Local basketball athletes need support
Published 9:52 am Friday, January 29, 2016
As the 2015-2016 basketball season begins its final stretch toward the end of the regular season, there has been one thing that has been obviously noticeable lately and that is the fan attendance or it should be noted lack of fan attendance that has been sorely disappointing this season.
The Carter County and Elizabethton area is blessed to have some of the most talented basketball players in Northeast Tennessee taking the hardwood at all five of the county schools this season, but this fact has been lost on the fans.
For an example take the Elizabethton Lady Cyclones. Elizabethton right now has the top-ranked team in Class AA in girls’ basketball in the state, yet the home games have not been anywhere close to where it should be with a team that has all appearances of being a solid contender for the state title.
More importantly, the team is starting five seniors which according to local basketball historian Robert Sams hasn’t happened since he has been following locally since 1969 and probably won’t happen again in his lifetime.
These five seniors— Kayla Marosites, Kelci Marosites, Emily Kiser, Emily Schubert, and Melenda Perry have led the Lady Cyclones to a 21-0 record to this point of the season.
This same group has ran off 57 regular-season wins in a row and have worked feverishly over the last four seasons to bring the team a prominent name in Class AA girls basketball in the state.
“These are a great group of kids that do things the right way not only on the floor but off the floor as well,” said Lady Cyclones head coach Len Dugger. “They know what hard work is and know what dedication is.
“We talk a lot about the negative things about kids, but I wonder if we really support the positive and good things kids do,” added Dugger. “These kids want to represent the fans and their families. We like to think that we are a family inside a family with our basketball team.”
At a time when John Treadway Gym should be overflowing with fan support, the tendency has been for only a handful of faithful supporters to show up to cheer on possibly the best collective girls’ team in the state in any class.
Even the student body, which at one time was one of the best groups of heckling students around, has fell off in supporting their peers play their hearts out in representing Elizabethton High School.
The Cyclone boys have picked up steam and are sitting at 5-2 in the conference, good enough for second place, and deserve to be supported as well.
And good basketball doesn’t stop at Elizabethton.
“We are blessed throughout this county to have five schools that have great athletes,” said Dugger. “They want to please and be a part of something special while being a part of a team and working for their teammates.”
The Hampton Bulldog boys’ team currently are ranked number 10 in the state in Class A Boys’ basketball with players like Nathan Norris and Cody Jones, while the girls are battling for the conference’s number two slot having already upset Class AA Grainger Co. and Class A South Greene on the season.
Happy Valley’s girls are sitting at 17-6 and within easy reach of another 20-win season while Chuck Babb’s Warriors are 13-8 and are always tough come tournament time.
Kenneth Chambers has the Unaka Lady Rangers within striking distance of second place with a 14-9 record while Cloudland is tied for second place in girls play with a 4-3 conference record and 12-10 overall.
Cloudland’s boys are in third place with a 4-3 record and are a hand full come districts. Coach Aaron Dugger’s Rangers have struggled with wins during the regular season but always have upsets in them by districts.
The bottom line is that there is plenty of good basketball in Carter County and Elizabethton and the fans and classmates of these teams owe it to them to come out on game night and cheer them on.
There is nothing that makes a game more challenging for opposing teams than to have the stands full of screaming fans and supporters.
Plus, a family of four can attend a game for $20 or less which is far more economical than a $40-plus night at the movies for the same family.