Lady Vols hope to stay healthy; Vols looking to gain experience

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AJ hoops preview

By Kim Roberts

 The 2010-11 Andrew Jackson basketball season finds the Lady Vols recuperated and the Volunteers searching for experience.

The 2010-11 Lady Vols basketball team returns five players who missed either the entire, or a significant portion of the 2009-10 season with injuries.

“We really should be improved this year,” said veteran AJ coach Dennis Farmer. “We lost three starters and two key reserves to injuries last year.”

“Everyone is healthy this year, and that should make us a better team this year,” said Farmer. “The plus side of last year was that other girls gained valuable experience that will help this year.”

“We have a very deep roster, so we will be able to play 10-12 people, “ noted Farmer. “Playing time will be very competitive, which is always good.

“The region is not as strong this year, but Lee Central and Indian Land will the teams to beat, “ said Farmer. “ We think we have a chance to more competitive this year.”

The line-up at center features three lettermen. Sophomore Bre Wright is a two-year letterman that was the top rebounder and second-leading scorer last year. Wright, an all-region pick, earned the Lady Vols’ Offensive Player of the Year with a 7.9 scoring average to go with 6.6 rebounds.

 Freshman McKenzie Horton and sophomore Kristen Rutledge both lettered last year and will see plenty of action.

At power forward, junior Leah Kennington returns after missing most of last season with an injury. She averaged 5.5 points and 8.8 rebounds a game last winter. Also, junior Brittany Truesdale returns after missing the entire season last year. Seventh grader Elizabeth Scott will also provide quality depth for the Lady Volunteers.

Senior captain Rebecca Johnson returns at small forward after missing the entire season with an injury. Juniors Brandy Truesdale and Oxi Shropshire, who hit 4.2 points and had 4.9 rebounds a game last season, will compete for playing time. Shropshire also missed half of the 2009-10 season with injury.

Sophomore Captain Halle Thompson, a two-year letterman, returns at point guard, after missing two-thirds of last season with injury. Senior captain Ashley Aiello will compete for playing time at point guard.

Freshmen Dareisha Sowell, the leading scorer from last year’s team, will line up at shooting guard. Junior letterman Ashley Williams, the Lady Vols’ Defensive Player of the Year last season, and sophomore Kantra Sowell will also see action at shooting guard.

Kelly Phillips will assist coach Farmer.

The 2010-11 edition of the AJ boys will be very young.

“We will be inexperienced, young and have two ninth graders on the team,” said AJ skipper Dale Reeves. “Right now, we are searching for a point guard.

“Our recent play has produced too many turnovers and weak free throw shooting,” added Reeves.

“Ordinarily, we like the up-tempo style of play, but with the point-guard situation, we feel more comfortable walking the ball up the court,” said Reeves.

Versatile junior Bobby Delly is slated to return to the point-guard position after being injured in the first week of football against Lancaster.

In the meantime, senior shooting guard Tremaine Jackson, who earned the Coaches Award last season, will slide to the point until Delly’s return. Jackson hit 7.9 points an outing last season.

Freshman Dustin Eddings is slated to start at the shooting guard, with junior Quincy Grier and junior Chris White available for depth. White is the defensive specialist for the Vols.

Senior Drew Gardner, who received the Best Offensive Award,  is the small forward-wingman for the Volunteers. He averaged 9.4 points a game last season.

 Junior Lamarcus Bracey can also play inside and on the wing.

Freshman Quadarius Fair will start at the power forward position. Sophomore Wade Eubanks will also see playing time at power forward.

Junior Robert Massey returns to anchor the middle for the Volunteers.

Sophomore Tilson Kirkland provides quality depth at center.

“The top two teams in the region will be Cheraw and Lee Central,” said Reeves.

The Volunteers’ non-region schedule features  home-and-home games against Lancaster and McBee in December.

In addition, AJ will host the annual Comporium Basketball Classic on December 28-30.

The girls teams will Chesterfield, Buford, North Central and Andrew Jackson.

The boys lineup will be Great Falls, Clover, Buford and Andrew Jackson. 

 Alex Fair and Landon Reeves will assist coach Reeves this season on the AJ bench.