Former Moore County High School standout Erin Thomas is among the first-year Motlow players eager to make her debut.
“Things have been going really good,” said Thomas. “We start Saturday and I think we’re really prepared. We still have some things to work on, but I think we’ve come together as a team.”
Lady Bucks head coach Aaron Holland begins his second season at the helm of the Motlow women’s program with a revamped roster that features a number of players from the Motlow College service area. Only two sophomores return from last season, but Holland is confident that this year’s team will be much improved.
“I really like this team,” said Holland. “I like all the additions that we’ve brought in, and if we control the things that we can control, I think we have a chance to be a good basketball team. It’s going to be interesting, and hopefully fun for fans, to watch this young team develop.”
Winchester product Lacy Gaines started six games last season, averaging 2.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game. Gaines was one of only two Lady Bucks to play in all 25 of the team’s games during the 2012-13 season.
Newcomers who played their high school basketball at schools within Motlow’s 11-county service area include Moore County’s Thomas, Breeanna Horner from Shelbyville, Chelsea Holman from Winchester, Briana McDonald from Tullahoma, who also played at Shelbyville, and Alexis Smith from Huntland.
Thomas said that players’ similar background has perhaps helped the team gel faster than normal.
“We have really come together as a team and bonded really well,” said Thomas. “Because most of the girls, Tullahoma is a lot like their own hometown. There’s no big mall or anything like that, so they kind of feel like they are back at home.
“Several of us already knew each other just from playing together (or against each other). We’ve known each other from AAU. That made us feel more comfortable coming into the season, rather than going into it not knowing anyone.”
Joining them from the state of Tennessee are Chloe Neil from Tennessee High School in Bristol, Jadah Fite from Cane Ridge High School in Nashville, and Andi LaPietra and LaTaya Carter from Montgomery Central High School in Clarksville.
Student-athletes from outside the state of Tennessee are Kayla Pope from Earle, Ark. and Sabrina Jackson from Chicago.
Thomas said she hopes the influx of regional talent will help the Lady Bucks draw good crowds at Copperweld Arena.
“I hope we get a crowd. That why I came to Motlow to play. I just want to make my hometown proud,” Thomas said. “I want to show people that a player can come from a small town and still make a difference.”
The Motlow men’s team will open its season in Niceville, Fla. Motlow faces Northwest Florida State Friday night and Tallahassee Community College on Saturday.