District 7-AA includes some longtime girls' basketball powers, and again it's one of the most rugged in the TSSAA. And its newest rising star is 5-foot-3 and 98 pounds.
Opponents are quickly learning about eighth-grader Aryn Sanders, who has played in the last 15 games for the high school team at Signal Mountain. Sanders may not have the speed advantage she did at the level below, but she leads Signal Mountain with 3.6 steals per game.
"In middle school I'd be one of the fastest ones out there," she said, "but people can catch up in high school."
Sanders has a fearlessness that transcends her frame. She's already shot 122 free throws, and she leads the Lady Eagles with 16.5 points per game.
"She increased her scoring every game her first five games, where she peaked at 24 points," Signal Mountain coach Jason Hill said. "I think people kind of recognize her now and focus more on her than before, when they didn't know who she was.
"She still has some eighth-grade tendencies. She needs to work on positioning and her help defense. We're going to work with her on drawing the defense and passing. She's been able to score on her own. That will help her become more of a complete player."
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.