District player of the year, two wins from a school record, regular-season district championship, district co-coach of the year.
It would be easy to assume Maryville’s Lady Rebels are simply planning a coronation at this week’s District 4AAA basketball tournament at Lenoir City. Easy, yes, but also very wrong.
A game-by-game approach has brought the state’s No. 8-ranked team this far, and Maryville coach Kim Bledsoe is making no changes as the top-seed Lady Rebels wait to see who they’ll face in Saturday’s night’s semifinal.
“We don’t expect to blow anybody out by any means,” Bledsoe said.
While it awaits Thursday’s Heritage/Bearden survivor, Maryville (25-2) is claiming the spoils of a regular season that hardly could have gone better. Junior post player Torie Vaught was named District 4AAA Player of the Year on Monday, with Lady Rebel junior Alex Breazeale and sophomore Miranda Maples joining Vaught on the all-district team. Bledsoe shared district coach of the year honors with West’s Mark Smith.
The Lady Rebels will begin postseason play on Saturday needing one more win to tie the school record for wins in a season. The two losses guarantee this season’s Lady Rebels will own the school’s all-time mark for fewest losses in a season. With Vaught, Breazeale, Maples & Co. initiating a winning streak back in December that’s now reached 16 games, Bledsoe’s 2009-2010 squad became the fastest Lady Rebel team in school history to reach 20 wins.
“You never really know at the beginning of the season how it’s going to pan out,” Bledsoe said. “You have your hopes and your dreams.”
Not letting the Lady Rebels get too caught up in it all has been key, she said. An exhaustive stretch run and a district field that never let up exposed concerns that still must be addressed. She wouldn’t have it any other way, Bledsoe said.
“We have had our struggles of late,” she said, “and struggles can be good for you. Our district is so tough from top to bottom.”
It’s sure pretty tough at the top.
The All-District 4AAA basketball teams:
Girls: Torie Vaught, Maryville, player of year; Jai-Jai McLaughlin, Bearden; Ellen Smith, Bearden; Bianca Andre, Catholic; Alex Newby, Farragut; Katie Cargo, Farragut; Haley Newby, Farragut; Lauren Burnette, Heritage; Alex Breazeale, Maryville; Miranda Maples, Maryville; Alexis Patterson, West; Shira Buley, West; Tatum Burstrom, William Blount. Co-coaches of the year: Kim Bledsoe, Maryville; Mark Smith, West.
Honorable Mention: Shayla McDaniel, Bearden; Erin Kenny, Catholic; Traci Hardiman, Heritage; Shannon Parks, Lenoir City; Taylor Robinson, Lenoir City; Tyler Powers, Lenoir City; Kiera Smith, West; Sarah Wilson, William Blount; Sami Van Vranken, William Blount.
Boys: Tyler Hood, Lenoir City, player of year; Ty Greene, Bearden; Rico White, Bearden; Jaeland Lawson, Bearden; Taylor Broussard, Catholic; Matt Cox, Catholic; Joey Bodewig, Catholic; Landon Hunley, Farragut; Dylan Powers, Lenoir City; Cameron Langley, Maryville; Devin Jackson, West; Phillip Stanford, West; Ty McBrayer, William Blount; Micah Ballard, William Blount. Coach of the year: Mark Blevins, Bearden.
Honorable Mention: Chris Phillips, Bearden; Lucas Branch, Catholic; Wayman McLaughlin, Farragut; Seth Elfstrom, Heritage; Jared Hilton, Lenoir City; T.J. Kimble, Maryville; J.P. Burris, Maryville.
District 4AAA tournament schedule:
6:30 p.m. - Girls, William Blount vs. West
8 p.m. - Girls, Heritage vs. Bearden
6:30 p.m. - Boys, William Blount/Maryville winner vs. Lenoir City
8 p.m. - Boys, Heritage/Farragut winner vs. West
6:30 p.m. - Girls, Heritage/Farragut/West winner vs. Farragut
8 p.m. - Girls, Heritage/Farragut/West winner vs. Maryville
6:30 p.m. - Boys, Maryville/William Blount/Lenoir City winner vs. Catholic
8 p.m. - Boys, Heritage/Farragut/West winner vs. Bearden
6:30 p.m. - Girls consolation game
8 p.m. - Girls championship game
6:30 p.m. - Boys consolation game
8 p.m. - Boys championship game
Tornadoes, Lady Tornadoes
Alcoa’s Tornadoes and Lady Tornadoes begin play in the District 4AA tournament at Stone Memorial in Crossville on Friday.
Both Alcoa teams will play Kingston in opening round play, with the Lady Tornadoes getting things started at 6:30 p.m., the Tornadoes following at 8.
The All-District 4AA basketball teams had yet to be released as of press time Wednesday.