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Jr. Lady Cyclones looking to rise together

Just as one man cannot be an army, so goes it on the basketball court as one player doesn’t make up a team.

That is the message that T.A. Dugger Jr. Lady Cyclone head coach Matt Fox has been preaching and one sermon he hopes his ladies receive loud and clear.

“This year, we just have to keep worrying about ourselves and understand that if we play together as a team, there might be nights where one girl is on and one girl is off,” said Fox. “There will be nights where it’s going to be a defensive game.

“This year due to COVID there is a lot of unexpected and for us to be successful we have to keep worrying about ourselves individually and as a team.

“We need to realize the goal is together. Our motto is ‘Together We Rise’. You can’t rise with just one or two girls – it takes a whole squad.”

Fox, who has shaped some very good teams under his leadership at the middle school level, will be looking to take a varsity team that has a good mix of talented girls and blend them into a solid, competitive team that can compete with the likes of Greeneville and Liberty Bell.

“Varsity wise, we are seventh and eighth graders and we have some returners. We lost some girls but we have some coming back with some having varsity experience from last year.

“I think that we are going to be a lot more competitive. We are going to be more of a fast tempo, shooting-style team. We have post players that can play more than just a post position so I think we are more rounded as a team this year.

“Overall, we are tough and competitive right now. In practice, the girls have been very competitive understanding the tempo and we will just keep working on that.”

Fox has plenty of talent to work with lead by eighth graders Peyton McGee, Lauren Lund, Kayelyn Nave, Aubrey Cole, Lilly McDuffie, and Savannah Smith but he has a couple of talented seventh graders that strengthen his team in Michelle Shields and Andrea Flores.

“I think guard-wise we are pretty set and at the post as well,” Fox stated. “Shields and Flores complement each other really well and I think if teams focus just on them, then they are forgetting about the other key players that I have.

“I still have another good shooting guard and I have post players considered post but they are more of a forward-type player. They are tough and they can shoot.”

Fox is also hoping for the quick return of a couple of girls who aren’t on the court as of yet.

“We have a couple of girls out right now with injury and one working on grades so hopefully she will get things pulled back up and hopefully our injured player will recover pretty quickly and we can get her back before the season. She is a shooting guard so we will be in good shape there,” added Fox.

The head coach was asked how he could see the conference shake out from a distance before any games have been played.

“I think East Middle School is going to be a little bit better this year because last year was their first year combining in the first half of the school year,” Fox said. “Liberty Bell and Greeneville are going to be pretty good. Vance is a big school.

“This year I think it’s going to be pretty even, but due to COVID, I think it’s going to be more of who is going to do the fundamentals. That team is going to rise.

For our conference, we are the smallest school in the conference so we always have to look like we are behind,” Fox continued. “I think that is the mentality that we have got to have – we are at the back of the race and we have to run really hard to get to the front.”

As far as his young junior varsity squad, Fox said the keyword is young.

“We are going to have a very young JV team,” said Fox. “All JV players except for one girl is in the sixth grade. They are very athletic and scrappy.

“On the JV end we are going to be small but I think that we are going to be tough and aggressive enough that we are going to be all right.”

The Jr. Lady Cyclones’ first game of the season will be on November 17th at Ridgeview with game times scheduled for 5 and 6 pm.