Friday, January 29, 2016

Locked in and focused, Central’s unbeaten Lady Warriors drive on

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With an unblemished record of 23-0 and 10-0 in district play, Central’s Lady Warriors are locked in on two bedrock goals. The first goal is to get better every day. The second is to just focus on the first goal and see where it goes from there.

Head coach Rashad Haynes, a graduate from Central with the class of 1994, has his team grounded and zeroed in on the little things. His Lady Warriors go through their pregame drills with effort and intensity. He is always looking for areas to help each and every player to get better.

On Tuesday night, Central was at home and clicking as they ran away from East 67 to 36.
The Warriors are a very young team with only two seniors, center Tijuana Griggs and guard Miyah Barnes. The roster is filled with 10 freshmen and 5 sophomores. The 6’4” Griggs is relied upon for rebounding and being a good defensive presence. Barnes and sophomore guard Jireh Washington have spearheaded the offensive firepower.

Washington’s points, steals and leadership have been key.

“I’ve had Jireh for a long, long time and she has a touch and has a way of understanding what we are trying to do,” said Haynes.

The Lady Warriors’ offense is triggered by their defense. They implore a 2-2-1 full court press to start the game to force the tempo. The pressure leads to many turnovers and easy baskets. When they are in their half-court offense they are not afraid to rely on outside shooting. It appears everyone has the green light to shoot, if they feel they have a good look.

Keeping his team focused on the little things can be a challenge at times. The Warriors have had only two games that were decided by five points or less. The last time that occurred was a 3-point win (50-47) over on January 8.

“Each and every day in practice is competitive,” said Haynes. “We are fighting for spots, so every game is important. We don’t allow them to become complacent.”

Despite a perfect record, Central is only ranked third in the latest Associated Press Tennessee High Schools Class AAA rankings. The Lady Warriors are one of only two teams in the AAA classification that remains unbeaten; the other unbeaten team, Wilson Central, is ranked fourth. Overton is ranked eighth in the latest poll, with its only loss coming at the hands of Central.

Haynes is using being ranked third in the polls as motivation for his team. However, he knows that at the end of the day what happens on the floor is what is most important.

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