By TREY WILLIAMS H&T Correspondent
The present might be bright for the David Crockett girls basket- ball team, but the future appears to be beaming.
Grandview Middle School completed an undefeated season (24-0) with a 37-32 state championship win against Oneida on Saturday in Murfreesboro.
The Eagles advanced to the Sectional semifinals in 2021, but the respective arriv- als of Andrea Flores from T.A. Dugger and Aaliyah Story from Greeneville took the team to another level.
“We made it to the second round of
the sectionals and lost to Blountville last season,” said fourth-year coach Kathryn Painter, a former player at Maryville Heritage and Milligan University (class of ’17). “Adding the two that moved in this year just completed our team.”
Flores, a 5-foot-9 wing, is the stepdaughter of Daniel Boone standout David Gar- land. Story, an agile 6-footer, is the daugh- ter of Gabe Story, who was an exceptional player at Greeneville.
“Flores plays on the wing,” Painter said. “She’s very long, but she’s a guard through and through. She’s very skilled with the ball and away from the ball. She knows how to get to the rim and she can light it up from the 3-point line, too.
“Story was actually Greeneville’s point guard last year, but I couldn’t afford to not have her in the paint. I wish I had the stats for how many blocks she had in the state tournament. Her defense was incredible down there.”
The other starters were 5-foot-8 guard Laney Britton, smallish lead guard Kayleigh Doner and 5-foot-8 forward Kira Fagans. Britton is the sister of Mason and Seth Britton.
“She’s a very good guard, skilled with the ball, and she had a ton of steals for us this year,” Painter said. “She likes to pressure the ball and she rebounds very well, too. Kayleigh Doner is on the floor non-stop. She likes to steal the ball. She’s one of those players that’s all up in you and she’s gonna come out with a steal nine times out of 10. She’ a great defender and she likes to push the ball in transition. …
“Fagans is a hustle player, you know, just gritty. She’s one of those kids that’s not afraid of anybody. She’s tough. She actually boxed in the offseason.”
Grandview was rarely challenged this season.
After beating Ridgeview handily three times, Grandview sputtered past it in the Sectional semifinals in Kingsport.
“Ridgeview played us tough in the semi- finals of the Sectional,” Painter said. “We had a bad game, but I think it was good for us to play in a tight game before we got down to state. … They were well prepared and played really well.”
The state championship game was the toughest all season. Grandview had won its state semifinal 51-29 against Highland Rim (Fayetteville).
“Oneida had good size and they played man to man,” Painter said. “Most middle school teams play zone defense. And they played us tight. They had a good defense.”
Grandview includes Cadie McDevitt, Lily Mango, Cloey Loyd, Molly Davis and Lacey Whitaker. Chemistry didn’t occur over- night during a season when two transfers were arguably the most valuable players.
“They really matured a lot and came together greatly,” Painter said. “The chemistry really, really blossomed here toward the end of the season. You could tell they were clicking and meshing.
“We’re so proud of the kids. As a coach, you couldn’t ask for more than the kids gave this year – the hard work and every- thing they put into it to make it happen.”
Painter said Crockett coach Thomas Gouge has been very engaged with her program.
“I am closer with him than anybody that’s been at Crockett since I’ve been coaching,” she said. “He is the most involved with a middle school program that I’ve ever seen. … He wants the kids to know him and be comfortable around him before they get over there. And I think that will continue and add to the success that he’s already having.”
Painter is eager to see the Eagles shine as Pioneers, but regardless of what happens in the future, they’ve already had one shining moment.
“I don’t think they’ll ever forget it,” Painter said. “It was incredible. I’ve tried to tell ‘em and I know they probably get tired of me saying it, but what we just experienced most people don’t get to experience in their entire life. I’d like to see ‘em do it again in high school, but I think this memory will always be with ‘em.”