But settling back into 6A play in January brought out the best in Aisha Gaddis’ team. Winners of five straight games overall, St. Francis is a perfect 7-0 in sub-region play and making a steady climb in the Class-A private school power rankings.
“As a team we have been playing so well since we moved back to region play. The girls are sharing the ball and it’s refreshing to see them really starting to have fun,” said Gaddis, now in her fourth year as head coach.
The Lady Knights played 10 of their 11 non-region games against schools from higher classifications — including six against Class AAAAA and AAAAAA schools. St. Francis went 3-3 in those games and Gaddis credited their stiff competition early on to the success they have found in January.
“The schedule was really hard without a lot of depth and some injuries, but those games and those close situations we were in are really going to help us when it comes to tournament time,” said the St. Francis coach, who helped her team to the Elite Eight of the Class A state playoffs a year ago.
“We are right where we want to be in our region and I believe we are starting to peak at the right time.”
In seven sub-region games, the Lady Knights “peak” has been much higher than their Class-A brethren.
Led by the play of Abby Grant (12.5 points per game), Candice Williams (11.4) and Antoinette Brown (14.1) they have held each opponent to 29 points or less and have won each game by at least 35 points, impressive marks that have vaulted their GHSA power ranking to No. 5 in the state — trailing just Southwest Atlanta Christian, Holy Innocents, Darlington and Cavalry Day.
The Knights will get their first look at No. 1 Southwest Atlanta this Saturday and could see them along with Darlington in the 6A region tournament in February.
“Region championship was one of our goals and we know it will be tough, but we are a strong team and if we play team ball and have everyone contribute we will be right there with them,” said Gaddis.