|Published: 4:12 PM, 02/19/2013
Author: Gabriel Garcia
Source: The Monroe County Advocate
Bumped up a classification from last season, the Rural Vale Elementary School girls still won the Monroe County crown and advanced to the Class AA state basketball tournament.
But the 2012 Class A champions’ quest to pick up a title in AA fell short in the semifinals in a 34-31 loss to South Fentress.
To make matters more complicated, the Lady Panthers’ impact player Jacoby Lynn went down early in the first quarter with a knee injury, tearing her anterior cruciate ligament and also likely her medial collateral ligament and meniscus.
Without Lynn, Rural Vale fell behind by 14 points at halftime to South Fentress. However, the Lady Panthers did make a run in the second half, knotting it up in the fourth quarter and making the endgame a nip-and-tuck affair before eventually falling.
“I was proud of them, how they came back and put it together after losing her (Lynn) in the first quarter like they did,” said Rural Vale coach Bobbi Aikens.
Lynn, who underwent her first rehabilitation session this past week, was still scheduled for an MRI scan Saturday. Her surgery was also still yet to be scheduled.
The outgoing eighth-grader plans to enroll at McMinn Central for her high school career. She scored her 2,000th career point Feb. 4 on Eighth Grade Night.
After two years as a state power, Rural Vale will likely be in rebuilding mode next season, since the core of the team’s run was eighth-graders. Rural Vale will have only two returning players — current seventh grader Alyssa Brown and current sixth grader Chloe Yearwood.
Aikens is also stepping down after 11 years as the Lady Panthers coach, and Bretta Wright will take over.
But despite the turnover, Aikens still has high expectations for the Lady Panthers next season.
“They’ll be pretty good,” she said.
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