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2019• 2020

Basketball Preview Friday, November 29, 2019 Supplement of the

Elizabethton Star


• Local Team Previews • Rosters • Schedules

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Table of Contents Elizabethton Cyclones................................................................................4 Lady Cyclones............................................................................................6 Hampton Bulldogs......................................................................................8 Lady Bulldogs...........................................................................................10 Happy Valley Warriors..............................................................................12 Lady Warriors...........................................................................................14 Unaka Rangers..........................................................................................16 Lady Rangers............................................................................................18 Cloudland Highlanders.............................................................................20 Lady Highlanders......................................................................................22 Johnson County Longhorns......................................................................24 Lady Longhorns........................................................................................26

Contributers General Manager: Delaney Scalf Writers: Ivan Sanders, Allen LaMountain, Danny Blevins, Tim Chambers and C.Y. Peters Photography: Ivan Sanders, Larry N. Souders Layout/Cover Design: Robin Johnson

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2019 - 2020 Elizabethton Cyclones “It was surprising some of the things that we have been able to do because I thought that we were better in some areas that I thought that we might struggle with,” said Honeycutt. “We have plenty of things we can work on.” If anyone is not familiar with coaching then it’s hard to understand how much a couple of years of maturity can mean to a player taking the floor for their high school career. “South returns a lot. They have a lot of talent and kids that have played for multiple years and that matters. Age is one thing but experience on the floor is another,” Honeycutt stated. “Some of the kids we have, even though they are getting older now, we have had some question marks because going out and doing that in a varsity game is a lot different than going out and doing it in a JV game. “Just getting a few minutes here and there and now they are going to have to play extended minutes.” When reviewing the Three Rivers Conference slate for 2019-20, Honeycutt sees three or four teams that could fall out anywhere at the top of the conference. “I think South has the edge as far as experience goes and they have quite a bit of talent,” Lucas stated. “I think us and East are both talented enough to compete for that top spot. I don’t think the middle is far away from that either. “I think Unicoi had a little bit of a rebuildeveryone just stays healthy and that’s a big key ing year last year and they are getting some to everybody’s season is making sure that every- young kids in that is going to help those guys one stays healthy. that were veterans with a new coach and a new “We got some guys that are experienced system which is up in the air to see what they and we have some seniors that have played a are going to be. lot and practiced a lot and some younger kids “It will be interesting to see,” Honeycutt that have a year of experience that has helped went on to say. them,” Honeycutt continued. “Central has been in the mix every year “We can kind of work on some things that and then you get Johnson County who loses are not as basic which we always focus on a lot their conference player of the year and they will of basics. It helps when you don’t have to spend struggle some early on. a lot of time and you can move on because you “I think Austin does a really good job when are doing the right things. you expect them to have a down year. I think “I saw a lot of that in the scrimmage and that they are going to be competitive. I think we are going to pinpoint some things that we Happy Valley is going through a rebuilding can work on until we get a full roster back.” phase and they are trying to figure out who Even though the Cyclones entered the early their go-to guy is going to be. season short-staffed, it hasn’t held the Cyclones n See CYCLONES, 28 back in the early scrimmages and practices.

Sticking to the basics...

Cyclones looking to keep things simple in the new season BY IVAN SANDERS STAR SPORTS EDITOR   


Lucas Honeycutt Head Coach

lizabethton basketball coach Lucas Honeycutt is in an early quandary as to expect from his Cyclone team this season due in part to the success of the football team that has several players still on the gridiron. So in the meantime, the Cyclone skipper has elected to make it as easy as possible on his team and just stick with the things that are easy for his team to execute. “Expectations are hard to gauge right now just having a high number of guys still in football,” stated Honeycutt. “The first few days of practice and the first scrimmage after seeing that, it’s pretty promising it looks like and like everyone else says if

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2019-2020 ELIZABETHTON CYCLONES # Name Height 1 Brayden Phillips 3 Bryson Rollins 10 Parker Hughes 12 Bryce VanHuss 14 Donta Earnest 15 Dalton Mitchell 20 Jake Roberts 21 Nico Ashley 22 Jordan Haynes 24 William Willocks 44 Seth Carter 50 Nate Stephens 54 Nicholas Wilson

5’11 6’0 6’3 5’9 6’1 5’11 5’11 6’4 6’0 6’2 5’9 5’9 6’5



G Jr. G So. G Jr. G So. G So. G Fr. G So. G Sr. G Sr. G Jr. F So. G Fr. C So.

Head Coach: Lucas Honeycutt Asst. Coaches: Richard VanHuss, Barry Edney, Craig Emmert. Bookkeeper: Crystal VanHuss.

2019-2020 Elizabethton Cyclones Schedule December 3 Happy Valley* 6 at Science Hill (Bearden) 7 at Science Hill (Stone Me) 10 at Cosby 13 Sullivan Central* 16 at University High 20-21 at Stone Memorial (Boys) 20-21 at Knox Webb (Girls) 26-31 Arby’s Classic January 3 at Mountain Heritage 7 at Johnson County* 10 at Unicoi County* 11 Cosby 14 at Sullivan South* 17 Sullivan East* 20 University High

24 at Sullivan Central* 27 at David Crockett 28 at Happy Valley* 31 Johnson County* February 4 Unicoi County* 7 at Sullivan East* 11 Sullivan South* 19-25 District Tournament *Conference Games

The 2019-2020 Elizabethton High School basketball cheerleaders are: Hayley Hood, Audrey Landstreet, Camille Landstreet, Lauren Mallasch, Olivia Oakley, Carlee Sullins, Sophie Paulson, Olivia Vaughn, Cagney Bennett, Hailey Beverly, Morgan Guinn, Kaylee Hollifield, Kiarra Kerr, and Lucy Maupin.

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Lady Cyclones

2019-2020 Elizabethton Lady Cyclones

Taking it up a gear or two... Lady Cyclones turning to a faster pace entering 2019-20 season BY IVAN SANDERS STAR SPORTS EDITOR


Lucas Andrews Head Coach

t’s not always the start that’s important in any sport but how you finish and Elizabethton Lady Cyclone head coach Lucas Andrews can contest to that after seeing his team struggle early on last season before rebounding to knock off unbeaten Central in the regular season and then win the district championship to advance to regions. This year, the Lady Cyclones are coming in with a determined and revamped offense that they hope will lead them deeper into the postseason. “We are seeing a lot of fire and a lot of

energy,” said head coach Lucas Andrews. “Over the summer we were able to play in a different style- a lot faster. We have always wanted that we just didn’t have the numbers. “We didn’t play one game last year where we had a full roster even in the tournaments. Everybody is healthy and we have a deeper bench. “We returned everybody from last year and just our style – they are more familiar with it and more comfortable with it. We are getting a group of freshmen in that are going to be able to help us and they have got to help us.” One thing that will be key for the Lady Cyclones this season is getting Morgan Headrick back healthy and combining her with senior Kaitlin Bailey, Elizabethton will heads and shoulders above most of their opponents. “Height is something that if you don’t have you can’t mimic in practice to get ready for it,” added Andrews. “We are big and we can kind of have two or three different looks. We can go really big or we can go small. “As a coaching staff, we have to do a good job to see what will be the best at times in different games with our scouting and so forth. We are excited to have our height.” Andrews and the rest of the Lady Cyclones know what and who awaits them and stands between their goals for the new season. “Central just lost one or two so they are basically returning everyone back. Happy Valley lost their shooter but still have the inside game and will have some kids that can shoot when it’s all said and done,” continued Andrews. “East is known to shoot the three. They had two really good underclassmen last year and they will be sophomores this year and I think they will be really good. “And from what I hear, they have a really good freshman that’s coming in that’s going to help them,” Andrews said. “South is going to be solid. They were solid last year and they have their shooter back that had a really good postseason run. “Johnson County I think is going to be in the mix. You can say what you want but they were in both games against Central last year and probably should have beat them in Mountain City last year. They are wellcoached as everyone knows and they have all their kids back. “You can’t call them a dark horse anymore. I think they are going to be right there in the mix. “There won’t be an off night in our league because I think you could get beat,” Andrews went on to say. “Every team is going to bring their best for the league because everybody knows that it’s a tough league from top to bottom. “I don’t think there’s a top team or a bottom team – I think everyone is just bunched up in the middle.”

