Hixson girls' basketball coach Matthew Smith noted that in the past, a game against the Lady Wildcats was treated like a homecoming game. This year's team is trying to shed that label.
Behind freshman Ciara Taylor's 33 points, the Lady Wildcats defeated Central 46-42 in overtime Friday for the team's second win of the early season, a total that tops the output from the three previous seasons for a program that lost 74 straight games and 82 of 83 in that span.
"Everybody loved when Hixson came to play," said Smith, who teaches at East Ridge. "These girls are trying to get the history off their shoulders."
In Friday's game, Hixson rallied from a 14-point deficit going into the final quarter to gain its first road win since a 32-31 win over Notre Dame on Jan. 13, 2006. Smith praised the play of Taylor, who had a 3-pointer and scored 17 of her points from the free-throw line.
"It wasn't just her, though," he said. "The returning players bought into what we've been trying to do; some of their roles have changed, and losing like they have in past years could make it tough to want to come back out. I'm pleased with the team's hard work."
Smith, an assistant last year, feels lthe team has more winnable games.
"We have to take advantage of the games we can win," he said, "but to have two wins the first week of December is big."
Also, Rhea County's girls gained their first district win in six seasons Friday by defeating Soddy-Daisy 49-40. The two-headed monster of Mary Hickey and Alex Huey combined for nine 3s and 39 points for the Lady Golden Eagles, who last won a district contest on Feb. 15, 2005 (49-48 over Bradley Central).
Baylor's Gouger invited
Baylor offensive tackle Barrett Gouger has been invited to the U.S. Army All-America combine and all-star game Jan. 8 in San Antonio. A junior, Gouger finished the 2010 season with an average grade of 88 percent on his blocking and 24 pancake blocks.
"Barrett has continued to improve. The biggest improvement he has made has been his strength," Red Raiders coach Phil Massey said. "He has the physical tools - great feet, speed and good hands. The difference over last year is in the weightroom, and I think another year there and he will blossom."
Gouger, who already has received a scholarship offer from Vanderbilt, is the second Baylor player in as many years to be invited to the game. Duke commitment David Held, a linebacker, went last season.
Harris tops 7-AAA
Ridgeland senior Mason Harris was chosen the Region 7-AAA football defensive player of the year in a voting of league coaches. Harris, who has committed to South Carolina, had 119 tackles, including 28 for loss and 15 sacks, this season.
He was joined on the all-region defense by teammates Josh Robertson, Aaron Ragsdale and Deonte Marsh; Dalton's Floyd Coffey, Toombs Norman and Chris White; LaFayette's Koran Dyer; and Heritage's Will Crane and Dustin Lewis.
Area offensive selections were Ridgeland's Devin Bowman and Jordan Cain, LaFayette's Josh Morgan and Devarus Porter, Ringgold's Jerrod Cooper and Kris Wooten and Dalton's Watts Dantzler. Allatoona running back Miles Jones was the offensive player of the year, and Gilmer County's Wes Tankersley was coach of the year.
Soddy-Daisy a winner
Soddy-Daisy won the UTC wrestling duals over the weekend. The Trojans defeated Cleveland for the championship after beating Baylor in a semifinal. Cleveland defeated McCallie in the other semifinal.
Also, Bradley Central won the Southern Slam in Greenville, S.C., with 270 points, 85.5 better than runner-up Hillcrest, S.C. Eleven of the 14 Bears finished in the medals, including champions Bradley Colbaugh (152) and Tucker Bolton (215) and runners-up Tyler Schuch (135) and Patrick Benson (285).
Science Hill won the Ooltewah Invitational ahead of the host Owls and third-place finisher Walker Valley.
Dalton's Rector commits
Dalton High basketball player Amanda Rector has committed to North Georgia State in Dahlonega. The Lady Catamounts' point guard is in her fourth year to start and is averaging 14 points and five assists per game.
"Her leadership is her biggest asset although she has led us in scoring and assists the past two seasons," coach Jeff McKinney said.
Brainerd holds fundraiser
The Brainerd basketball teams will be hosting a "Hoops for Hunger" benefit during Friday's games against Austin-East from Knoxville. Brainerd is trying to raise $1,000 in canned goods, which will be donated to the Chattanooga Community Kitchen.
The girls' game will start the doubleheader at 3 p.m. Admission is $5.