Girl’s Basketball Team in National Tournament

Members of the Tennessee Force Elite pose in their Fight Cancer T-Shirts after last Tournament game. Back Row from left: Jessee Wallis, Laken Arnett, Aspen Jordan, Kaylee Smith & Gina Dick. Front Row from left: Micah Black, Ashly Gilbert, Aryn Sanders and Alli Hyder.(Photo: Gary Bolden)

Teamwork is not just for Basketball

July 12, 2014

Nashville,, TN – The Tennessee Force Team comprised of girls from Rhea and surrounding counties played in Nashville over the weekend.  In an “Exposure Tournament” they competed with 372 other teams in several divisions.  The top ranked players in the nation were in attendance, as well as big time Coaches like Holly Warrick(Lady Vols) and Geno Auriemma(UConn University). This team is working together for more than just basketball wins.

The Force played five games in the tournament that began on Thursday. Most of their games were played at the Music Center in downtown Nashville.  The Expo area was modified to accommodate 30 temporary courts, all under one roof.  The Force won three of the five games played and were competitive in all the games that included very strong teams from all around the nation.

“We started well but then lost two straight close games before rebounding with two wins to close out the tournament.  I am disappointed that we did not advance out of pool play, but we were very competitive” said Coach Pankey.

“The biggest bonus of playing in this tournament is exposure.  Our girls had the opportunity to play before College Coaches.  We have several players who will be signing College scholarships and a few will probably sign Division 1.”

After the game the team was sporting a new T-shirt designed by one of the players to honor her mother, Jennifer.  Kaylee Smith, whose mom was diagnosed with cancer back in May wanted to do something to show her love for her Mom. The black shirt has fight and the symbolic fight cancer ribbon on the front and the verse Isaiah 41:10 on the back.(pic in the gallery below)

Kaylee Smith
Kaylee Smith

“I designed the T-Shirt. I wanted to do something to help my raise money for my mom and show her all the people who cared. It helps me feel better to see so many people helping out and buying the shirts to help my Mom through this.  I feel like it means a lot to her.”

Two Rhea County High School Lady Eagles, Freshman Micah Black and Junior Jessee Wallis, play on the Force Team. There are also players from other area schools. Ashley Gilbert is a Senior at Bledsoe County High School. Gina Dick is a senior at Cumberland County High School and Alli Hyder is a Junior at same school. Kaylee Smith is a senior at Sequatchie County High School. Aspen Jordan is a senior over at Loudon High School. Aryn Sanders, a junior, comes from Signal Mountain High School. Laken Arnett comes all the way from Collinwood High School in Wayne County. Two players on the team did not play in the tournament. These two were Madison Dispensa(SR at McMinn County) and Courtney Smith(Jr at Cumberland County).

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