The Lenoir City High School boys and girls basketball teams have not yielded desired results early in the season, but both teams are using the time to grow before the start of district play.
The Panthers faced their first District 4-3A opponent of the season Friday against the Heritage High School Mountaineers, but came up short in a 66-52 loss at home.
“When you go from all we’ve had being the non-district part of the season and into your first time in district play, you know, it’s an adjustment for the guys to get back in the district,” Brent Burns, LCHS boys head basketball coach, said. “We missed a lot of shots we normally make, and I thought our defense, we tried to come up with some looks. We just didn’t have a great game Friday night as far as all together — myself included and all the staff. It was just one of those learning experiences and we’re just learning a lot about this team.”
Lenoir City struggled offensively the majority of the first quarter before senior guard David Ross and sophomore Scory Correa scored 10 and seven points, respectively, to close out the first half.
The Panthers pulled back within two midway though the third quarter, but the Mountaineers kept applying pressure and eventually raced out to a 14-point lead.
“I feel like we prepared well in the practice, but we come out with no energy,” Correa said. “I think that’s one thing we’ve got to progress is our energy as a team. I feel like our chemistry together, we’re always together and that’s one thing, but we’ve got to come out with energy. When we go on runs, it shuts the other team down. This game’s all about runs, I think that’s the one thing we’re lacking right now.”
Correa has been a pleasant surprise for the Panthers.
“Yeah, I definitely have to become more of a leader and being more vocal out there,” he said. “I feel like my role this year is just be the guard I am, facilitate and just score the ball.”
With uncertainty surrounding senior Ben Halcomb’s return with a broken nose, Burns is relying on young and inexperienced players to step up, such as Tucker Yancey and Parker Trammel.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that are playing a lot of meaningful minutes that didn’t play as many last year,” Burns said. “You’ve got a guy like Tucker Yancey, who hasn’t played basketball since he was in eighth grade. He’s got great potential, but it’s also getting in district games and just learning the position. We’ve got some better leadership with Ben, David and Braden (Simon). ... Overall, I’ve been pleased with the guys’ attitudes. They’re really good kids, they work hard, they want to do the right thing, but it’s just up to us as coaches to get them in the right position to make plays.”
The Panthers will look to bounce back Friday against the William Blount l Governors.
“Yeah, it’s a long season, so you just got to get working,” Correa said. “Get down in practice and just go out with every team with the same mentality — just a dog mentality.”
Lady Panthers learningYouth and inexperience reared its ugly head for the LCHS Lady Panthers as well Friday in a 72-23 blowout loss to the HHS Lady Mountaineers.
“I think as soon as they went into the press, we just kind of lost our composure,” Tim Smith, LCHS head girls basketball coach, said. “I mean, they were physical. ... We just broke down, just didn’t handle it very well. I think we had seven or eight straight turnovers. Just trying to keep a young team from feeling like everything is familiar, and hopefully, we’ll learn from that. That’s the thing is today, we’re here at practice. We’ve got to turn the page and forget that one ... look at the things that they can do and I can do to not let ourselves get in that situation.”
The Lady Panthers took care of business against rival Loudon High School on Dec. 3 in a 43-29 win over the Lady Redskins, which Smith hopes will serve as a confidence boost heading into Friday’s district matchup against the Lady Governors.
“It’s murderer’s row — we’ve got West, William Blount and Bearden,” he said. “There’s no easy games, so we’ve got to grow up pretty fast and deal with adversity a little bit better. We’ve got to slow down the game a little bit. Sometimes with kids, I don’t know what to do sometimes. We’re struggling to find ourself and who’s going to be our player. We’re really replacing three players that were, I guess, the glue for our team last year, and everybody’s trying to find their niche.”