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JV girls wrap up unbeaten season with Western Highlands Conference title

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Head JV girls' coach Ryan Cook
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The Mitchell High School girls’ junior varsity team completed an undefeated season and claimed the Western Highlands Conference Championship Friday, Feb. 21, with a 55-39 win over Mountain Heritage. (Brandon Roberts/News-Journal)

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BURNSVILLE – The Mitchell High School junior varsity girls’ basketball team completed an undefeated season Friday, Feb. 21, by winning the Western Highlands Conference championship 55-39 over Mountain Heritage in Burnsville. 

The Lady Mountaineers jumped out to a 20-0 lead after the first quarter and never looked back. Savannah Banks scored 12 points, and Reagan Sparks scored 10 the lead the Lady Mountaineers on offense. Meredith Dellinger scored nine points, and Abby Cook and Annali Silver scored six points each. Cook was a perfect 6-for-6 from the free-throw line. Nine different players scored for Mitchell. 

“This group plays so well together,” said Ryan Cook, first-year head girls’ JV coach. “They have chemistry, and that helps, but they also play hard, and they’re smart. They know how the game is played.”

Sophomore Chloe Carter praised Cook as head coach.

“He’s the best coach I have ever had,” Carter said. “He puts us in front of everything. He asks about us, and it’s not all just about basketball.”

Going undefeated is no easy task, but Carter said the team’s ability to win stems from preparation. 

“If we had an off night, we’d work hard to get back on track,” she said. “We have a lot of sophomore girls, so that gives us a lot of leadership. Everybody can and did step up when needed. We are as close-knit as any team.”

Sophomore Savannah Banks says the team’s chemistry translates to success.

“I know players say this a lot, but these girls are like my family,” Banks said. “We work hard against each other in practice, and it shows in the games. These past two years have been the most fun and rewarding of my life.”

Banks also spoke highly of Cook, saying he is an integral part of the team’s ability to win games.

“We work on shooting a lot,” Banks said. “Coach Cook has several shooting drills he likes us to run, and they work, and it shows. He has a strategy for everything – even when he takes a timeout or makes substitutions, there’s a reason behind it. We may have done all the work on the court, but he helps us be successful.”

Several sophomores on this year’s girls’ JV team were part of the Bowman Middle School team that went undefeated two years ago. 

“These players aren’t used to losing, and they don’t like losing,” Cook said. “They do the big and little things well. They move the ball and make extra passes to get open.” 

Cook said his team’s depth was something from which any coach would benefit.

“I can go almost all the way down my bench, and they all know what’s going on,” he said. “I never really had a starting lineup, I’ve changed it up all season. Everybody has a great attitude, and they stayed into what we were doing all year. They bought in. They don’t care who scores; they care about how we play as a team. Everybody we have can score, and they don’t care who does. This is a great, really special group of girls.”