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New-look OC girls resting much hope on few returnees

New-look OC girls resting much hope on few returnees
The Obion Central girls may as well be starting from scratch.
This season’s team will hardly resemble that of last season when the squad posted its sixth straight 20-win campaign and was ranked No. 1 in the state for a stretch.
All totaled, the Lady Rebels lost three starters and a pair of reserves to graduation from last season’s team that posted a record of 25-4 and ultimately had its season end a step away from substate in the semifinals of the Region 7-AA Tournament against eventual Class 2A state runner-up Milan.
The starters lost were nothing to scoff at as Jana Roney is now a part of the Murray State women’s basketball team, Gentry Reedy totaled 1,000 points during her prep career and Emily McGee was a viable option at point guard.
Also, senior Bethany Butler was a starter at times and she gave the Lady Rebels a good inside presence.
Finally, Darcey Kirk’s leadership in the locker room will also be missed by the Obion Central program.
Furthermore, a fourth starter was lost when junior Aubrey Reedy’s family relocated to Gibson County in the summer, thus leaving the OC girls’ program with another hole in its grand scheme of things.
“We graduated a lot, but it just wasn’t that,” said Eddie Suiter, who is entering his fifth year as the Lady Rebels’ mentor. “Truthfully, we lost some four-year starters and those type of players are hard to come by.”
This season, much of the weight of the Obion Central girls’ fortunes will rest on the shoulders of guard/forward Chassidy Fussell (Jr., 5-10).
Last season, Fussell took a large leadership role — both in point output and in the huddle — when Roney went down with an ankle injury, and Suiter is hopeful that his only returning starter from the previous season will be able to draw from those experiences with a new cast of Lady Rebels.
“There will be times when Chassidy is utilized as a guard and she brings the basketball down the court and other times we’ll need her to crash the boards,” Suiter said. “She’s the only girl with extensive experience as a stater on this team, so we’ll look to her for a lot.”
One familiar face on the court set to work with Fussell is guard Kacee Eaves (Sr., 5-4), who was a key substitute last season.
Eaves is the only four-year senior in the OC locker room and she will be looked upon for leadership on the court and off by her varsity teammates — two other seniors, four juniors, seven sophomores and a freshman.
Hopefully, helpful in the cause of being a leader behind the scenes will be the other two seniors, Emily Williams (6-0) and Brittany Barnett (5-0).
Both are returning to the Lady Rebels’ team after some time away from the hardwood.
Meanwhile, on the court, joining Fussell and Eaves are quite a few unknowns.
For starters, there’s point guard Macy Wright (Fresh., 5-5).
Wright, the only ninth-grader included on the varsity team, will be depended upon to grow up quickly in her role as the team’s point guard.
Slated to start at one of the forward positions is Mariah Adkins (Jr., 5-9), who missed much of her sophomore season due to a pair of leg injuries as she was out the first portion of the season with a knee injury.
Once Adkins returned, she was injured in Obion Central’s January win at Union City. Adkins then went under the knife for surgery to repair the damage to her anterior cruciate ligament.
Being an uproven commodity, Suiter is hopeful Adkins can make the adjustment from hurt bystander to contributor smoothly.
The other forward for the Lady Rebels will be McKenzie Tucker (Soph., 5-10).
Tucker, like many of her fellow starters, has to prove herself worthy of holding her position due to her lack of game-time experience.
As a matter of fact, inexperience is one of the concerns Suiter has heading into this campaign.
“Our lack of experience and size is really going to be tough on us at the start of the season,” Suiter said. “We’re not really where I’d like us to be, but I hope this team can get better each day and focus on each opponent as we face them.
“We’ve kept our goals pretty simple and I hope that helps us to keep focus with such a young team.”
Size is another concern that Suiter has heading into this cam paign as his team has just four players that stand 5-foot-9 or taller.
On the flip side, Central has five players that are under 5-foot-5 on its dept chart this season.
Off the bench, guard Olivia Grady (Jr., 5-6) is one of the first subs as she saw some action in mop-up duty last season.
Laurie Craddock (Jr., 5-5) will also be called upon as a backup guard.
She, too, came in late in some of the Lady Rebels’ big wins last season.
Finally, Williams is expected to use her 6-foot frame as a center when she comes off the pine.
However, Suiter is adamant that both she and Barnett have to earn their spots as seniors after a three-year hiatus.
OC opens its season Friday with a TSSAA Hall of Champions game against Munford.
The Lady Rebels will also play a HOC game on Saturday against Bradford.
Assisting Suiter on the bench this year is Central coaching mainstay Pam Daniel and Drue Barnes.
Sports reporter Kenneth Coker can be contacted by e-mail at kcoker@ucmessenger.com.

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