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3 Olivia Holly 4 Lina Lyon 11 Maggie Rowland 14 Kelsie Winters 15 McKendra Norris 20 Renna Lane 21 Morgan Headrick 23 Kaitlin Bailey 24 Kaylen Shell 30 Cheyenne VanHuss 32 Torrie Roberts 33 Maddie Fowler 44 Katie Lee

G Fr. G Fr. G Fr. G Sr. G Jr. G Fr. F Jr. G Sr. G Sr. G Sr. G Jr. F Fr. F Fr.

5’7 5’0 5’2 5’5 5’8 5’8 6’2 6’2 5’10 5’7 5’4 5’8 5’7


Head Coach: Lucas Andrews. Asst. Coaches: Maci Andrews, Gordan Smith, Virgil McKee, & Brian Jenkins. Manager: Anna Seipert

2019-2020 ELIZABETHTON LADY CYCLONES SCHEDULE December 3 Happy Valley* 6 at Science Hill (Bearden) 7 at Science Hill (Stone Me) 10 at Cosby 13 Sullivan Central* 16 at University High 20-21 at Stone Memorial (Boys) 20-21 at Knox Webb (Girls) 26-31 Arby’s Classic January 3 at Mountain Heritage 7 at Johnson County* 10 at Unicoi County* 11 Cosby

14 at Sullivan South* 17 Sullivan East* 20 University High 24 at Sullivan Central* 27 at David Crockett 28 at Happy Valley* 31 Johnson County* February 4 Unicoi County* 7 at Sullivan East* 11 Sullivan South* 19-25 District Tournament * Conference Games

Andrews will know exactly where the Lady Cyclones match up after their first month of action. “If you look at our schedule, the first month is a gauntlet,” Andrews stated. “We open with Science Hill and then go to the Bahamas and you just don’t know because there will be some local team there as well. “We might see D-B there. Then we play Happy Valley in the first conference game and from there we go to the Roundball in the Hall to play Stone Memorial and Bearden that are huge. They are really good at the top of their leagues. “Our first month is going to be a test,” Andrews continued. “Can we compete with those teams? Can we stay healthy? Will the style we are going to play match up with those big teams? “It’s kind of what we are measuring and then we get to the conference slate right after that. “In our league, you have to control your own destiny. You can’t leave it up to someone else thinking that they are going to beat

someone to help you. “That’s not going to happen in this league,” Andrews added. “I think there might be some upsets but everybody in the league believes that there aren’t going to be that many upsets because we believe everyone in the league can beat anyone they play.”

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Star Photo/Larry N. Souders

2019-2020 Hampton Bulldogs

Washing out a bad taste...

Hampton hopes to return as favorites in Watauga Valley Conference BY ALLEN LAMOUNTAIN STAR CORRESPONDENT


Ned Smith Head Coach

inishing out the 2018-19 season with three consecutive losses has left Hampton with a sour taste and is looking to return as favorites in the Watauga Valley Conference in 2019-20. Last season’s version of the Bulldogs squad had no seniors which head coach Ned Smith admitted was a detriment of sorts saying, “Last season we didn’t have a leader to step up with no seniors. This season we have six seniors that we feel will give us that leadership in tight games.”

The six coaches Smith refers to are center Max Cash, post Caleb Oaks, forward Jordan Bentley and guards Matt Hughes, Rocky Croy, and Izaak Hill. The ‘Dogs also have veteran juniors in Garrett Vines and Parker Henry. “We don’t necessarily have a set starting five,” Smith said. “We can change our starters from game to game, it all depends on the opponent and matchups as well as injuries and that kind of thing. We think we have 10 or 11 that can be in our lineup.” Sophomore guard Conor Jones is looking to build on a solid freshman campaign to contribute as point guard along with Vines. Cash is an intimidating presence in the

post at 6’5” as is Oaks who is an inside and outside threat as he can hit the long ball as well as being a solid rebounder. Bentley has length and is a deadly sharpshooter on the perimeter and Croy has ball-handling skills and is also a fine 3-point shooter. One key will be swingman Hughes who Smith said, “Hughes has worked hard in the offseason and he will help provide depth. We think we have better depth this season with guys like Hughes and Morgan Lyons and Michael Harrison. “If the kids all come in and work hard that will be a big key.” Hill is also a long-range threat as Hampton has traditionally been strong on the boards and with guys that can shoot from the outside and that will not change this season. The ‘Dogs fell to North Greene as well as Unaka in the consolation game in the region tournament played at Sullivan North High School and had to travel to Cosby in the region semifinal where they were toppled 70-61. “That’s a tough place to play,” Smith said. “Cosby is very tough and it’s hard to win on the road.” One foe Hampton will have to deal with is University High who went to the state quarterfinals before falling to McKenzie 68-49 and will be the prohibitive favorite this season as they return several key players including forward Caleb Meredeth. “Our conference is always tough,” Smith said. “Cloudland will be tough, I think North Greene and UH will be tough. It’s is just a really tough conference from top to bottom.” Hampton hopes to prove itself and finish at the top in 2020 and with a solid group of seniors they may just accomplish their goal.

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2019 HAMPTON BULLDOGS # Name Height


0 Nathan Wilson 2 Michael Harrison 3 Parker Henry 4 Conor Jones 10 Joseph Jenkins 12 Dalton Holtsclaw 14 Max Cash 20 RD Ward 21 Matt Hughes 23 Izaak Hill 24 Morgan Lyons 25 Garrett Vines 32 Conner Burleson 34 Rocky Croy 35 Jordan Bentley

150 Jr. 155 So. 180 Jr. 165 So. 150 Jr. 150 Jr. 220 Sr. 190 Jr. 180 Sr. 140 Sr. 190 So. 155 Jr. 260 So. 160 Sr. 165 Sr.

5’10 6’1 6’4 5’10 5’10 5’9 6’5 5’10 5’11 5’10 6’1 5’10 6’2 6’0 6’5


Head Coach: Ned Smith Assistant Coaches: Mike Matheson, Dewayne Humphrey, and Wesley Murray

2019-2020 HAMPTON BULLDOGS SCHEDULE December 3 South Greene* 10 at Unicoi Co. 13 at Unaka* 17 Johnson Co. 19 Chuckey Doak 23 Happy Valley 26-31 Arby’s Classic-Viking Hall January 3 Sullivan North* 7 at University High* 10 North Greene* 11 at Happy Valley 14 at Johnson County 17 Cloudland* 21 at South Greene* 24 Unaka*

27 at Sullivan North* 31 University High* February 4 at North Greene* 7 at Cloudland* 10 at Chuckey-Doak 15 Unicoi County 21-25 District Tournament * Denotes Confernce Games

Star Photo/Larry N. Souders

The 2019-2020 Hampton Bulldog basketball cheerleaders are Hannah Robinson, Myra Fisher, Allyson Lynch, Sandra Hill, Haley Taylor, Bailey Andrews, Gracie Crumley, Sophie Cable, Gabriel Cooke, Chloe Bradley, Kylie Odom, Kyndal Scalf, Marina Bailey, Isabelle Bowers, Allison Bowers, Emma Harmon, Cheyenne Fair, and Shania Pierce.

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Lady Bulldogs

2019 - 2020 Hampton Lady Bulldogs

Lessons learned... Lady Bulldogs look for improvement in 2019-20 BY ALLEN LAMOUNTAIN STAR CORRESPONDENT


he Hampton Lady Bulldogs basketball team had some bright spots in 2018-19 but also had long stretches where they seemed overmatched. In 2019-20 the Lady Bulldogs hope that the lessons they learned from those stretches will become something they can build on this season.

