Lady Cherokees seek second-half surge

Greenback School junior Kierra Bishop drives past a defender Dec. 18 in the Lady Cherokees’ 54-43 loss to the Cosby High School Lady Eagles.

The Greenback School Lady Cherokees capped off the first half of the regular season with eight wins, but three consecutive losses heading into the Christmas break left a bitter taste.

With the turn of a new year and the start to the second half of the season, Greenback head coach Angie Lucier is viewing January as an opportunity to start over.

“This season in itself, I mean, everything is almost one game at a time and every time you get on the floor, it’s like a gift almost,” she said. “You can look at it as a new slate or you can look at it as every day we just come out and try to enjoy the game, get better and know this could be it right here. You don’t know, and we’re all playing with that attitude. I’ve just been happy with the team effort and this group together. We did say, ‘Hey, we’re going to get back on track. 2021 is going to be our year’.”

The break came at an opportune time after the Lady Cherokees dropped three in a row in December.

“I think it went very smoothly for us in getting back to our basketball streak that we had there,” Lily Morton, Greenback senior point guard, said. “I think we came back very strong. In our first game back, we had kind of a rough first quarter there but we regrouped and played just as good as we did before the break happened. I think we’ve come back pretty strong.”

The team dealt with some coronavirus issues before and during the break but has since recovered and playing at full strength.

“Over the break, we had a few COVID cases and had some girls that weren’t in the gym at all,” Lucier said. “The ones that were healthy and here, we tried to come in and stay fresh. Anytime you’re away from it that long, you’re going to have a few little cobwebs, so to speak, to knock off. It was good to get back out but just right there before Christmas. We had some people that were starting to be out and didn’t do too good in the Midway game. We wanted to get back into the swing of things.”

Despite a difficult layover, the Lady Cherokees won back-to-back games against cross-county rival Loudon High School and Mount Pisgah Christian Academy to improve to 10-5 overall.

Lucier said the wins were a big boost in time for a pivotal District 2-1A stretch the next two weeks.

“Loudon being our county rival, we always are getting up for that,” Lucier said. “They did have a few people injured, so that made it a little bit different game than what it was over there. You could tell we hadn’t played in a while in the first half, but we played a whole lot better in the second half and looking a little bit more like we were gelling much better in the second half.

“With Mount Pisgah, we didn’t know a whole lot about them except they didn’t have many people,” she added. “But they did really well playing the five that they had, and they had put up some decent numbers against other single-A opponents. We came in and were able to make some halftime adjustments in that game that helped us extend our lead on out. I’m just proud of everybody’s effort in that game.”

The coaching staff received good news Monday that talented junior point guard Madison Graves will be eligible to play. Graves transferred from Lenoir City High School, where she started at point guard in her freshman and half of her sophomore seasons.

The addition of Graves will be an automatic upgrade to what should be one of the the best backcourts in the region.

“I decided to move to Greenback because I felt like I would do better and I wanted to start winning games, and I thought the district was better,” she said. “I got to Greenback and I really like the girls here because we work really well together. The coaching is positive, and I really enjoy it actually. I just hope that I can become better friends with the girls and start to score for them because I know that they lost Anna (Morris), who was their top scorer last year. I just hope that I can benefit toward them.”

The Lady Cherokees will look to improve to 3-1 in district play Friday on the road against the Hancock High School Lady Indians.

“We try to get up and play for them,” Lucier said. “I’m excited to see what we bring to the table. Of course on Friday with Hancock, we were already supposed to have gone up there but their district made them stop playing. I think they’ve only played like one game this season and one game only, so it’s a little bit hard to know what they’ve got. We’ll be going into that somewhat blind, but we’re hoping the defense will be hard to handle and really give people some problems.”