Cannon County ranked No. 1 in state

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TONY STINNETT / Courier Sports Editor

Cannon County girls basketball has a strong tradition and
reputation for its hardcourt success through the years but
the 2012-13 Lionettes has achieved a feat never before
realized in the program’s rich history.

The Lionettes (18-1) received seven first-place votes and
were ranked No. 1 in the initial Class AA Top 10 state poll,
edging ahead of No. 2 Grainger (18-0) by three points in the
balloting. It marks the first time in program history that
Cannon County has been ranked No. 1 in the state poll.

“As a coach it is a great honor for your basketball
program and the kids that work hard every day in practice
and in games,” said Cannon County eighth-year Head Coach
Michael Dodgen. “All of the hard work that you put in
daily and monthly is being recognized by everyone around the
state of Tennessee. There are a ton of talented teams in the
state of Tennessee in the Class AA ranks. For us to be
mentioned in that spot and ranking is a great honor for me
as a coach and for Cannon County High School, the town of
Woodbury and all of Cannon County.”

The Lionettes currently lead District 8-AA with a 5-0 mark
and own a one-game lead on second-place Livingston Academy
(16-4), which is ranked No. 3 in this week’s poll. Fellow
league member Murfreesboro Central Magnet (14-2) was among
those receiving votes.

Cannon County, which has won two of the previous three
Region 4-AA championships, has been ranked in the Top 10
each of the past three seasons but to be at the top of the
list is a different experience.

“We were excited when Coach Dodgen told us we were ranked
No. 1 in the state,” said Cannon County standout Abbey
Sissom, who leads the team in scoring (21.3), assists (4.9)
and steals (3.1). “We also know it puts a target on you
and everyone is gunning for you, but we usually get
everyone’s best shot so we expect that. It’s just a
great feeling to know that the people who vote take notice
of our program and that our hard work is paying off.”

Dodgen said there will be an even greater bullseye on the

“The bullseye is a big one but these ladies in our program
play in the best district in the state of Tennessee for AA
basketball and playing good teams night-in and night-out is
no big deal to them,” Dodgen said. “The bullseye gets
bigger now but you take it in stride and continue to work
hard with preparation and practice.”

Players say the biggest reason for the team’s success is
its work ethic and chemistry.

“Our team is close and we work well together,” said
senior guard Abby Jakes. “We have put a lot of work into
this season and we play for one another. I believe everyone
cares more about the team’s success than individual
success and that’s what it takes to be a great team.”

The Lionettes have achieved a lofty status with a balance
of strong defense and high-octane offense. The Lionettes’
65.1 points per game average is sixth in the state,
regardless of classification.

“The team has done a great job of committing to the
defensive side of the ball,” Dodgen said. “The focus of
the team on the offensive side has been very good also. Our
assists are up this year, along with our shooting
percentages as a whole, from all spots on the floor. When
this team is focused and on its game it is fun to watch.”

The Lionettes will put their No. 1 ranking on the line when
they play host to Smith County Friday in District 8-AA
action. Tipoff at Robert A. Harris Gymnasium is 6 p.m.

Associated Press Class AA
Top 10
1. Cannon County (7) 18-1
2. Grainger (8) 18-0
3. Livingston Academy 16-4
4.Westview 16-2
5. McMinn Central 14-3
6. Knoxville Fulton 12-3
7. Covington 16-2
(tie) Elizabethton 13-3
9. CPA (1) 10-4
(tie) Creek Wood 14-2
(tie) Obion County 15-5

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