CONYERS -- The Rockdale County and Heritage girls basketball teams were back on the court Monday afternoon for their first live-game competition since their seasons ended last February.

Competing against one another in the first week of Rockdale's second annual summer league, it was the Patriots who topped the Bulldogs, 32-19.

While the Patriots had the likes of 2019 starters Sade Harrell and Kristyn Goshay in their starting lineup, the Bulldogs ran out a brand new lineup, one head coach Sean Turley has high hopes for.

"Every opportunity is an opportunity," Turley said. "When we're out here, I'm looking at things like their aggression on getting back on defense. There my be a little turmoil sometimes and how do you respond to that? Your character as a player, are you picking up your teammates? I'm looking at a lot and I like what I see so far. I really do."

Two rising freshman, Nyla Williams and Mya Lester both started for the Bulldogs Monday and turned in solid performances. The Bulldogs were without 2019 standouts Alana Moore and Shaquice May, who are both expected to take over expanded roles next season.

Despite not having a chance to see the entire team together just yet, Turley said it's still great to be back on the basketball court coaching again following a three-month layoff from last season's run to the Elite Eight.

"It feels great," Turley said. "I'm excited just to even be here with the girls. I like the work that they've put in prior to their first time. Like I told them, it's the summer league. We're just trying to get acclimated to one another and trying to acclimated to me. We've got a fairly new crew, but I like their aggression and their consistency with the way they played hard through the game."

The Bulldogs are set to play every Monday in June at Rockdale County while also mixing in a camp hosted by Georgia State and a second summer league hosted by Newbirth.

"We're just trying to get more work in as a team," Turley said. "We'll be branching out to other summer leagues throughout the county and team camps as well. That was one of our focuses that we talked about as a staff that we're definitely going to use those things to get used to each other and play as much basketball as we can."

With both Turley and Heritage head coach Eric Spivey entering their second year in charge of their respective programs, the Patriots front man said he didn't hesitate to throw his team into the Bulldogs' summer league after receiving a call.

"Coach Turley reached out to me," Spivey said. "We played in this summer league last year, so he reached out and I gladly accepted. We need to get as much playing time in as we can possibly get and I knew it was a nice summer league from last year. I wanted our girls to get back in it."

With their 32-19 victory never in doubt for much of the game, Spivey said having Harrell and Goshay playing was crucial in building team chemistry, not only on Monday, but for the entire month of June.

"It's great because Sade and Kristyn know what we like to do here at Heritage," Spivey said. "They're experienced players, so they can help with the girls with the things that we're going to go through. They know what to expect in our region, they know what to expect when we go out and play against different types of teams. So they can always talk to them from a player perspective and how to prepare."

Harrell, who just completed her sophomore year at Heritage, received her first college offer from Jacksonville University last month.

"I've been doing well," Harrell said. "I got my first offer. It was great. I found out in school. I've been waiting for it forever and I said that was my goal for the offseason. feel like everyone has been working hard. Everyone looks better and everyone looks like they want to get better. I think they realize that everyone has to step up now."

Overall, Spivey said he's hoping to see his team improve on the fundamentals of the game before the month of June comes to an end.

"First of all, we want to see any of the new girls that are coming out and see what they have," Spivey said. "We really just want to improve on all skillsets. Defense, dribbling, passing, shooting. We're basically just here to try to improve in all areas."

Like the Bulldogs, the Patriots are set to compete in a camp this June with the hopes of playing against solid competition.

"The next camp that we're going to go to is at UGA," Spivey said. "Some of those coaches up at UGA will probably get a good look at all of our girls. Hopefully we'll put out a good effort there. We're going for two days. This Rockdale league is the only other league that we're going to."

Sports Editor

A 2017 graduate of the University of North Georgia, Colin joined the Rockdale/Newton Citizen in March of 2018 as the papers' full-time sports editor. A 2013 graduate of Jackson County High School, Colin received a golf scholarship to Andrew College.

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