Bulldogs looking to learn from last season's growing pains

Wednesday, December 7, 2011
The 2011-12 Cornersville Bulldogs basketball team. Pictured are (front row, left to right) Zack Smith, Haydon McMahon, Danny Gordon, Mike Lovett, Dakota Lovett, David Looney, (back row, left to right) Zack Welch, Jamie Crowell, Stone Riner, Devante Spencer, Tate Lowery, and Thomas King. Photo by Pap

After enduring a winless 2010-11 campaign with an extremely young squad, the Cornersville Bulldogs were hoping that their trial by fire would pay dividends this season.

Unfortunately, the Bulldogs suffered a major setback just three games into the 2011-12 campaign when senior center Mike Lovett was lost for the rest of the season due to a knee injury. An All-District performer as a junior, Lovett was Cornersville's leading scorer last year and was the Bulldogs' lone offensive threat in the low post.

With seven freshmen on their 12-man roster, CHS will rely on junior forward Hayden McMahon to shoulder more of the offensive burden now that Lovett is sidelined. McMahon has the ability to get to the basket and finish around the rim, but can also knock down the perimeter jumper.

"Hayden was our most consistent performer in practice and in summer camps and tends to improve as the season goes on," said Cornersville coach Adrian Wilson. "He's also gotten taller and a lot stronger and improved as a defender because of that."

In the backcourt, freshman Tate Lowery has taken over the point guard spot, while classmate Zack Smith and Stone Riner are starting at shooting guard.

After breaking into the starting lineup as an eighth grader late last season, Lowery is still undersized physically, but has good quickness and has the ability to get to the rim and create his own shot. He is also tough and a solid defensive player.

Smith is perhaps the best pure shooter on the team and possesses an effective midrange game, while Riner is extremely quick and likes to take the ball to the basket along with being a hardnosed defender.

Senior Danny Gordon and freshman Jamie Crowell are currently splitting playing time at the other wing spot. Although Gordon is playing high school basketball for the first time, he runs the floor well and is a good defender and ball handler. Similar to Lowery and Smith, Crowell is still undersized, but is a smart, tough player that can hit open shots.

Freshman guard Devante Spencer and junior center Dakota Lovett will also see playing time coming off the bench. Spencer is very quick and a good on ball defender, while Dakota Lovett is a solid rebounder and provides the Bulldogs with a physical presence in the paint.

Freshmen Zack Welch, David Looney, and Thomas King are also working hard and hoping to earn playing time. Welch had to recover from a injury that he sustained during football season, but is a smart player and a solid outside shooter. Looney is also a good stand still shooter, while King gives great effort and plays hard on defense.