Lady Cougars in rebuilding mode

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By Dwane Wilder

This will be a rebuilding year and then some for Campbell County High School girls’ basketball coach Ryan Browning.

Half of the 2011-12 district championship team graduated in May, which left some mighty big shoes for the returning players to fill.

Browning experimented with a new dribble drive offense, featuring one post player and four guards, during the first of three summer team camps last month. 

Consequently, the Lady Cougars won only one of four games at a two-day team camp hosted June 6-7 by William Blount High School.

“We beat William Blount, but Maryville and Farragut thumped us pretty good,” Browning said.

“After that camp was over, we went back to our traditional two post offense. The next two camps we played better. We had better rebounding and better defense in the post.”

Since then, Campbell County has made marked improvement.

The Lady Cougars won two of four games while participating in Anderson County’s team camp June 11-13. 

The victories were over Carter and Jellico. Campbell County’s losses included Fulton, by 10 points, Oakdale and Oliver Springs, by four.

The following week, Campbell County went 5-5 at a team camp hosted by Lincoln Memorial University. That included four games in one day.

“We played 10 kids and a lot of sophomores,” Browning said.

Campbell County beat Jellico twice and also scored victories over Hancock County, Middlesboro, Ky. and Knox Central, Ky. Games against Cocke County, Williamsburg, Ky. and Barbourville, Ky. led to Lady Cougar losses.

“We made a lot of silly mistakes, didn’t shoot the ball well, made a lot of unforced turnovers and just fouled a lot,” Browning said.

“Every time we got down by five or six points, we could never break back into the lead.”

Niki Ward, Emily Byrge and Kristy Owens are the only three seniors on the team and will be counted on heavily for their leadership once the season begins in November.

Other varsity players include Hannah Owens, Chelsey Finkenbine, Megan Caudill, Jamie Mynatt, Olivia Brown, Michaela Smith, Kendra King and Amber Guy.

Ward ran the point during summer camps.

“Emily Byrge shot the ball well from the corner. She and Chelsey Finkenbine played outstanding defense,” Browning said.

“Hannah Owens took more responsibility for shots. 

“They’re learning. Everyone played better at the end than at the beginning, and that’s encouraging.”