|Arlington’s Ashley Lee helped lead the Tigers into the state tournament this week after defeating Ridgeway.|
Craigmont girls basketball coach Tim Anderson speaks for his counterparts from Arlington and Bartlett when he talks about his goal for this week’s BlueCross state tournament.
“Now, we’re just after that gold ball,” he said.
The Chiefs, the Tigers and the Panthers will represent Shelby County as the tournament gets underway Wednesday at the Murphy Center in Murfreesboro.
Bartlett (21-10) opens against Murfreesboro Oakland Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. in a AAA quarterfinal with Arlington (26-9) following at 2:45 p.m. against Morristown West. Craigmont gets things going in AA Thursday at 2:15 p.m. against McMinn Central.
All three teams have been playing very well down the stretch, particularly t
Craigmont enters its first state tournament game in 10 years on a 15-game winning streak.
Daja Scurlock, a 6-1 junior, is an imposing presence inside, while junior Danielle Conley and senior Kiara Caswell form a potent backcourt for Anderson’s 27-6 squad.
“I’m so proud of the girls,” he said. “We lost four players from last year’s team but this team has come so far. We’ve accomplished our goals as far as winning the district and the region ... now we just want to keep this train rolling.”
Arlington too will be hoping to keep the momentum going. The Tigers advanced to their first state tournament is school history with a victory over nationally ranked Ridgeway on Monday. And that one came on the heels of a win over previously undefeated Dyer County in the Region 7 semis.
All put of the method to coach Hunter Gremore’s scheduling madness.
“We played just about everybody in the Dandy Dozen,” he said. “Ridgeway, Overton, Horn Lake, the home school (MHEA), White Station. We were 7-6 and then we beat Briarcrest then we went to Northpoint — which is a very tough place to play — and led all the way in that one.
“After that, something just clicked and we realized we could play with the big guys. Everyone on this team knows their role and it’s just a good, fun group to coach.”
Tori Sewell and Raegyn Branch form a solid outside-inside combo, while senior Cheiyanne Norton is an underrated floor leader.
One of the few teams Arlington lost to since the holidays is Bartlett, which will be playing in the state tournament for the first time since 2008. The two teams are 14-AAA rivals and each was delighted to hear about the other’s trip to state.
“I called Hunter (Monday) and the first thing I said was ‘congratulations on your win,’ ” said Bartlett coach Lynn Whitfield. “And he said, ‘congratulations on your win.’ We’re great friends and I was happy that our side (of the substate draw) did well.”
Charity Savage — a 6-0 junior who is a double-double machine — is the star for the Panthers who, like Craigmont and Arlington, have grown as the season has progressed.
“I think getting to know one another has been the key,” Whitfield said. “They’ve got great chemistry and they really like playing with each other. They really like each other and — especially with girls — that’s a lot of it.”