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Saturday Morning Quarterback
Feb 13, 2007 12:00 am
Presidential hopefuls for the 2008 election are already putting their names in the hat.
Tierney Jenkins' bid to become Miss Basketball for 2007 began nearly a year ago.
The Wilson Central forward introduced herself to the state last March when she was named Most Valuable Player for the State Tournament as she led the Lady Wildcats to the championship. As a junior, she put her name on the 'to be watched' list for her senior season.
Alabama coach Stephany Smith certainly noticed, getting the 6-1 Jenkins' signature on a scholarship last November.
With her immediate future in the SEC secure, Jenkins has concentrated on helping Wilson Central repeat as champions. She has done her part thus far with 19.4 points, 10.1 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.9 steals per game as the Lady Wildcats enter the tournaments with a full head of steam and a favorite to make a fourth straight trip to Murfreesboro. She's hiked her scoring to around 25 points over the last five games, which include outings against top-10 heavyweights Shelbyville, Smyrna and Mt. Juliet.
Her name should be considered for the prestigious Miss Basketball award, which was won by Mt. Juliet's Alysha Clark moments after she led the Lady Bears to the '05 state championship.
"She's definitely in contention for this honor because of what she's accomplished," Lady Wildcat coach Bud Brandon said. "She's definitely one of the key people in what we've done the last couple of years."
Like Clark, who has won five Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Week honors as a Belmont sophomore, Jenkins is a tenacious inside scorer and rebounder who seems immune to pressure in clutch situations against the toughest of opponents. She's also an outstanding ball-handler who seems to discourage opposing teams from pressing.
Not that she doesn't frustrate her coaches sometimes. Brandon has said on more than one occasion he'll watch her play and think she isn't playing well. But then he sees her line on the stat sheet which more often than not reads 20 points and 13 rebounds.
Many of the great ones make it look easy.
"She does make it look easy," Brandon said. "She's very elusive in what she does on the floor. She's very athletic. The key is she's elusive. Since she was a freshman, she's always had a knack for knowing where the ball is, especially in crunch time.
"And that's something you can't coach."
More on Brandon's '85 Carroll-Oakland team
As a rookie coach at Carroll-Oakland in 1984-85, Brandon didn't have a Jenkins on the low blocks. But he had the talent to post a perfect record. I wrote in this space a week ago he thought the Eaglettes won around 15 games that season.
I received an e-mail earlier this week of a state House of Representatives resolution, sponsored by then-Sen. Bob Rochelle and the late Rep. Joe Bell, honoring Brandon and the Lady Eaglettes for going 11-0. They went 9-0 in the regular season and won the Friendship Christian Invitational.
The resolution also said they were "the first undefeated team in Wilson County's illustrious sports history". I wonder how they know that?
Brandon mentioned Tina Cantrell, Tabitha Reynolds and sixth-grade point guard Heather Gill last week. The other starters, according to the resolution, were Melissa Young and Pam Allen. Off the bench came Crysti Underwood, Shane Irving [who I remember as a softball catcher at Friendship for a young coach named John McNeal], Celia Helm, Lisa Edwards and twin sisters Hope and Holly Young.
Hard to believe they only played around 10 games a season back then. This year's team, which finished second in the James C. Haile Tournament last week, played 25 games and won 21.
Sports Editor Andy Reed can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 17 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.