By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The 2016-17 Tipton-Rosemark Academy Lady Rebels will have a youthful look.
Not only will the lineup feature a couple of eighth graders and experienced freshmen, but the new head coach is only 26 years old. Yes, the leader of the Lady Rebels was born in the 1990s.
But Cameron Pridemore inherits the job with a solid resume of being an All-State caliber player in high school helping his team reach the State Tournament. Pridemore played college basketball at Lee University before becoming an head assistant coach twice. His previous stop was on the staff of college teammate Ryan Ross at Munford High School.
“Worked with him last year and loved it, the area,” Pridemore said. “This opportunity presented itself and I’m happy to be here.”
Some of the reasons for Pridemore optimism are the players who return to the Lady Rebels.
“I see it as we are in a pretty good position as a program to take over and start with,” he noted. “We’re very young, but it’s very talented young girls. We did graduate Ally Naifeh and Taylor Beasley. But Kallie Alexander and Brittany Hall played a lot of minutes.
“Also Megan Sanfratello scored about 190 points as an eighth grader,” he added. “And Abby West scored about 140 points as an eighth grader last year. We’re young but some of that youth has experience.”
Pridemore has seen the youth step up during the transition process from Keith Cox’s system to his philosophy.
“Megan has shown really good leadership,” Pridemore noted. “Before the season started by example by just working hard, getting in here in the evening throughout the summer. She was staying late shooting and stuff.
“The last couple of days since practice as started, those girls have shown it by being vocal and consistently bringing energy,” he continued. “Those girls, though they’re young, the rest of the girls do look up to them. They have bought into that and they’ve really led us along with the other girls like Brittany and Kallie.”
Alexander was one of the post threats on the Lady Rebels. Hall was on the perimeter running point. Hall’s younger sister is ready to jump into the mix on the post and on the perimeter.
“We do have some size,” Pridemore said. “We’re going to have some eighth graders as well with Brianna Hall and Jordan Allen are both two talented eighth graders. Jordan Allen is pretty tough down there. She’s not as tall as some of the others down there, but she plays really hard. She’s strong.
“Brianna is another type of player like an Abby,” he added. “She can play both. She can play inside and rebound. And she can step outside and knock it down and put the ball on the floor.”
The younger Hall and Allen have been a part of two championship teams in middle school. Pridemore said he hopes that winning attitude carries over to the varsity level.
“We want to take it another step further,” he said. “The first part is them buying into and believing in what they can do. I told them at the beginning of the year, ‘The only people in your way is y’all. You have to believe in how good you all can be. I can believe it all I want. If y’all don’t believe it, my belied doesn’t help.’ They are getting to the point they’re beginning to see how good they can be.”
Pridemore said the entire team has something to prove in Division II-A.
“First of we want to come out and compete every night,” he said. “They understand and bought into that. The first thing we have to do is come out and play hard every night. We have to get that step done first. That has to be our calling card — what we do.
“We have compete every possession,” Pridemore concluded. “That has to be on a day to day basis. If we do that we can build those habits. I think that will show. Once we get there, we can be real competitive in our league. I have really high expectation of where we can be in future years.”