The Rome Lady Wolves have returned to the basketball court, this time in a new region within Class AAAAAA. After a heartbreaking Sweet 16 overtime defeat to Veterans in February, Rome is ready to put that result in the rear-view mirror.
“We were 10 seconds away from making it to the (Class AAAAA) Elite 8,” Lady Wolves head coach Jason Harris said in a phone interview. “It was disappointing for that bunch because I thought we could’ve kept going, but sometimes, the ball doesn’t fall where you want it to.”
One of Rome’s key departures is Amberly Brown, who is now playing basketball on the junior collegiate level. Brown brought size to the Lady Wolves lineup.
“We’re going to be a little bit undersized this year,” Harris said. “But for our size, we have experience. We have a large junior class that has contributed since they were freshman.”
Ta’Emmica Nation will anchor the experienced juniors, as she has been one of Rome’s starting point guards since her freshman year. Fellow juniors Allison Loveman and Treneisha Adams have played significant minutes for the Lady Wolves since their freshman seasons as well.
Harris said juniors like Taleyiah Chatman, Cassie Covington and Anniyah Williams will see increased minutes this season.
The junior class, along with Rome’s three seniors DeKerriya Daniel, Riley Jenkins and Janysha Shelley, will provide plenty of upperclassmen leadership.
“(They’ve been) a vital part of our program and what we’ve accomplished over the last two/three years,” Harris said. “I think our experience with those kids is going to help us this year remain highly competitive and hopefully competing for a region championship.”
Harris said a major Lady Wolves target it to win a region championship, then advance beyond the Sweet 16, as the Lady Wolves have finished their season in the second round of the playoffs the previous two years.
However, the move from Class 5A to 6A is a sizable jump up in competition.
“I’ve talked to a bunch of coaches, and I think 6A is the toughest classification in Georgia high school currently,” Harris said. “You’ve got teams that (are) consistent region champions and final four contenders and state champions in 6A classification. Us stepping up to the 6A classification is going to be a daunting task, one that we welcome with open arms.”
Harris highlighted some 2019-20 region opponents who made the move up with Rome High School from 5A to 6A, including Carrollton, East Paulding, Paulding County and South Paulding High Schools.
Along with Alexander, Dalton and Douglas County, Harris expects Region 5-AAAAAA to be highly competitive in 2020-21. Class AAAAAA also features some of the most talented teams in Georgia, including schools such as Buford, Kell and Westlake.
Just before starting the 2020-21 campaign, Harris said his squad will be an experienced, scrappy group.
“This bunch doesn’t have a quitting bone in their body,” Harris said. “We’ve been high energy at practice. Part of our culture has been our family culture.”
Harris said this year’s motto is N.O.W., which stands for “No Opportunity Wasted.”
“Especially with the COVID crisis going on, at any time, we know we can be shut down,” Harris said. “We can’t waste an opportunity to get better. We can’t waste an opportunity to go out and show well when we have a game. I think the girls have jumped onto that wholeheartedly.”
“Especially with the way things were abruptly stopped last spring and we didn’t have a summer this year to do camps and our workouts,” Harris continued. “We only had kind of like two weeks, so they understand the magnitude of something they love to do being snatched away from them and ... having a shortened season or not even a season at all. We’re just enjoying the time to be able to be together, practice, get better and just trying to live with what our theme for this year is. We’ve got to do it now. No opportunity wasted.”
The Lady Wolves officially kicked off their 2020-21 season on Nov. 21. So far, Rome has played three games and currently holds a record of 1-2.
Rome’s next game is Thursday in a non-region tilt versus Harrison. The Region 5-AAAAAA slate begins Tuesday against Alexander.