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BASKETBALL: Tip-Off Club honors local teams and players

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The varsity girls’ basketball teams from Model and Unity Christian School took home the top awards at the 32nd annual Northwest Georgia Tip-Off Club Banquet, which was held Thursday night at Berry College’s Krannert Center Ballroom.

The Lady Blue Devils and the Lady Lions were each named the group’s 2017-18 high school girls’ teams of the year, while head coaches Sally Echols and Melanie Thornbury shared the honor of high school girls’ coach of the year.

Model won its fourth straight Region 7-AA championship this year and lost just three games during the regular season. The team travels to Milledgeville today to take on Laney in the Class AA state semifinals.

Senior center Victaria Saxton was named the club’s high school girls’ player of the year. The 6-foot-1, South Carolina signee became the Lady Devils’ all-time leading scorer this season with more than 2,300 points

Unity Christian didn’t miss a beat under first-year coach Thornbury as the Lady Lions won their fifth region title in a row this season and advanced all the way to the GICAA Division I state semifinals.

Former Calhoun and Armuchee boys’ basketball coach Ray Tucker was presented with the club’s Graham Woodell Award, honoring his lifetime work as one of the area’s top basketball coaches.

The club’s referee award went to Jason Strickland, a member of the Northwest Georgia Basketball Officials Association.

College players of the year honored were Berry’s McKenzie Smith and Elijah Hirsh, Shorter’s Jasmine Gaines and Amonte Potter, Georgia Highlands’ Anna Stewart and TaJuan Johnson, and Georgia Northwestern’s Tori Harvey and Tyler Phillips.