published Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Meigs' basketball coach Jason Powell follows sister in coaching in state

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    Jason Powell
    Photo by Dan Henry.
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    Cleveland's head coach Rachel Moore yells instructions to her players during the 2008 Farm Bureau Insurance of Tennessee TSSAA Class AAA Girls Basketball Championships in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
    Photo by Staff File Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

DECATUR, Tenn. — The backyard battles growing up between Meigs County girls' basketball coach Jason Powell and his sister, Rachel Moore, were far from epic. They were extremely one-sided.

"I'll admit I never won," Moore said Monday. "If I ever got close, he'd beat me down, take me to the basket and shove me out of the way to score."

Jason said the coaching battles were pretty much the same sort of one-sided affair, except this time swinging in Moore's direction during her time as head coach at Cleveland High School.

"I'd say the rivalry when we were younger and both playing was a lot more spirited," Powell said. "When she was coaching, our teams would only play in the summertime, but after each time we'd play, we'd say, 'I'll never play you again,' because we'd normally have some words."

Yet the bond between the two remains tight. And Thursday afternoon, they'll be able to share yet another memory in their lives: coaching in the state tournament.

Powell's Lady Tigers (31-4) will face Clarkrange (32-3) at 12:30 EST in the Class A state quarterfinals. It will be Meigs' first trip to Murfreesboro since the 1994-95 team won the state tournament -- two seasons after a little point guard named Rachel Powell led the program to its first state championship before going on to shine for Georgia.

"He probably has had as big of an influence on me as anybody," Moore said. "I tried to emulate what he did. He set a tremendous example by going to the gym every day, and having someone to look up to was huge for me, I feel like. It's part of the reason I began loving the game of basketball, and I feel like he had a huge impact on me as far as my basketball career. When I coached, I can't tell you how many times I've called him just when I was frustrated or needed answers, just to pick his brain on things because I know he has a tremendous love and understanding of the game.

"There's no way I'd be able to accomplish what I did without him."

During her time at Cleveland, she took four consecutive teams to the state tournament. This will be her brother's first trip to state as a head coach, but he was an assistant for the Science Hill boys' team that lost in the 2002 Class AAA final. He does have the fact that he went to state tournaments as a Meigs player in 1986 and 1987 -- a drought that ended Monday when Meigs defeated South Greene 71-69 to advance to Murfreesboro.

The siblings often bounce ideas off each other. They spent some time watching video of the Clarkrange team Monday afternoon, and asking each other "What would you do?" as to how to attack or defend certain situations.

The Lady Buffaloes have plenty of size inside, as Brittany Cooper, Cheyenne Shaver and Kara Meadows each scored in double digits in their 70-37 sectional win over Arts & Sciences.

Meigs has a four-player senior class led by Lee University signee Emileigh Swafford, who is averaging 22.3 points, five rebounds, 2.5 steals and two assists a game. The other seniors are Brandi Kilpatrick (10 ppg, 7.1 rpg), Madison Hampton (7.2 ppg, 3.9 rpg) and Angel Davis (5.0 ppg). Sophomore guard Taylor Boggess (12.9 ppg, 3.5 steals) is the other starter.

"This senior class has been significant in getting us on track," Powell said. "Last year we were beat in the region semifinals by McMinn Central and we vowed to take the next step. The ultimate goal is to get to where we're at today, and hopefully we can continue to climb that ladder, but if we don't, we'll end with our goal of getting to the Show."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.

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