published Friday, February 1st, 2013

Bledsoe County Lady Warriors overcome frustration

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    Bledsoe County's Halei LeQuire controls the ball against Chattanooga Christian Tuesday at CCS.
    Photo by Angela Lewis.
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The sentence has become all too familiar for Halei LeQuire: Bledsoe County is looking for a new girls' basketball coach. LeQuire, a senior guard, has heard this six times in her career at the Pikeville school.

So it was no surprise that the team was in need of a new leader after the 2011-12 season. The Lady Warriors thought the problem was solved over the summer, but the coach hired didn't work out. They started the school year without a coach.

"A few of us would go scrimmage the boys, shoot around and do what we could do on our own," LeQuire said. "It was October before we got into conditioning. We had a really late start."

It was in October that coach Carlos Davis took over the program. He took the position with no prior high school basketball coaching experience; his background was solely in AAU. The adjustment period took a while, as the team lost its first four games and five of its first six.

It wasn't an immediate turnaround, but currently the Lady Warriors are 12-10 overall. They claimed the District 7-AA title Tuesday by defeating Chattanooga Christian 38-37 and take an 8-1 district mark into tonight's game against rival Sequatchie County.

"At the beginning of the season, they were having a hard time," Davis said. "They were trying to learn me, I was trying to learn them, but we were having a difficult time with getting everybody on the same page. We played some tight games at the beginning of season, but I think we've finally come together some."

The Lady Warriors' early-season struggles were furthered by the loss of junior point guard Destinee Smith, who tweaked her hamstring in a playday and was coming off an ACL injury last April. Smith missed only two games, but it took a while to get her back into the swing of things.

Davis said minimizing turnovers -- the team is down to around 10 turnovers per game after averaging 25 early -- has been a big part of the success. An early-season walk through the gym also helped turn things around for the Lady Warriors.

"We've got a lot of banners on the walls, and I explained to them that one of these days they'll want to be able to walk in the gym with their kids, point to the wall and the banners and be able to say that they had something to do with it," he said.

LeQuire is the team's leading scorer at 13.3 points per game. Anna Peters and Catherine Davis lead the team in rebounding at 6.7, with Peters also adding 3.3 steals and 12.5 points per game.

"We're definitely working better as a team," LeQuire said. "The beginning was very frustrating, and one of the most stressful things we've had to go through.

"I hope we win the district [tournament], but no matter what, I want to know that we played as a team and know that we did our best.

"But I still want to win."

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