By Grant Stevens - Sports Editor
Nov. 28, 2012 — Experience and youth usually aren’t two words you associate with basketball.
In a rare occasion, the East Carter Lady Raiders will possess a group in the 2012-2013 season that have both of these; in other words, youthful experience.
To give you an idea of how young East’s girls are, there was not a senior night at Harold L. Holbrook Gymnasium East last year, because, well there weren’t any seniors on the squad.
Picked among the preseason top three teams in the region, the Lady Raiders can do two things well: play defense and shoot the basketball.
Offensively, the two biggest weapons for East have not even made it to upperclassman status yet. Sophomore guard Megan Stickler, and eighth-grade guard Kristen Mayo, posted averages of 11.6 points and 8.6 points last year. Stickler was deadly from beyond the arc, connecting on 48 attempts from long range.
With such high expectations headed into this season, Head Coach Hager Easterling, now in his 17th year at the helm of East, says his team feels no pressure.
“There is no pressure here, this is fun,” Easterling said. “We didn’t lose anybody, the girls have looked really good in practice and the preseason, and I think that they’re in for a great year.”
East has even added a player in a sense, with junior guard Bryana Greenhill making her return to the court this year after missing last season due to illness.
“Bryana coming back will make a huge difference for this team. She was that missing dynamic last season, and we are excited to get her back in the lineup. She takes us to the next level.”
While 15 of East Carter’s 19 players on the roster are sophomores or below, there are a couple of wily veterans in the post area who will provide a much-needed dose of leadership.
Seniors Kerie Steele and Corina Gee, who have been with the East Carter program from freshman forward, said they feel the sky is the limit for their squad.
“I definitely feel like this team has potential to win the region,” Steele said. “If we play as a team and like we know we can, we definitely have a shot.”
“We didn’t get as far as we wanted to last year, so that kind of left us with a sour taste in our mouth,” said Gee. “Keeping all our players, I don’t think we ever really ended last year, we just kind of continued where we left off.”
Having such a talented group of players this season, Easterling says makes his life much easier.
“A secret that a lot of coaches don’t like to let out is the key to winning a lot of games is having good talent,” Easterling said. “Talent is the key, but that talent has to be willing to work together for one common goal. Will we be able to do that? I don’t know, but we’re going to find that out.”
Grant Stevens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 1-800-247-6142.