Collier’s youthful Webb girls adjusting after rough patch, surviving a brutal schedule

KNOXVILLE — When a young basketball team faces a brutal schedule, even a perennial powerhouse program such as Webb School of Knoxville’s girls will take their share of beatdowns.

However, “We’re catching up,” said Shelley Collier, Lady Spartans head coach, after a dominant Division II-A district victory at Grace Christian Academy, 56-39, Friday night, Jan. 18.

With Webb improving its record to 10-12 overall after the win, Collier said about her schedule, “with this young team, it’s probably the toughest I’ve ever had.”

Outside the district, the schedule already has included two games versus Stone Memorial in addition to facing Maryville, Johnson City Science Hill, Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett, Wilson Central and Dickson County.

Injuries also have taken a toll.

That doesn’t count two other former Webb players “who decided not to play,” Collier said.

As a result, other young players have to step up to varsity, “and they don’t get to play the JV games … to get some more experience,” the coach added.

Instead, as varsity players, “You throw them into the fire with that tough schedule,” Collier said.

Despite missing experienced Webb standout post Bailey Musrock last Friday, the coach pointed out a pair of freshmen who quickly are growing with varsity minutes “and really starting to get some confidence: Sheelove Knowles and Megan Gilbert.”

Keeping the Lady Spartans pointed in the right direction is their “coach on the floor,” as Collier labels it: star senior point guard Casey Collier, the coach’s daughter.

A team contributor since her eighth-grade season, Casey Collier’s 22 points last Friday gave her 1,320 for her career. “Casey’s really grown,” the coach said, adding that against Grace, “she literally, at one point, was putting (teammates) in their proper place and matching them up.”

Catherine Hendershott added 15 for the Lady Spartans Friday.