It’s been seven years since the Lady Raider basketball team lacked a Freeman sister on the court.
First there was Courtney, who powered Madison County in the paint from the 2005-2006 season until she graduated in 2009. Her sister, Kayla, was a standout, too, starring for the Red Raiders for four years, before graduating last year.
Now, Madison County head coach Dan Lampe faces the challenge of winning without a member of that dynamic duo.
“She (Kayla) was probably responsible for 50 percent of our scoring and 50 percent of our rebounds,” said Lampe, whose team finished 21-5 last year. “It leaves a big hole, but it leaves a big opportunity.”
The coach said losing such a standout can cut two ways. Obviously, it can damage production, but it can also lead to significant improvement by others.
“Our strength is almost our same weakness,” said Lampe. “What is that saying? The strength of the wolf is the pack and the strength of the pack is the wolf. We don’t have that one person that can dominate a game like we did last year with Kayla. It can be your strength and it can also be your weakness. It wound up being our weakness last year, because they (Flowery Branch — in the region tournament) stopped Kayla and we didn’t have the answer for it.”
Lampe said he wants his squad to be a lot harder to scout come tournament time.
“We have a lot more players who can score and our offense is not predicated solely on one type of play, the post play,” said Lampe. “I really think at the end we can be better than we were last year. Even though we won 21 games last year, it pulled your heart out to lose in the first region tournament game.”
The coach said his starting five won’t stay on the court the whole game. Instead, he aims to sub players regularly.
“We as a coaching staff feel that in order to improve early we’re going to give a lot of playing time and try to spread it out a little bit, make sure everyone’s rested on the floor so we’re not making mistakes because we’re tired,” said Lampe. “Our main focus this year isn’t wins and losses. We got upset in the region last year. I don’t feel we were prepared well for the tournament run.”
Here’s a brief rundown of Lampe’s roster and his comments about each player:
•Emmy Fouche at point guard: “She is just strong and fast. She can really push the ball. She’s athletic and she can jump.”
•Molly Glaze at the 2 guard: “If we do have a go-to player in the clutch, she’ll be it. If I’m scouting against us, I’m like, let’s stop Molly first.”
•Elise Coberly at the 3: “She has really come into her own — her shot, her penetration moves. She’s just a pure scorer.”
•Lele Sorrells at the 4: “She has been our heart and soul everywhere. She’s the one looking to take charges. She can get her hands on a lot of balls inside.”
•Nekia Brown at the 5: “She’s an eleventh grader who’s just a phenomenal athlete. She is so strong and can get up and down the court. When she sets a screen, it opens up a lot of shots. And when she decides to go to the offensive boards, you can’t stop her. She’s just too strong.”
•Macey Rutledge: “I expect her to come in and give us minutes as a shooter.”
•Mya Moss: “She’s so athletic, long and lengthy. We are going to need her come tournament time.”
•Samiah Bush: “She’s a big athletic post player.”
•Kierra Sorrells: “She’s a streak shooter. We’ll put her in to hit some shots. She’ll get more consistent as she settles down.”
•Hayley Gordon: “She’s really almost interchangeable with Emmy Fouche. She’s aggressive and quick and can see the court well. She’s hard nosed and competitive.”
•Jessica Allen: “We’re going to have to hit our threes down the road to make noise. She can shoot the ball.”
•Mylane Rutledge: “She’s a tenth grader who is probably the best ball defender. She helps us defensively. She reminds me of Amber Pass. She takes pride in her defense.”
Lampe said the stout competition “always seems to be the same teams.”
“You’ve always got Clarke Central, who’s always loaded,” said the coach. “You’ve got Cedar Shoals, who has an eleventh grade group that’s been playing varsity together since they were freshmen. They’re well seasoned and they’re ready to go.”
Lampe said Habersham is a good team.
“They have shooters, big post players,” he said. “I think they’re the sleeper team.”
The coach said Winder Barrow and Apalachee are going to be very good.
“On our side, there are none of those games where you can, say all right, if we just come out and play hard we should win this one fairly easily,” said Lampe. “Every game will be a dogfight this year. But I think Clarke is the team to beat as they always are.”
Despite the tough competition, Lampe said this year’s goal is to win Region 8-AAAA.
“I have my sights set on this team winning region,” said Lampe. “There’s no reason why we can’t win the region if we play good ball, work hard and practice hard.”