanche Ely (Florida). 

15. Hebron Christian (4-0)

Hebron won its first state championship ever last year, but most of the players from that team graduated and joined the college ranks. That hasn’t slowed the Lions down so far, as they’ve won their first four games by an average of over 36 points. They’ll be tested Tuesday when No. 18 Greater Atlanta Christian visits. 

16. Luella (4-1)

Ariana Dyson and Jacksonville State signee Evelina Davlakou lead the charge for this Class 4A power. Over Thanksgiving break, the Lions picked up wins over Jones and Andrew Jackson, a pair of Florida teams, and Class 6A’s Langston Hughes.

17. Cross Creek (2-0)

The defending 3A state champion Cross Creek started the new season with wins over Southwest DeKalb and Josey. The Razorbacks play winless Butler on Tuesday before back-to-back games against Class 2A power Laney. 

18. Greater Atlanta Christian (4-1)

Xavier signee Kaleigh Addie paces this Class 3A powerhouse. The Spartans fell to Cross Creek in the state championship game last year after winning it all the year before. GAC will travel to Dacula on Tuesday to take on No. 15 Hebron Christian. 

19. Grayson (4-1)

If it keeps playing at such a high level, this year’s Grayson team could go down as one of the best in school history. The Rams lost 73-70 to No. 1 Holy Innocents’ in their season opener and have since rattled off four dominant wins. They’re scheduled to play the defending 7A state champion Marietta on Tuesday and Paideia on Saturday. 

20. North Forsyth (5-0)

Undefeated North Forsyth has wins over Wesleyan, Marist and Cherokee. With a wealth of talent and experience, the Raiders could continue to climb the rankings as the season progresses. They’ll have plenty of chances to bolster their resume with upcoming games against Norcross, West Forsyth and No. 5 River Ridge. 

21. Lumpkin County (3-1)

The season is young, but it’s been a wild one for Lumpkin County. Following a trip to the Class 3A final four last year and a 2-0 start this season, Indians head coach David Dowse stepped down from his position Nov. 21. Just over a week later, Dowse returned to his position with the team. In his absence, the team went 1-1 with a win over St. Pius X and loss to No. 9 Buford. Lumpkin visits Union County on Thursday and opens region play next week against East Forsyth and Dawson County. 

22. Cherokee (4-2)

After back-to-back final four appearances in 2019 and 2020 and a trip to the elite eight last year, Cherokee is aiming for another deep run in the 7A state tournament this year. The Warriors fell to No. 5 River Ridge and No. 20 North Forsyth but have impressed in wins over Sequoyah, Creekview and Dutchtown. They have a rematch with Sequoyah on Tuesday and tip off region play next week against Roswell and No. 6 Woodstock. 

23. Josey (1-1)

Josey fell to No. 17 Cross Creek 41-34 in its season opener but rebounded with a 70-16 win over Evans the next week. The Augusta-area powerhouse has a pair of big games this week against Greenbrier and No. 24 Elbert County, the latter of which is a rematch of last year’s 2A state quarterfinals game between the two. 

24. Elbert County (2-1)

The Blue Devils are looking for revenge after eventual champion Josey knocked them out of the 2A state tournament last year. They started this season with wins over Thomson and Heritage before falling to No. 9 Buford last week, 64-55. 

25. Carver (Columbus) (2-1)

The season is young, but it looks like Carver has a solid chance at repeating as the Class 4A state champion and winning their third title in four years. The Tigers have beat East Coweta and Mount Vernon, and their only loss so far came against No. 4 St. Francis, 57-50.