“We expect to get better as the season goes on,” commented Lady Bulldogs head coach Bud Hazelwood. “We’re very young. One day we look really good and the next day not so much. “It will be a different five every day stepping up and if I was a genius that could see which five would be the ones to step up in the next game we would be ok. “It’s trial and error right now. We don’t necessarily have a so-called ‘best player’

and don’t really even have a starting five right now. We just hope the 10 we put out there is as good as the other team’s 10.” The Lady ‘Dogs finished a disappointing 9-24 last season but was 4-6 in Watauga Valley Conference play sweeping Sullivan North and University High and hope that those victories, as well as a few close losses in district play, will translate into a few more victories this season. Hampton returns several players that gained valuable playing time last season including guards Sara Orr, Destiny Milhorn, Bridgette Heaton, and Hannah Collins as well as post player Hazen Brumit. They will look to blend in youngsters like Madison McClain, Skylar Hicks, and Rylie McClain. “We have two seniors Collins and Townson,” Hazelwood said. “Townson hasn’t played a whole lot but Collins has played quite a bit. “She just has to come to play every day. She doesn’t always come to play but when she does she is pretty dad burned good. “She’s a really good athlete and we got some juniors that have played a lot in Hazen and Bridgette,” continued Hazelwood. “Both started some last year. Orr and Destiny Milhorn will be called on to contribute a lot and Skylar Hicks is looking really good.” Others coming in off the bench include Alyssa Lambert, Ryleigh Nickles, Linsey Jenkins, Bree Davis, and Chloe Watson. Nicole Guy could spell Brumit in the post and Hazelwood has a 14 player roster right now so the Lady ‘Dogs will have depth if the youngsters show themselves capable. “Some days Nicole Guy really steps up and I just told them in the locker room that I never had a team that didn’t get better as the season went on and I expect that from them,” Hazelwood said. “We have a tough row to hoe early on. We may be burning up in February you never know but I look for us to be competitive no matter who we play we expect to compete.” One key will be Brumit as she will be the biggest player on the team and with post players like Cloudland’s Trinity Vines and Unaka’s Myah Parlier graduating it leaves a void on those teams at the center position that Brumit may be able to capitalize on. “Hazen is the biggest player we got and if she can make the kind of strides that Vines and Parlier made in their junior and senior years she could be really good,” Hazelwood said. “We’ll have to count on our young players on some nights to contribute but no matter what I expect us to compete.”

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2019-2020 HAMPTON LADY BULLDOGS # Name 3 Rylie McClain 4 Sara Orr 5 Madison McClain 10 Alyssa Lambert 11 Bridgette Heaton 12 Hannah Collins 15 Ashton Townson 20 Skylar Hicks 22 Ryleigh Nickles 23 Destini Milhorn 25 Linsey Jenkins 32 Bre Davis 35 Chloe Watson 51 Nicole Guy 53 Hazen Brumitt Head Coach: Bud Hazelwood. Assistant Coaches: Chelsey Weddle and Mark Watson

2019-2020 HAMPTON LADY BULLDOGS SCHEDULE December 3 South Greene* 10 at Unicoi Co. 13 at Unaka* 17 Johnson Co. 19 Chuckey Doak 23 Happy Valley 17-30 Carolina Invitational at Charleston TBD January 3 Sullivan North* 7 at University High* 10 North Greene* 11 at Happy Valley 14 at Johnson County 17 Cloudland* 21 at South Greene*

24 Unaka* 27 at Sullivan North* 31 University High* February 4 at North Greene* 7 at Cloudland* 10 at Chuckey-Doak 15 at Unicoi County 21-25 District Tournament * Conference Games

Star Photo/ Ivan Sanders

Madison McClain of Hampton drives hard to the paint as Lady Patriot Morgan Bringman provides defensive pressure.


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Star Photo/Larry N. Souders

2019-2020 Happy Valley Warriors

Let the work be the proof... Happy Valley putting in the work to get the results BY IVAN SANDERS STAR SPORTS EDITOR  

Jeremy Maddox Heach Coach

Although the Happy Valley Warriors haven’t reached the level they have desired in the last couple of seasons, head coach Jeremy Maddox is not letting that stop him and his Warrior team from working and letting their efforts in the gym pay the dividends during the season. “Our kids work and play hard,” said Maddox. “That’s kind of what we want to hang our hat on and what we have emphasized early on. “We have told them probably a hundred times that it doesn’t matter what we do doesn’t matter if we don’t play hard. So, we

are trying to take care of that first.” The Warriors have been hampered early on because of the extended football season due to the playoffs and are still waiting for some of the walking wounded to heal up. “We are still a little banged up where we have some guys out from football still,” Maddox said. “Blake (Young), we are hoping to get back around Christmas time, That’s going to be a good addition for us and Timmy Mounts will be out for the year, unfortunately. “He (Mounts) played some for us last year and was expected to be a big contributor off the bench as a point guard but unfortunately he’s not going to play this year. “What it is doing for us I feel is creating some depth that maybe if those two guys are

playing we don’t have,” Maddox continued. “So we are kind of looking at the positives that when we do get Blake back we a player deeper which is obviously going to help us around tournament time.” Maddox was asked from a coaching perspective what he would consider a successful season for his Warrior team. “We just want to be the best version of us. You certainly don’t want to put a number on it because if you saying 15 wins is successful – what if you only win 14,” Maddox stated. “We would like to be in that top four in our league – somewhere. Obviously, we have a lot of work to do that. I think our league is as tough as any league in the area I think with the quality of players and the quality of coaches. “Success for us would be I would like to see us get to the region and I would like to see us get out of that first round – that’s kind of the goal we have talked about. “The season is going to prepare you for that,” Maddox continued. “We definitely don’t want to be in that play-in game again that we were in last year because now you have to try and win two and that’s obviously very difficult to do especially when you get there and everybody knows everybody. “It becomes a fistfight really and you try to ground it out. That is our goal right now is not to be in that play-in game and try and win one to get to that region game and see what happens there.” Maddox believes he has a good staple of players returning that should help the Warriors get to that level of success to advance to the regions. “I think we have really good guards. Noah Stevens is as good as anybody. He is definitely going to have to carry the load with Blake out and I have 100 percent confidence that he can do that,” commented Maddox. “Dylan Willis who started almost every game for us at the one and he’s back and we are expecting him to be able to get us in what we are trying to get in to get open shots. “We are kind of versatile. We don’t have a Bryce (Carter) this year where you know you just throw it in there to him. We are a lot n See WARRIORS, 28

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2019-2020 HAPPY VALLEY WARRIORS # Name Height 12 Dylan Willis 5’9 13 Will Tittle 5’9 14 Noah Stevens 6’1 15 Andrew Clawson 5’8 20 Troy Williams 6’0 21 Matthew Bahn 5’10 22 Timmy Mounts 5’9 23 James Murray 6’1 24 Luke Roberts 6’0 25 Blake Young 6’4 31 James Harmon 6’4 32 Landon Babb 6’3 33 Alex Lunceford 6’4

Position Class G Sr. G Sr. F Sr. G Jr. F So. F Jr. G Jr. F Fr. F Sr. F Jr. P Sr. P So. P Jr.

Head Coach: Jeremy Maddox. Asst. Coach: Jason Kyte

2019-2020 HAPPY VALLEY WARRIORS SCHEDULE December 3 at Elizabethton* 6 Unicoi County* 9 at Unaka 13 at Johnson County* 16 Cloudland 23 at Hampton 26-30 North Christmas Tourney January 7 Sullivan Central* 10 Cherokee 11 Hampton 14 at Sullivan East* 17 at Sullivan South* 21 at Unicoi County* 24 Johnson County*

28 Elizabethton* 31 at Sullivan Central* February 1 at Chuckey Doak 4 at Cherokee 7 Sullivan South* 11 Sullivan East* 13 Unaka 19-25 District Tournament * Conference Games

The 2019-2020 Happy Valley Warrior basketball cheerleaders are Gillian Davis, Co-Captain Jenny Donaldson, Emma Helbert, Autumn Henegar, Anslie Pinkston, Co-Captain Autumn Sommers, Maegan Tittle, Cassidy Wilson, and Gracie Young.

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Lady Warriors

Star Photo/Larry N. Souders

2019-2020 Happy Valley Lady Warriors

Looking to reload...

