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March 1, 2013

FINAL 48 (Class 3A girls state final): Unselfish reserves play pivotal role in Holly Pond’s success

HOLLY POND — As the Holly Pond varsity girls prepare for their state final showdown with Lauderdale County today at 9 a.m., they will once again rally around their season-long mantra of unselfishness.

No word could better encapsulate Scott Adam’s squad this year, specifically the role of his reserves throughout the year and throughout the Broncos’ playoff run.

“Our whole bench this season, those girls have had incredible attitudes,” Adams said. “They are all about the team.”

Lexi Lynn, Lacy Malone, Kristen Sparks, Madison Hicks, Kailtyn Stephens and Abby Gambrill have all contributed in some capacity during the current campaign, and although each reserve’s role has diminished during Holly Pond’s incredible run to the state championship, Adams has never once had to defend his actions to the team.

“I never have to explain anything to them,” he said. “They are so unselfish. They just want to win so bad.”

Lynn, one of the Broncos’ four seniors, was a starter earlier in her prep career but has had to adjust to the life of a reserve the past couple of years.

“I started my freshman and sophomore years,” she said. “I didn’t get to go into a lot of games during 11th grade, and I had a hard time with that to begin with.”

She added, though, she’s since developed a better mentality toward her role with the team.

“I just want to help the girls,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if I play. I just want to make everyone better if I can and do what’s best for the team.”

Adams recalled a moment during his team’s win over Straughn that embodied Lynn’s and her teammates’ attitude.

“Toward the end of the game, I wanted to put all of the girls in, including Lexy (Malone),” Adams said. “I happened to call Lexi back and with tears in her eyes, she said, ‘It’s OK, coach. It’s OK.’ That sums up the kind of player she is. That’s great character. You don’t ever forget stuff like that.”

Another example came when Adams was talking to his girls following the Piedmont game in Jacksonville.

The coach told them he hated he didn’t play everybody, but one player cut him short.

“Lacy Malone stopped me and said, ‘Coach, you don’t have to explain anything to us. We just want to win basketball games.’” Adams recalled.

One reserve who has seen recent playing time is Stephens, who played a crucial part in Wednesday’s state semifinal when guard Meg Gambrill found herself in foul trouble.

Stephens hit a key 3-pointer that allowed the Broncos to close an early eight-point deficit.

“With Lexy’s injury, Kaitlyn had to come up off the JV team as a 10th-grader,” Adams said. “She’s been our sixth man ever since. She’s getting really valuable minutes.”

Stephens said each player has something she adds to the equation.

“Everybody is comfortable in their own way,” she said of her teammates. “Each of them has their own special thing they bring to the team. That’s really what makes us.”

Despite being nervous entering a big game, Stephens said she had hoped her shot would impact the outcome like it did.

“Honestly, I was praying for it to go in and was so happy when it did,” she said. “For me, when I hit it, I was hoping it would help us come back and win.”

When the season comes to a close today, Adams said he will look back at each of his players and know what a great legacy they’ve left at Holly Pond.

“They are all such incredible teammates,” he said. “They’ve set a great, great example for the younger kids coming up, and they will never be forgotten for it.”



% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 258 or at jwinfrey@cullmantimes.com.

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