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Smith-led Lady Hilltoppers consensus Big 7 favorites

Douglas Fritz • Nov 22, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Science Hill returns a ton of firepower from a team that reached the TSSAA Class AAA girls basketball tournament last season, so it’s no surprise the Lady Hilltoppers are favored to win the Big 7 Conference title.

Following is a look at the league’s teams.

Coaches’ picks

1. Science Hill

2. Daniel Boone

3. Dobyns-Bennett

4. David Crockett

5. Volunteer

6. Tennessee High

7. Cherokee

SCIENCE HILL

With Alasia Smith at the forefront of the attack on both ends of the court, the Lady Hilltoppers add plenty of depth for a team that could make lots of noise.

Coach Scottie Whaley didn’t shy away from lofty goals of reaching the state once again, saying that is the team’s expectation.

Smith recently signed a Division I deal with Gardner-Webb. Whaley said the 5-foot-11 post who rebounds, defends and scores is one of the best in Science Hill history.

Joining Smith in the starting lineup are point guard Aliyanna Hill (5-6, Sr.), wing Jeila Greenlee (5-7, Jr.), shooting guard Erin Egerbrecht (5-9, Sr.), and post Kijanae Marion (6-0, So.). Whaley said Hill is rock solid, Greenlee can flat-out score and the “sky is the limit” for Marion.

Off the bench, Whaley employs sophomore guard Jasmin Myers, senior guard Peija Shay, freshman post Kathryne Patton, freshman guard Kierra Whitney, senior post Lily Cullop and junior guard Sierra Livingston.

DANIEL BOONE

The Lady Trailblazers start with the play of experienced 5-11 senior Jaycie Jenkins. Coach Beau Hauldren said his team will “go as Jaycie goes, no doubt.”

Also in the forefront is senior Madi Runnels (5-11, Sr.), who should be a key scorer. Senior Kayla Gibson is also an important piece of the puzzle at the point guard position.

Joining those three in the starting lineup are Greyson Stevens (6-1, Sr.) and Jaiden Clark (6-0, Sr.) Maddie Bunting (6-2, Sr.) is also in the starting mix.

In the playing-time mix are McKenna Dietz, Rebecca Higgins and Camryn Sarvis. Rounding out the roster are Jordyn Keefauver, Makayla Gourley, Cassie Lowe and Savannah Jessee.

DOBYNS-BENNETT

Big graduation losses — including Courtney Whitson, one of the school’s all-time greats — should set back the Lady Indians somewhat, but not as much as some may think, coach Bill Francis said.

Francis called his team “dangerous” and leading the way are post players Jabrea Johnson (5-10, Jr.) and Caitlyn Wallace (5-9, Jr.). They are joined in the starting lineup by Jaden Potts (5-3, Jr.) at point guard with Elle Francis and Megan Ayers also on the perimeter.

Off the bench, Francis said he’s using Emilee Lane in a key role. Also in the mix are sophomore Olivia Doran, Blaire Barrett, Injoi Bristol, Madeline Lyons and Madison Ricketts.

Rounding out the roster are Morgan Cordell, Ellie Nash and Abigail Meade.

DAVID CROCKETT

It could be a turning-point season for the Lady Pioneers, who are expected to compete with some of the top teams in the league.

Coach Tony Gordon said he doesn’t have a starting five and can rotate 10 players without losing a beat. It starts with 5-7 junior Emma Gouge, who Gordon said could have her best season.

Other key plays include defensive ace Halle Scott (5-6, Jr.), Alyssa Suits (5-6, Jr.), Emily Trivette (5-7, So.), Mackenzie Baldwin (5-8, Jr.) and 5-6 freshman Zoe Sanders — who Gordon said is special and a true point guard.

Also in the mix are Madison Day, Nora Walters, Carlie Wilson and Karina Palomino. Rounding out the roster are Miranda Arrowood, Madison Orr, Mattie Miller and Morgan Lewis.

“Without reservation I can say this is the toughest and most dedicated and hardest-working team I have ever coached,” Gordon said. “They inspire me.”

VOLUNTEER

Coach Tyrone Smith had a full summer with his players and opens the season with both high hopes and a work-in-progress mindset.

The high hopes are for more wins, but the team is young. The starting lineup is led by 5-foot junior Atlee Dean at the point guard position.

Complementing Dean are Audrey Evans (5-4, So.) at the 2 guard, Kenady Knittel (5-7, Jr.) at the 3 and 5-9 junior Aliyah Crawley at the 4.

Smith said he plans to rotate at the No. 5 position depending on the Lady Falcons’ opponent. Seniors Tinsley Whalen and 6-2 Maddie Sanderlin are expected to see action in the post.

Off the bench, Smith is leaning on Raenah Barton, Emily Wyatt and Kendra Huff. Defensive specialist Kiley Trent also figures into the equation.

Rounding out the roster are Elise McKinney, Karli Edison, Danielle Sizemore, Emily McPherson and Emily Barrett.

CHEROKEE

Graduation hit the Lady Chiefs with quite a wallop, but coach Jason Lawson said there’s hope for good days.

Lots of new faces dot the starting lineup, including freshman Macy McDavid. She is joined by junior Lydia Alvis, sophomore Samantha Tilson, junior Kaylan Henard and junior Destiny Jarnigan.

Off the bench, Lawson said he’s relying on Gema Brooks, Anna Herrell, Kodi Henson and Carter Ringley. Rounding out the roster are Arran Harrell and Kyla Howe.

TENNESSEE HIGH

The Lady Vikings are likely to be a work in progress, but returning starters Kenzie Nickles, Riley Fritts and Annie Hayes offer hope.

Coach Kim Bright said she expects important contributions from Tori Ryan, Faith Stigall, Alexa Lewis and Mac Newport.

Rounding out the roster are Beth Boyd, Kendall Cross, Madison Blair, Bridget Flaherty and Riley Miller.

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