Courier Sports Writer
When Michael Dodgen accepted the position to become Cannon County's newest girls head coach, his father knew it was a match made in Heaven.
"I told him your going to be good for Cannon County and Cannon County is going to be good for you because he loves basketball and Cannon County loves basketball," Donald Dodgen said.
He couldn't have said it any better.
In the same game, the 10-year Cannon County head coach reached his 300th win in the same contest his senior class notched their 100th win.
The milestone win came against Archbishop, Fla. on Tuesday, Dec. 30, in Panama City Beach, Fla., where the Lionettes won 48-32.
"It's a good marriage," said Donald Dodgen, winner of more than 700 games as head coach at Farragut, McMinn County, Gatlinburg-Pittman and Tennessee Wesleyan.
"It's a combination of having good coaches around, (and) good players in your program," Michael Dodgen said. "It's a process that doesn't happen overnight, it's a process that started 10 years ago when I got here and the years I was at Smith County."
Some of the best moments for the younger Dodgen have been victories such as his 200th win over No. 2 Elizabethton in the quarterfinals of the TSSAA Class AA Girls State Tournament in 2011.
And the list could go on for days such as: ending McMinn Central's 55-game home winning streak, East Hamilton home sub-state game or back-to-back Region 4-AA titles.
But it wouldn't be possible without the help from his father, a former coach of 36 years and the fifth leading scorer in the state of Tennessee, who Michael Dodgen says he often seeks for guidance.
"It's a good advice person to have to go to if I ever have questions," said Michael Dodgen, who calls his father following each game, win or lose.
After all, father knows best. He does have twice the amount of wins (700-plus) as his son.
"Deep down inside I'd love to catch him and pass him just so I have something to throw at him someday," Michael Dodgen said.
"I still got a long way to go, but that would be a nice thing to be able to catch him at some point."
Added Donald Dodgen on the possibility of his son surpassing his win total: "I hope I can be there to celebrate with him. He's at 300 quicker than I got to 300... He's one of the most knowledgeable people I've ever been around about basketball."
"It's not easy. By no means it's not easy," Michael Dodgen said of the task of winning inside the confines of Region 4, District 8-AA.
Currently, head coaches Lesley Riddle of Livingston Academy and Dana McWilliams of Upperman, both have 500 wins.
"Your coaches in this district know what they're doing," Michael Dodgen said.
"I've always said the fifth and sixth place team in our district that gets eliminated in the district tournament every year could probably win 90 percent of the districts in the state of Tennessee."
For the third straight year, the Cannon County Lionettes' seniors will graduate as winners of 100 games or more.
"This senior class has worked really hard to get where they are right now," Michael Dodgen said. "I don't think there were a lot of people outside of our realm that thought they could have accomplished what they accomplished so far."
"Every time we seen another class get it, I think we just strived to do that and it's just kind of a dream come true," senior Erin McReynolds said.
Added senior Kristen Hale: "We always looked up to the seniors as we were freshmen and sophomores and we just thought - wow - that would be so awesome to get."
As senior Kaylee Hayes recognizes, "not a lot of people get to accomplish" a goal of winning 100 games.
Despite losing over 4,000 points and four-of-five starters from last season, this year's 2015 seniors have stepped up to the challenge of continuing Cannon County's winning ways.
"They've bought in to what we want to do here and in arguably the toughest district in Class AA in the state of Tennessee," Michael Dodgen said. "They're used to winning... You don't want to be the team that breaks the streak."
"When we're older we can look back on it and tell our kids about it and maybe they'll have the same attitude and win as many games as we did," senior Kendra Maynard said.
Lionettes suffer 2nd home loss of season
Foul trouble sets back CC
In the first Tennessee girl's basketball prep poll that was released last week, the Associated Press had Cannon County ranked seventh, and Upperman ranked eighth.
The halftime score of 25-24 in favor of the Bees nearly mirrored the poll, but an uncharacteristic third quarter for the Lionettes resulted in a 57-50 road win for Upperman on Tuesday.
"They outplayed us in the third quarter at that was the difference in the ballgame tonight," veteran head coach Michael Dodgen said.
"We missed too many layups. We missed too many three throws," Dodgen said of his team's second half performance. "We've got to finish at the rim. We had a lot of shots at the rim that we didn't make."
Tied at 29-apiece with 5:37 left in the third, the Bee's swarmed together a 14-2 run and never looked back maintaining at least a five-point lead for the rest of the contest.
In addition, Dodgen had starters Erin McReynolds and Autumn King on the bench for much of the third quarter due to foul trouble. Both players picked up their fourth foul in the quarter.
"It was a combination of we got in foul trouble and they got some run-outs on us and they finished," Dodgen said. "We've got to stay out of foul trouble."
King, McReynolds and Kelli Davis each fouled out.
Three Lionettes finished in double figures as King and Kendra Maynard led the way with 12 points apiece. Davis finished with 11.
The Lions (15-4, 2-3) strung together a 9-0 run in the opening quarter after back-to-back layups from Maynard to give Cannon County its largest lead at 13-7.
10 15 18 14 57
14 10 07 19 50
Upperman: Akira Levy 16, Brooke Farris 4, Lexie Strickland 4, Sarah Eldridge 7, Gracie Maynord 8, Ashlyn Medley 6, Abby Greenwood 12.
Cannon County: Kendra Maynard 12, Erin McReynolds 9, Kristen Hale 3, Autumn King 12, Kelli Davis 11, Kaylee Hayes 3.