Yesterday the Heartland Middle School Athletic Conference Girls Basketball tournament wrapped up at North Hardin High School; however, it concluded with the HMSAC trying something new this year. For years prior, the basketball, football, and volleyball tournaments have all simply awarded a Champion and Runner-up trophy. This year, fans are seeing something new.
Coaches can now select players to the All-Tournament team providing the athletes of the conference with a new type of personal recognition. The brainchild of Conference leadership Brittany Nickell and Mary Carruthers, Principal, and Athletic Director of East Hardin Middle School, the tournament host sites are trying their hand with this new concept.
“When you try something new, there’s always going to be a few kinks to work out,” says Carruthers, “but for the most part I think the kids and the fans are responding well to what we’re trying to do.”
JTA Athletic Director Richard Rowland said that “The fans all responded well to what we were trying to do with this, and I think it’s really great for the kids involved. Anytime you can bring positive attention to Middle School sports it’s a good thing.” Rowland went on to say he believes changes need to be made to make the process more concurrent with the High Schools, but that for the first time, it was a success.
For the first time this year, J.T. Alton was able to name members to that team after their semifinal loss to Stuart Pepper in this year’s Girls Basketball tournament. Head JTA Coach Darryl Murray selected 8th Graders Jerica Johnson and Kayla Harper to be members of that team. Murray said, “They played extremely well tonight, were leaders on the court...they really fought hard for us.” Murray went on to say that, “It’s always tough to lose, but at least we’re getting the kids that make it to the semifinals some recognition now.”
Both Harper and Johnson have consistently lead the Lady Trojans this year in points, rebounds, and assists. Harper fought off a recurring ankle injury to play in the Tournament this year, an both of them will be going on the play for the JV levels of the North Hardin Girls Basketball team, Johnson herself amassing quite a lot of Varsity minutes last season.
JTA 8th Grader Kayla Harper said that “I’m really glad to be named to something that’s brand new, and not a lot of people are a part of yet. I know there is more for me to work on and will definitely keep working to achieve my goals.”
Fellow All-Tournament team member, Jerica Johnson, said, “It was a personal achievement and goal...it feels good to know that I helped make a difference for my teammates and my coaches. This is a lot more to keep working on, to get better, and I’m looking forward to doing that at North (Hardin).”