Here are team previews for Jackson County's 2019-20 varsity girls basketball teams:

NORTH JACKSON CHIEFS

› Coach: Tony Brown (first season)

› First game: Nov. 14 at Ider

› Area: Class 4A Area 14

› Area opponents: DAR and Randolph

› 2018-19 record/finish: 17-14, area champion, Class 4A Northeast Sub-regionals

› Roster: Seniors Paige Dunn, Sarah Morgan and Maci Morris; juniors Hadley Burnette, Alexis Moore, Delana Pierce, Summer Varnum; sophomores Arielle Haynes and Tyra Smith; freshman Sarah Garner

› Returning starters: Sarah Morgan and Delana Pierce

› Storylines: North Jackson has won back-to-back area tournament titles, but the Chiefs lost three starters to graduation. In the September, head coach Josh Wright resigned to become the assistant principal at Skyline. Tony Brown, who coached the Chiefs during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, took the job last month.

› Quoting coach: “This year’s team is a young team with limited varsity experience. They are a scrappy bunch and will get after you. We want to play up-tempo and take advantage of the quickness we have. The seniors are providing the younger players with great leadership and encouragement, which is helping with the chemistry of the team. With the lack of varsity experience, the younger players will need to step up and play beyond their years. They will also have to adjust to a faster pace offense and we will have to depend of the seniors to help push the younger players to keep striving to improve.”

› Area outlook: “Our area is always competitive. All the schools put out a quality product and the coaches do a great job with their respective teams.” 

NSM BISON

› Coach: Jeremiah Haynes (first season)

› First game: Nov. 18 vs. Sylvania

› Area: Class 2A Area 15

› Area opponents: Section, Fyffe and Ider

› 2018-19 record/finish: 13-14, area runner-up, 2A Northeast Sub-regionals

› Roster: Seniors Kaitlyn Davis and Jasmine Higdon; juniors Madison Croft, Lexi Hartline, Vicky Hassell, Nady Poore, Candice Rimas, Jaycee Weldon and Jessi Weldon; freshmen Kolbie Bobo and Rylee Reyes

› Returning starters: Kaitlyn Davis and Jessi Weldon

› Storylines: Jeremiah Haynes, the son of former longtime prep basketball coach Glenn Haynes, takes over as NSM head coach after longtime Bison leader Tracy Vest retired in Alabama and is now coaching in Tennessee. The Bison return only two starters, so NSM will be looking to mold a new-look roster together.

› Quoting coach: “I have a group of girls that have been working hard and doing everything I have asked of them since I was hired this summer. I am pleased with the progress we have made since summer camp. We don’t have a lot of experience right now on the varsity level, so that could hurt us early on, but as the season starts we are looking to build chemistry within the team and find an identity. Staying healthy, that’s going to be No. 1 (key to success). I learned a lot from coach Kenny Hill last year at Scottsboro, but one thing I really took from him that’s stuck with me is preaching to your team that ‘you can’t get too high in the highs, and you can’t get too low in lows.’ If we stay positive, take every game and practice as an opportunity to get better, learn from our mistakes and use them to our advantage, I believe this team will have the opportunity to do some special things.”

› Area outlook: “We have a tough area, obviously with Fyffe being state runner-up last year and returning many of their players. Also Ider and Section, we know they will be tough. We have our work cut out for us, but I believe the girls are up for the challenge.”

PISGAH EAGLES

› Coach: Carey Ellison (24th season)

› First game: Nov. 19 vs. Sand Rock

› Area: Class 3A Area 15

› Area opponents: Geraldine, Plainview and Sylvania

› 2018-19 record/finish: 34-1, Class 3A state champion

› Roster: Seniors Laylah Hatfield, Madison Myers, Shalyn Smith, Chloe Womack, Kristen York and Anna Young; juniors Kennedy Barron, Bella Bobo and Hannah Duncan; sophomore Molly Heard; freshmen Kallie Tinker, Ashley Shrader and Amber Shrader.

› Returning starters: Molly Heard and Chloe Womack

› Storylines: Pisgah has won back-to-back state championships, but gone are starters Bailey Law, Kaylee Vaught and 2019 Miss Basketball and current Auburn Tiger Annie Hughes. The Eagles, who haven’t lost to an Alabama opponent in three years, will be looking to determine new roles and how the pieces fit together.” 

› Quoting coach: “A lot of holes to fill. We have good pieces, but putting it all together is a challenge. How we react to adversity will be key. If we have good leadership and a good attitude we can do well. Maturing as players and leaders quickly. The schedule is pretty tough and things will not be easy, so getting back up (when we get metaphorically hit in the mouth) and holding the team together will be the challenge for our seniors and leaders in general. Finding players who will do the ‘dirty work’ is also crucial. Much of what we lost went unseen, but rebounding, taking charges, playing defense and the other effort plays is super important to our success.” 

› Area outlook: “The area should be much improved. The other teams seem to have many returners with experience. We know that we will get everyone's best shot, in spite of the overall belief that we are in rebuilding mode and that we will struggle. We will be tested early and often so we definitely will have chances to improve and chances to show what we are made of.”

SCOTTSBORO WILDCATS

› Coach: Brandon Childers (second season)

› First game: Nov. 7 at St. John Paul II

› Area: Class 5A Area 15

› Area opponents: Arab, Brewer and Guntersville

› 2018-19 record/finish: 23-11, area champion, 5A Northeast Regional runner-up

› Roster: Seniors Carley Bell, Daylee Dudley and Madison Holland; juniors AnnaLynn Buckner, Allie Scott and Kami Willis; sophomores Lexie Bennett, Audrey Holland and Olivia Tubbs; freshman Maggie Armstrong

› Returning starters: Carley Bell and Madison Holland

› Storylines: Scottsboro made the state semifinals two seasons ago and the regional semifinals last year, but the graduation has left the Wildcats with just two returning starters. One of those, Auburn-Montgomery commit Carley Bell, will start the season sidelined by an injury. The team has a number of returners that will be called upon for bigger roles this season.

