The 2019-20 basketball season doesn't start for another 174 days, but that didn't stop Central High School girls' basketball from getting back to work this week. The Lady Raiders hosted a slate of summer scrimmages on Thursday, May 30 and Friday, May 31.
The girls fared well after coming off four days of practice, two of which were tryouts. Varsity went 4-0 through the two-day schedule despite injuries to both Bella Vinson and Kiya Ferrell.
"You're missing what potentially should be your two leading scorers, so I was really nervous coming in to this," Coach Joe Pat Cope said. "But we've got 13 kids on varsity right now and 11 of them have been major contributors."
Three out of the four varsity games featured a different scoring leader. Of note was Olivia Swain, a freshman transfer from Tullahoma. Swain led the Lady Raiders with 13 points in a 53-13 win over Gordonsville and led again in a 44-14 defeat of Ravenwood. Another notable freshman transfer was Jalie Reuhling from Grundy County.
"Those two are playing way more seasoned than freshmen," Cope explained. "It's just been a huge, huge help to us."
Ashley Starks led the way with 12 points in a 44-31 victory over Cannon County to close out Thursday. In the second game on Friday, Marley Perry had 15 points in a 56-28 defeat of Huntland.
Also of note was Ellie Graham, who came in as a point guard to put up impressive numbers. Against Cannon on Thursday, Graham finished just behind Starks with 10 points.
"She's getting to the basket. She just looks like she's leading the pack right now," assistant coach Matt Vinson said. "With Bella out, she's just taken the role and looks like a senior, playing like a senior right now."
On top of key injuries, CHS was trying to fill the void of departed seniors Abby Morgan and Jacey Vaughn. Cope said he was impressed by the way the team stepped up and showcased its depth despite the player losses through both days.
"[Friday] we played ten girls, we rotated every four minutes, five in, five out and there was times the second five played just as good as the first five," Cope said. "They give you 110 percent hustle and basically it's gonna be who's making shots that day, whose got the hot hand because they all can play."