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Lady Pioneers’ progress shows in win against Volunteer

Lady Pioneers are seeing growth on the court as they move into the 2018-2019 season.

By TREY WILLIAMS

H&T Correspondent

The David Crockett girls’ basketball program had lost 37 of its last 40 Big Seven Conference basketball games when former boys assistant Tony Gordon agreed to succeed Marty Story as head coach after the 2017-18 season.

Gordon, a former boys head coach at University High, Morristown West and Elizabethton, quickly snapped the skid. The Lady Pioneers (1-2, 4-5) defeated Volunteer, 55-42, in Gordon’s second Big Seven matchup.

Perhaps more impressively, Crockett led preseason favorite Dobyns-Bennett by four points at the half three days later thanks to holding the Indians to 11 points in the first half.

“One thing we will do is defend,” Gordon said. “When they’re so young in the game they don’t understand maybe how tough a task it was, which was a good thing. We had a really good film session that morning.”

Yes, D-B rallied for an 18-point win, but the seeds of change could almost be seen sprouting. And Crockett bounced back to defeat Morristown East during an early afternoon game at Daniel Boone the following day.

“This week was a huge week,” Gordon said, “because they got to experience some tangible success, you know, instead of me telling ‘em how much better they’re getting and how it’s improving. They want to see success that they can actually reach out and touch. It’s rewarding to me to see them enjoy a couple of big wins, because it’s something that they’re not used to.”

Gordon was especially pleased to have a relatively respectable showing against Bill Francis’ Lady Indians.

“I love what Coach Francis does and he’s kind of set a blueprint for how to rebuild a program,” Gordon said. “I’ve paid attention to what he’s done the past three years.”

Crockett’s players responded impressively Saturday morning after the loss to Dobyns-Bennett.

“They made me get Jonesborough’s gym for a shootaround,” Gordon said. “I was like, ‘You guys need to get off your feet.’ But they wanted to come in and have a walk-through shootaround at 10 o’clock Saturday morning. So that kind of tells you what they’re all about.”

Sophomore Emma Gouge apparently liked the shootaround. She personally outscored Morristown East, 28-23, in the victory.

“She had an outstanding offensive game,” Gordon said. “I think it was just a matter of time before she broke out. She plays within the offense. She shares the ball. She just hasn’t been converting on a lot of opportunities.

“She’s been frustrated, but she’s strong enough to stay the course and trust the process. I’m glad she was able to kind of break out on Saturday because it’d been a long week and we were kind of beaten down physically. She was able to get us started and keep us going.”

Gordon knows Gouge is still a work in progress, and developing consistent complementary scorers is even more of a task. But Gordon, whose Brandon Bradley-led UH advanced to the state semifinals in 2003, is not looking for an overnight transformation.

“I’ve kind of been in a building role everywhere I’ve been around here, and I like that,” he said. “UH was way down when I got there. They’d just gotten rid of the middle school and all that stuff. West was struggling and Elizabethton was struggling. I kind of like coming in and laying a foundation and putting something together.”

Gouge scored 12 points and Emily Trivette added 10 against D-B.

Mackenzie Baldwin had 17 points and 12 rebounds in a 55-42 home win against Volunteer on Tuesday. Trivette had 15 points in that one.

David Crockett’s boys (1-2, 3-6) lost three straight last week to Volunteer (62-60), D-B (72-40) and Morristown East (78-48). Volunteer, coached by former Crockett coach Mike Poe, won on Peyton Baker’s last-second stick-back.

Mason Britton hit six 3-pointers and scored 23 points for the Pioneers against the Falcons. Fellow sophomore Ayden Begley added 14 points.

Daniel Boone’s girls routed Cherokee on Tuesday in league play and lost 52-47 at home against Morristown West on Saturday. The ‘Blazers (2-0, 6-2) got 17 points a piece from Jaycie Jenkins and Madi Runnels and 10 points from Bayleigh Carmichel against the Chiefs. Carmichel scored 18 points against West.

Tuesday, the Daniel Boone boys (1-1, 5-4) defeated Cherokee 61-36 and lost, 64-52, at home to Morristown West on Saturday. Jared Adkins scored 18 points against the Trojans.

Colby Backus scored 15 points against Cherokee.

Crockett’s teams will host Unicoi County on Friday. Boone will visit Science Hill on Friday.