Lady Warriors look to fill shoes of departed players with talented youth BY IVAN SANDERS STAR SPORTS EDITOR


Thomas Gouge Head Coach

oming into his first season at the helm of the Lady Warriors basketball program at Happy Valley, head coach Thomas Gouge had the luxury of having a solid shooting star in Adrienne Henegar and surrounded her with several returning starters. Entering his second season, Gouge now must take a young team comprised of a few players who had any playing experience and mold a talented group of freshmen into a solid nucleus for the 2019-20 campaign.

“Last year we started three seniors. Right now we are currently starting over after graduating those three including our leading scorer Adrienne Henegar,” stated Gouge. “As far as varsity playing experience right now we don’t have a ton of it but the girls are working hard, they are willing to learn, and they are getting after it.” Gouge does have a solid player to reconstruct his team around as returning All-Conference post player in senior Shayln Whitson. “The most experience we return is Shayln Whitson who is our only senior and who was All-Conference last year,” Gouge

commented. “In my opinion, she is one of the better posts in the area. “We return our point guard, a two-year starter, in junior Olivia Absher. So that’s our main experience. Also, our other post-Emily Lunceford is a junior and she has had some varsity experience as well. “We are dressing six freshmen. Some of them at times could start and a lot of them is going to get playing time. We are still trying to find our identity right now but we just need some experience and some court time.” Gouge was asked what would be the key for the Lady Warriors to experience success and get back into the regions once again. “I think that the key is to get some leadership from our upperclassmen – our juniors and seniors, the ones who have been here,” added Gouge. “We have a very talented freshmen class. We have some good sophomores too. We have Adrienne’s little sister, Autumn, who can shoot the ball well too. “Just developing the freshmen is a big deal. We are deep. Last year we averaged about six deep but this year we can go as much as 10 deep so we can play a lot more numbers. “We have length, we have athleticism, and if we can defend and rebound I think that we will be fine.” Gouge was asked to expound on exactly how he would define success for his young team. “A successful season for us right now would be obviously a winning season – a winning record and to get to the region. We got knocked out in the first round last year and didn’t get to make it to the region which was one of our goals,” Gouge stated. “I think that we were 17-11 last year but still didn’t get over the hump we wanted so I think that this is a team that once we find our identity hopefully earlier than later we are going to be better every week.” As many of the coaches have voiced in regard to the Three Rivers Conference race, there are three teams that will be the frontrunners with the rest of the league in the same pile. “It’s a tough conference,” Gouge reflect-

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2019-2020 HAPPY VALLEY LADY WARRIORS # Name Position Class 0 Keili Hall F Fr. 10 Holly Moore G So. 12 Casey Campbell G Jr. 14 Kenzie Keller P So. 15 Kenzie Ramey G Fr. 20 Gabby Wood G Fr. 22 Emma Blevins G Jr. 23 Autumn Henegar G So. 25 Olivia Absher G Jr. 32 Ashlyn McNally G/F Fr. 34 Alexis McNally G/F Fr. 40 Kadie Bailey G Fr. 50 Emily Lunceford F/P Jr. 52 Shayln Whitson P Sr. Head Coach: Thomas Gouge. Asst. Coaches: Jearld Oliver, Emily Sizemore Team Manager: Shania Thompson. Bookkeeper: Tommy Henegar.

2019-2020 HAPPY VALLEY LADY WARRIORS SCHEDULE December 3 at Elizabethton* 6 Unicoi County* 9 at Unaka 13 at Johnson County* 16 Cloudland 23 at Hampton January 7 Sullivan Central* 10 Cherokee 11 Hampton 14 at Sullivan East* 17 at Sullivan South*

21 at Unicoi County* 24 Johnson County* 28 Elizabethton* 31 at Sullivan Central* February 1 at Chuckey Doak 4 at Cherokee 7 Sullivan South* 11 Sullivan East* 13 Unaka 19-25 District Tournament * Conference Games

“We are going to have numbers so we are ed. “You look at the conference you have pretty much Central that returned everybody. going to play 90 feet and get up and down the floor and make people play fast.” You have Elizabethton that returned pretty much everybody from last season. “South I think is starting four or five seniors, Johnson County has everybody back so it’s going to be tough. All those teams were good last year. “It’s a good league,” Gouge added. “I know we are definitely the youngest team in the conference. You have to get those young ones playing like upperclassmen really quick.” Gouge said he doesn’t want to spend too much time looking down the road but really wanted his team to focus in on taking each game one step at a time and one play at a time. “My main key coming in here was to get them thinking positive and in the right way and giving maximum effort on every possession – just worry about winning possessions,” said Gouge. File Photo The Lady Warriors Shalyn Whitson puts “I think they are starting to buy into up a layup over Chuckey-Doaks Gabby that. Last year we had some big wins and Carter (22) early in the third quarter. hope to continue that this year.

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Star Photo/Larry N. Souders

2019-2020 Unaka Rangers

Leaving their mark...

Unaka looks to continue adding to Ranger tradition BY C.Y. PETERS STAR CORRESPONDENT


Aaron Dugger Head Coach

naka Ranger basketball is rich in tradition. During the 1950s and 1960s, Lynn Goddard coached boys basketball for seven years before leaving and becoming one of Elizabethton’s successful coaches.  Goddard encouraged young men to play all sports and he coached them in many sports like football, baseball, and track to go with his basketball teams.  Unaka named their football field after him. Ronnie Snavely led the Unaka team to

their first state tournament appearance in the 1984-85 season and then once more in the 1987-88 year. Coach Snavely was succeeded by Coach Donald Ensor. Ensor had great success as the Rangers coach leading them to three state tournament appearances including a state championship in 2004 and sending numerous players to continue their careers in college basketball. Under Ensor, the Rangers won nine straight Conference Titles. After his resignation, his younger brother took over for one year leading them to their

tenth consecutive conference championship. The program is now run by Coach Aaron Dugger, who played for Coach Ensor and is the school’s Athletic Director.  Dugger is the all-time leading scorer at Unaka and at Lee’s McRae College. In college, he also holds records of three-point goals attempted and free throws made.  To have a good team you much have a good coach who knows the game and Dugger knows the game.      The Unaka Rangers will be starting four seniors and a junior this year. Ryan Johnson who led the team in scoring is back. Last season he averaged 12 points a game.  Daniel Ensor will be the center, Dylan Whitehead and Austin Drew are the other seniors with Will Sexton a junior.  Sexton averaged eight points a game last year as a sophomore and four assists a game.  Sophomores Joseph Slagle and Devin Ramsey will also see much playing time this year.  Joez Blamo and Jon Campbell are the lone two Freshman on the varsity squad. Campbell and Blamo led the Hunter Elementary team last year to a banner season and are expected to contribute from the bench. It could be Dugger’s best bench he has had in a few years. Their first regular-season game will be in Mountain City on December 3rd as the Rangers will play a tough Johnson  County team.  Unaka’s schedule for December includes Happy Valley, Hampton, and Rockwood at home before traveling to South Greene and Rockwood. They will also play in the Harriman Christmas Classic on December 27-28. “We pride ourselves on discipline in our program,” stated Dugger. “We want our players to have discipline on and off the floor.  “Last year as a program we felt that was one of the main reasons we had the late success in the tournament was the fact that we could be disciplined in what we did each night because the game planned n See RANGERS, 29

friday, NOVEMBER 29, 2019 Page 17

2019-2020 UNAKA RANGERS # Name Height 2 Joseph Slagle 5’10 4 Ryan Johnson 5’10 5 Joe-z Blano 5’11 11 Will Sexton 5’10 12 Gavin Seigfried 5’10 15 Devin Ramsey 5’6 20 Dylan Whitehead 6’1 22 Nolan Bradley 5’10 25 Austin Drew 6’1 35 Jonathan Campbell 6’2 40 Daniel Ensor 6’1 42 Jonathan Burchett 6’2 44 Ryan Sexton 5’6 45 Jamol Blano 5’11 50 Michael Heath 6’3 55 Cody Drew 5’10

Position Class G So. G Sr. G Fr. G So. G So. G So. P Sr. G Sr. G/P Sr. G/F Fr. P Sr. P Sr. G Fr. P Fr. P Jr. P Fr.

