After both Cannon County teams posted championship regular-seasons their players were rewarded with great representation on the All District 8-AA teams.
In all, a total of 11 Lions and Lionettes were recognized for outstanding play during the regular season.
MTSU signee Abbey Sissom was a unanimous choice for Player of the Year. It marked the second straight season she garnered such respect from league coaches.
The two-time Miss Basketball Finalist averaged almost 25 points per game during a dazzling campaign.
The well-rounded Sissom, who also is amongst area leaders in steals and assists, was named to the six-person All-Defensive team.
“It is an honor to be named Player of Year, especially in this district,” Sissom said. “There are so many great players so to be recognized in this way is an honor. It wouldn’t be possible without my teammates. We have a great team, and I am fortunate to play with such great teammates.”
Lionettes veteran coach Michael Dodgen was named Coach of the Year after guiding his squad to the 8-AA championship.
“It’s always an honor when your peers recognize you in such a way,” Dodgen said. “It’s especially an honor in this district because I believe we have some outstanding coaches at all of the schools. That’s why the league is so strong top to bottom.”
Junior Erin McReynolds was voted District 8-AA’s Most Improved Player, third-team All-District and was a member of the All-Defensive team.
Senior standout Madison Walkup was voted first-team. Senior workhorse Rebekah Faulkner earned second-team honors and senior Macy Clements was named to the All-Defensive team and earned honorable mention.
The Lions also had their share of award winners.
Senior sharpshooter Cory Henley earned recognition on the first team and was one vote shy of being named Player of the Year.
Junior Jacob Nave earned second-team honors. Tanner Larson and Josh Ruehlen were named third team. Tommy Mitchell was honorable mention, and Tyler King was named to the All-Freshmen team.
Walkup earned a spot on the six-person All-District 8-AA first team, which is comprised of five players plus the player of the year.
Walkup’s strong all-around play earned the respect amongst league coaches. Her versatility enables her to impact a game in many ways on both ends of the court.
Faulkner thrived in her senior season. The strong-willed post turned in numerous double doubles and was a workhorse in the paint. Her offensive presence inside and strong rebounding ability made her an easy choice as one of the top 10 players in the district.
“Madison and Rebekah have had good regular seasons and they deserve the recognition,” Dodgen said. “They have improved throughout their career and really turned it up a notch this season.
“As far as Abbey, what can you say? She goes out and gets it done night after night. She is a playmaker, she is a defender and she is a scorer. She’s just a strong all-around player and she is regarded as the best in what I believe is the best Class AA districts in the state.”
McReynolds burst onto the scene. The junior went from playing a reserve role last season to starting at point guard and becoming one of the strongest defenders on the team in 2013-14.
Clements earned a spot on the All-Defensive team. She is a strong defender and also one of the district’s top rebounders.
Henley led the Lions to one of their strongest seasons. They enter the week ranked No. 6 in the state and as District 8-AA co-champions.
Henley was a big reason why. He leads the Lions in scoring with 17.6 per game and has done his greatest damage in big district games. He narrowly missed Player of the Year honors to Livingston Academy’s Wade Eldrige.
“Cory has had a great career and that was capped with his best season as a senior,” Lions Head Coach Matt Rigsby said. “We hope there is a lot of basketball in his immediate future, but he has meant a lot to Cannon County basketball. He has been a workhorse and he has improved every year.”
Nave enjoyed a breakthrough year. The junior went from reserve to second-team All-District as a junior.
The versatile Nave impacts the game in all facets, whether scoring, passing, rebounding or defending and his all-around play and hustle was duly rewarded. He turned in five double double performances.
“Jacob has put together a very good season,” Rigsby said. “He is one of our best defenders and one of our leading rebounders. He’s very unselfish but he can also put up big offensive numbers.”
Tanner Larson earned a spot on the third team in what was a bit of a surprise during a strong senior season in which he proved to be one of the district’s top post players. His rebounding and post defense are consistently strong and he is one of the team’s leading scorers.
Ruehlen, like Nave, enjoyed a breakout year. In his first season as a full-time starter, Ruehlen was recognized with third team honors.