Cousins Mallory Hampton and Haley CameronView 6 Photos
With a senior-heavy starting lineup, a junior sharpshooter and a new coach, the Rhea County girls' basketball team has made lots of noise this season.
Leading the highest scoring attack in the state so far have been fiery point guard Mallory Hampton and versatile shooting guard Haley Cameron. The senior duo may score more than 3,000 combined points by the end of their prep career.
Hampton plays with the utmost confidence and knows she can count on any of those around her, especially cousin Cameron, whose tendencies she can nearly predict. Hampton scored 23 points and Cameron had 18 in Monday's 57-44 win over Polk County.
"Our parents are twins (Hampton's mother and Cameron's father), so we have always been around each other and have been best friends since we were born, basically," Hampton said. "We have always played basketball with each other and do everything together.
"Haley shoots the 3 extremely well, but I love how she is attacking the basket more this year. It really hypes me up because her height helps her so much with that. She can play anywhere on the court, and that has really helped our offense."
Opponents have had to pick their poison often, as junior Macy Welch, Cameron and Hampton have each scored 24 points or more in a game. The Lady Eagles (11-1) have exceeded 80 points three times and averaged 70.1 per game going into Monday night's game.
Hampton's quick burst and hands have helped her blow past defenders and strip the ball away from opponents for fast-break points. As the spark plug for a hard-to-predict attack, she was averaging 19.2 points per game and has 1,710 career points.
"Mallory drives the ball so well," said Cameron, who has more than 1,100 career points. "She is so aggressive and strong, and other teams learn that quick. She can really do anything that she wants to."
Hampton and Cameron have accomplished a dream, but before they go off to play Division I basketball for Samford (Hampton) and Eastern Illinois (Cameron), they hope to accomplish a difficult task.
In the same District 6-AAA as Stone Memorial (14-1), Cookeville (12-4) and White County (12-3), Rhea County must prime itself for postseason action against stiff competition.
The Lady Eagles have not won a district title in the 21st century but believe they have the drive and talent to do so in the start of a new decade.
"Haley and Mallory feed off one another so well," said first-year coach Tracy Vest, who went 401-224 as the girls' coach at North Sand Mountain High School in Alabama. "They know what each other is thinking all the time. It's an awesome thing. They are a great combo to what we do."
With fellow senior starters Maddie Smith and Maddie Taylor also capable of putting points on the board quickly, there is no sure solution to stop the Lady Eagles.
"This is such a big season for us all," Cameron said. "We want to do things no one has ever done. We look to bring great effort every day. Hopefully the results will follow with hard work."
Rhea County cannot be taken lightly, as proven by 83- and 81-point performances against an eight-win The King's Academy team and 13-win Red Bank.
"The entire starting lineup is back from last year, and they know exactly how we want to play," Vest said. "We practice defense first because we can score with anybody. They have really responded and have been a great group to coach. Their leadership has been outstanding."
Contact Patrick MacCoon at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.