Bradley Girls Unanimous Pick To Win 5-AAA Basketball

Cleveland, Walker Valley Could Pose Serious Challenges To Bearettes

Monday, November 4, 2013 - by John Hunt

The leaves are falling, the days are getting shorter and the local malls are ready for Christmas.

That must mean  it's time for high school basketball to begin.

Coaches and media members gathered at Redemption Point Church on Monday for the first-ever District 5-AAA basketball media day where coaches got a chance to assess their teams and what they're expecting in the coming months.

A poll for both coaches and the media was conducted after those presentations.  If those polls have anything to do with anything, the Bradley Bearettes will be the team to beat when the season begins next week.

Bradley was a landslide number one pick in both polls while Cleveland, Walker Valley and McMinn County were second, third and fourth.

Newcomer East Hamilton is picked fifth while Ooltewah and Soddy Daisy round out the rest of the teams.

BRADLEY: The Bearettes have five seniors on their roster, but none are any more well known than post players Rebecca Reuter and Brooke Copeland, two tall and talented young ladies who have already made commitments to MTSU and Florida, respectively.

Junior Chelsie Summars has been pegged as the starting point guard, but her career has been plagued by serious knee injuries, so questions remain about her.

There are 19 girls looking for spots in the Bradley lineup, including nine who are freshmen.

"We have two really familiar names in our lineup, so there aren't a lot of secrets regarding our team," said Jason Reuter, Rebecca's father.

"Our size is our strength.  I'd like to say that we're experienced, but our other three starters have only played sparingly in the past.  We have a chance to make a pretty good run if Chelsie hits her stride.

"It's hard to have a great team without a quarterback.  Without her, we could be in trouble," Reuter nodded.

The Bearettes open their season at home on Tuesday, Nov. 12 against Cookeville.

CLEVELAND: Head coach Mindy Kiser is starting her third year as the leader of the Lady Blue Raiders.

Nora Berry is the only senior on the Cleveland roster, but Kiser is impressed with what she's seen so far and the role her younger players have taken.

"This is a new year and a totally new look as we have 10 new ones," Kiser began.

"Nora is our only senior and she's really improved her game, namely her defense.  But our juniors have a lot of experience.  We may not be as talented or athletic as in the past, but I like this group and the work they're doing. 

"These juniors have been with me all three years and know what I want.  Hallea' McClendon has made the most strides of anyone on the team as she has a wonderful heart and is a real cornerstone for us," Kiser said.

Junior Jenna Scoggins has been picked as the point guard while Bre Ware, Sarah Crump, Graicyn Walkup and McClendon are other juniors expected to help carry the load.

Cleveland opens its season at Cumberland County on Nov. 19.

EAST HAMILTON: Coach Derek Morris has been the Lady Hurricane head coach since the school opened five years ago.  They had great success in District 6-AA, but they're excited about the challenge of moving up to a larger classification.

"We're excited about moving up and the standard is set pretty high," Morris began.

Sophomore Kyndall Caudle is the only returning starter, so Morris definitely has a lot of questions to answer.

"The core of our team is sophomores, but we haven't had a scrimmage yet and we don't have a starting lineup.  Merci Wood played a lot last year, but we just have to stick together and see what happens," Morris concluded with a smile.

The Lady Hurricanes face Hamilton Heights on Nov. 12 at Tennessee Temple in their season opener.

McMINN COUNTY: Coach Tim McPhail is starting his seventh season as the leader for the Lady Cherokees and he'll be looking toward Keke Smith and Rachel Burke to lead the way for his girls.

"We started with 13, but are down to 10 now.  Smith and Burke are our only two seniors and our two best players," McPhail began.

"KeKe is the hardest working player we have as I can't get her out of the gym while Burke was our leading 3-point shooter last year.  Ebony Kelley is our most athletic player," he praised his 5-9 sophomore.

"We'll have to rely on our two seniors.  If they can be consistent, we have a shot of being a pretty good team," the coach concluded.

The Lady Cherokees open their season on the road at Christian Academy of Knoxville on Nov. 12.

OOLTEWAH: Donnie Mullins is starting his fifth year as the coach of the Lady Owls.

Ooltewah graduated seven players from a year ago, so Mullins is looking for answers in a hurry.

"I have so many questions that are unanswered at this point, but we lost seven last year, including three who played a lot.

"I could give you a bunch of names, but you have never heard of any of them.  Heather Taylor is our best returning player.  "We have a lot of girls battling for playing time, so we have a lot of interest," he added.

The Lady Owls open their season at Hardin Valley on Thursday, Nov. 14.

SODDY DAISY: Drew Lyness is the head coach for the Lady Trojans after serving as an assistant for several years.  He has his work cut  out for him.  The Lady Trojans have struggled in recent years, but they only lost one senior, so Lyness is overly optimistic.

"There's nobody any more excited than me," he began.

"We have a great group of girls with four seniors who will all play quite a bit.  We've struggled to score in recent years, but we want to play fast and our theme is to finish.  We just want to be competitive," Lyness continued.

While Harris and Smith are two seniors expected to carry the load, junior Brooke Hale returns as a three-year starter at point guard.  Morgan Hopkins is a sophomore and Mallory Wade a senior who'll get plenty of time in the post.

"These girls are tired of losing.  Our goal is to be competitive in all that we do," Lyness concluded.

Soddy Daisy opens its season at home on Tuesday, Nov. 19 against Signal Mountain.

WALKER VALLEY: The Lady Mustangs may not be the tallest team in the league, but they also are not the youngest.

"We're really small, but not real young," said coach Jessica Stone in her opening remarks.

"Our expectations have increased, but we've had a great first week of practice and the team chemistry is better than ever.

"We're working on developing leadership roles, but the key for us will be consistency.  We've improved a lot since last year, but depth will be our biggest challenge," the coach added.

Victoria Jones, Lyndsey Macon and Rachel Percy are all seniors with Jones and Macon expected to join junior Jaclyn Griffith and sophomores Kathleen Alomar and Emilee Spann in the starting lineup.

Spann is a six-footer while D.J. Mowery is a 5-11 junior "who has improved a whole lot."

The Lady Mustangs open their season at home on Nov. 14 against Sevier County.

(email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@comcast.net



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