Girls basketball rankings: Four defending champs among final No. 1 teams

Westlake players celebrate their victory during 2020 GHSA State Basketball Class Championship game at the Macon Centreplex in Macon on Saturday, March 7, 2020. Westlake won 72-53 over Collins Hill. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)
Westlake players celebrate their victory during 2020 GHSA State Basketball Class Championship game at the Macon Centreplex in Macon on Saturday, March 7, 2020. Westlake won 72-53 over Collins Hill. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Four defending champions and one first-time winner were among that eight teams that won girls basketball state titles in Macon last week and finished No. 1 in the final rankings of the 2019-2020 season.

Class AAAAA Buford (31-1) won its fourth consecutive state title and eighth in 12 seasons when it beat previously unbeaten and No. 1-ranked Kell 66-63 in the most competitive of the eight finals. After a back-and-forth first half, Buford didn't trail in the second but never led by more than eight points, and the victory wasn't secure until Kell missed a long 3-pointer at the buzzer. Tate Walters led the Wolves with 18 points. Kell freshman guard Crystal Henderson put on the performance of the finals, scoring 26 points and turning the ball over just twice against Buford's swarming full-court pressure defense.

» MORE: Boys final basketball rankings

Westlake completed its domination of Class AAAAAAA and won its third consecutive state title with a 72-53 victory over previously undefeated Collins Hill. The Lions (30-2) won their five tournament games by an average of 32 points, their closest game being the victory in the final. Raven Johnson and Ta'Niya Latson scored 23 points each against Collins Hill. Westlake, the only eventual state champion that came into the tournament ranked No. 1, has not lost to a Georgia opponent since the 2016-2017 season.

Douglass won its second consecutive Class AA title with a 56-46 victory over Southwest-Macon. Kayla Sesberry scored 25 points, and Ikenya King had 13 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Astros (26-5). Southwest has never won a state title.

Holy Innocents' led most of the way in a 66-53 victory over previous No. 1 St. Francis and claimed its second consecutive Class A private-school title. Jada Farrell had 21 points and Rachel Suttle added 19 for Holy Innocents' (26-5). The championship was the fourth for the Golden Bears.

Wheeler County (31-1) got 23 points from Keonya Mincey and 16 from Samerria Bryant in a 55-50 victory over previous No. 1 Central-Talbotton in the Class A public-school final to claim the first state title in school history. Wheeler County's best previous seasons were runner-up finishes in 1960 (Class C) and 1978 (Class B).

The other three champions had won state titles but none in several years. Forest Park (27-6) ended the longest of those droughts, beating Glynn Academy 46-30 in Class AAAAAA for its first championship since 1970. Americus-Sumter (29-2) defeated Troup 66-52 in Class AAAA for its first title since 2016. Class AAA Greater Atlanta Christian (20-12) defeated Beach 54-44 for its ninth state title overall but first since 2007.

Fifteen teams that were unranked heading into the state tournament worked their way into the final top 10s. They were Norcross and Brookwood in Class AAAAAAA, Sprayberry, Douglas County and Johns Creek in AAAAAA, Jones County and Woodland-Stockbridge in AAAAA, Sandy Creek and White County in AAAA, Fannin County in AAA, Rockmart and Union County in AA, Stratford Academy and Eagle’s Landing Christian in A Private, and Georgia Military in A Public.

Class AAAAAAA 

1. Westlake (30-2)

2. Collins Hill (31-1)

3. Cherokee (28-3)

4. Campbell (23-8)

5. North Forsyth (27-3)

6. McEachern (19-10)

7. North Cobb (20-9)

8. Pebblebrook (22-9)

9. Norcross (20-10)

10. Brookwood (17-13)

Class AAAAAA 

1. Forest Park (27-6)

2. Glynn Academy (26-5)

3. Valdosta (28-3)

4. Hughes (24-6)

5. Lovejoy (26-5)

6. Dacula (26-4)

7. Sprayberry (19-10)

8. Harrison (23-6)

9. Douglas County (20-10)

10. Johns Creek (19-12)

Class AAAAA 

1. Buford (31-1)

2. Kell (32-1)

3. Eagle's Landing (21-9)

4. Jones County (24-6)

5. Carrollton (20-11)

6. Woodland-Stockbridge (22-10)

7. Veterans (26-4)

8. Statesboro (22-6)

9. Southwest DeKalb (21-7)

10. Arabia Mountain (24-6)

Class AAAA 

1. Americus-Sumter (29-2)

2. Troup (27-2)

3. Carver-Columbus (25-5)

4. Luella (25-6)

5. Spalding (23-5)

6. Woodward Academy (27-4)

7. Marist (26-2)

8. Cross Creek (19-7)

9. Sandy Creek (18-11)

10. White County (20-9)

Class AAA 

1. Greater Atlanta Christian (20-12)

2. Johnson-Savannah (25-2)

3. Beach (22-10)

4. Jefferson (25-5)

5. North Hall (23-9)

6. Sonoraville (23-7)

7. Ringgold (20-9)

8. Cedar Grove (19-6)

9. Pierce County (23-6)

10. Fannin County (19-11)

Class AA 

1. Douglass (26-5)

2. Southwest-Macon (25-4)

3. Early County (26-5)

4. Rockmart (23-7)

5. Laney (27-3)

6. Washington County (23-5)

7. Vidalia (24-5)

8. Rabun County (23-4)

9. Union County (23-7)

10. Josey (23-6)

Class A (Private) 

1. Holy Innocents' (26-5)

2. St. Francis (28-4)

3. Hebron Christian (30-1)

4. Wesleyan (22-6)

5. Mount Paran Christian (21-6)

6. Greenforest (22-6)

7. Stratford Academy (24-4)

8. Darlington (23-5)

9. Trinity Christian (19-7)

10. Eagle's Landing Christian (18-8)

Class A (Public) 

1. Wheeler County (31-1)

2. Central-Talbotton (27-2)

3. Calhoun County (25-5)

4. Turner County (20-10)

5. Clinch County (23-3)

6. Greenville (22-8)

7. Wilcox County (20-10)

8. Bowdon (21-7)

9. Pelham (22-4)

10. Georgia Military (20-6)

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