Year of the Cat: Starr’s Mill sweeps Director’s Cup

Starr’s Mill is taking home some more hardware. For the third time in four years, the Panthers won the Director’s Cup given by the Georgia Athletic Director’s Association, and this year it’s a clean sweep. 

Each athletic team accrued points that go towards the Director’s Cup. The points system is broken down depending on your finish in a particular sport. Starr’s Mill collected 1,355 points overall and finished 81 points ahead of second-place Buford High School. The Panther boys collected 669 points and the girls earned 686 points this season, both titles and the first time they swept every category. 

“It is a great feeling,” Starr’s Mill Athletic Director Shane Ratliff said. “It just shows the success of athletics at Starr’s Mill. Our coaches and athletes are so talented. They made my first year a lot more manageable.”

Starr’s Mill’s pattern of consistency was a big reason for the Director’s Cup. The Panthers had arguably their best season in school history. Across the board, every team performed well in region play and advanced to the state playoffs. The boys and girls golf team won the Class AAAAA state title and the boys basketball team made an Elite Eight appearance. 

“If you look at the body of work that the graduating senior class has amassed athletically you can see that they are one of the reasons for why we had such a special year,” Ratliff said. “As part of Starr’s Mill, they have won 3 out of 4 Director’s Cups. The year we missed was something like 13 points away. This year alone we won a region or area title in every boys sport we competed in. We accumulated a total of 17 region or area championships this year.”

Below are highlights of how several teams did this season. 

Golf 

Starr’s Mill took home the state title in both boys and girls golf. Each team won back-to-back championships as they controlled the links. Luke Phillips and Liza Eubanks had the lowest rounds in the state tournament and earned top honors. Phillips shot 1-under and Eubanks shot 7-over. Each team earned 200 Director’s Cup points and will return the majority of their players next season. 

Football

The Panthers had another strong season on the gridiron. They won back-to-back Region 3-AAAAA championships and reached the Elite Eight in the state playoffs. The Panthers were led by senior quarterback Joey DeLuca, who took home All-County Player of the Year honors. He threw for 901 yards passing and six touchdowns. He also ran for 455 yards. On the defensive side, Coltin Houser earned All-County Defensive Player of the Year honors. He was a terrifying force all season as he collected 61 tackles and 13 sacks. 

The Panthers earned 70 points towards the Director’s Cup.

Volleyball 

The Lady Panthers made the Final Four in the state playoffs. They earned 83 points towards the Director’s Cup and battled eventual champion McIntosh all year. Starr’s Mill had several girls earn All-County honors. Senior Jesse Echols posted 451 digs and 89 aces this season. She was joined by Tessa Laney, Megan Lee, Gabi Ramkissoon, and Kayla Sloan with All-County honors. Ramkissoon was the team captain and collected 215 kills. 

Softball 

The Lady Panthers won the region in softball and hosted a state playoff matchup in the first round. Unfortunately, their standout season was up-ended by Ola. They earned 25 points towards the Director’s Cup. 

Despite the loss, there were a lot of standouts from the squad. Paige Andrews was dominant all season as she won All-County Pitcher of the Year. As a sophomore, she went 11-2 with a 1.76 ERA and 40 strikeouts. She also hit .321 at the plate. Other standout players included catcher Kate Ashmore, infielder Jordan Childress and outfielder Lea Duben. 

Basketball

The boys and girls basketball teams enjoyed historic seasons in a very competitive region. The Panther boys won the region for the first time in thrilling fashion. They knocked off rival McIntosh in the title game and went on to the Elite Eight in the state playoffs. Star forward Drew Hudson was named All-County Player of the Year as he averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds. Hudson helped the Panthers win the most games in school history and earn 70 points towards the Director’s Cup in a record-breaking season. 

“I think my fondest moment was watching the boys basketball team win their first region title in school history and making it to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs for the first time,” Ratliff said.

The Lady Panthers were just as good. Under first year coach Emily Sweeney, the girls were second in the region and made it to the state playoffs. It was a strong year for guard Alice Anne Hudson as she earned 1st team All-County honors. She averaged 14.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 3.3 steals. The girls have a strong chance of taking over the region next season as they only lose one senior player. 

Soccer 

The boys and girls soccer teams each made the Final Four of the state playoffs as top teams coming out of Region 3-AAAAA.  They each played with precision and poise as they battled tough teams all season. The boys were led by the attacking duo of Sam Pompeo and Jonathan Ulversoy. The girls were lead by a tough senior defense of Lauren Avidano, Sara Biddle, and Macey Voorhies. Starr’s Mill earned a total of 166 Director’s Cup points for soccer. 

Swimming 

The Panthers found their momentum in the pool as they had another solid season. The Lady Panthers were second in the state meet, and the boys were tops in the county again. Starr’s Mill has won the county 18 years in a row. 

Track and Field/ Cross Country 

The Panther’s track team was good at specializing in key events. They were dominant in distance running and field events with runner Harrison Fultz leading the way. Fultz took home top honors at the state track meet as the highest overall scorer. As a result, Starr’s Mill earned a total of 173 Director’s Cup Points. 

In cross country, the Panther boys and girls finished 2nd and 3rd respectively. Both teams earned 175 points. 

Baseball 

The Panthers continued their tradition of having a strong team with talented stars. This year was no different as Starr’s Mill won the region and made it to the Final Four of the state playoffs. Star shortstop Brian Port and a trio of pitchers – Hayes Heinecke, Nathan Price, and Dawson Sweatt – led the squad this season. While the pursuit didn’t end in a title, the Panthers are young and will be back next year.  In the Director’s Cup, the Panthers earned 83 points. 

Lacrosse  

Starr’s Mill was dominant on the field in lacrosse. They wrecked teams and made quick work of the competition. They were successful in region play, sweeping the area titles, and both teams made the state playoffs. The Starr’s Mill girls were state runner-ups, and the boys made the Elite Eight. Each team had their moments and helped the school earn 160 Director’s Cup points. 

Tennis 

Starr’s Mill made the final four in boy’s tennis and earned 83 points towards the Director’s Cup. The girls reached the Elite Eight and earned 70 points. 

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