It took a while, but eventually the Sequatchie County girls' basketball team was able to learn how to win a couple of games without the then-injured Melanie Barker. Now, with that new-found confidence, her presence on the court has helped the team out even more.
The senior guard averaged 14.7 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in three games this past week for the Lady Indians, which included a big district victory over Grundy County. Her performance earned her Times Free Press Player of the Week honors.
Sequatchie, who started the season 0-7, currently stands 12-10 overall and 6-1 in District 7-AA. They've won 10 of their last 11 games, the only blemish being a 48-45 loss to Whitwell on Jan. 23rd.
"Melanie's only been back for about six games. The Grundy County game was the first game that she looked like her full self again," Sequatchie coach Anita Barker said. "She hit some key shots; she set the pace and the metabolism for the game."
The Lee University signee finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and four steals in the Lady Indians' 43-34 victory over the Lady Yellow Jackets. Prior to that, she had a triple-double (11 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists) against Signal Mountain on Jan. 24th.
Coach Barker said that her daughter, along with Leigh Ann McAfee set the tone for the team.
"We handle the ball better with those two players," Barker said. "When Melanie was injured earlier in the year, we had a lot more turnovers. Now that she's back, the turnovers have gone down.
"She just provides so much leadership."
With three games remaining on the district schedule - a road trip tonight to Chattanooga Christian and home games with Notre Dame and Bledsoe County - the Lady Indians are in position to win their first district title since the 2008-09 season.
"Right now, we're just trying to hold on to the No. 1 spot," Barker said. "It's a really tough district, and everyone is beatable on any given night."