It will be a mixture of old and new when the Lakeway Christian girls’ basketball team takes the court this weekend.
The Lady Lions will be in a brand new gym, at their brand new campus and in their first year being able to go to the postseason in the TSSAA. However, they will do so with their experienced coaching staff and an experienced roster.
“We are bringing back a lot of experience, so there is a lot of leadership in our practices,” Lakeway Christian coach Randy Coffman said. “There’s been great enthusiasm in our practices. Obviously with our kids not getting spring and AAU seasons, there’s a lot of enthusiasm in our gym right now. I am excited to get to be a part. It’s a blessing everyday that we get to play too. We’re just taking it one day at a time, and we are just very blessed when we get to share our passion with each other.”
The Lady Lions are coming off a 22-4 season that finished with them taking home the NACA National Championship. LCA finished in a tie for first in their district but could not go to postseason play because it was their affiliate year in the TSSAA.
While for some programs, it would be hard to compete during their first year as a TSSAA member, the Lady Lions should have zero trouble as they have experience all around the board.
“I think it has to be a bonus,” Coffman said. “I think our kids understand our expectations here a little better, and they’re really embracing our new ones to the program. We are bringing back a lot of veterans in regards to playing time, but we have 19 kids on the roster and 10 of them are either freshmen or eighth graders. We’re still young of age, but these kids’ basketball IQ and experience level are high.”
LCA is led by seniors Maggie Vick and Jordaynia Ivie. Vick just recently signed with Iowa State while Ivie has received D-I offers. Last season, Vick averaged 13.5 points per game and 8.5 rebounds. Her and Ivie were both members of the DII-A All-State team.
While both are already extremely talented players, the two have taken a dedication to getting into shape in time for the season.
“Jordaynia is really committed to developing other parts of her game,” Coffman said. “She was really focused on her body and conditioning level. Now, she runs and moves so much better, she’s probably in the best shape of her life. We can absolutely echo that for Maggie Vick. Maggie has really transformed her body with ridiculous work ethic, whether that is getting stronger or getting into better shape. The kid has lost over 40 pounds and has added muscle. She moves like a three instead of a five. We are really going to utilize her size and mobility.”
Along with those two, Lakeway returns the core of their team from last season. LCA brings back senior Rebeka Kin, junior Kayle Yates, sophomore Halli Stuffle and freshman Ellie Linx.
And, they bring back freshman Madi Hawk who is one of the top recruits in the 2024 class. Hawk has seen interest from a plethora of D-I schools and led LCA in scoring during her seventh grade year. She has been a starter the past two seasons despite being in middle school.
“I think the big thing with Madi is continuing to advance her game and challenge herself daily,” Coffman said. “She’s obviously very passionate about the game and she loves the sport and loves to compete so for her, it is focus on the little individual things. For any kids who wants to play at the highest level, they have to be able to score at all three levels. Madi is a great shooter, as good a shooter as there is in the state of Tennessee, so adding the ability last year to go off the dribble and get to the rim was huge.
“This season, she needs to work on the mid-range game and being able to score at that third level. That makes her such a weapon and makes her teammates better too because she can set the table for them based on what the defense does for her.”
As for newcomers to the program, Coffman has added three players he thinks will play significant minutes. LCA adds a 5’8” wing in Aubree Laney who Coffman said is one of the better athletes in the program.
Coffman has also added post player Alexis Hood who, according to Coffman, has taken to Maggie Vick and her work ethic, which will only help her in the future. Jayden Riddle is another guard that LCA has brought in this season who has the ability to score at all three levels.
“I really expect those three kids to play significant minutes with the ones we return already,” Coffman said.
The schedule will have LCA prepared for the postseason right off the bat. The Lady Lions third game of the season is against Maryville, who defeated them 75-53 last year, in a tournament at the new campus. Then, LCA will go to Florida for an exposure tournament.
The Lady Lions will go to Myrtle Beach and Atlanta for other tournaments as well as having conference play.
For Coffman, his goal for the team is the same as it always is.
“Every year our goal is to win our last game,” Coffman said. “That’s going to be our goal this year, and we’re not going to shy away from that or act like we hope that happens. That’s absolutely a goal. Getting to go to some of these exposure events, is great too. Preparing our kids to be able to play our best basketball at the end. That is what every kid wants. You can’t shy away from good competition.”
LCA kicks off the season on Friday against Clarksville Christian in the Hall of Fame Shootout at Lakeway Christian at 6:30 p.m. They will then play Sullivan Central at 1:30 p.m. Saturday and Maryville at 6 p.m.