By Curtis Marlin
Nov 15, 2017
The transition from an old coach to a new one can be tough, especially at the high school level.
But coach Tony Hill has been pleased with the change, and the work the Lady panthers have put into getting ready for the 2017-18 season.
“It’s been a good transition and the kids have bought into what we have tried to implement,” Hill said in a recent interview. “We have emphasized working in the weight room and we have gotten stronger and more athletic.”
The Lady Panthers lost Mackenzie Trouten to graduation, but return several starters from last season’s team that nearly upset Station Camp in the district tournament.
Hill was still juggling a starting line-up a few days ago and several players were still battling for action on the hardwood.
“Practices have been competitive,” Hill said. “Our starters may depend on who we play.”
Five seniors will be in the rotation.
They include Demaira Bell, Mac Craddock, Rachel Jennings, Emily Brown and Taylor Cole. Jennings was second on the team in points scored last year with 229 along with 72 assists while Bell followed with 173 points and 165 rebounds.
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Craddock recorded 143 points and 98 boards and Emily Brown scored 93.
“A lot of things will through Rachel,” Hill said recently. “She was the team’s second leading scorer. Demaira plays hard and smart and is a good ball handler for us. The two will be our backcourt combination.”
Cole, Craddock and Brown also received praise from Hill.
“Mac has the best footwork I’ve ever seen,” Hill noted. “She is a well-rounded player for us. It’s good to have Taylor back. She is a good perimeter shooter for us. Emily gives us size.”
Sophomore Sami Parker and freshman Savanah Pippin gives Hill plenty of size inside.
“We have three legit inside kids in Sami, Savanah and Emily,” Hill said.
Rounding out the varsity roster are juniors Anna Herrera, Haley Dickens, and Mackenzie Hodges along with sophomores Abbie Tomlinson, Abi Thomerson and Daley McCloud.
Rebounding and defense are two primary concerns for Hill as the season opens this week with three Hall of Fame games and Hill is also aware of how tough District 9-AAA is night in and night out.
“The district is new to me, but I know it is competitive,” Hill said. “We have to believe in our ability to trust each other and to get things accomplished.”
The remainder of the team includes sophomore Rachel Westveer and freshman Madison Hall, Lilly Whitehead, Eme Loza and Lexie Williams.