LaRue’s road trips prepare OC girls for state journey

LaRue’s road trips prepare OC girls for state journey
By MIKE HUTCHENS
Messenger Sports Editor
Lyle LaRue would go to the ends of the earth for his Obion Central girls’ basketball team.
The coach certainly went the extra mile(s) to make sure the Lady Rebels are best-prepared for their first-round state tournament game.
LaRue spent most all of Sunday and a good part of Monday traveling the Tennessee highways in pursuit of game film on Wednesday’s quarterfinal foe — defending champion McMinn Central.
He had admittedly gathered film on six of the other seven schools in the Class 2A state tourney bracket prior to Sunday’s blind draw that paired the teams for first round play.
As luck would have it, though, the lone squad to escape his portfolio of game tape was the Chargerettes.
After Sunday’s TSSAA meeting in which the brackets were finalized and administrative business handled, LaRue drove back from Murfreesboro to Parker’s Crossroads off I-40, where he dropped off OCCHS Athletic Director Craig Rogers. The coach then headed back to Middle Tennessee and south of there in a scouting search.
He finally located a coach willing to help him after multiple calls and was at Grundy County High School in Coalmont well before students arrived Monday morning to pick up a film. He then drove back to Nashville where a contact from Knoxville Webb agreed to meet him with another tape.
“I figure if I can pick up three or four of their out-of-bounds plays (off the film), that might be eight or 10 points and could be the difference in the game,” LaRue told The Messenger while on his travels. “You just do what you have to do.”
The OC skipper, whose club has already won a school-record 33 games heading into Wednesday’s 2:30 tip-off against MC (25-7) believes preparations for the contest that’ll pit No. 3 (OC) vs. No. 9 in the final Associated Press poll will be made easier by the teams’ similarities.
“They’re a lot like us in that they run-and-jump (press) and they’re going to do what they do best and dare you to stop them,” LaRue said. “They come from the back and try to trap you with their pressure and we come from the front.
“I might be surprised, but I don’t think we’ll see any trick defenses or gimmick stuff. From what I’ve been told, they get in your face and can be physical with you if it’s allowed. That’s made me feel better about initially not having any film. I’m alright with that if that’s how they’ll play us.”
LaRue has his own personal experience against the Chargerettes, too.
When he was the head coach at Crockett County in the early 2000s, the Lady Cavaliers made a surprise trip to the state despite starting two freshmen, a sophomore and two juniors. CC fell behind by 26 points early, then closed with a rush — getting within four points in the final minute before falling short of a miraculous comeback, according to LaRue.
“Our inexperience showed early and we were scared to death,” he said. “I don’t think that’s going to be the case with us Wednesday, even though this group hasn’t been there before either.”
Though he was truly “beating the bushes” for game tape, the Central coach was productive otherwise while on the road searching for the video aid.
LaRue has long had a practice of contacting college coaches who might be recruiting a certain player on a team he’s scouting, picking those coach’s brains on any tendencies or strengths that player might have.
“They don’t necessarily give away any secrets, but they’ll tell you if a player can put the ball on the floor and get to the basket or if she can guard on the perimeter or shoot the mid-range shot. And I’ve talked to a couple of those folks this weekend,” he said.
No doubt LaRue was speaking of McMinn standout and two-time Miss Basketball finalist Elizabeth Massengil, who is on the radar of several college teams despite being a junior.
“She’s a player, and she does a lot of things well,” he said. “I’m not sure there’s anything she doesn’t do well, but I’m gonna keep looking and asking.”
And in LaRue’s case, driving.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com. Published in The Messenger 3.6.12

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