We might be in the middle of the summer, but the school year will be starting in a month with football season.
The beginning of football season means that basketball season is not too far behind.
It might be a little too early, but here is the first Dirty Dozen for girls’ basketball for the 2015-16 season.
This ranking is looking at returning players and their improvement through last season and the potential that they bring for this season.
1South Side (14-AA) (22-6) — The Lady Hawks were young last season and were one of the top teams during the regular season.
A loss in the District 14-AA semifinals made South Side’s road through the postseason tougher and end sooner than expected.
The Lady Hawks were fundamentally sound on defense and created problems for the opposing team.
South Side has a strong post duo in Tamia Curry and Asia Currie, and those two should be tough to stop this season.
2Westview (13-AA) (23-12) — The Lady Chargers made an unexpected trip to the Class AA state tournament this past season with one senior on the roster.
The play and leadership of Dianna Flippen will be hard to replace.
But senior Titi Vincent, junior Lydia Pritchard and sophomore Tasia Jones will try to lead this team back to the top.
3Gibson County (14-A) (32-4) — The Lady Pioneers were one win away from the Class A state tournament last year with one senior on the roster.
The guard duo of Briana Fields and Erin Lannom are one of the most dangerous duos in West Tennessee, and with Justyce White in the post, Gibson County could be the best Class A team in the area.
4Haywood (15-AA) (22-9) —The Lady Tomcats returned back to the top last season with a district championship.
Haywood also boasts The Jackson Sun’s 2015 Girls’ Basketball Newcomer of the Year Jamirah Shutes, who is back for her sophomore season.
Madison Smith will be back in the post this coming season and Wandarkyu Young will help at guard.
The Lady Tomcats should again be a contender for a spot in the Class AA state tournament.
5Middleton (15-A) (35-0) — The Lady Tigers are the defending Class A state champions, but graduation hit the team hard. Middleton will have to play without the ball handling of Averyale Joy and post play of Rachelle Parks along with the loss of Antonia Whatley.
But the run to the state tournament gave some other Lady Tigers valuable experience. Chelsey Perry was named MVP of the state tournament and Dakedra Mason was a key contributor and both are back.
6Lexington (14-AA) (20-7) — The loss of Adi Hale’s scoring will be hard to replace, but coach Bianca Thomas will have a good game plan.
Senior Kaylie Grant will be back to anchor the post play, and young players like Kaitlyn Kelley and Brilee Bromley will be asked to contribute more.
7West Carroll (13-A) (28-2) —The Lady War Eagles had a breakout season for sure last year with an undefeated regular season, but the question will be if they can do it again.
Emani Melton was the playmaker, and she has graduated.
But post Madison Heckert creates matchup problems for every Class A team in the area. Deidra Clark is also back for her junior season.
8USJ (D2-A) (23-5) — The Lady Bruins return a large portion of last year’s team after graduating two seniors, but Rebekah Sears missed most of last season with a knee injury.
West Tennessee’s leading scorer Anna Jones returns for her junior season and should be even more of a leader on the court. Guards Morgan Williams and Payton Jett will also be back.
9Bradford (14-A) (17-15) — The Lady Red Devils were young last season with only eight players on the roster for most of the year.
Morgan Martin has been one of the top players in West Tennessee for the last three years, and now she is back for her senior year.
10Liberty (15-AA) (17-12) — The Lady Crusaders were a team that peaked in the postseason with a runner-up finish in District 15-AA and spot in the region semifinals.
The losses of Brindy Fuller and Kierra Linton will tough, but players like Teja Pearson, Cortney Fisher and Aleysia Mason-Pavia will be ready to lead this team for the upcoming season.
11Camden (11-AA) (25-6) — The Lady Lions reached the Region 6-AA semifinals behind the play of their two seniors.
Camden will struggle to fill their shoes, but senior Karlie Wyatt and junior Brittany Minor will be the leaders heading into this season.
12TCA (15-A) (20-13) — This could be the year for the Lady Lions to jump into the top two of District 15-A.
TCA has been building through Matthew Coble since he took over the middle school team, and with a player like Brynne Lytle the Lady Lions will be a strong contender.
The Lady Lions improved in the post with youth last season and that should be a benefit this year.
Michael Odom, 425-9754