It’s been a busy few weeks for the Tullahoma High School girls basketball team.
In just that short amount of time, the Lady Wildcats have traveled almost everywhere, heading to several camps and seeing plenty of live action. In fact, Tullahoma concluded its final week of June workouts, with two trips, first taking part in a two-day play day at Shelbyville, before heading to camp at Belmont on Friday.
Prior to this week, Tullahoma had already traveled to Lee University, Tennessee Tech and the University of Alabama for camps.
“It’s been pretty wild. We’ve played more than we have been able to practice,” said THS Head Coach Cody McMurtry. “In the few days that we have been able to practice, we’ve kind of given them off or done something else team-wise, because of the quality time that we’ve spent on the court.”
All that time on the court, hasn’t been a bad thing. According to McMurtry, he’s seen some good things out of his squad, including at Shelbyville. During that two-day play day, the Lady Wildcats varsity team went 4-0, including defeating East Nashville and Briarcrest Christian School.
“Anytime we’ve been challenged, we’ve played really well,” McMurtry said. “East Nashville and Briarcrest were too really good teams. We met and exceeded those expectations that we had during those games … Then we’ve had some games that were just some tough battles. We’ve played Farther Ryan, Farragut, East Hamilton, and Cleveland to just name a few. During all of those, we’ve raised the bar on how we’ve been able to play.”
Heading into this season, the Lady Wildcats have a veteran group of players returning, one that didn’t have a senior graduate last year. During these summer matchups, McMurtry said it’s obvious that his players have a wealth of playing experience together.
Heading into the summer, the focus for the Lady Wildcats’ coaching staff had been putting an emphasis on the defensive end. According to McMurtry, he and his staff have only needed to call about five or six plays during games this summer, as his team has been able to make adjustments.
“We’ve definitely made more defensive calls than we have offensive. We’ve kind of been getting the ball and going into transition,” McMurtry said. “I’ve told the girls that, ‘We’ve got offensive stuff, I just don’t want to call it. I want you to learn how to play basketball.’
“When it looks like they are stagnant, that’s when we said that we’ll help them along. But, with four seniors, you would hope that somebody would take the initiative. They’ve met that expectation that we had for them.”
During the summer, the Lady Wildcats have been without two key juniors. Both McKenna Buckner and Sierra Neese have missed games due to injuries. Without those key players, McMurtry said that he’s seen some good things out of some underclassmen.
“We’ve had to call on some sophomores and freshman,” the Lady Wildcats’ coach said. “Cara Mayes has stepped up. We’ve been excited about her development. Lucy Nutt, Eleanor Fults and Liv Bowen have really stepped up their play as freshmen. We knew from a skill level that they were going to be good, but the maturity and physicality of the game, has been impressive.”
Competition for No. 22 jersey wide open
In honor of former Wildcats’ Boys Basketball Coach Jeff Taylor, one Lady Wildcat will be given the honor of wearing the No. 22. Taylor wore that number, while playing at Franklin County High School.
Last year, Macey Bowman was the first recipient of that honor. That honor is going to be bestowed to a player who puts in work on and off the court to consistently get better, help their team and be as top-notch of a player that they can be. According to McMurtry, the competition is wide open this season as he’s seen several good things from several players.
“There’s been so many girls who have stepped up and done great things,” McMurtry said. “July will kind of help tell who might emerge for that honor. July is kind of a grind. They know school is about to start, that they need to be lifting, that they need to condition their bodies getting ready for basketball season. That’s when you’ll see the ones who are pulling them together.
“Honestly though, on the ride home from Shelbyville I was thinking ‘It could be anyone.’”
While he said that there is a plethora of candidates, McMurtry said that more than likely that No. 22 jersey will be handed out right before season gets underway in November.