Red Devilette skipper enjoys rare feeling deeper roster offers

Red Devilette skipper enjoys rare feeling deeper roster offers
By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
Curt Lee will have something this season he hasn’t had in a while.
Choices.
The South Fulton High School girls’ coach, who has suited up enough players to barely field a team in many instances of late, will have a full complement of 15 to choose from with his 2011-12 edition of Red Devilettes — eventually.
Lee has suspended two returning starters — juniors Laken Haley and Kalon Martin — for academic reasons to begin the year — Haley for two games, Martin three.
When they return, however, the coach intends to employ a fullcourt pressuring style that he prefers, but one that was not an option the past few years because of a roster of sometimes eight and, often-times, fewer players.
“It’ll certainly be different having someone over there on the bench with me other than (assistant) Coach (Tammy) Sisson or Coach (Brown),” joked Lee, who’ll begin his 11th season at the SFHS girls’ helm. “I’m excited, though, because I’ve always wanted to play an up-and-down style, and this year, I think some of our young girls are not only going to provide some depth, but some quality depth.
“It’s already changed the way we practice. We’re able to go at it hard now, full-court, without worrying about getting anybody hurt. And I believe when you can be aggressive in practice, it makes you better and more aggressive in games.”
Even without many warm bodies on the bench a year ago, SF still posted a winning record (14-11). The Devilettes failed to win a district tournament game for the sixth consecutive season, however.
That could change with the return of all but two players from last year’s small-in-numbers squad that has been bolstered by the addition of eight freshmen.
The junior trio of Haley, Martin and Taleeah Cross — all entering their third seasons as starters — make up the core of what is expected to be a team to challenge Lake County and Union City in the upper echelon of District 14A.
Cross, an athletic 5-7 forward who has skills that can get her to the rim as well as a decent perimeter game, led the team in scoring a year ago at 12 ppg.
Haley (5-4) moves to the point from the two-guard spot and is expected to use her quickness to both create her shot and those for teammates. She averaged 9 ppg as a sophomore.
Martin (5-7) is strong around the bucket and capable of both scoring in traffic and working the glass, according to Lee, and scored at a 9 points-per-game clip a year ago.
“That we’re really guard-oriented with those three, it should make it easier to play faster,” the coach said. “I imagine we’ll see some zone, though, because it’ll be hard for teams to match up with us man-wise because of our athleticism.”
The remainder of the starting five will be made up of senior guard Cori Jo Edmison, who has been moved from the lead guard to the shooting spot in the backcourt to take advantage of her marksmanship skills that Lee calls the best on the team. Either sophomore Heaven Sisson (5-8) or freshman MaddieKate Coffey (5-8) will get time at the five-spot.
Savannah Larson (5-3), the team’s only other senior other than Edmison, has a nice shooting touch and will get minutes as a reserve swingman, while the freshman threesome of Melanie Johnson (5-5), Sierra Coley (5-3) and Sydney Easterwood (5-7) — two guards and a forward — also will get on the court in many instances.
“How much our young ones can step in and play without their being a big dropoff will be huge,” continued Lee, who is 120-141 in his high school tenure at SF and also doubles as the school’s middle school coach. “We’re not going to be very big, so we’ll have to create an uptempo with our defense.
“I’m concerned about rebounding on both ends, because of our size — or lack thereof. If we don’t box out, we’ll get killed. And believe me, that’s something we work on every day.”
At least this season, though, those drills are an option.
South Fulton opens its season tonight at Obion Central.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com. Published in The Messenger 11.15.11

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