Special bond: 8th-grade FMS girls, McIntyre

While all Farragut Middle School girls varsity basketball players are valued by head coach Devan McIntyre — this season’s eighth-graders “are really, really special to me.

“I guess you can tell how I feel based on my emotions. ... The eighth-graders now were the sixth-graders when I started here,” added the third-year Lady Admirals head coach, fighting back tears just after FMS celebrated 8th Grade Evening in the school’s Bobby Henry Gymnasium Tuesday, Jan. 4 — the team’s final regular season home game for the coach’s eight 8th-graders: Anna Corum, Brylee Flatt, Gracie King, Lilly Mullins, Julia Puterbaugh, Audrey Rust and Annie Steele, along with team manager Ella Schlomer.

“I feel like we’ve built a winning tradition together. They’ve all worked extremely hard,” she added.

This season is evidence of that, as a 62-7 FMS win against Northwest Middle School Jan. 4 improved the team’s record to 14-4 overall and 11-2 in the Knox County Middle School Basketball League standings.

“In terms of (League Division) AAA for tournament seating, we’re in first (place) right now,” McIntyre said. “Other teams have lost just two, but we’ve won the head-to-heads against those other teams.

“So we should secure the No. 1 seed in our bracket,” she added.

“I have very high hopes for our team going into tournament time” this week.

In fact, two of the team’s four overall losses came during a Christmas tournament based in Coalfield “when we had several girls out of town,” McIntyre said.

Among season highlights, the coach pointed “to our West Valley win,” beating a rival that is a traditional league contender. “They ended our season last year.

“We used that as motivation to get better,” McIntyre added. “To see our hard work pay off after (this season’s WVMS game) really meant a lot.”

Gracie led the Lady Ads in scoring with a game-high 14 points, followed by Brylee and Lilly with 10 each. Reagan Sheridan scored nine, followed by Anna with five, Julia and Trinity Curry pumping in four apiece, and Audrey and Gabby Vanacker adding two points each.

“I’m just very, very proud of these girls and the tradition that they’ve created, and the program that we’ve built together,” McIntyre said.