Category Archives: high school basketball

Richland hoops duo to extend playing career at UT-Southern

By Maurice Patton

Logan Helton and Daniel Nicholson will get to be teammates for a bit longer.

Two of the key performers in Richland’s run to the Class A boys basketball state tournament this year signed NAIA scholarships with Martin Methodist College during a Friday ceremony at the school.

Martin Methodist will be rebranded as the University of Tennessee-Southern on July 1, making Helton and Nicholson part of the first class of incoming Firehawk athletes.

Flanked by his parents, Tara Angus (left) and Jeffrey Nicholson, Richland guard Daniel Nicholson signed a college basketball scholarship Friday with Martin Methodist. Also pictured are RedHawk coaches Dugan Lyne (back, left) and Caleb Chowbay (back, right) and Richland coach Jason Loveless. (Courtesy photo)

“Talking to both their dads – if their paths had gone separate ways, I think they’d have done well. But just knowing you’ve got somebody that’s been with you through thick and thin already, I think will be good for both of them,” Richland coach Jason Loveless said.

“They’re probably both going to redshirt. That’s a tough pill to swallow for two kids that have started four years. But I think mentally they can handle that. They have areas they can improve on and develop. That redshirt year is going to fly by, they’ll put the work in, and my vision is that in two or three years they’ll be making an impact on the floor for UT-Southern.”

Nicholson, a Tennessee Sports Writers Association Class A all-state selection, averaged nearly 18 points per game for the Raiders, with Helton averaging almost 15 points per contest. With the two leading the way, Richland advanced to the Class A state quarterfinals for the first time since 2013.

Flanked by his parents, Lisa (left) and Mike Helton, Richland forward Logan Helton signed a college scholarship Friday with Martin Methodist. Also pictured are RedHawk coaches Dugan Lyne (back, left) and Caleb Chowbay (back, right) as well as Raiders coach Jason Loveless. (Courtesy photo)

The pair combined for 33 points in the team’s 56-55 season-ending loss to North Greene to complete a 26-2 campaign.

Loveless said the recruitment process had been a challenge for both, with minimal interest shown beyond the junior college level in Nicholson. Greenville (Ill.) University, an NCAA Division III program, had been one of the few to show interest in Helton.

“It’s been a tough year in recruiting because of the fifth year that was awarded (to seniors following the pandemic),” the coach said. “That’s the right thing, to bring those kids back and let them play, but it’s also a hardship on the incoming freshmen.

“But just like battling COVID, these guys persevered through (the recruitment issues). I think it’s a good situation for them. I’m really proud.”

Though a redshirt is likely for both players, they are entering the program as varsity athletes, according to Loveless – who’s excited to see the two just down the road in Pulaski.

“They were signed as varsity players, not JV or developmental players. I think that’s a big deal,” he said.

“I can load up the team and hopefully go watch ‘em play.”

Summertown tabs Jean as new girls basketball coach

By Maurice Patton

Jeremy Jean didn’t have to be brought up to speed on the Summertown girls basketball program that he is – as of Thursday – coaching.

Reminded of the Lady Eagles’ current run of four consecutive state tournament appearances, including championship game berths in 2018 and two months ago, he clarified that the program’s history of success predates the past five years.

“It goes back further than that, as far as the early 2000s,” said Jean, who led Forrest to seven 20-win seasons before ending his 12-year tenure with his resignation a year ago.

Jean’s wife, Beth, played at Summertown and made successive state tourney visits in 2004, ’05 and ’06.

“They’re at state all the time. That’s what makes this job exciting,” he said. “They expect that. I want to keep building on those expectations.”

Jean succeeds Catie Embrey, who won 79 games in three seasons on the Lady Eagles’ bench – including this year’s 26-8 finish — before accepting a similar role less than two weeks ago at South Gibson in West Tennessee.

“We’ve lived in Summertown three years,” Jean said. “That drive, with a 5- and a 3-year old at the time, I wasn’t seeing my kids. I decided to take a step back, just teach up there and see what the good Lord brought my way. We got lucky. This fell in my lap. I’m blessed, happy, excited. I’m ready to get going.”

After serving as an assistant at Lincoln County and at Franklin County – serving under current Summit coach John Wild in the latter stop – as well as at Motlow State, Jean went 254-125 with the Lady Rockets with four regular-season district championships, two district tourney titles, three region tournament crowns and one state quarterfinal appearance.

“His teams always typify toughness and they always typify role identity,” said Wild, a Chapel Hill resident who coached Jean on the 1999 Moore County Class A state championship team. “I’ve seen him with size, where they got it inside, and I’ve seen him with not much size at all, do things with his guards to speed you up.

