The Atlanta Tipoff Club last week announced its 2021-22 preseason watch lists as the top high school basketball players in the metro-Atlanta area.
The list featured nine players from Cherokee County — six girls and three boys — who have backed that up with solid play to begin the season.
Sequoyah led the pack with three players named to the watch lists — Elle Blatchford and Susanna Rogers on the girls team, and Dylan Wolle from the boys unit. Wolle is a Rollins College signee.
Blatchford led Sequoyah with 15 points and four steals in her team’s first-round win over Rome in the Raider Classic, while Rogers added nine points and five assists.
Woodstock also had a pair of leading contributors named to the preseason watch lists. Karson Martin and Central Michigan signee Bridget Utberg were the two honorees and have played lights-out to start the year.
In a narrow 60-59 victory over Floida’s Pine Forest on Monday in Jacksonville, Florida, Utberg scored 16 points and Martin had 15. Utberg is averaging a team-leading 21.5 points per game this season, while Martin is scoring 13.5 per game.
“Bridget is one of the most talented players I have ever coached,” Woodstock coach Regina Tate-Leslie said. “She is one of the top point guards in this state across all classifications. Karson Martin is having a great start to her junior season. She is a leader and passionate. She is all about her team.”
River Ridge’s representative on the watch list, Mataya Gayle, showed why she is one of the county’s top players through three games. Off to one of their best starts in the last decade, the Lady Knights are receiving some top-notch production from their junior guard.
Gayle, who is averaging 19.7 points per game, scored 15 points as River Ridge handed Cherokee its first loss of the season Nov. 18.
Keimarya Rivera was Cherokee’s selection on the watch list. She scored 12 points in two straight games to help the Lady Warriors to the Raider Classic championship game at North Forsyth.
In addition to Wolle, the local boys honorees included River Ridge’s Braden Pierce and Etowah’s Mason Etter.
Wolle scored 22 points in Sequoyah’s season-opening win over Meadowcreek and 16 against New Faith Christian on Monday in the Gainesville Classic.
Pierce has been a force for River Ridge this season, helping the Knights to a 2-1 start with wins over Cherokee and Woodstock. He scored 11 points in the convincing 75-51 win over the Wolverines.
Etter, a key part of Etowah’s high-scoring backcourt duo with Brandon Rechsteiner, scored 13 points in the Eagles’ two wins over Creekview and River Ridge this season.
“Mason averages about 12 points a game right now but makes us 30 points better,” Etowah coach Jason Dasinger said. “I am really excited to see the ATOC recognize a player that does just as much off the ball, on offense and defense, as he does on the ball. Normally, they only nominate folks that shoot it 20 times a game.”