With three starters returning along with all the key players from their bench, the defending 13th Region All “A” champion Pineville Lady Mountain Lions appear poised to improve on last year’s 15-15 overall record.
The Lady Lions will miss the leadership and extra scoring punch provided by senior guard Annalee Adams and will also need to find a defensive presence inside to replace the departed Stacey Washington.
“We’ve got our two leading scorers back from last year in Devin Enix and Erica Gambrell and that’s going to be really good for us. Emily Mullins had a really solid summer for us and the same with Rachel Barnes, they both played a lot of minutes for us,” Pineville coach Matt Shafer said. “Tiffany Sutton also played a lot for us last year and from there, we’ve got a lot of good players that are ready to contribute.”
Enix, a senior forward, led Pineville by averaging almost 16 points per game last year while Gambrell, a sophomore, scored nearly nine points per contest while running the point for the Lady Lions. Mullins is the other returning starter and the junior guard has really improved her 3-point shooting in the off-season.
Barnes, a junior guard, was the first girl off the bench most of last season and will move into the starting lineup along with Sutton, a sophomore forward.
Freshman Autumn Short and 8th grader Jillian Enix both saw meaningful playing time last season and will be among the first off the bench in 2013-14 along with sophomore forward Sophia Knuckles, who transferred back to Pineville from Middlesboro over the summer.
Sophomores Makayla Keyes and Brooke Sanders along with freshman Samantha Brock and 8th grader Sara Combs are also competing for playing time this preseason.
Shafer said early on the team will be focused on repeating as All “A” champs.
“As a small school, the All ‘A’ is definitely what we’re gunning for especially early in the season. I think we’ve got a good shot at it, we’ll open up against the winner of OBI and Williamsburg,” Shafer said. “Barbourville is going to be a solid team this year and so will Lynn Camp. That’s also how the district is going to go.”
Pineville’s only win against a 51st District opponent came against Lynn Camp in the 13th Region All ‘A’ championship game. They’ll have to deal with those Lady Wildcats along with defending district champ Barbourville and Knox Central in district play.
“I think as our girls mature and we get some depth on our bench we’ll be able to compete right with them,” Shafer added.
Pineville opens the regular season on Dec. 3 at home against Oneida Baptist.