Lady Bulldogs look to continue District title streak
Despite losing three starters from last year's squad, the Cornersville Lady Bulldogs are looking to turn in another solid campaign on the basketball court under longtime coach Micah Landers after posting a 17-11 record last year.
After starting the 2011-12 campaign with a 6-9 record, the Lady Bulldogs won nine of their last 10 regular season games en route to capturing their fourth straight District 11-A regular season crown.
Cornersville appeared to be hitting their stride at the start of the playoffs and claimed their third consecutive District tournament title by registering convincing victories over Mt. Pleasant (54-31) and Santa Fe (48-35) in the semifinals and championship game respectively.
CHS, however, saw their postseason run come to an end in the first round of the Region 6-A tourney when they dropped a 45-37 decision to Loretto, who eventually advanced all the way to the Class A State tournament.
"We feel like we've built a tradition here over the last few years and we don't want to let that tradition down now," said Landers. "We would like to win another District title and advance further in the Region tournament this year. It's not going to be easy though because Richland is going to be better and Santa Fe has had a solid program the last several years."
Having lost three All-District performers from their backcourt in Makenzie Hopkins, Ashley Warren, and Martha Jane McMasters along with reserve Tiffany Skeen to graduation, the Lady Bulldogs will have to lean on the frontcourt trio of Kaitlyn Rogers (Sr.), Brittany Umbles (Sr.), and Ashley Umbles (Soph.).
Entering her third year as a starter, Rogers has earned All-District honors each of the last two years and is the Lady Bulldogs leading returning scorer. Rogers can play both the power forward and center positions and has good touch around the basket, but is also a solid ball handler and can shoot the ball from the perimeter.
"Kaitlyn is a versatile player and we can play her at multiple positions," said Landers. "We're expecting her to have a big year, but she needs to play with more confidence and be more consistent because she has the ability to be a pretty good player."
After grabbing the starting center spot last year, Brittany Umbles was side lined by an ankle injury in January before returning to action late in the regular season and coming off the bench as a key reserve.
With the emergence of younger sister Ashley Umbles at center, Brittany Umbles will likely start at small forward to begin the season, but will also see time in the low post. Along with being a strong rebounder, Brittany Umbles is a solid defender and has worked hard to improve her outside shooting.
"Brittany has good strength and accepts the responsibility of being a role player. She's not super quick, but she has good instincts on defense and comes up with a few steals just about every game," said Landers.
Despite being thrust into the starting lineup midway through last season as a freshman, Ashley Umbles flourished at center and will share some of the scoring responsibilities with Rogers after earning All-District tournament honors last year.
Arguably the most athletic player on the team, Ashley Umbles runs the court very well and has the ability the to finish around the basket when she gets the ball in the paint.
"We have good size up front and they're our most experienced players. We'll focus on trying to score in the paint at all positions," said Landers. "I think we'll cause some teams problems defensively because of our size, but some teams will give us problems defensively because there will be times when we'll have three or four bigs on the court at the same time."
In the backcourt, senior Kaleigh Welch will take over the point guard duties after backing up Hopkins the three previous years, while junior Brooke Holt will start at shooting guard.
Although she won't be asked to carry the scoring load that her predecessor did, Welch is a very physical and intense defensive player and has worked hard to improve her ball handling and outside shooting.
"Kaleigh knows her role and understands the concepts of the offense. She plays really hard and is willing to do whatever it takes to help the team," said Landers.
After seeing time as a reserve the last two years, Holt is expected to be Cornersville's top perimeter scoring threat this season. Holt is a the best outside shooter on the team and can finish around the basket when she gets to the rim.
Junior post player Haley Stacey will likely be the Lady Bulldogs top reserve. Stacey runs the court well and possesses a good midrange jumper, but has also become a more intense defender.
Sophomores Breanne Dunkleman (PG), Britton Stewart (SF), Kelsey Wortham (SG), and Claire Garrell (PF/C) have all made improvements in their games since last year and should see playing time as well, while freshman Hope Taylor (SF), Tori Reavis (PF/C), and Carson Coble (SG/SF) are working hard to earn minutes on the court.
Cornersville Lady Bulldogs 2012-13 basketball roster