Though he had seen his team play in practices, Tullahoma Head Boys Coach Jason Welch finally got a few opportunities to see how his team fared against other teams.
The Wildcats headed to a pair of camps recently, first in Lebanon on May 31. Tullahoma then followed that with a two-day camp, heading to Maryville College on Monday, before returning late Tuesday evening.
During the first camp, Tullahoma faced some tough opponents, dropping all three of their matchups. The Wildcats lost a close contest to Gallatin, before being defeated by Clarksville Northeast and closing its day against Watertown.
While the trip to Maryville was deemed a success by Welch, it didn’t start that way for Tullahoma, as the varsity dropped all three of its matchups during the first day. However, the Wildcats’ varsity squad followed with three victories the following day, while the junior varsity split its pair of games.
“It was a good overnight stay,” Welch said. “[Our coaching staff] and the boys got to know each other a little bit… It was fun. It really felt like we got better. Our man-to-man defense improved and some of our zone stuff was much better.”
Tullahoma opened the second day of competition by picking up a win over Community (Georgia). The Wildcats then followed that with a victory over Loudon County, before defeating Jellico to close out the camp.
“We beat all them by over 20 points, so that was good to see,” Welch said. “We were really pleased.”
As a senior leader on this year’s team, Austin Secrest echoed his coaches’ sentiments. However, he did wish that his team had played better the first day of the Maryville tournament.
“The first day we really didn’t play as energetic as we did on that second day,” Secrest said. “The second day, we picked up our speed and started running and pushing the ball as soon as we got rebounds and went 3-0. When we push and we run, we are a really hard team to beat.”
Following the trip to Maryville, Tullahoma didn’t have to wait long to head to their next camp. The Wildcats were slated to head to Oakland for a two-day camp, beginning on Thursday and wrapping up on Friday.
In those back-to-back days in Murfreesboro, Tullahoma was scheduled to face some tough competition. The Wildcats were slated to play Siegel, Franklin and Riverdale on Thursday, before wrapping up their camp against Eagleville and Stewarts Creek. As of press time, the results of those matchups were unavailable.
“There are going to be a lot of good teams there,” Secrest said. “We just don’t want to fold under pressure and showcase our talent against some teams and players. I just want to see what we can do as a team and play our game.”
On Monday, Tullahoma will once again see that same Riverdale team, as the Wildcats’ were hosting the Warriors for practices. The pair of squads are then slated to practice together from 9-11 a.m., before facing off in scrimmages that get underway from 12-2 p.m.
“The practice will help us,” Welch said. “That way we can work on plays and then talk about them. So everybody knows what we are trying to do.”
Coming out of the first couple of camps, Welch noted that there a few things where he wanted to see improvement, including on what he called “basic fundamentals.” However, his main goal for his team is to get better on the defensive end.
“Basically, we are going to spend a lot of time trying to cut the ball off and get in front of people,” Welch said. “We don’t do a bad job of flying around and getting touches sometimes. We don’t want to give up layups, so we are going to spend some time working on that.”