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Carter passes Lovejoy girls torch to Dillard

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Darryl Maxie

dmaxie@news-daily.com

Arthur Carter is turning the reins of the Lovejoy High girls basketball program over to Leon Dillard.

With Clayton County making the athletics director job at each school into a full-time administrative position, Carter could only retain one sport to coach. Given that his daughter, Chastity, is a potential college-scholarship catcher in softball, Carter decided to hold on to that sport.

"I was one and done," Carter said Monday.

But in Dillard, Carter has found somebody he believes can take the program even higher after the Lady Wildcats made the state tournament for the first time since the 2005-06 season, when they reached the second round in Class AAAAA.

Dillard coached the boys at Lovejoy Middle School, consistently getting his team into the finals of the county tournament. He also will coach the running backs with the Lovejoy football team and because he was away with them at camp Monday, he was unavailable for comment. But Carter said Dillard's coaching style should make Lovejoy tougher to beat this season.

"He likes a tough man-to-man defense," Carter said. "He tries to keep the scores as low as possible and runs a motion offense."

The Lady Wildcats have had time to get acclimated to Dillard during camps at Clayton State, Georgia, Georgia Tech and Locust Grove High.

Dillard figures to have more weapons than Carter did last season, when the Lady Wildcats finished 13-16, after rebounding from a 3-9 start.

Alease Allen, a 6-foot-1 center, is expected to return to the team after missing last season due to undisclosed personal issues. And Ashley Berry, a 5-9 forward, should be back after missing a good chunk of last season because of an automobile accident.

"We're going to be young," Carter said. "But I think we can be just as good as last year, if not better."

In Carter's second year as athletics director since taking over for Al Hughes, Lovejoy qualified for the state tournament in 14 sports.

"We hadn't made it 14 in the last five years combined," Carter said. "We made it to 14 because of the athletes and the coaches. I had nothing to do with it. It only looks like I did."