KNOXVILLE — Perhaps 10 years from now, whether or not highly successful head coach Shelley Collier is retired or not — she just finished her 36th year of coaching and 25th as Webb School of Knoxville varsity girls basketball head coach — she will remember one thing in particular about the 2022-23 season.
Those pesky injuries.
“We had a pretty balanced team of juniors — two of whom got hurt in the starting line-up and were key for us,” said Collier, whose team finished 18-9 after a 44-36 round of 16 playoff road loss at Brentwood Academy Tuesday, Feb. 21.
Junior standout forward Sydney Stinson was lost for the season after an injury Jan. 31 at home.
“She was starting to come into her own, and she’s one of the toughest kids we’re got,” said the coach who has led her Lady Spartans to six state championships and four state runner-up finishes in 25 seasons.
Against the same Baylor team Webb played Jan. 31, in the rematch in Chattanooga Friday, Feb. 17, “I got word before we got on the bus that we didn’t have Brooklyn (Bush),” Collier said about another standout junior forward lost.
Her knee injury suffered a few days before it was discovered to be “a fracture.”
Moreover, “We played a tough schedule, and in my opinion one of the toughest” in TSSAA Division II-AA East Region, the coach said.
While Webb beat powers McMinn Central and Hamilton Heights despite the injuries, Collier praised her seniors.
About senior forward Madelyn Ladd, a two-time All-state honoree looking to make in three straight this season, “She’s had four good years for us. She’s been a huge part of our program,” the coach said about the Carson-Newman University signee. “A great kid, a great family.”
Although senior forward Caitlyn Jenkins “didn’t play a lot for us, she was an important part of our program.”
Overall, “I enjoyed coaching this team,” Collier said, adding that in 25 years, “I wouldn’t trade my relationship with these players for anything in the world.”