By Tim Chambers
Last season was a tough year for the middle school Lady Longhorns, but there is hope that the 2019-20 basketball season will be much better. Sarah Jennings Leonard is beginning her second year as head coach, and she is much more comfortable this time around.
“It’s a lot different this year than last because I realize some of the things that we need to work on as eighth-graders,” said Jennings. It’s also important for us to teach our seventh-grade kids basketball fundamentals and how to play hard. I didn’t know what to expect coming in as a new coach, but
I’ve got a better mindset
now after watching everyone play on our schedule last year.”
The Lady Longhorns must find some scoring and will look to Sierra Green to pick up the slack.
“She scored 20 points in our win earlier this year at Pigeon Forge,” said Jennings. “She’s a good rebounder and can handle the ball well.”
The Longhorns have added Aubree Glenn on the
team, and she comes into
the program with a good resume.
“She played at T.A. Dugger and Happy Valley some,” said Jennings. “She’s got experience and knows how to get the ball up the floor. She can help us a lot at the guard position. We’re going to count on her.”
Another trio of eighth-graders will factor heavily in the starting lineup. MacKenzie Kelly, Ashlee Bean, and Sarah Icenhour will all need to contribute.
“Mackenzie has some size and is a very good rebounder,” added Jennings. “Ashley has shown that she can take care of the basketball and can also score. Sarah will help us, especially on the defensive end. We expect some good things from all three of them.”
Harley Wykle is another player that has caught the attention of Jennings.
“She’s improved a lot since last year. I love the fact that she plays hard and she wants to get better. She makes things happen when she’s in the game.”
Jennings will throw a couple of seventh graders into the mix. Savanna Dowell and Desirea Robinson are expected to see a lot of playing time.
“Desirea has shown in our first few games that she knows how to defend and steal the basketball. We think that Savanna can be a good player to come off the bench and add depth to our team. We’re going to play both of them.”
Jennings knows that Cloudland will be the
team to beat after defeating Liberty Bell in a recent preseason tournament. She wants her team to be in the mix.
“I’m going in with good expectations because we know what to do now,
and the girls’ heads are in it. We want to be able to compete with teams like Hampton and Happy Valley. Everyone knows that Cloudland is the top dog, but we want to be able to compete with the rest of the league. Our girls are working hard to get there.”