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Family comes first for Central’s LaRue

Family comes first for Central’s LaRue
Family comes first for Central’s LaRue | Family comes first for Central’s LaRue
Messenger Sports Editor
MURFREESBORO — God indeed works in mysterious ways.
Lyle LaRue is a firm believer.
The Obion Central head coach was admittedly somewhat distracted prior to Wednesday’s 69-60 victory vs. McMinn Central, saying he felt “a little unprepared.”
His reasoning was understandable.
LaRue’s wife, Connie was still in the hospital Wednesday, having suffered a ruptured appendix Monday evening that kept her from attending the Lady Rebel contest. She’d had severe pains the night before and spent five hours in a Jackson hospital emergency room on Monday when the coach was on the road trying to chase down film on the Chargerettes.
“Maybe that was God’s way of keeping me from over-analyzing everything,” LaRue said, when asked if the distraction affected his preparation for the game. “I didn’t go overboard with our scouting and readiness, and our kids didn’t worry about processing a lot of stuff and just played because I might not have done a lot of extra work on McMinn.”
He said his wife was resting comfortably Wednesday and followed Obion Central’s progress via the Internet.
The OC skipper was also missing another one of his biggest fans for Wednesday’s contest.
His aunt, Patty Seago of Dyersburg — a fixture at the Lady Rebel games this year — didn’t make the trip either due to chemotherapy treatments she’s undergoing after a recurring bout with cancer.
The coach said he was hopeful after Wednesday’s game that both his wife and aunt would be able to attend Friday’s semifinal against Stone Memorial.
JUST BUSINESS — At least publicly, Brandi Goodman did not take any special satisfaction in out-performing two-time Miss Basketball finalist Elizabeth Masengil down the stretch in Obion Central’s quarterfinal victory.
Both players fouled out in the late-going, but Goodman essentially took over in the fourth quarter when she opened the period with back-to-back buckets and ended up scoring 14 of her game-best 21 points over the final eight minutes when OC built what was initially a one-point lead into one as large as 11 in the waning minutes.
“Not really, I just wanted to be a leader for my team,” a humble Goodman answered when asked if she was more motivated against Masengil than she would’ve been anyone else.
“I wanted to dominate but, more than that, I just didn’t want it to be the last game for my team.”
NOT A LOCK — Though virtually everyone who witnessed Stone Memorial’s 35-28 victory over Waverly that put the Lady Panthers in the semifinal bracket opposite Obion Central is giving the Lady Rebels a pass to the tournament finals, LaRue is not one of them.
“I’m very concerned about us maybe overlooking them and maybe not giving them our full focus,” the OC coach said after his team’s nine-point win over reigning state champ McMinn Central Wednesday. “Our kids watched some of their game today, and when you struggle like they did on the offensive end, you have a tendency to maybe just think you can show up and win.
“There are a lot of reasons why teams struggle up here the first day. It’s a different environment, the shooting background is different, there’s the jitters of playing in the state tournament.”
LaRue then made the most profound statement, one he’ll surely repeat to his team in preparations for Friday’s game.
“They’re in the semifinals, just like we are. They don’t care how they got there or what it looked like,” he said. “We just give them our full focus.”
FAMILIAR FACE — Former Union City player Chip Pinion — son of past state representative Phillip Pinion — is a non-faculty assistant coach on the nationally-ranked Riverdale team that opened defense of its Class 3A state title Wednesday’s with a 65-54 win over Mt. Juliet.
Pinion was a member of three UCHS teams (1992, ’93 and ’95) that made it to the Murphy Center facility, works as an engineer in Murfreesboro and assists John Wild with the Lady Warriors, who are looking to repeat as triple-A champions.
Wild is another familiar name to are hoop fans, having coached Bradford to a state championship during a stint in rural West Tennessee.
THIS AND THAT — UT Martin head coach Kevin McMillan was in attendance at Wednesday’s game, looking at both Obion Central’s Brandi Goodman and Elizabeth Masengil of McMinn Central. Both have reportedly been offered scholarships by the Skyhawks, who have won back-to-back Ohio Valley Conference Tournament championships and are preparing for a second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance. … Obion Central had easily the largest following of any of the Class 2 teams in Wednesday’s quarterfinals. Rebel fans numbered well over 1,000, and many were already making plans for a return trip to the Murphy Center on Friday with both student and non-student buses secured for Friday’s semifinal game. … LaRue said his team would be in attendance to support county cousin Union City in the Lady Tornadoes Class A quarterfinal matchup vs. Wartburg at 4 o’clock. Published in The Messenger 3.8.12