Community recently concluded their 2006 basketball season in what can only be described as a disappointing manner for both teams. Each squad suffered first round losses in the District 9-A tournament, and to make matters worse the Viqueens were defeated on their home court by archrival Eagleville.
(T-G Photo by Danny Parker)
Coach Tony Garrette's and coach Mike Edmondson's teams combined for 30 wins. THIRTY! The Viqueens finished 18-7 while the Vikings were 12-14.
These may not be lofty numbers for some area teams, but it has been many years since either Community team has registered win totals such as these.
There are various and sundry reasons for the drought starting with Shelbyville Central, which attracts players like a magnet to the prestige of playing at a level higher than Class A.
Looking at the roster of players who departed Community to pursue their high school careers in town makes one wonder just what could have transpired should they have stayed. The Shelbyville boys and girls rosters are peppered with players who attended Community at one point or other.
Don't misunderstand my thought process on this. As a parent and a self-professed competitive junkie, I have nothing but admiration for players and parents that want to compete at the highest levels possible. It is the natural progression of competition that student athletes migrate toward playing fields that challenge and prepare them for the next level. I have no problem with exercising their option to do so.
I simply point out that it is the very reason that small country schools like Community have such difficulty in the athletic arena, so you can see why 30 wins is such a significant number.
Winning is contagious. It can also cause a certain element of unrest when rosters start to swell with talented players. It is a nice problem to have as far as coaches are concerned, to a point.
Edmondson and Garrette have built two very competitive teams that are very young. The two teams combined to graduate just one senior (Andriana Jones).
The Viqueens return four starters and a promising crop of freshmen led by Kassidy Lane, Aubrey Boyce and Courtney Vassar. Lane has a real chance to be a star in the post position. Her dedication to offseason work will be vital.
It has been many seasons since Community could consistently play inside-out due to the lack of a true post player. Lane and Marissa Jones could team to be just what the doctor ordered to keep the Viqueens competitive with teams that came in and muscled them around this year; Forrest and Middle Tennessee Christian come to mind. Both of those teams are still playing. Their style of play is conducive to post season aspirations. There are no finesse teams left this late in the season.
The Viqueens have the shooters. Jessica Thompson, Carly Daffern, Heather Small, Boyce and Vassar can light it up from outside. Thompson was among midstate leaders with a 12.9 scoring average and she and Small finished among the league leaders in 3-point shooting.
Daffern was among league leaders in assists as well as a threat from behind the arc. She will be counted upon heavily to take up for the absence of Jones, who manned the point a good deal of the time. She and Thompson were named for the second consecutive time to the regular season all-district team.
Edmondson returns all five starters from his overachieving team. Four of their losses were by five points or less, two came in overtime.
The 12 wins surpassed the preceding victory total for the past two seasons combined, despite the loss of Wylder Norris, their leading scorer and all-district representative as a freshman, to you know who.
Viking Justin Stallings emerged as an offensive threat out of the post position as a sophomore and was among league leaders with a 13.3 points-per-game average. He assumed the team leadership early on and his teammates responded well to his role.
Teammate Josh Hull was right behind him with an 11.7 scoring average and was among the league leaders in rebounding. He was named to the regular season all-district team in his second season.
Chris Molder, Zach Haynes, and freshmen Cody Pierce and Kyle Dyer all had solid years, as did eighth grader Christian Edmondson.
All are still developing physically and have a full season of varsity level competition under their belts. Each player has the potential to help lead the Vikes deep into the postseason next year.
As with most winning programs, Community teams dealt with their fair share of adversity, some of it self-induced. The boys team in particular is to be commended for putting any distractions behind them and just playing the game. It wasn't always easy, but they exemplified the team concept. They did an amazing job, all things considered, and I believe that we all learned a little from their example.
Community sports programs are exhibiting exciting gains in the competitive arena. Talent levels are at an all-time high and opposing teams' athletic directors no longer view the Purple and Gold as an easy 'W' for their programs as they plan their schedule.
Only time will tell, but the future appears to be bright and there appear to be prospective 20-win seasons and some serious postseason play on the horizon. I have visions of writing this postseason summary much later next year.
I look forward to it.
Jimmy Jones is a Times-Gazette sports writer.