With six seniors returning from last season's team that finished 25-8 and was one win away from the state tournament, Community Viqueen basketball coach Cody Pierce is looking for big things from his …
With six seniors returning from last season's team that finished 25-8 and was one win away from the state tournament, Community Viqueen basketball coach Cody Pierce is looking for big things from his seniors this season.
"We've got six seniors that's played a huge part of our offseason," Pierce said. "We have a bunch of good leaders in the group."
"They've helped a lot of the younger ones progress a little bit quicker than I've seen younger ones progress in the past," Pierce added. "The practices, the leadership, and the experience goes a long way."
All six seniors played key roles for the Viqueens last season.
M.J. Simmons, Haley Mitchell, Zoey Dixon, and Addison Brothers all started last season while Shelby Cawthon came off the bench to provide strength in the paint.
Jacey Collier provided a punch for Community with her outside shooting.
Along with three other returning players from last season, four freshmen and a sophomore make their debut on the Viqueen 14-player roster.
"The young, new players we've added to the team have stepped in and bought into our ways," Pierce said.
Community will look to build on the momentum that started in January from last season's team. After sporting a 10-7 record, the Viqueens ran off a 15-game winning streak that culminated in a District 7-AA championship victory over Forrest and a Region 4-AA crown with a win over East Nashville.
"Last year, that was one of our goals to string three, four, five wins together," Pierce said. "It kind of just happened. We got beat by Eagleville here and didn't lose another game until we got beat by York."
"They just bought in and strung a bunch of wins together," Pierce added. "When you're rolling late in the season like that, you can take any team down."
After winning the region championship, the Viqueens hosted York Institute in a sectional game with a state tournament berth on the line.
Community battled back from a halftime deficit to take a fourth-quarter lead, but could not inch over the top as York Institute ended the Viqueen season with a 32-31 win.
The close loss has inspired Pierce and the Viqueens to get to the state tournament this season.
"That 1-point loss has really been a lot of motivation for the coaching staff and the players," Pierce said. "They've worked hard and been focused."
"We definitely want to get to the state tournament," Pierce added. "And we understand it's not easy to do that. But that's our goal and we don't want anything less."
The Viqueen non-district schedule is highlighted this season with a Christmas tournament in Gatlinburg.
"There will be some good teams over there and some different teams we've never seen," Pierce said.
"We play a pretty tough schedule and we've got to show up every night," Pierce added. "It's been like that for the last four years."
The Viqueens can stay close to home once postseason play comes around. The District 7-AA tournament will be held at Forrest while Community will host the semifinals and finals of the Region 4-AA tournament.
"It's kind of nice to have that type of district, but it is tough to go over to Forrest and get a win no matter who you're playing there," Pierce said.
"We want to stay on top of the district and get as many home games as we can in the region," Pierce added.
Community starts off the season with Hall of Champions contests at home against Fayetteville and on the road at Jackson County.