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Classic Notebook: Lady Red gain valuable experience

Lady Red sophomore guard Hannah Miller in action during Wednesday's LandAir Ladies' Classic in Greeneville. Miller had 16 points off the bench in the Lady Red's opening round loss.
Published: 3:45 PM, 12/27/2012 Last updated: 3:45 PM, 12/27/2012

Author: Seth Butler
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

GREENEVILLE-Although the disappointment of a crushing fourth quarter run thwarted any chances of the Lady Red advancing in the 2012 version of the LandAir Ladies' Classic, the obstacles they faced in Wednesday's opening round may pay significant dividends later this year.

Faced with their toughest adversary of the season, Cocke County in most phases of the game hung with the powerful Oakland Lady Patriots. Trailing by only 10 points at the end of the third quarter was a feat not many teams have accomplished this year.

Oakland has won its games against in-state competition by an average of over 30 points per game and it's closest win was a 19-point victory over Franklin High School.

“That's as good of a team of a team as we have played all year,” said first-year Cocke County girls coach Jeremy Byrd. “I thought we battled them really good and this will help us see the little things that we need to do.”

Wednesday's contest will especially prove valuable as Cocke County prepares for a pair of pivotal games against Seymour High and Morristown West in early January.

CCHS hosts Seymour on January 4, as the Lady Red will try to even themselves with the Lady Eagles in the loss column in the District 2-AAA standings.

“I think we now understand the things that hurt us when we're in a desperate situation,” Byrd said. “We have to get every loose ball and every missed shot we have to rebound the ball.

“I think we can take that out of this loss,” Byrd said.

Miller Steps Up Again: For the second consecutive game, the Lady Red received a boost from sophomore guard Hannah Miller.

Miller, who started some last year as a freshman, came off the bench on Wednesday afternoon to
score 16 points.

The sophomore has quietly become the team's hardest working player and been one of the team's most consistent scorers over the past few games.

Byrd said it's Miller's hard work in practice that make a difference in her play during the games.

“The thing about Hannah is she will play hard all the time,” Byrd said. “She has a lot of heart and it's paying off for her.

“She's one of the hardest workers in practice. She's out there playing hard and it's getting her results,” Byrd said. “I'm really proud of her.

Getting Healthy: Cocke County has been saddled with a number of injuries already this year.

The Lady Red were without the services of their only two seniors: point guard Jordan Ray (ankle) and forward Alison Atha (foot) on Wednesday.  

Sophomore Mika Wester missed the team's loss at Morristown West on December 16 and a number of other players are suffering from various bumps and bruises sustained throughout the season.

“We're really thin right not to say the least,” Byrd said. “But this is providing good experience for my younger girls.

“We didn't have a senior on the floor today - so I think they grew up a lot,” Byrd said.

Byrd said the prognosis is to get both Atha and Ray back into the lineup sooner, rather than later.

“We're looking at getting one back next week for sure and another one back in mid-January,” Byrd said. “I'm hoping we can get healthy soon and see what we can do down the stretch.”

Down District 2-AAA?: In a season that has provided a lot of ups and downs for District 2-AAA teams in non-conference action thus far, Wednesday's play of Morristown West and Cocke County against a pair of tough mid-state foes gave the district something to be proud of.

Cocke County battled the Oakland team which proved to be one of the more dominant teams in the field. Meanwhile, Morristown West came away with an impressive win over Mt. Juliet High School.

Mt. Juliet had qualified for three consecutive Ladies' Classic championship games, winning the 2009 event over Cocke County. The Lady Bears, behind current MTSU player Caya Williams, finished runner up to Hoover, Alabama in 2010 and to Science Hill High School in the 2011 version of the Ladies' Classic.

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