EIDSON – After a couple seasons of having the luxury of numerous bench players, the Clinch Lady Wildcats will tackle the 2019-20 season with a skeleton crew.
“We’ve only got seven, which is a smaller team than what I’m used to having,” said Clinch girls coach Brittney Rhoton. “Our numbers of girls here are quite a bit smaller than what we’re used to.”
Besides enrollment being down at the small school, Clinch lost one girl – Katie Nichols – to graduation and had two others – Lauren Lawson and Lydia Babka – transferred.
Rhoton is a glass half-full person, though.
“They’re going to be scrappy. Size could be an issue for us, but cohesiveness is going to be on our side because these girls have played together and for me for so long,” she said. “That’s something we look to take advantage of.”
The Lady Wildcats do have experience going for them, Rhoton said.
“I have a good set of girls. All of them have played for me before. I’ve got one newcomer, Tori Fant. She’s not played since middle school, but she transferred back over here last year. So she’s going to play for us this year,” Rhoton said.
“I’ve got two seniors, Josie Blankbeckler, and Jasmine Lyons. Both have started for me the past three years. Jas is a real threat on offense on the long-range ball and Josie is my spit-fire on defense and has always been a little sparkplug for me on that end,” Rhoton said.
“This group of girls, I’m very lucky that I have a solid seven,” Rhoton added. “Each one of them I look to play. We’re going to lean on each other.”
Cortney Nichols leads the charge.
“Cortney Nichols brought a lot of points in the paint last year,” Rhoton said. “Rylee Johnson is a great high post. Allyeah Murrell is really fast. She started playing for me last year. She can shoot the three-ball pretty well. She’s going to work on her ball-handling.
“Tori Fant is new and super-fast and athletic. She’s going to bring a good little spark in her area. Brianna Mabe is my all-around, rock-solid player who is going to go wherever I play her,” Rhoton said.
“They’ve all got their own niche. We definitely need all seven of them to perform well to fill that role for our team,” Rhoton said.
Clinch went 5-16 last season, 1-13 in district play.
“I definitely want to win as many as possible,” Rhoton said of goals for this season. “We really want to work on our offense, scoring 10 to 15 a quarter is what we want to give us the offensive lift we need this year.”