Head Coach: Aaron Dugger Asst. Coaches: Spencer Nave, Travis Sommers, Aaron Cross. Managers: Korbin Hale, Caleb Hamm, Casey Wiggins, Matthew Wilson.

2019-2020 UNAKA RANGERS SCHEDULE December 3 at Johnson County 6 at Cosby 9 Happy Valley 13 Hampton* 14 Rockwood 17 South Greene* 19 at Rockwood 27-28 Harriman Christmas Classic January 3 at University High* 7 Cloudland* 10 at Sullivan North*

13 Johnson County 17 at North Greene* 20 Cosby 24 at Hampton* 28 University High* 31 at Cloudland* February 3 South Greene* 4 Sullivan North* 7 North Greene* 13 at Happy Valley * Conference Games

Star Photo/Larry N. Souders

The 2019-2020 Unaka Ranger basketball cheerleaders are Captain-Abby Williams, Co-Captain - Makenna Lewis, Katie Townsend, Sara Beth Grubb, Haylee Fuller, Katie Houghton, Courtney Whitehead, McKinley Pritchard, Gabby Laws, Chelsea Slagle, Annie Townsend, Stasia Stalcup, Katie Shoun, Rachael Lloyd, Jordan Pippin, and Kanyon Tisdale.

Page 18 friday, NOVEMBER 29, 2019

Lady Rangers

Star Photo/Larry N. Souders

2019-2020 Unaka Lady Rangers

Coaching them up...

Young Lady Ranger team will lean on experienced coaching staff for improvement BY C.Y. PETERS STAR CORRESPONDENT

Chambers also recruited North Carolina’s Mitchell County girls state basketball champ and former Unaka player Dawn Lowe. he one thing Coach Kenneth Then he looked to former Hampton High Chambers of the Unaka Lady Basketball superstar John Ramsey to complete Rangers knows is that to have a what may be Unaka’s best-ever girls coaching winning season and advance you staff. must have a good coaching staff.  “Bowling just can’t be replaced” stated To replace last year’s assistant coach Larry Chambers. “He will be deeply missed on Bowling who retired, Chambers reached out to the sidelines”. Carter County Sports Hall of Fame and former Chambers who played basketball at ElizaHampton and Cloudland Coach Mike Lunsford.  bethton and Unaka coached at Hunter where Lunsford has had great success on the he had an impressive 116-13 record coaching football field and in the gym coaching both boys and girls basketball on middle school and boys and a 43-17 record with the girls.  In his final season coaching both boys high school levels.    


Kenneth Chambers Head Coach

and girls teams went undefeated with 24-0 records and regional titles.  At Keenburg, Chambers Tigers went 43-12 with another regional crown.  At Unaka High, his team set a school record in 2004 winning 30 games and many of those players were from his Hunter undefeated team.  He spent a couple years at Cloudland High as an assistant where the Lady Highlanders made the trip to Murfreesboro.      Unaka has two returning starters back from last season, Jada Whitehead and Macy Ensor.  Ensor started last season as a freshman.  “We lost three good seniors”, said Chambers “Jada and senior Zoie Grindstaff should see lots of playing this year.”      Chambers related, “The conference will be very good this year. North Greene returns four starters and played in the sub-state last year.   “Cloudland has Matt Birchfield back at coach and his rotations brings back seven to eight girls who were starters at times last season.  Buddy Hazelwood is at Hampton - another coaching great who looks to go to the state tournament every year.  “University High now has Marty Story coaching their girls’ teams and everyone knows what a superstar he was. Our conference almost every year has a team going to the state, this year should be no exception,” Chambers continued.   “We will get better as the year progress we don’t have a lot of experience but we can start any of our 12 players and as a team, we just have to figure out how to get better.” KiKi Forney and Macy Ensor are two sophomores who should see plenty of playing time. Tara Whitehead and Julie Simerly have greatly improved.  Mailey Guy, Lyndie Ramsey, and Mackenzie Depew are three freshmen that Chambers is counting on.  Madison Rice is injured and not sure on a return date yet and Trinity Houghton is the granddaughter of former Ranger Tom Houghton and everyone remembers what a great athlete he was.  Veronica Holly is another sophomore we will be counting on and Lilly Kiser who just started playing last year is the other senior on the team. Everyone knows how important the Holly

friday, NOVEMBER 29, 2019 Page 19

2019-2020 UNAKA LADY RANGERS # Name Class 0 Trinity Houghton Jr. 1 Julie Simerly So. 10 Lyndie Ramsey Fr. 11 Tara Whitehead So. 12 JadaWhitehead Sr. 14 Zoie Grindstaff Sr. 15 Natalie Stout So. 20 Veronica Holly So. 21 KiKi Forney So. 23 Macy Ensor So. 33 Madison Rice Jr. 40 Lilie Kiser Sr. 42 Mailey Guy Fr. 44 Mackenzie Depew Fr. Head Coach: Kenneth Chambers Asst. Coaches: Dawn Lowe, John Ramsey, & Mike Lunsford

2019-2020 UNAKA LADY RANGER SCHEDULE December 3 at Johnson County 6 at Cosby 9 Happy Valley 13 Hampton* 14 Rockwood 17 South Greene* 19 at Rockwood 27-28 Harriman Christmas Classic January 3 at University High* 7 Cloudland* 10 at Sullivan North* 13 Johnson County 17 at North Greene*

20 Cosby 24 at Hampton* 28 University High* 31 at Cloudland* February 3 South Greene* 4 Sullivan North* 7 North Greene* 13 at Happy Valley * Conference Games

name is at Unaka. Eddie Holly, Larry Holly, Wes Holly, Wes Holly Jr., Robbie Holly and on and on were all great basketball players. “We lost an All-State player in Mayah Parlier who graduated and is going to be very hard to replace at her position” Chambers commented.   “We expect to win and go to the state, that’s our goal every year but we know our conference is so good it’s going to take a lot of hard

work just to compete.   “Jarfly Dugger works with our pitchers in softball and it helps with eye to hand contact and that really helps our basketball girls that also play softball. “This will be a fun team to coach, they work hard and they want to win.  They talk about being family, that’s why I believe they will be successful in basketball and in life,” Chambers concluded. 

Star Photo/C.Y. Peters

Mackenzie Depew flys through the paint toward the rim for Unaka.

Page 20 friday, NOVEMBER 29, 2019


Star Photo/Larry N. Souders

2019-2020 Cloudland Highlanders

Shooting for the top...

Highlanders setting high expectations for 2019-20 season BY DANNY BLEVINS STAR CORRESPONDENT


Gary Harrison Head Coach

sk head coach Gary Harrison of Cloudland High School to define success and he will tell you it is a state title. Anything short of that will be a disappointing season in his mind. Harrison has coached the Cloudland High School boys’ basketball team for the last 14 season and he knows success when he sees it. It involves a group of hard-working players who are willing to learn and get better each day. That is the perfect description of the team he has this year. “I have a good bunch of kids this year,

including six seniors, three juniors, and three sophomores,” Harrison said. “They will all get playing time and all play an important roll in this up-coming basketball season.” Harrison lost several good players to graduation last year but he feels he can fill the holes they left in the team effectively. “Most of our basketball team are multisport athletes, and several are finishing up the football season. Once we get those players, we will have all the pieces together to have a good team,” stated Harrison. “We had a really good summer at camps. The kids worked hard, and I saw that they liked to play hard. We played well this sum-

