By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Tipton-Rosemark Academy Lady Rebels are coming off a historic basketball season.
Cameron Pridemore’s first season was a pleasant success reaching Sub-State with a roster full of eighth-graders and freshmen. A year older, Pridemore is still fielding a roster full of underclassmen. But the league won’t overlook his Lady Rebels in 2017-18.
“I still have my moments of thinking, ‘We’re still so young,’” Pridemore acknowledged. “We were so young last year with a ton of eighth-graders, freshmen and sophomores. Now we’re still young with a bunch of freshmen, sophomores and juniors.”
To breakdown the 2017-18 Lady Rebels, it starts with the classes. Pridemore has a pair of seniors in Madison Irby and Brittany Hall. Irby enters her first year of varsity basketball.
Meanwhile Hall brings experience to the court in the point guard position.
“We have Brittany Hall, who is our starting point guard,” he noted. “She gives us some leadership there, some stability. She gives us somebody older there.”
The two juniors Emily West and Autumn Payne will be counted on for mental and physical maturity.
“The one who is really going to be looked at for some leadership and her capability is Emily West,” Pridemore said. “She played a little bit last year. She started off the year starting. She’s someone who is going to be coming in and play some minutes to give us some stability and minutes at guard and post. She’s one of those upperclassmen we’re going to look at in a leadership role.”
The foundation of the Lady Rebels might be the sophomores Anna Redman, Megan Sanfratello, Abby West and Eva McIntosh.
“They’ve been working hard,” Pridemore said. “Abby West and Megan Sanfratello were all-district in that group. We had four all-district performers last year with two eighth-graders and two freshmen.
Sanfratello is 400 points away from joining the 1,000-point club. Abby is just over 500 points away.
“It’s a good thing to have players with that type of experience,” Pridemore noted. “But I still have to remind myself they are still young.”
His freshmen group of Sarah Allyn Thornell, Brianna Hall, Jordan Allen and Mary Catherine Turner are still young but full of potential to help TRA reach new heights.
The younger Hall and Allen were the other two All-District selections from last season.
“First day of practice, the girls knew what to do, transitions were smoother,” Pridemore said. “A couple of them made the comments expressing how good of a first day we had. You can tell it’s just there. We are a whole lot more familiar with each other.
“We laugh about it still, my first couple of weeks when I got the job last summer I could hardly get them to take to me,” he added. “Now I can hardly get them to shut up. A lot has changed as far as that goes.”
With the bonding there, Pridemore has been able to establish his way throughout the program and build the confidence of his players.
“”ast year we surprised a lot of people,” he said. “Being so young and we were able to do a lot of things. We won 18 games which was the most in about 15 years. We went further the program has ever gone in the current TSSAA format.
“I told them, ‘We’re not surprising anybody,’” Pridemore concluded. “We’re now the team people are getting up for. We have to approach this and prepare that way. It’s a good thing. It’s exciting. It also comes with a responsibility that we have to prepare for the next step. It’s about how we prepare and how we practice. They’ve bought into it and they’re excited.”
By Thomas Sellers Jr.