Lady Highlanders prep for University School of Jackson

By Wes Holtsclaw

   The Cloudland Lady Highlanders were prepared for whomever they were to face this Wednesday at the Murphy Center in Murfreesboro. But the TSSAA draw fed them to a group of starving Bruins.
   The University School of Jackson Lady Bruins enter the Class A quarterfinal contest with Cloudland going into their second state tournament game in the past three years.
   Cloudland coach Matt Birchfield knows that his team must contain the speed of USJ to pull out a win in this game.
   "We haven't done a lot different," said Birchfield, about his practice earlier Monday. "We have to stick with our basics, adjust to their posts inside. We've got to match up with them and block out. The little points are important this stage in the game."
   Tony Shutes' USJ team enters with a 29-4 record, and bouncing high after a 53-47 win over Dresden to advance to the tournament.
   The ladies return five players who have state tournament experience in Kimberly Truell, Rebecca Bailey, Jennifer Peryy, Meredith Morrison and Rachel Cole.
   Truell and Bailey are the senior leaders for the USJ team, as they are known for contributing when the team needs it most.
   Truell is the point guard for the Lady Bruins. A fast and accurate player, she is known for her perimeter shooting.
   Along with junior post Rachel Cole, Truell popped in 15 points for the USJ this past Saturday.
   Junior post Meredith Morrison is a known sharpshooter for USJ, as well as a defensive standout. She leads the team in rebounds and garners a decent shooting average.
   The Lady Bruins feature a strong defense, but are known for being a streaky team, allowing other teams to come back at them -- much like Cloudland has been on some occasions this year.
   Cloudland will have to rely on its sharpshooters Taukia Hughes and Tara Hanson to carry them into the contest.
   "We rode on them all year," said Birchfield. "Taukia has to lead us, Tara from the point. Hopefully they'll put up their points down there. We have to have support from the bench and have a great performance from Storie."
   The Lady 'Landers are prepared for the next step, as their minds have shifted to the USJ game.
   "We're just excited to be there," said Taukia Hughes. "We're gonna try our best to take it to them, and try to expose their weaknesses. But win or lose, we're glad to be there."
   "We're excited," said Amy Storie. "We have nothing to lose. We're just gonna give our absolute best."
   Storie knows that USJ will be bringing its guns inside the mark.
   "Their gonna be tough inside," she said. "I have to try my best to handle them."
   Cloudland plays at 11:30 Wednesday morning at MTSU. If the Lady 'Landers come out on top, they will face the winner of the 10 a.m. Ezell-Harding and Friendship Christian contest.