Lady Redskins showed fight all season

Loudon High School’s Carrie Pittman dribbles down the court Friday in the Lady Redskins’ 36-28 loss to the Lenoir City High School Lady Panthers.

The Loudon High School Lady Redskins (1-22, 0-10 District 5-2A) were hoping to snap a 19-game losing streak Friday on the road at Lenoir City High School but lost 38-26.

“We were able to compete really well in the Austin-East and Lenoir City games, and we’ve had a couple of games down the stretch where we have competed well,” John Hii, LHS head girls basketball coach, said. “I think playing almost above our ceiling, and so we’ve been close, especially in the Lenoir City game and the Austin-East game. We’re just not making enough shots right now to win games. Whenever you hold a team in the 30s, you think you’ve done a really good job defensively, which we did, but we’re still almost losing by double digits when you’re holding a team in the 30s ... it’s been tough.”

The Lady Redskins played the Polk County High School Lady Wildcats on Tuesday after News-Herald presstime in the first round of the District 5-2A tournament.

Senior point guard Carrie Pittman said the team was hurting following the loss Friday.

“We got out of practice and just trying to get our minds right because all that matters in the end is the tournament,” Pittman said. “I think just having each other is just what’s brought us through. The four seniors that we do have, we’ve played together since my freshman year. We’ve really gotten close, especially this year. I think it’s helped that we’ve just had our little community.”

The Lady Redskins was on the cusp of winning at least seven other games this year, but the opportunity slipped away.

In addition to moving from Louisiana and pushing through the COVID-19 pandemic, this has been the most challenging season in Hii’s coaching career.

“I think that this past year if I could summarize it into one word, it’s been tough with all the COVID things and with moving to a new place and with having a new team,” Hii said. “Those are all struggles and, from a basketball standpoint, there were surprises, good and bad, along the way that happened. Just down the stretch, we just really had too much bad luck to really overcome as far as the end of the regular season with Carrie breaking her arm and Katelyn Fortman having shoulder surgery and Ashley Stoner being out for a hip injury. We’ve just had way too much bad luck to be able to finish out as well as we would’ve liked.”

The senior class of Pittman, Summer Parnell, Abbi Fritts, Chloe Rausin and Katelyn Fortman will be missed.

“I’m definitely so, so thankful for the time I’ve had here,” Pittman said. “It’s had its ups and downs, but I’ve learned tons of lessons and met a ton of incredible people. I will definitely miss it. Coach hasn’t had a lot to work with, so he does deserve some credit for what he has done and just being a coach takes a lot of time, energy and effort. I do thank him for being very consistent.”

The returning roster next year will be thin, but Hii looks forward to building with the upcoming freshman class.

“Out of all the available players that we have right now, and if I was to take away our three seniors that are playing, that only leaves us with five bodies,” Hii said. “For us next year, it is really going to be about getting this group of freshmen in and getting them ready to play. Right out of the gate, they’re going to get hit with some varsity-level practices and scrimmages. You can’t win any games playing only five people. We’re going to have to rely on what’s coming in to some extent. What that means as far as wins and losses and those things, I have no idea what that looks like.”