mer and played some bigger schools and beat them. “It seems we just got better and better with each game. I am really excited about the season and what we can do. “It looks like we will have 11 on varsity, so it is going to have to be a team effort. All 11 will get a chance to play before the season is over.” According to Harrison, he will be counting on players like Dillion Shell, Caleb Sluder and Victor Hicks who have all worked very hard and put in the time to get better. Senior Hayden Shell has also worked hard and as a senior will be counted on during every game. Harrison has two very athletic players who are juniors. Bentley Gilbert and Elijah Blair will be two starters and counted on as leaders on the court. According to Harrison, the true leader of this team is senior Connor Birchfield. “The heart and soul of our team is Connor Birchfield. He is a general on and off the court. His attitude and effort are unmatched,” commented Harrison. “All of our players are going to have to step up for us to be successful. We are going to play a press defense and try to be very aggressive on defense. “Really all we can do is take it one possession at a time every night, and I believe good things will happen for us. “Right now, we have several 3-point shooters, but I guess Hunter Blair is the best one returning,” Harrison continued. “Our post is a little inexperienced and young. We are going to count on players like Jed Childress, Hunter Blair, and Garrison Julian. “Those three are going to be interesting to watch and should give us a real boost in rebounding and play on the inside. “We just have to get better every game and if we are going to be successful, we have to play defense and rebound better on offense than we did last year. “Just by watching them this summer, I can tell our defense is already better than last year,” Harrison added. “We also have to be able to shoot outside n See HIGHLANDERS, 30

friday, NOVEMBER 29, 2019 Page 21

2019-2020 CLOUDLAND HIGHLANDERS # Name Height Position Class 1 Jed Childress 6’4 C Sr. 2 Conner Birchfield 5’6 PG Jr. 3 Caleb Sluder 5’11 F So. 4 Dylan Shell 5’11 G So. 5 Garrison Julian 6’1 F Sr. 10 Victor Hicks 6’2 F So. 14 Bentley Gilbert 5’9 G Jr. 15 Hunter Shell 5’9 SG Sr. 21 Hunter Blair 5’9 F Sr. 23 Hayden Shell 5’8 G Sr. 24 Elijah Blair 6’2 C Jr. Head Coach: Gary Harrison Assistant Coaches: Tyler Chambers and Scott Potter.  Manager: Sam Gibbs

2019-2020 CLOUDLAND HIGHLANDERS SCHEDULE December 3 Unicoi County 6 at Providence Academy 9 Johnson County 10 Avery County 13 at Sullivan North* 16 at Happy Valley 20 at Avery County 26-30 Sullivan North Tourney

24 Sullivan North* 28 at North Greene* 31 Unaka*

January 2 York Invitational Tourney 7 at Unaka* 10 University High* 14 Providence Academy 17 at Hampton* 21 North Greene

* Denotes conference Game

February 4 at University High* 7 Hampton* 10 at Johnson County 14 at Unicoi County

Star Photo/Larry N. Souders

The 2019-2020 Cloudland Highlander basketball cheerleaders are Kenzie Birchfield, Makaiden Harrison, Brianna Jarrett, Mackenzie Taylor, Krisi Bare, Kaylen Fields, Marlee Hughes, Alesha Shell, Karah Fields, Kaiden Smith, Libbie Tomberlin, Katie Baldwin, Ella Benfield, Kendall Birchfield, Brandy Cable, Shana Canady, Faith Roark, Melena Robinson, and Hailey Simerly.

Page 22 friday, NOVEMBER 29, 2019

Lady Highlanders

Star Photo/Larry N. Souders

2019-2020 Cloudland Lady Highlanders

Back at the helm...

Birchfield takes over a young and determined Lady‘Landers team BY DANNY BLEVINS STAR CORRESPONDENT


Matt Birchfield Head Coach

hen practice began for this year’s Cloudland High School girls’ basketball squad, there was a familiar face at the helm. For the first time in several years, Matt Birchfield was the head coach taking the place of Mike Lunceford who retired in the spring of 2019. What Coach Birchfield found was a young team who was willing to work hard and wanted to win. “Kenzie Birchfield is our only senior this year, and we are going to have to really rely on her for leadership on and off the court,” said Birchfield.

“Kenzie is really going to have to step up and lead this team. We lost two very good players when Trinity Vines and Stacia Wilson graduated last year, but I wish them the best. “Both of them received scholarships and will be playing on the college level. That says a lot about their talent and the hole we have to fill to replace them,” Birchfield stated. “We have a long way to go to get the team where I want them to be, and size is going to be a problem this year. We will have to rely on our speed, quickness, and hustle to win games because we are not a big team. “We will also have to be a defensive team that forces turnovers. With our lack of size that has to be the way we win games. “I know I have not coached on the high school level for a while, but we still have to stick to the fundamentals,” Birchfield continued. “Don’t make turnovers, rebound well and use speed to make up for a lack of size. “Also, our post players are going to have to step up and get rebounds. We will really count on Mandy Benfield to help us in the post. We are really expecting good things out of her this year. “Gracie Freeman does an excellent job as a guard and can shoot the 3-pointers all day. We are also going to count on Leah Birchfield and Kayla Fields and others to help us down the road. “Jasmine Birchfield will have a lot of pressure on her, but she is an all-around good kid, and she can handle the pressure. I expect that we will get some good things out of her,” added Birchfield. “To be successful we must win the rebound margin. Then we must be a good defensive team. If we do these things, the shots will come, and we will be able to compete with almost any team.” Coach Birchfield’s definition of success is a simple one. “Success is improving each day, playing better each week and finding a way to be better in February than we are in November,” Birchfield commented. “Also, we are always looking at doing well in the conference. “If we can do these things, we can say we had a successful season. “We play in a conference that is loaded and doesn’t have a bad team in it. All of them are really good and could win the conference. “North Green is returning a lot of kids and just picked up a good post player. I look for them to do really well in the conference. “Unaka is always competitive and Coach Kenneth Chambers does a great job down there. They have a young team too, but they will be strong,” Birchfield continued. “Hampton is going to be very competitive too. They have several kids that play well and of course, they are well-coached.

friday, NOVEMBER 29, 2019 Page 23

2019-2020 CLOUDLAND LADY HIGHLANDERS # Name Height 2 Heaven Caraway 5’2 3 Taylor Hicks 5’8 10 Ambrien Blair 5’4 11 Kenzie Birchfield 5’2 12 Leah Birchfield 5’0 14 Mandy Birchfield 5’8 20 Kaylen Fields 5’8 22 Jasmine Birchfield 5’8 23 Gracie Freeman 5’6 32 Karah Fields 5’8 33 Ella Benfield 5’8 34 Layken Johnson 5’1

Position Class G Jr. G So. G Jr. G Sr. G Jr. P Jr. P Jr. P Jr. G Jr. P So. P Fr. P Jr.

“Unaka and Hampton are always a battle for us, and I guess it is because they are cross-county rivals. “We are blessed in this conference with a lot of good coaches, including the coaches for Sullivan North and University High. These coaches know how to get the best out of their kids.” Cloudland’s assistant coaches this year are Sam Potter, Shian Strickland, and Shelley Mckinney. “I cannot say enough good things about

Head Coach: Matt Birchfield Assistant Coaches: Sam Potter, Shellie McKinney, and Shian Strickland

2019-2020 Cloudland Lady Highlanders Schedule December

3 Unicoi County 6 at Providence Academy 9 Johnson County 10 Avery County 13 at Sullivan North* 16 at Happy Valley 20 at Avery County 26-30 Sullivan North Tourney 31 Sullivan East JV Girls Tourney January 2 York Invitational Tourney 7 at Unaka* 10 University High* 14 Providence Academy

17 at Hampton* 21 North Greene 24 Sullivan North* 28 at North Greene* 31 Unaka*

February 4 at University High* 7 Hampton* 10 at Johnson County 14 at Unicoi County * denotes conference game

Because We Care!

our assistant coaches,” said Birchfield. “They are dedicated to the kids and to winning.” This season should be an interesting one for Coach Birchfield and his team. The team is very young and will have to learn Coach Birchfield’s plays and team strategy very quickly to be successful. Birchfield has a repetition of getting the most out of the players he has and expect nothing less than that this year from this Cloudland squad and from their coach.

