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HERALD 2010-11 PREP BASKETBALL PREVIEW: DOCO girls trying to get their groove back

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

ALBANY -- The math is pretty simple at Dougherty. And so is the goal.

"We want to get to the state playoffs this year,'' Dougherty coach Charlene Jackson said at practice last week. "(But first) we need to be in the top four in the region.''

Dougherty had made three consecutive trips to the playoffs before slipping last season and getting knocked out of the Region 1-AAA tournament in the first round.

The Lady Trojans lost four seniors, including playmaker Tiara Todd, but there's more than enough coming back from last year's 11-12 team to believe this year's group can find a place in the postseason.

And they came back wanting to make a difference.

"I think we can because of all the hard work we did in the offseason,'' Jackson said. "The kids seem to have rededicated themselves. They're motivated. It's a matter of pride.''

Jackson has her top rebounder back, Jasmine Lavant, a 5-foot-10 senior who will be at the center of everything Dougherty does. Lavant averaged 12 points and nine rebounds last year. The Lady Trojans also return starters Jayla Hooper, a 5-9 junior, and Shawntal Byrd, a 5-7 junior guard who has been helping run the offense since she was a freshman. Byrd averaged five points and seven assists last season.

Kiandra Guilford, a 5-6 senior guard, has been playing since she was a freshman, and the backcourt of Guilford and Byrd will be one of the keys for Dougherty this season.

"We have a lot of athletes on this team with experience,'' Guilford said. "And we're going to do whatever it takes to get there this year. We've got a lot of potential and our mind is set on going to the state playoffs.''

Then there's Terrianna Martin, a 5-10 junior.

"Terrianna Martin has been a major surprise this year,'' said Jackson, who watched Martin score 12 points and grab 14 rebounds in the season opening night win against Albany.

That 55-43 opening night against Albany marked a new beginning for Dougherty, which was the only girls team in Albany not to reach the state playoffs last season.

"We feel confident this year,'' Lavant said. "We have a lot of talent and we get along better, and this year we are going to stay positive and motivate each other.''

It shows on and off the court, and Jackson is optimistic.

"I think we have a team that can be in the top four in the region,'' she said. "We're much better in every sense of the word.''