LOVEJOY — It’s still relatively early in the 2017-18 basketball season, but Friday night’s matchup between Lovejoy and Forest Park will feature two of Class AAAAAA’s top teams.

The Lovejoy Lady Wildcats are the No. 1 team in Class AAAAAA, according to several publications. They advanced to the Final Four last season before losing to eventual state champion Mays High. Many key players returned this season for head coach Cedric King, including sophomores Genesis Bryant and Anaya Boyd, who have already racked up multiple offers from Division I schools.

So far this season, Lovejoy is 5-0, with a point differential of 163. The Lady Wildcats have scored 60 more more points in all five games, including 95 against Hampton earlier this month. On Tuesday, Lovejoy won 61-46 over Mount Zion to get off to a 1-0 start in Region 4-AAAAAA play.

Forest Park has only played three games this season, but has quietly been equally as impressive. The Lady Panthers have wins over North Clayton and Woodland, with a one-point loss to Class AAAAAAA Parkview also on their resume.

Head coach Steve Cole saw virtually every player return from last year’s team. Juniors Sarah Matthews (11.3 PPG) and Alana Denson (7.7 PPG, 5.3 APG) have been mainstays in the Forest Park lineup since their freshman seasons. The addition of freshmen Sania Feagin (12.3 PPG, 10 RPG) and Jasmine Stevens (11.7 PPG) has given Cole a rotation of almost 10 players he can count on in any given situation.

The Lady Panthers will also be looking to avenge two losses to Lovejoy last season, including a 57-16 defeat last January.

Tip-off for Friday’s Top-10 showdown between Lovejoy and Forest Park is scheduled for 6 p.m. The boys game will follow at 7:30 p.m.

Who: No. 7 Forest Park at No. 1 Lovejoy

When: Friday at 6 p.m.

Where: Lovejoy High School

Luke Strickland is the sports editor of the Clayton News in Jonesboro and the Henry Herald in McDonough. He went to school at the University of Georgia.

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