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Lady Pioneers prepare for new season with loftier goals
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Kyra Perkins will return to the Lady Pioneer basketball team as a junior who has the ability to have a breakout season in 2021-22. - photo by Brad Durham
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Senior Jaden Smartt will be a solid piece of the Lady Pioneer basketball team at the post position next season. Smartt is one of three seniors on the 2021-22 team.

Head high school Lady Pioneer basketball coach Anthony Lippe has to be excited about his new roster. 

Last season was a major step forward for Lady Pioneer basketball as the team jumped from two wins in the previous school year to 12 wins this past season. In Lippe’s third season, he is hoping to make another jump forward. 

He has plenty of experienced varsity players returning on next year’s team to fill the starting lineup. Challenging expectations face the Lady Pioneers. For example, will the Lady Pioneers have their first winning season since 2014? 

While there may be questions about next year’s team, there is no question about the new team’s desire to win. Coach Lippe said it doesn’t matter what his goals are. What matters is what the girls on the team want. 

Lippe said the team met the other day to discuss goals and the actual goals they put on the board came not from him but from the girls. Here is what he heard from his team, “We want to win the district. We want to have a winning season.”

Lippe said that one girl said she wants to win a region playoff game. Coach Lippe responded to her by asking about a region run. These are the type of goals the team is setting for itself. Lippe did not hear these goals from the team during his first year as head coach. Moreover, coach Lippe said, “whether or not the team accomplishes all of them depends on what happens.” 

Another point Lippe emphasized is that he does not want the public to think the team is saying they are going to win the district. What the team is saying is that they desire to win the district. There is not an attitude of arrogance, but one of confidence and hunger to compete, to win games.

There is a positive progression taking place with this team. Winning a district game last season had not been accomplished in a long time. Coach Lippe said, “The bar has definitely gone up. We want to keep pushing. We want to be the best team we can be.”

There is exceptional talent on the Lady Pioneer basketball team. There were times last season when Kyra Perkins may have been the best player on the court as a sophomore. Perkins is returning as a junior who ran track in the spring and is playing on an AAU team this summer. It would not be surprising if Perkins had a breakout season in 2021-22. Perkins has all the skills and athletic ability a coach wants in a basketball player.

Jaden Smartt has gone on record stating she wants to work on her offensive post moves and scoring this summer. Mia Hobbs showed a lot of poise and offensive ability last season, and she will be looked upon for more leadership and contributions. Shelby Smartt has proven ability at guard and brings a reliable 3-point shot to the team. 

Coach Lippe said Brienne Kelsey has a good shot, and she will be seeing more playing time next year. Sydney Burger is a senior who has impressed her teammates and coach at the start of the summer with her work ethic and determination.

Sable Winfree was Freshman of the Year in a very competitive district last season. There is no ceiling where Winfree can go in her career, and her growth from her freshman to her sophomore will have a major impact on where the Lady Pioneers go in their next season.

When asked about new players on the team who can may make an impact next season, Lippe said he has to see what happens in summer camp. The team will be going to MTSU in June. Lippe said, “They may be playing AAU ball, but the strength and speed of basketball at this level can be challenging.” Lex Verge is a sophomore whom Lippe expects to be competing for playing time in the new season.

The Lady Pioneers will be scrimmaging a lot of teams this week at the MTSU camp, and they will return there later this month. The team will be practicing in between those camp dates. After the dead period, some girls on the team will be more involved with soccer and volleyball. 

If Vegas were placing odds on which WCHS team is best built for success in 2021-22, a strong bet is the Lady Pioneer basketball team. The team will be smaller, and it will have to be faster and more athletic with an emphasis on defense. The talent is there. 

Coach Lippe said, “Can we take these puzzle pieces and jell them together as a team. There is skill all around on this team.” There is no crystal ball to see into the future, but Lady Pioneer fans can look forward to next season with confidence.