Page 24 friday, NOVEMBER 29, 2019


2019-2020 Johnson County Longhorns

Longhorns facing a major rebuilding job



Austin Atwood Head Coach

ohnson County has been a very successful basketball team over the past two seasons but it would take nothing short of a miracle for them to duplicate what those squads did. Trying to replace last year’s senior quartet could prove to be a difficult task for head coach Austin Atwood and his Longhorns. Gone off last year’s squad is King University guard Blake Atwood along with sharp-shooting guard Gavin Reece, defensive specialist Zack Eller, and the blue-collar MVP Troy Arnold. They orchestrated a record of 50-18 over the past two seasons in addition to

reaching the sub-state last year bowing out at Knoxville Fulton 90-76 who went on to finish runner-up in the state tournament. Atwood knows that he has a difficult task at hand in trying to develop a team that can compete in the tough Three Rivers Conference. He touched on what it will take and those that he is counting on to contribute. “You can say we’re in a rebuilding mode,” said Atwood. “We had three good years with that group of seniors and those guys are hard to replace. They were great friends, great teammates and gave our fans a good run but now we’re faced with trying to reload. “We have a couple back off that team and these guys want to build on that. We’re not going to be very good early but we got a chance to be ok late and be able to compete. “We’re not going to be very deep and we will have to stay injury-free. When you coach in a small town you are going to have years where you’re rebuilding but the guys we have are competitors. We’re hoping to turn a few heads by late January or early February.” The Longhorns return a starter and one part-time starter off of last year’s squad that will help lead the way. Seniors Lucas Phillips (6’0, G) and Michael Oxentine (6’3, F) are the two mainstays while senior Darrin Cunningham (6’3, C) and junior Clayton Cross (6’0, G) will play a key role. They too logged some varsity minutes. Two players that could help the team tremendously are Corie Neely (5’11, G) and Jared Kimble (6’0 F). “You have to look to your seniors for leadership,” said Atwood. “Lucas and Michael have the most experience but Darren and Clayton played a little too. “We’re counting on Lucas and Michael to score but Darren will need to rebound and Clayton to defend because he’s a lot like Eller was for us last year. He doesn’t anticipate as good yet but he’s quick and gets into the passing lanes. “We were hoping to have Zack Parsons (6’0, F, So) but he’s got an injury and probably won’t be back until around or after Christmas. We want to see what he can do.” Phillips said that he and Oxentine learned a great deal from last year and they plan on trying to take that and build on it. “We’re looking to use what we learned from those seniors and try and make it better,” added Phillips. “We’re wanting to follow in their footsteps but we lacking depth. We have to develop some more players. “I believe our team will play hard and we’ll surprise some teams too as we get to

friday, NOVEMBER 29, 2019 Page 25

2019-2020 JOHNSON COUNTY LONGHORNS # Name Height Class 3 Corie Neely 5’9 So. 5 Gavin Ward 5’11 So. 10 Peyton Pavusek 5’11 Fr. 11 Ethan Bower 5’8 Jr. 12 Lucas Phillips 6’0 Sr. 15 Darren Cunningham 6’3 Sr. 21 Michael Oxentine 6’3 Sr. 22 Preston Greer 5’11 So. 24 Clayton Cross 5’11 Jr. 30 Zack Parsons 6’0 So. 34 Trevor Gentry 6’1 Jr. 35 Jared Kimble 5’11 Sr. Head Coach: Austin Atwood Asst. Coaches: David Arnold, Marcus Dunham, and Chase Phillips. Trainer: Tony & Phyllis Griffith. Manager: Wesley Darnell.

2019-2020 Johnson County Schedule

December 3 Unaka 6 Sullivan South* 9 at Cloudland 10 David Crockett 13 Happy Valley* 17 at Hampton 20 at Sullivan Central* 23 University High 26-30 at Fort Chiswell Christmas January 7 Elizabethton* 10 at Sullivan East* 13 at Unaka

14 Hampton 17 at Unicoi* 21 at Sullivan South* 24 at Happy Valley* 28 Sullivan Central* 31 at Elizabethton*

February 4 Sullivan East* 7 Unicoi County* 10 Cloudland 13 at University High 14 at David Crockett 19-25 District Tourney @ East * Conference Games

play more together.” Atwood said that guys like juniors Trevor Gentry (6’1, F) and Ethan Bower (5’8, G) will need to step up and play. They also have freshman Peyton Pavusek (5’11, F) and sophomore Gavin Ward (5’11’ G) that they could turn to. Neely will definitely see a lot of time at the point. Oxentine said the team is eager to show others what they can do despite their lack of experience. “We are definitely ready for our senior year because we’re still hungry from last year,” added Oxentine. “We were only one game away from making the state tournament. “We know that it is all about being ready to play by tournament time. We want to show everyone what we can do. I believe that we will surprise some people along the way.” Atwood tabbed Sullivan South as the team to beat along with Elizabethton.

“South will be loaded because they have everyone back from last year. Elizabethton will be right there with them once the football boys get back,” stated Atwood. “I think Sullivan East and Unicoi will also have good teams because they all have some very good players back. It’s going to be a tough league where you have to play well every night. We’ll have our hands full whenever we take the court.”

Page 26 friday, NOVEMBER 29, 2019


2019-2020 Johnson County Lady Longhorns

Lady Longhorns have high expectations



Leon Tolley Head Coach

ohnson County was hoping to elevate its girl’s basketball program three years ago so they went out and hired one of the area’s finest coaches. Johnson County is happy they did. Former Hampton head coach Leon Tolley begins his third season as head coach of the Lady Longhorns. And unlike past years he has a veteran group to work with. The talent, experience, and athleticism are there to make it a special basketball season for the Lady Longhorns. Now it’s time to prove that they are among the elite.

Johnson County won 14 games last year including a win over Sullivan East in the District tournament but fell one game short of reaching the regional, something they haven’t done in more than two decades. All that could change this season. The Lady ‘Horns return everyone including all five starters and their first two players off the bench from last year. Tolley is optimistic yet cautious when talking about this year’s squad. “We have the capability and mindset to be a good basketball team but we have to get out of our comfort zone,” said Tolley. “You have to do that if you want to do things that you’ve never done before. “If you always do what you always did then you’ll always get what you got. We have to be more physical and more uptempo. If we’re ahead in the fourth quarter we can’t start playing not to lose because we’re afraid that we’re going to win. “This team has to play with some urgency.” The Lady Longhorns return all five starters that include seniors Taylor Cox, Taylor Parsons, and Natalie Winters along with juniors Emmy Miller and Sadie Stout. There are high expectations for this quintet of players. Each of them knows their roles on the team and they have set goals. “Our goal is to get into the regional tournament,” said Cox who led the team in scoring last year. “We’ve worked hard all three years and we want to make a difference when it comes to girls’ basketball up here.” Parsons and Winters agreed with Cox and added their input. “I like our closeness because we’ve all been together since middle school,” said Parsons. “We spend a lot of time with each other both on and off the court so we know one another like the back of our hand. We all want to see each other play well.” Winters said this team was different than some of the other ones that she’s played on. “We bond better together than the other teams we’ve been a part of in the past,” added Winters. “There is good chemistry among us and you can feel it. “We know each other’s strengths and try to use those to the best of our abilities. We’re good at reading each other and listening as to what we need to do to get better.” Miller and Stout will also return as starters from last year. “This team has a lot of ability but now we have to make it work out on the floor,” said Miller. “I believe in us and our coaches. I think we can take this thing to the next level if we keep working hard.” Stout agreed but wants to take this thing n See LADY LONGHORNS, 32

friday, NOVEMBER 29, 2019 Page 27

2019-2020 Johnson County Longhorn Cheerleaders

2019-2020 JOHNSON COUNTY LADY LONGHORNS # Name Position Class 1 Emily Miller F Jr. 3 Taylor Parsons F Sr. 4 Hannah Brooks F Sr. 5 Rhiannon Icenhour F Jr. 11 Abby Cornett G Sr. 12 Natalie Winters G Sr. 13 Taylor Cox G Sr. 15 Hazlee Kleine C Sr. 23 Sadie Stout G Jr. 32 Abby Lipford G Jr. 33 Tiffany Price G Sr. Head Coach: Leon Tolley. Asst. Coaches: Garry Smith, Kechia Eller. Bookkeeper: Hannah Brooks Manager: Wesley Darnell.

