The Cannon Courier
Both Cannon County High basketball teams took everyone in the county and the surrounding area on a ride, which will be remembered for a long time.
The girls' team made it back to the state for the fourth time in five seasons in an achievement no one expected when the postseason started a couple of weeks ago. The boys team fell one game short of the state tournament for the first time in 30 years.
Regardless of how the season ended in heartbreak for both teams, the winter of 2015 will be remembered for a long time, and I am not talking about the snowy weather which threw the postseason schedule in a loop.
Let's start out with the Lionettes. Before the postseason started, nobody gave them a chance to advance out of the very competitive Class AA District 8 since they were the No. 5 seed. I remember back in early February, when I started this job, the very first thing I did was interview the players and coaches and asked them about being an underdog this postseason. They were ready for the challenge to prove people wrong after an anticipated drop- off following a successful 2013-14 season in which they dominated the district, region and advanced to state before falling in the quarterfinals.
Oh, they also had the Class AA Miss Basketball, Abbey Sissom, on that team along with a successful group of players, who enjoyed a run of three state appearances in four seasons. These Lionettes might have lost the best player in the state, but when it counted the most they knew how to win. That is the reason why this group of players led by seniors Erin McReynolds, Kendra Maynard and Kristen Hale along with juniors Autumn King and Kelli Davis proved those naysayers wrong during these past two weeks.
During their magical postseason run, the Lionettes defeated the top four seeds in their district in tournaments along with tough opponents in Sequoyah and Bledsoe County. Of course, their season ended on March 6 in the Class AA quarterfinals to the eventual state champion in Martin Luther King. Some CCHS supporters called it a Cinderella run. Honestly, for this program under head coach Michael Dodgen, the Lionettes were just meeting expectations they have set during the past few seasons of competing for state championships.
As for the boys, these past two seasons under head coach Matt Rigsby have been special, especially bringing the Lions back to respectability for the first time in long time. Of course, it had been 30 years since they last played in the state tournament. Coming into the Class AA home sectional on March 3 in front of standing room only crowd, which I think it is totally awesome, with players on both teams deserving it. The Lions had won 15 games in a row, and 17 out of their last 18. By the way, they were undefeated so far during the 2015 calendar year.
However, the season ended like it started with a loss to a very good Brainerd team. Two of out the six losses were to the Panthers this season. However, I hope 30 years down the road, players like District MVP, Josh Ruehlen and fellow seniors Garrett and Marshall McReynolds, AJ Daniel and Jacob Nave will remember the way they put this program back on the map instead of the disappointment of missing state by one game.
The winter of 2015 will be remembered for a couple of things, one is it can snow a lot here in Tennessee, but the most important one around here is the way both high school basketball teams showed the rest of the state, Cannon County will be a program to deal with in the future.
David Hunter may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.