By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Recent history for the Tipton-Rosemark Academy Lady Rebels has set new standards for the rest of time.
In 2020, the Lady Rebels finally reached the State Tournament site. Sub-State became routine around Rosemark. And the banner with 1,000-point scorers has names like Abby West, Megan Sanfratello and Brianna Hall. Sanfratello and Hall are No. 1 and No. 2 on the all-time scoring list respectively.
While the past two seasons under Head Coach Cedric Anderson have been historic, he knew graduating that trio along with others like Jordan Allen, Eva McIntosh, Sarah Allyn Thornell and Mary Catherine Turner was going to thin out the roster.
“I see exactly what you see,” Anderson acknowledged. “We’re definitely thin in numbers. For a small school, we definitely had a lot of girls in the program that we never had, no new bodies coming in the past three years. We saw this day coming.
“This did not catch us by surprise,” he continued. “We were hoping we would get some kids coming to the school from the middle school level but that has not happened. Maybe next year but this year we’ve only got six girls. We really, really got to watch how we play and change the style. We’ve got to really manage those kinds of things.”
Anderson is hoping the numbers will increase as the season goes along but will start with the foundation of Jacklynn Hailer, Ava Anderson, Elyse Warren and Raven Sims.
“Raven Sims has to step up and be a leader,” Anderson declared. “Elyse Warren has to step up and Ava Anderson has to step up. This is going to be her year to see what she can do. Jacklynn has to see what she can do as well.”
With the potential to overtake Sanfratello and Hall on the scoring list, Sims enters her junior season with the green light to be the Lady Rebel leader on both ends of the court.
“She’s got to be a leader,” Anderson said. “She’s got to be vocal. She’s got to recognize situations a whole lot earlier in the game. She has to manage the game from a pace standpoint for our team offensively. She has to manage herself individually to have more endurance.
“This year being her junior year I expect a whole lot more out of her,” he added. “And she’s a Division I caliber player. She can do it.”
Anderson is hoping the rest of the roster will benefit from those days of playing the standouts like Allen, Thornell and West.
“This did not catch us by surprise,” Anderson reiterated. “So we’ve been bringing Ava and Jacklynn along. Get them ready to handle more responsibility. They’ve handled it well so far. They have been practicing against some top girls the past two years.
“This is their third year in the program,” he continued. “This is the year for them to step up and do some more things like score, make free throws, have to rebound the ball and protect the ball.”
Winning their share of games over the likes of Harding Academy, Fayette Academy, USJ, Northpoint and others, Anderson knows they won’t have any sympathy for his Lady Rebels.
“Tradition and expectation don’t graduate,” he concluded. “We’re not going to say we’re taking a backseat because we’re few in numbers. We’ve just got to step it up and I have to do a better job as a coach. We have to have individual girls step up. One day it’s this girl the next day it’s that girl. We have the find the mismatch and exploit it against the other team.”