Boys: Zach Mendence 

Girls: Emily Claytor 


The Lady dragons are coming off an impressive 18-9 campaign last season that ended with a 1st round State Playoff loss to Rabun County. This year’s squad is a young group that will look to players like junior guard Zoe Edge and sophomores Kaitlyn House and Hannah Smith to step into leadership roles immediately.  

Head Coach Emily Claytor knows there are challenges ahead but is excited about the group of girls she is coaching this season.  

“This is a young team,” says Claytor. “We only have two upperclassmen and are counting on a lot of freshmen and sophomores to step in and play big minutes. We will adjust our style of play to the strengths of the players on our roster, but I think you can expect us to look a lot like we did last year. That said, we will certainly lean on our leaders as we develop the younger players.” 

With a focus on playing fast and utilizing team speed, the Lady Dragons will look to get out and run against their competition. This team will go as far as the hard work they put in allows them to and there is no lack of focus or effort.  

“We concentrate on making the most of each practice and trying to get better every day,” says Claytor. “Our goal is to be playing our best basketball in February so we can put ourselves in a position to play well in the region tournament and hopefully get back to state and make a run.” 

Boys Head Coach, Zach Mendence has an infectious passion for the game of basketball and it rubs off on his players as he continues to build this Dragons program. After finishing 12-13 last season, you can tell there is confidence shared by Mendence and his players that they are ready to make some noise this year.  

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“We align our basketball goals with our life goals,” says Mendence. “Doing the right thing all the time, being there for our teammates, taking accountability for our actions. Those are the things that can help us on and off the court. Our focus on this culture change and applying it to the way we practice and prepare can ultimately get us where we want to be, and that’s back in the state tournament.” 

The Dragons have been close to the goal the last few seasons but have not reached the playoffs since 2017. With the leadership and focus in place going into the 2023-24 season, that drought has a good chance of ending.  

“We lost four seniors and that may sound like a lot, but we have a ton of experience coming back,” says Mendence. “We are going to push the tempo and that starts in practice. Our practices are live and these kids love to run, so we are going to use that and create some chaos out there. These kids have worked hard to improve and I think people are going to be surprised by what they bring to the table.” 

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