Dalton's Ridley named 5A player of the year by Georgia coaches, several get all-state nods

Mar. 12—Dalton High School's Gracie Ridley has been named the girls Class 5A north player of the year by the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association.

Ridley's honor was announced as part of GACA's annual all-state teams for the 2023-24 season. The organization releases all-state teams for both the north and south areas of the state for each classification. The north teams are made up of regions five through eight in each classification.

After helping power Dalton High's run to the Final Four, its first since 2011, during her senior year, Ridley was chosen as the top player in the northern half of the state in Class 5A, while several other locals were honored with all-state nods.

On the boys side, Coahulla Creek senior Chase Ward was named a member of the 3A north all-state team by GACA, and a pair of Christian Heritage seniors, Jax Abernathy and Cash Hare, were named to the Class A-DII north all-state team.

A forward, Ward led a resurgent Coahulla Creek squad, which finished 19-9 after going 8-17 a year ago, in scoring before an injury forced him to miss the last few games of the season. Abernathy, a signee of NCAA Division II Trevecca Nazarene and the two-time Dalton Daily Citizen All-Area Player of the Year, paired with Hare to lead a Christian Heritage squad that went 21-6.

Outside of Ridley, five other local girls standouts from either Whitfield County or Murray County were named all-state members, including a trio from Murray County High School.

Freshman Miley McClure, sophomore Callan Ledford and junior Bayleigh Winkler were all named to the Class 2A north all-state team after helping lead Murray County's Region 7-2A championship-winning team on a playoff run that ended in the state semifinals. It was the first Final Four appearance for Murray County since 1966.

Coahulla Creek junior forward Aubree Langley was named to the 3A north all-state team, while Northwest Whitfield junior Kennedy Baker received an all-state nod on the Class 4A north team.

Langley and the Colts finished the year 18-9, while Baker and the Lady Bruins were 15-12.