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Giving credit to a program on the rise

Monday, December 17, 2012

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Over the last nine basketball seasons, there have been many things witnessed concerning the local hoops squads.

Some good, some bad, but a lot seen all the same.

While trying to think back over all those seasons, there's one program that really hasn't done a lot through these eyes to deserve much credit. At least as far as winning basketball games is concerned anyway.

My how the times are a changing.

The program I'm speaking about can be found in Newbern and they're known as the Lady Choctaws.

Before giving the current squad the credit they deserve, I easily admit that I was hooked early on during this journey by the Lady Trojan program at Dyersburg. Having two stepdaughter's play in the program had a lot to do with that, not to mention I met my wife because of the program. Though still a supporter of Randy Coffman and Lady Trojan basketball, today it's about doing the right thing and giving credit to someone else.

Make no mistake about it; the Lady Choctaw program is one worthy of cheering for as well as supporting. I've seen enough games this year alone to know that better days are on the horizon for the program. Judging by the amount of excitement that can be found when the current squad takes the floor, others are noticing too.

While most of the accolades are bestowed on the boys program -- and rightfully so I mean they've only averaged 30 wins a season for the last six years -- there's another program that is fast becoming a winner.

And they're not winning with upperclassmen either. This group is young though playing like juniors and seniors. Consider that the smallest school in the largest classification is starting two freshman in Hailey Hicks and Olivia Crane, sophomore Sara Owen and juniors Eeonna Jackson and Makayla Enochs and an 8-3 mark after the first month of the season is pretty salty.

Hicks isn't shy about shooting the ball, often doing so from over 25-feet.

Crane, at 5'9, will continue to grow and should be a force in the paint.

Owen is one of the toughest guards I've seen in some time. She's done alot of improving since middle school and runs the show very well.

Jackson drives to the basket with no fear. A ggod passer with a determined effort when she's on the floor, she's a keeper.

Enochs, a 5'9 sophomore, is turning into a rebounding machine and she can also score around the basket.

Against Millington on Friday, I figured to see the young squad crumble against a much-taller and experienced squad from just outside Memphis. As it happens from time to time, I was wrong.

Despite lacking in size, the Lady Choctaws have heart. The team wants to win and when you have a team that truly wants to win, they usually do. The Lady Choctaws are quickly become more improved than anyone probably imagined. When a team takes the floor to a standing ovation, it proves others are taking notice of their efforts as well.

With just one senior on the squad, this team will continue to get better. No, they won't challenge for a state title this year. They're getting better, but the squad is not ready for the big dance just yet.

While watching the final minutes of the game against Millington, I pictured Owen and Enochs as seniors and Hicks and Crane as juniors. Though once a blurry picture, when that time arrives, the basketball fans in Newbern will be firing on all cylinders with the team they will have.

Until then, they'll keep improving in everything they do.

When the time arrives, I just hope there's room on that pedestal for two teams that live by the creed of playing fast and furious.

Your comments are welcome at msmith@stategzette.com



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