2019-2020 Johnson County Lady Longhorn Schedule December 3 Unaka 6 Sullivan South* 9 at Cloudland 10 David Crockett 13 Happy Valley* 17 at Hampton 20 at Sullivan Central* 23 University High January 2 at Holston, VA. 7 Elizabethton* 10 at Sullivan East* 13 at Unaka 14 Hampton 17 at Unicoi* 21 at Sullivan South* 24 at Happy Valley* 28 Sullivan Central*

31 at Elizabethton* February 4 Sullivan East* 7 Unicoi County* 10 Cloudland 13 at University High 14 at David Crockett 19-25 District Tourney @ East * Conference Games

Page 28 friday, NOVEMBER 29, 2019


“I think right now Elizabethton and South are one and two and it could go either way. I think those are two are heads and shoulders above the rest,” Maddox said. “I think that Sullivan East is always going to be good and play hard. John (Dyer) always does a great job. Coach Good at Unicoi is going to have his kids play hard. “I hope that we can be in that four or five. Obviously we want to be one but realistically if we can get into that four-five come district tournament time I would be happy.”

n Continued from 4

“From top to bottom, I think the league looks pretty good. I think it’s pretty competitive at the top and like I said some of those in the middle might provide some surprise. Once you get to tournament time there are always surprises. We have seen that in the last couple of years.” Honeycutt was asked if as a team if the Cyclones had set forth any goals for the upcoming season. “Expectations have to be set by our players as to what they want out of the season. It’s all fine and well if I want to win a state championship but if that’s not their goal, then it doesn’t do us any good to have that goal,” added Honeycutt. “So we let them voice their goals once we get a few games into the season and figure out what we are asking them to do and how they want to play. “If they are going to give us 100 percent ef-

fort, we think that we have enough talent to ask them do we want to make a run at a gold ball which I think is everybody’s goal,” Honeycutt continued. “But when you say it out loud, I think people look at that as being far fetched or hard to believe. It’s always a few baskets away or a few possessions away or this game or that game that could get you in that situation.” Honeycutt definitely has taken on challenges this season for his team including returning to the Arby’s Classic where the Cyclones haven’t played in since 2006. But the bottom line for Honeycutt is simple - if you don’t compete, then there’s no chance for winning. “It does matter what’s down the road and what’s coming out of Knoxville. We are going to Stone Memorial and going to the Arby’s which is the most challenging thing that we have done in a while,” stated Honeycutt. “Right now our focus is on competiting every possession. If I can get our kids to compete every possession, I feel good about any team that we play.”

WARRIORS n Continued from 12

more perimeter-oriented,” added Maddox. “We will be a little more versatile offensively this year than last year. We will be able to shoot it more and better. Our perimeter is definitely our strength.” When shaking out the league, Maddox said there are two teams he expects to be at the top of the heap.

File Photo

Happy Valley’s Noah Stevens soars to the basket against Volunteer.

RANGERS n Continued from 16

changed. “This year with all the returners coming back that played minutes from last season we are going to look to build on what the success we had,” said Dugger. Sexton will be one of the main players the Rangers will look to lean on this season.  He has worked hard all offseason improving his game.  Sexton has started since he was a freshman and is a very intelligent player on the floor.   Johnson, a senior, is the leading scorer returning this season.  Johnson’s role will change some this year as he will be asked to do more things for Unaka all across the board.  He knows that and has accepted the challenge this summer and fall.      Joseph Slagle is a sophomore and has really worked on his game this sum-

friday, NOVEMBER 29, 2019 Page 29 mer as Dugger is looking for some things out of him to help them stretch the defense from a shooting aspect.  Dylan Whitehead, another senior, is a very athletic kid that can score around the rim and protect on the defensive end.  He brings a level of toughness on the rebounding side. Austin Drew and Daniel Ensor have both played since they came in as freshmen and bring toughness and a willingness to do the dirty things that most players do not like to do. They are both seniors. Devin Ramsey, a sophomore, will be asked to run the offense and help out with the guard rotations. “We feel all of our guards bring different things for us to be successful.  We have some talented young kids coming in that will see some playing time. Joez Blamo and Jon Campbell will both see some time this year at some point,” stated Dugger.

File Photo

Unaka’s Dylan Whitehead goes up for a shot against Providence Academy.

File Photo

Unaka’s Will Sexton is hacked on his way to the rim in action from Snavely Gym.

File Photo

Unaka’s Joe-z Blamo drives to the basket in action against the Central Cougars inside Snavely Gym.

Page 30 friday, NOVEMBER 29, 2019

File Photo

Cloudland’s Kenzie Birchfield attempts to stop a Lady Rebel from going to the basket. File Photo

A Lady Highlander is in a troubled spot as a double team has her surrounded.

File Photo

A Seymour player comes across the top trying to block a Lady ‘Lander shot at the bucket.

HIGHLANDERS n Continued from 20

and not make stupid turnovers and mistakes. Those are the things that lose games for you. “Success for me is going to state and winning it all. We want to go to state and win some games and anything less is disappointing. If anyone tells you different, they are lying.” Harrison had nothing but praise for the teams and coaches in his conference. “It is hard to say which team will win the conference,” said Harrison. “Hampton is always a very good team and it is very wellcoached. “University High has the player of the year returning and they went to the state tournament last year. They are always tough to play. “Unaka eliminated us from the tournament last year, and they are also well-coached with Coach (Aaron) Dugger. “Sullivan North is the biggest school in the conference, and if we are going to be

successful with them, we are going to have to make up for their size by using our speed and hustle,” Harrison went on to say. “North Green has two of the best players in the conference returning, and they will be very tough to play, but I believe that we will be able to hold our own with them. “Right now, the conference could be won by any of these teams or it could be won by our team.” Harrison will rely on his two very experienced assistant coaches Tyler Chambers and Scott Potter for help in teaching the kids the fundamentals of his offense. “Tyler is indispensable to me, and Scott fills a big hole for us. We have always been successful when Scott has helped us.” Cloudland and Harrison are hoping for a good year and for the kids to learn more about the sport of basketball, teamwork, and themselves. Harrison summed it up best when he said, “If the kids play the way I know they can and work hard, I know we will be successful.”

friday, NOVEMBER 29, 2019 Page 31

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lady longhorns n Continued from 26

to unchartered waters. “We know how to work with one another because we’ve played together since the fifth or sixth grade and that’s a big help,” said Stout.”Seeing the boys play in the substate last year makes us want to be in that situation. I want to do something that no other team has did up here.” The Lady Longhorns should be deep on their bench with Cornett and Kleine. Tolley is also expecting Rhiannon Icenhour and Tiffany Price to give them some good minutes. Cornett believes the bench has to play well in addition to the starters. She touched on one thing that they need to work on. “I think we have a good offensive game but we still need to work on our defense because we slack there some,” stated Cornett. “I feel like we have what it takes to make

a run at the conference championship and advance into the region this year.” Kleine knows what her role is on the team and she’s ready to lend her assistance. “I’m not the best shooter or defender but I give it my all when they put me in,” said Kleine. “ I hustle and play hard and hope to give our team a spark. I’m very comfortable with coming off the bench.” That’s the type of mindset that Tolley needs from his squad. He feels like it’s time to finally earn all the accolades that have been given to them. “I have heard for three years now how much talent this team has and potential,” said Tolley. “It’s time they step up and show it because everything is in place. “All they have to do is go out and prove it on the floor. It might not always be pretty but if we play up to our capabilities then it could be a successful year.” For the Lady Longhorns to be successful all of them have to buy into the team concept. That includes putting the team before themselves and winning as their top priority. “Last year we had some team issues. This year our key phrase is family. If we can keep that mindset and nobody cares who scores or does what then we can win,” Tolley stated. “The first time that old greeneyed monster creeps in there it could hurt. “That caused us to lose four or five games last year and I didn’t like it. I hope they learned from it and come ready to play every night.” Tolley tabbed Sullivan Central as the team to beat along with Elizabethton. The Cougars return Wofford signee in 6’1 center Abby Crawford while the Cyclones return star players Kaitlin Bailey and Kaylen Shell. “Central was the best team I saw all summer and Elizabethton is right there with them. You know East will always be good and Happy Valley with Shalyn Whitson will be a tough team,” Tolley

continued. “Everybody on our schedule is good so we have no bye weeks. We’re better this year but everybody else is too. Nothing is going to be given to them. You always get what you want. You have to go out and earn it.”

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