District 9-AA girls race gets interesting

Monday, January 28, 2008 at 11:37pm

One would expect teams like Ezell-Harding, David Lipscomb, Pearl-Cohn and FRA to be perched at or near the top of the girls standings in District 9-AA.

But one of the big surprises in Nashville basketball has been the play of Hume-Fogg, which has a compiled a late January portfolio of 13-8 and 8-2 in tough District 8-AA.

And, surprise, surprise, the Blue Knights have a shot at a second-place finish in the league, heading into a match at David Lipscomb tonight at 6. Both teams are 8-2 in league play, with the winner likely finishing second behind only Ezell.

Last year, Hume-Fogg, a magnet school located in downtown Nashville, finished sixth out of seven teams in the district. The Blue Knights went 3-18 and 2-10, with the only two district wins coming over last-place M.L. King.

Hume-Fogg is one of the few teams in the state which doesn’t have a true home gym to play in. The Knights play their “home’’ games at Nashville School of the Arts (old Tennessee Prep School).

Validating their progress, Hume-Fogg stunned Lipscomb 58-49 in double overtime Jan. 11. That sent the Knights on a roll of seven wins in their last eight games. The only league losses have been to district-leading Ezell.

Heading the way is junior Maria Bagwell, who leads the Knights in both scoring (13.5 ppg) and rebounds (8.5 rpg). Ånd Briann Foster gives the Knights good senior leadership on the floor.

The infusion of three freshmen – Hannah Miller, Valencia Gooch and Haley Barr – into the mix has worked for a winning formula.

“Back in summer camp when they blended in with the rest of the team, we felt we would be a much improved team,” said assistant coach Tracey McClain, who is in her ninth year working with head coach Angela Hubbard.

“Hannah is averaging 9 points a game, and Valencia is at 8.5,’’ McClain said. “After we lost in the Civitan tournament, we made up our minds to start playing much better, and we have. Maria is really playing well, and we’ve beaten teams like CPA and FRA, then Lipscomb who were all picked to finish ahead of us in the district.’’

The Knights beat Lipscomb 58-49 in double overtime Jan. 11, the first time they had beaten the Mustangs since the 2005 district tournament final.

“Hume-Fogg has played really well,’’ said Lipscomb coach Ernie Smith, whose Mustangs (17-4, 8-2) try to avenge that earlier loss. “Certainly we’ll have our hands full (tonight). (Briann) Foster really hurt us that first game, and Bagwell is outstanding.’’

“Our district is really bunched up,’’ he said. “When East Lit (which moved up from Class A last year) beat Ezell the other night (58-51), that shows the balance. A lot will decided in the next couple of weeks.’’

With a good deal of that decided tonight.

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