“He does a better job adjusting to his personnel probably than anybody I’ve seen over the last 8-10 years. And I think the kids have all enjoyed playing for him. That’s special to be able to hang your hat on.”

Despite his success and availability, Jean was aggressive in his pursuit of the Lady Eagles’ vacancy.

“I sent my résumé to (Summertown principal) Lain Hinson when I saw Coach Embrey had resigned, to let him know I was interested, and I sent my application the next day,” he said. “I didn’t wait for them. I reached out to let them know I was interested.

“I missed coaching. I feel energized, ready to get back in it. I don’t need to come in fix what’s not broken. I just want to put my twist on things – get out there and play hard, give it your all.”

Hinson was unavailable for comment.

Summertown’s Embrey headed to South Gibson

By Chris Yow

Catie Embrey wasn’t looking for a new job, but one was looking for her.

Fresh off a Class A state finals loss in March the Lawrence County native is headed to South Gibson High School in West Tennessee to take over the Lady Hornets program.

“I haven’t applied anywhere; I wasn’t looking for a job,” Embrey said. “This came out of nowhere, and it was something I couldn’t turn down.”

Summertown girls’ basketball coach Catie Embrey has taken a job at South Gibson High School. She leaves Summertown with a 79-18 record at the school with two trips to the state tournament and one finals appearance. (Photo by Chris Yow / SM-Tn Sports)

The former Lawrence County and Lipscomb University guard leaves for South Gibson after leading Summertown to the 2021 state title game following district and region crowns in a 26-8 campaign.

She won 79 games in three seasons at Summertown, and led the Lady Eagles to a pair of state tournament appearances. In six seasons, as a head coach, with prior stints at Columbia Academy and Dickson County, she’s compiled a 153-64 record.

Embrey said the chance to take over a program with a wealth of resources was a big part of her decision, but administration turnover also played a role.

“I’ve had a different administration every year I’ve been here,” she said. “There are so many factors that went into this decision, though.”

South Gibson is coming off a 15-14 season with a loss in the Region 7-AA quarterfinals. Just as Summertown will be moving up to Class AA for the upcoming classification period, the Lady Hornets are set to compete in District 12-AA next year.

Embrey replaces Carla Wyatt, who resigned at the end of the season.

TSWA All-State hoops listings include Richland’s Nicholson

SM-Tn Sports

Daniel Nicholson, who averaged 17.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game while helping Richland to its first Class A boys basketball state tournament berth in eight years, was named to the Tennessee Sports Writers Association’s all-state team that was released Wednesday.

The Raiders compiled a 26-2 record in a campaign that started with a 15-game winning streak and closed with a 56-55 loss to North Greene in the state tourney quarterfinals.

Other all-state honorees of area interest include Franklin’s Reed Kemp in Class AAA and Evan Eursher from Webb-Bell Buckle in Division II-A.

The teams in their entirety:

Class AAA – Davon Barnes, Collierville, Sr.; Keynan Cutlip, Science Hill, Jr.; Philip Dotson, Arlington, Jr.; Grant Hurst, Cleveland, Sr.; Reed Kemp, Franklin, Sr.; Amarr Knox, Bartlett, Jr.; Johnathan Lawson, Houston, Sr.; Brandon Miller, Cane Ridge, Jr.; Mason Miller, Houston, Sr.; Jonathan Milloway, Oak Ridge, Sr.; Ametri Moss, Northwest, Sr.; Matthew Schneider, Siegel, Sr.; Micah Simpson, Morristown East, Jr.; Grant Slatten, White Co., Sr.; John Windley, Brentwood, Sr.

Class AA – Dylan Bartley, Sullivan East, Jr.; Tylon Chatman, Haywood, So.; Dalton Colbert, Chester Co., Sr.; Gus Davenport, Cannon Co., Jr.; Jakobi Gillespie, Greeneville, Jr.; JaQuan Lax, Bolivar Central, Sr.; Brandon Maclin, South Side, Sr.; Trey Morrow, Scott, Jr.; Harper Neal, Kingston, Sr.; Colby Raymer, Kingston, Jr.; Alex Rush, Upperman, Sr.; Reid Satterfield, Greeneville, Jr.; Matthew Sells, Livingston Acad., Sr.; Kerrick Thorne, Howard, Sr.; Toris Woods, Bolivar Central, Sr.

