Jr. Lady Cyclones have right ingredients for a successful season

Published 10:54 pm Wednesday, November 3, 2021

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T.A. Dugger Jr. High girls basketball team consistently puts together a solid product under head coach Matt Fox and the 2021 season shouldn’t be any different.

With five eighth-graders on the varsity squad this season, Fox believes that if the chemistry equation works out together just right the Jr. Lady Cyclones will have another team that should compete for the conference championship.

“We have already had a couple of scrimmages and the squad that we have has some speed and have some good athleticism and I think that we are going to be able to compete this year,” Fox said.

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“In my mind, these girls are still capable of playing the up-tempo game and being very aggressive which is the offense and defense we want to play. This year for us, we just need to build the chemistry and hopefully, those who played last year will remember how the varsity season ended and have a sour taste in their mouth.”

Fox will have 13 girls dressing on varsity and is hoping that the 25-game schedule the team played over two weeks in the summer will pay huge dividends playing teams such as Maryville and Seymour Middle.

The Jr. Lady Cyclone skipper looks for Sevier out of Kingsport along with Sullivan Heights who is joining the league this season to be a couple of real testing blocks for his team.

In looking at the overall makeup of his team, eyes quickly fall on returning starter Michelle Shields who was one of the leading scorers for the Jr. Lady Cyclones last season and will be the focal point of the opponent’s defense this season.

However, Fox also has one of the bigger posts in the conference in Jamira Smalls who came on strong down the stretch last season to go along with Sadie Williams at a strong forward, Kalli Shepard, and Cloudland transfer Shevon Hamby to help balance out the offensive attack of the Jr. Lady Cyclones as Shields takes on the role of shooting guard this season.

Fox will be turning his point guard duties over to seventh-grader Adrian Heading in transitioning Shield to the shooting guard position.

“Adrian Heading is going to be my varsity point guard,” Fox said. “She upped her game from last year and I believe she has gotten more confident. Anyone running the point guard has to accept that role and Heading has accepted her role. She wants to play and she wants to win.”

The coach has confidence in his team from the varsity to the junior varsity and believes that each player brings a different skill set to the table when they step on the floor.

His concern now is that the team buys into what he is trying to sell them from the coaching
“They are starting to jive again especially after the summer. When they started to jive, then they started having fun and played well together,” Fox said. “I think we have the ability to make it far if the girls buy in and trust the game plan and the coaching and believing in each other.”

The team has 16 regular-season games plus a couple of tournaments on the slate this season. They kick off the regular season on Nov. 11th at home against Watauga, NC with a 5 p.m. tip-off.