And the Carrollton High School girls basketball coach won’t have to wait any longer, as the Lady Trojans tip the 2012-13 campaign this evening at 6 when they welcome Oxford (Ala.) for the first-ever meeting between the two programs.
“Our guys have played Oxford in a tournament here or there, but we’ve never played Oxford. So it’s the first time and I haven’t had a chance to see them. Sometimes the unexpected can be a good thing. Hopefully, it will bring out the best in us. I know if they’re anything like their football program, then they’ll have some athletes. Time will tell. But I think my girls are just so ready to play that first game, they could care less who showed up over there. It could be the Atlanta Dream and they’d play them just as well,” Thomaston said. “It is what it is and we’re going to build off what happens [Friday].”
As always, expectations are high for the Carrollton girls, which lost a pair of starters — Raven Trammell and Morgan McDonald — in the backcourt, but return several top weapons, including two-time Times-Georgian Most Valuable Player, three-time all-state performer and four-year starter Kenyata Hendrix.
Hendrix leads a senior class that also includes key commodities in forward Tasmine Boykin, center Taylor Love and wing Randi Phillips.
“I couldn’t think of four better athletes than those four right there that you could have on your side when you go into battle,” Thomaston said. “I’ll go to battle with those four girls any day of the week.”
Also returning are junior starters Brooklyn Emory and Tatyana Jackson, along with sophomore guards Alecia North and Faith Swint. Thomaston expects the same production from hard-nosed players like Emory and Jackson and the Carrollton coach is also eager to see North and Swint continue their development into more integral roles this winter.
“I call them hidden gems. They both got a little bit of experience as varsity players last year, but the growth that they’ve shown so far, it’s just waiting to be unleashed,” Thomaston said.
The Lady Trojans have already been hit by the injury bug early in the year, with Phillips and Jackson both out for tonight’s opener. Phillips is sidelined with a lingering injury from the softball season, while Jackson is recovering from a sprained ankle. Thomaston is hopeful to get Jackson back in action on Monday, while it may take a bit longer before Phillips is ready to go.
“With that said, now you’re talking about being two varsity players down before our first game. But my girls are trained to understand that if one person goes down, it’s an opportunity for somebody else,” Thomaston said.
With the move to Class AAAA and Region 5, the Lady Trojans keep ties with LaGrange, Troup, Columbus and Shaw, while adding Sandy Creek, Fayette County and Alexander.
What it ultimately makes for is an ultra-competitive basketball region, as Fayette County reached the state quarterfinals in Class AAAA last year and won the AAAA crown two seasons ago, while Troup, LaGrange, Sandy Creek, Columbus and Carrollton all qualified for the AAA state playoffs last year. Troup reached the AAA quarterfinals, Sandy Creek, Columbus and Carrollton all made it to the second round and LaGrange fell in the first round to eventual state champion Columbia.
Needless to say, any team that reaches the state playoffs from this region will be battle-tested and have earned it.
“We’ve got to be on our game every time out. Honestly, in our region, I could see five teams that could make as deep a run as anybody in the state. But the reality is, there’s going to be one real good team left out. I just hope it’s not us,” Thomaston said.
But the ultimate goal for the 2012-13 season is the same for Thomaston and the Lady Trojans — win it all.
“That won’t change. And the great part about that is we really do have a shot,” Thomaston said. “I believe that. I’ve got Don Bray and Thomas Keith, and I couldn’t ask for two better assistant coaches. We think alike. We’re on the same page. The girls know that. So everybody’s bought in. It’s a good feeling to know that everybody is all the way in.”