By Doug Gorman
After posting a 26-4 record, winning the region championship and advancing to the Sweet 16 a year ago, there's plenty of reasons for the Jonesboro Lady Cardinals to be optimistic.
Jonesboro brings back all five of its starters from last season, including senior point guard Shade' Smith.
The Lady Cardinals should again have a powerful front court as sisters Jasmine and Jawanda Duffey step back into the starting lineup. Forward Sheena Brown returns for her senior at the other forward spot.
Head coach Jon Kovzel, who has posted a 93-48 record in six seasons as head coach of the Lady Cardinals, also has plenty of experienced depth coming off his bench.
Senior guard Erin Durham and Latrice Johnson, who can play either forward or guard, are back for their final seasons of high school basketball.
Guards Shanicka Reddick and Latoya Jackson are expected to contribute off the bench.
Jonesboro begins play in Region 5-AAAA-East this season.
"It is really going to be a challenge," said Kovzel. "There are some very talented teams in the region, so every night is going to be a challenge."
Southwest DeKalb, North Atlanta, Stone Mountain and Mays are members of the Lady Cardinals' new league, and also ranked in the preseason poll.
Mt. Zion, which went to the Final Four last year, is also in the other half of the sub region.
The Lady Cardinals open play Thursday night on the road in the Griffin High School Thanksgiving Tournament.
After the holiday tournament, the Lady Cardiinals return to action on Tuesday, N ov. 30 at Forest Park.
Jonesboro plays its home opener on Friday, Dec. 1 against North Atlanta.