Harlem High School's girls basketball team, like the Bulldogs' other athletic programs, might be dismantled by the rezoning for Grovetown High School. It also will lose many key players to graduation.
But for at least one year, the Lady Bulldogs are a tight-knit group.
They're more than like a family. They are family.
Three sets of sisters make up the Harlem roster.
Ebony and Nicole Wells, Chancelor and Chadee' Martin, and Marianne and Michelle Davignon all play a part.
Bulldogs coach Amy Slagle and guard Skye Slagle are cousins. And the Bulldogs have taken to pairing up with a teammate and calling each other sisters, though not necessarily blood-related.
The bond has been an outrageous success.
The Bulldogs are 10-0 after breezing through last week's Robolli's Pizza Classic at Evans. Amy Slagle's team won its three tournament games by an average of 36 points, capped by a 51-22 stomping of Greenbrier in the title game.
Play was paused during the win over the Wolfpack after a 3-pointer gave Nicole Wells her 1,000th career point. Nicole accepted a framed picture from Amy Slagle and delivered the gift to her mother in the stands.
When play resumed, the Bulldogs continued to dominate.
Nicole's big night was highlighted by a 35-foot 3-pointer she drained as the third quarter ended.
It was that kind of night for the senior Wells sister. And it's been a breakthrough season.
Last season, Ebony and Nicole carried the bulk of responsibility. When the Martins moved into the area before this season started, Harlem suddenly had two former Glenn Hills standouts on its roster.
Chancelor, who was named the Robolli's Pizza Classic's most valuable player, gives the Bulldogs a point guard who can score and create fits with her quick hands on defense. Her sister Chadee' plays the same way.
The 6-foot-3 Ebony still anchors the post, but Nicole has been freed up to concentrate on shooting. She scored 18 points in each of the Bulldogs' final two tournament games last week.
"We got two more sisters that play defense and like to win and play basketball all year round," Nicole said. "It's just easier when you have somebody that can dribble the ball and you don't have to take it out, rebound and shoot. It's just easier to play basketball."
The Bulldogs' newcomers have Slagle and her team wondering, albeit cautiously, if their region is tough enough to prepare them for the state playoffs.
Harlem has played one tight game all year, beating Hephzibah 57-53 on Dec. 19. The Bulldogs' other nine games all ended with winning margins of 25 points or more.
Part of the reason for the Bulldogs' huge success thus far is that teams were unaware of Harlem's additions, Chancelor said.
"I think it will get tough once we get further and people want to compete against us and beat us," she said. "I'm pretty sure it's going to get tougher."
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