Class A – Zach Amonett, Pickett Co., Jr.; Jalen Anglin, West Carroll, Jr.; Christian Ballard, Madison Academic, Sr.; Nathan Bowling, Oneida, Sr.; Trey Johnson, Cosby, Sr.; Cayden Jones, Monterey, Sr.; Demarkus Kee, Peabody, Jr.; Jordan McCullum, Harriman, Fr.; Kaleb Meredith, University High-Johnson City, Sr.; Daniel Nicholson, Richland, Sr.; Walter Peggs, Madison Academic, Sr.; Chriss Schutz, North Greene, Jr.; Grant Strong, Clay Co., Jr.; Dylan Woods, Memphis Acad. of Health Sciences, Sr.; Elijah Young, Gleason, Sr.

Division II-A – Alex Anderson, Tipton-Rosemark, Sr.; Dylan Arnold, Jackson Chr., Sr.; Tyler Byrd, Tipton-Rosemark, Jr.; R.J. Casey, Franklin Road Acad., Jr.; Daniel Egbuniwe, First Assembly Chr., Jr.; Evan Eursher, Webb-Bell Buckle, Jr.; Caden Johnson, Boyd Buchanan, So.; Kameron Jones, Evangelical Chr., Sr.; Braeden Moore, Christ Presbyterian Acad., Jr.; Jose Rodriguez, Concord Chr., Jr.; PJay Smith, Goodpasture, Sr.; Jaxon Toney, Harding Acad., Jr.; Lukas Walls, Knoxville Webb, So.; Isaiah West, Goodpasture, So.; Braden Zapp, Christ Presbyterian Acad., Sr.

Division II-AA – Blue Cain, Knoxville Catholic, So.; Malik Dia, Ensworth, Jr.; B.J. Edwards, Knoxville Catholic, Jr.; Jackson Francis, Montgomery Bell Acad., Jr.; Cooper Haynes, Briarcrest Chr., Fr.; Chandler Jackson, Christian Brothers, Jr.; Reese McMullen, Christian Brothers, Sr.; Trent McNair, Brentwood Acad., Jr.; Eric Rivers, McCallie; Handje Tamba, Knoxville Catholic, Jr.

Jennings, Campbell, Weathers earn TSWA all-state honors

SM-Tn Sports

Richland’s Jesse Jennings, Summertown’s Kaley Campbell and Loretto’s Karly Weathers were each named to the Tennessee Sports Writers Association’s Class A girls basketball all-state team, which was announced this week.

Jennings, who signed a women’s basketball scholarship Monday with Alabama-Huntsville, led the area with a 23.6-point scoring average as the Lady Raiders advanced to the Region 5-A semifinals. She recently went into the TSSAA record books, listed fourth in career free throws made (631) and attempted (808).

Campbell, an Austin Peay golf scholarship signee, and Weathers each led their teams to the Class A state championship game — with Weathers earning tournament most valuable player honors as well as Miss Basketball following the Lady Mustangs’ victory. She has committed to the University of Alabama.

Coffee County’s Bella Vinson, a Lipscomb University signee, was appointed to the Class AAA squad, along with Brentwood’s Amelia Osgood, who’s headed to Princeton.

The teams in their entirety:

Class AAA — Gracie Dodgen, White Co., Sr.; Denae Fritz, Maryville, Sr.; Skyler Gill, Hardin Co., Sr.; Acacia Hayes, Riverdale, Jr.; Tessa Miller, Stone Memorial, Sr.; Khamari Mitchell-Steen, Oak Ridge, Sr.; Iyana Moore, Blackman, Sr.; Anna Muhonen, Bradley Central, Sr.; Amelia Osgood, Brentwood, Sr.; Addie Grace Porter, Lebanon, Sr.; Ta’Mia Scott, Northwest, Jr.; Carmen Taylor, Arlington, Sr.; Mallory Taylor, Collierville, Jr.; Avery Treadwell, Bearden, So.; Bella Vinson, Coffee Co., Sr.

Class AA — Lauren Bailey, Greeneville, So.; Sharneece Currie-Jelks, South Side, Jr.; Blaize Deere, Scotts Hill, Sr.; Jenna Hare, Sullivan East, So.; Jada Harrison, Westview, So.; Reagan Hurst, Upperman, Sr.; Jalynn Gregory, Macon Co., Sr.; Haylee Johnson, York Institute, Sr.; Olivia Koontz, Signal Mountain, Sr.; Lauren Longmire, Grainger, Sr.; LaRose Morrow, Maplewood, Sr.; Campbell Penland, Northview Acad., Sr.; Zoe Piller, Nolensville, Sr.; Tori Rutherford, Grainger, Sr.; Bre Yarber, Sullivan Central, Sr.

