Lady Rockets still stinging from first-round loss
In four seasons at the helm of the Lady Rockets, Forrest head coach Jeremy Jean has posted a 95-31 overall record and a sparkling 48-6 District 9-A mark, including a state tournament appearance in 2008, but a second-round Region 5-A tournament exit in 2010 and a stunning first-round district tournament loss last year has left Jean with a bad taste in his mouth.
Jean said about the disappointing finish, "It still stings; last year wasn't acceptable to me either. That all falls on me, I have to keep them more focused. This year, I think the hunger, the fight, and the memory of what happened last year will keep that from happening again. We have to be mentally prepared and come to practice every day to get better."
The Lady Rockets are an experienced squad, losing just one senior from last season in Adrean Jordan.
Returning seniors this season include Amanda Chumbley, Scarlett Roberson, Candace Daughrity, Hannah Phifer, and Taylor Andrews.
"We haven't had a lot of seniors for awhile and that is going to be good," said Jean. "We should be a little bit more experienced, and hopefully a little bit more developed as players and understand their roles a little more and I think that will help us rebound from that loss last year in the district tournament."
Jean added, "But everybody this year has a lot of seniors, so I think it will come down to experience and who buys in and who defends the best, and with our new additions I think we will be better defensively than last year."
Andrews had a big season last year, but unfortunately suffered a devastating knee injury during the summer.
The senior shooting guard has worked tirelessly to re-hab the knee and is expected to return full time to the lineup by the first of the year.
"I think she will be back the first of December to practice and when we go to Florida, she can get back and work her way in," said Jean. "On the positive side, it has made some other kids step up and it has showed us who wants to play and who is going to play and it has made us deeper in the long run."
The trio of Roberson, Daughrity and Phifer have been together a long time and Jean believes they could be the key to the development of the squad, especially on the defensive end of the floor.
"Phifer and Roberson are just long and Daughrity is really athletic, so those three add some length to our defense and they have all become better shooters," said Jean. "If we can get some offense we will be OK, we struggled scoring at times last year, but I think they will be a lot more relaxed this year and will be good."
Chumbley contributed in the post last season and has waited for the chance to be a full-time player and her play will go a long way to the Lady Rockets' success this year.
"Amanda is that spark for us," said Jean. "She is an undersized post player and she knows it, but what she gives us when she comes in is that energy, she plays wall-to-wall basketball and she will be a real critical part to keep that energy going for us."
Sophomore point guard Savannah Brothers had a tremendous freshman year last year and is the offensive engine that runs the team with her flat out physical style of play and ability to put the ball in the basket.
Another major contributor from last year is junior guard Kirston Holder, who will fill in for Andrews and Jean feels she stepped up her game after Andrews went down.
"I think Kirston has stepped up to the challenge and over the summer she has learned to calm down. We grew up over the summer and I think she has grown the most."
Look for eighth grader Caitlyn Yost to turn a lot of heads this year with her natural playing ability.
"When Taylor got hurt, I decided to bring her up now and let her get used to it," said Jean. "She is a player. In practice, she does some things that make the others girls just watch. Late in the season, she could be a name that everybody knows. She will take some lumps early, but having a senior-laden team will help her."
Other contributors will be sophomore post player Hannah Evans, about whom Jean said, "She came in and played a little bit last year and she is going to help us a lot because she understands our offense now and knows where to be and the reason why."
Jean talked about some other players who will contribute.
"And we have the other kids like Sierra Waggoner, who is a heck of an athlete and when she wants to defend she can defend, Cheyenne (Brashear) can flat out shoot, Brianna Mackie is just all heart, and the addition of Margaret Bryan from Columbia Academy" is great, Jean said.
"If I had to give out an award for the most improved from the summer, Bryan would get it and I think she will help us late in the year and next year," said Jean.
The Lady Rockets are a hungry team on a mission to return to the top, but will have their work cut out for them with Moore County, Cascade, and Middle Tennessee Christian School returning experienced squads too.
'32 minutes of
"We will be 32 minutes of heck, that is what we are going to try to do on offense and defense," said Jean. "We are going to try to put pressure on people on defense to make them feel uncomfortable and then when they are on defense, we are going to try to put pressure on them and try to wear people down and win games in the fourth quarter."
2012 Forrest Basketball Schedule
Date Opponent Site
Nov. 13 Franklin (HOF) Home
Nov. 17 JPH/Loretto Home
Nov. 19 Cornersville Home
Nov. 21, 23, 24 Forrest Thanksgiving Tournament
Nov. 27 Richland Away
Nov. 30 Moore Co. Home
Dec. 1 Santa Fe Away
Dec. 7 Huntland Away
Dec. 10 MTCS Away
Dec. 11 Cascade Home
Dec. 21 Eagleville Away
Dec. 26-Jan. 1 KSA Christmas Tournament (Girls) Orlando, Fla.
Jan. 4 Fayetteville Away
Jan. 5 Summertown Away
Jan. 8 Community Home
Jan. 11 Moore Co. Away
Jan. 15 Eagleville Home
Jan. 18 Huntland Home
Jan. 22 MTCS Home
Jan. 25 Cascade Away
Jan. 26 Summertown Home
Jan. 29 Fayetteville Home
Feb. 1 Community Away
Feb. 4 Cornersville Away