› Quoting coach: “I'm really excited to coach this team. We lost a lot of scoring and leadership last year but we are very fortunate to have competitive kids with great attitudes that truly want to be pushed and coached. Having a team with limited experience I believe we will improve every game as the season progresses. Keys to having the kind of season we want to have: Having lost a lot of scoring last year and awaiting Carley Bell to get back from a foot injury, our young kids will have to buy in to toughness, defense, rebounding and the little things to be successful. We'll also have to rely on our juniors and seniors for leadership and to keep the team positive and working for the same goals.”

› Area outlook: “Brewer has the most returning talent in the area which includes several players that have signed basketball scholarships. Arab returns most of their starters from last year and will be big and physical. Guntersville has a new coach and a lot of young athletic talent and should be much improved.” 

SECTION LIONS

› Coach: Stormy Stevens (third season)

› First game: Nov. 7 at Valley Head

› Area: Class 2A Area 15

Area opponents: North Sand Mountain, Fyffe and Ider

› 2018-19 record/finish: 11-16, area tournament semifinals

› Roster: Seniors Dailey Hanenburg and Haley Smart; junior Jennifer Vega; sophomores Madison Armstrong, Morgan Armstrong and Savannah White

› Returning starters: Haley Smart, Jennifer Vega, Savannah White

› Storylines: Section will hit the court with only six varsity regulars and will add a couple of junior varsity players throughout the season to help with depth. Avoiding foul trouble will be a must and knows the team’s mentally and physical toughness will be tested because of those low numbers. The roster does include six players with varsity experience, among the most returning of any local team.

› Quoting coach: “We have six true varsity players this year with three or four that will move up and down from JV to varsity: Carley Patterson, Harley Beam, Elizabeth Lemeuix and Stepheny Smith. We had a great summer and very productive preseason practices.  We have a young team with good senior leadership, so it seems to work well. I have enjoyed watching them grow and learn a new style of play. I think this team will be special. As a coach, you generally have an idea of what your season will be like. I believe this will be a great season for us. To have a successful season, we will all have to buy in to something larger than ourselves. We will have to be unselfish with the ball and pace ourselves. With our small numbers, most teams will try to press us and turn up the pressure to tire us down. We have anticipated that, and hopefully have put things in place for us to be successful. We will have to realize our mistakes and improve throughout the year. We will have to fix problems as they come instead of running from them.”

› Area outlook: “Our area is always tough. We had a three-way tie last year for second place, and of course, I lost the coin flip. Fyffe is the clear frontrunner. They made it to the state finals and returned all their starters. Ider will have a well-coached and seasoned team. I think they have one senior, but some of the others play like seniors. North Sand Mountain has a new coach, so it’s hard to say how they will be. They lost some seniors from last year, but I am sure they will be competitive. Area play is huge. We have a very good cross area that we will have to play to make it to Jacksonville, so every area game has meaning.”

SKYLINE VIKINGS

› Coach: Ronnie McCarver (eighth season)

› First game: Nov. 15 at Southeastern

› Area: Class 1A Area 14

› Area opponents: Woodville, Gaylesville and Valley Head

› 2017-18 record/finish: 29-6, area champion, Class 1A Northeast Regional champion, 1A state runner-up

› Roster: Seniors Alli McAllister and Bailee Usrey; juniors Aidan Bellomy and Gracie Stucky; sophomore Morgan Sanders; freshmen Kenzie Manning and Lexie Stucky; eighth-graders Brindlee Potts and Blakely Stucky

› Returning starters: Alli McAllister, Gracie Stucky and Bailee Usrey

› Storylines: Skyline returns three starters, including first-team all-state guard/forward Bailee Usrey, from a team that reached the Class 1A state championship game for the first time in school history. The Vikings are extremely young and need some players to step and make up for the loss of graduated key players Caity Ledwell and Madison Smith from last year's team.

WOODVILLE PANTHERS

› Coach: › Bubba Smith (fourth season)

› First game: Nov. 18 vs. Section

› Area: Class 1A Area 14

› Area opponents: Skyline, Gaylesville and Valley Head

› 2018-19 record/finish: 13-14, Class 1A Area 14 Tournament semifinals

› Roster: Seniors Jordyn Cosby, Tia Edwards, Jenna Saulnier, Kaylan Smith, Kayla Thompson, Lizzie Torres and Courtney Williams; juniors Laci Downey and Sheridan Powell; sophomore Molly Gifford; freshmen Karlee Hutchens and Jessica Sirten

› Returning starters: Jordyn Cosby, Tia Edwards, Kayla Thompson and Courtney Williams

› Storylines: The Panthers boast an experienced team with four starters returning, though Edwards is recovering from an injury. Woodville was a solid defensive team last year but struggled on the offensive end, and improved play of offense will be a key to advancing out of a challenging area that includes last year’s state runner-up.

› Quoting coach: “Lot of experience coming back, Got to be able to score better. We’ve got to get in shape if we want to compete every night, Got to shoot better and take care of basketball and keep the score in 40s to have a chance.”

› Area outlook: “Skyline was seconds from winning state last year and have a lot of players coming back. Valley Head will be good and Gaylesville will be young but talented.”

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