Class A — Brooklyn Anderson, North Greene, Jr.; Katie Arms, Clay Co.., Sr.; Kaley Campbell, Summertown, Sr.; Edie Darby, Greenfield, Jr.; Savannah Davis, McKenzie, Fr.; Madison Hart, Gibson Co., Jr.; Jesse Jennings, Richland, Sr.; CeCe Johnson, Peabody, Sr.; Bralyn McGaha, Cosby, Sr.; Kassie Monday, Clarkrange, Sr.; Kaylie Monday, Clarkrange, Sr.; Kelsey Pike, Oneida, So.; Lyndie Ramsey, Unaka, So.; Anna Stevenson, Huntland, Sr.; Karly Weathers, Loretto, Jr.

Division II-A — Diamond Bryant, Clarksville Acad., Sr.; LaShae Dwyer, Webb-Bell Buckle, Sr.; Mariah Edmonds, Providence Chr., Sr.; Tessa Gibson, Silverdale Baptist, Sr.; Brianna Hall, Tipton-Rosemark, Sr.; Catherine Hendershott, First Baptist Acad., Sr.; Jordaynia Ivie, Lakeway Chr., Sr.; Leah Jones, Northpoint Chr.; Olivia Jones, Univ. School of Jackson, Sr.; Madelyn Ladd, Knoxville Webb, So.; Olivia Lee, Trinity Chr., So.; Gracie Palmer, Berean Chr., Jr.; Maggie Vick, Lakeway Chr., Sr.; Julie Wagner, Univ. School of Jackson, Sr.; Hadleigh Wharton, Goodpasture Chr., So.

Division II-AA — Kaia Barnett, Hutchison, Sr.; Kennedy Cambridge, Ensworth, Jr.; Jaloni Cambridge, Ensworth, Fr.; Kayli Clarkson, Briarcrest Chr., So.; Raegyn Conley, Baylor, Sr.; Maxine Engel, Hutchison, Sr.; Jeila Greenlee, Knoxville Catholic, Sr.; Carmyn Harrison, Hutchison, Sr.; Jaila Lee, Brentwood Acad., Sr.; Sydney Mains, Knoxville Catholic, Fr.

Ex-Mt. Pleasant coach headed home for Camden girls post

By Maurice Patton

At one of Chris Carney’s previous coaching stops, a seed was planted.

That seed blossomed Friday, as Carney – dismissed on April 1 as boys basketball coach at Mt. Pleasant – accepted the girls basketball coaching position at his alma mater, Camden Central.

“I’d been thinking about it, contemplating it for a few years,” Carney said about the crossover. “I had the privilege of coaching with John Wild at Wilson Central. He’d gone from boys to girls. He made some good points about the differences.

“He made me think my style of coaching would work well with the girls.”

And when Wild – current girls coach at Summit, and one of just three coaches to win Tennessee boys and girls basketball state championships – says it, it’s worth considering.

“I just think his attention to detail,” Wild said in explaining his assessment. “I think he’s consumed with all the little things, the fundamentals, the importance of developing a ‘more than basketball’ relationship that goes beyond the court, the intangibles that I think you’ve got to have when it comes to coaching girls.

“Guys are like, let’s practice a little and go play. With girls, there’s that emotional piece there. I think girls will build a lot of trust in him.”

In two years at Mt. Pleasant, Carney posted a 30-27 record, taking the Tigers to the Region 5-A semifinals in his first season before finishing 9-17 in a pandemic-impacted 2020-21 campaign.

Before arriving at the Maury County school, Carney had spent three years at Wilson Central and four at Portland, compiling a 67-130 mark.

The 2005 Camden graduate went on to play collegiately at Maryville College and spent two seasons as an assistant at Kenwood before embarking on his head coaching career.

“I still have a lot of people, a few of my best friends, raising their kids in the community,” he said. “When the position came open, it was definitely something that interested me.

“I met the girls Friday, and one of the girls that’s going to be a sophomore said ‘my uncle played with you’, which was pretty wild. I’ve been gone through college and different stops coaching. I’d still kept up with the community, but as far as staying connected with everybody, there’s some people I haven’t talked to in 10 or 15 years.”

Carney replaces Renee Sutton – “she started when I was a player,” he said – and was hired by Camden principal Shawn McDowell, who was the school’s baseball coach during Carney’s days as a student.

“Your administration is everything,” he said. “To be going home to people that were my teachers, some of my coaches, that loyalty is something that’s nice to have.”

Mt. Pleasant has yet to announce a successor to Carney or to girls basketball coach Amy Odom, who was also dismissed after two seasons. Columbia Central and Culleoka also have ongoing girls basketball coaching searches.

Photos by Ric Beu / SM-Tn Sports