Lady Junior Cyclones ready for challenge

By Ivan Sanders


   Entering a new season, Angie Barker, the new T.A. Dugger Lady Cyclones basketball coach, knew she had a special team. But she just didn't realize how special until stepping back and evaluating her club the day before they take on the Colonial Heights Lady Chargers with a sectional championship berth at stake.
   "These are some good kids who are very special because of the way they have worked to get to this point," stated Barker on Thursday. "Being able to have the help I have received from Kip Anderson and my sister, Pam Norris, have just made this season something special for all of us."
   After defeating a very tough Jacksboro Lady Eagle team to get to this point, the Jr. Lady Cyclones now must make ready for a Lady Charger team that will match up in height against Marti Bush, Victoria Hopson and Michaela Pietrowski really well. The difference will come from the depth that Barker can go on her bench.
   "I feel like once we have to start getting into our bench play, that we have the advantage there," said Barker. "We have some good ball handlers as well as girls that can put the ball in the bucket so I definitely feel we have the edge in that category."
   Besides the tough inside play of Bush, Hopson, and Pietrowski in the paint, the Jr. Lady Cyclones also have a dandy guard duo in Tia Nave and Courtney Towle, who possess the ability to hit the long range shot or take it straight to the basket. Towle, with cat-like speed, also is a specialist at picking the opposing team's pocket anytime they fall asleep.
   The keys for the Lady Cyclones success will be the same two things that have gotten them to the point they are now. Hitting a majority of their open shots and playing in-your-face defense have been TAD's trademark and Barker doesn't see anything different in the game against Colonial Heights.
   Said Barker: " Colonial Heights likes to run the fast break so we will need to play the same type of intense defense we had against Jacksboro. Our press needs to step up and be effective. Also, we will need to do a little bit better job of hitting our lay ups and the three and four foot jump shots we have struggled a little with lately."
   With these young ladies on the brink of doing something very few Jr. Lady Cyclone teams have done at T.A. Dugger, what does a head coach instill in her team the evening before the big game.
   "I told these girls and especially the eighth graders that this is a chance of a lifetime, " quipped Barker. "T.A. Dugger may not do this for a long time if ever again, and for the eighth graders this will certainly be the last time they can make their mark in the sports history of the school."
   Game time will be today at 5 p.m. at Pigeon Forge Middle School. With a win, the Jr. Lady Cyclones will advance to Saturday's 5 p.m. championship against the winner of the Greeneville - Jefferson Middle School winner.
   Jefferson Middle from Oak Ridge has won the last three East Tennessee sectionals while Greeneville was the team to hand the Jr. Lady Cyclones their loss, in the Area 1 championship.