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As the 2011-12 basketball season looms, the Farragut High School boys basketball team has some lofty expectations.

The Admirals, who finished 15-14 overall and 5-9 in District 4-AAA last season, open a new campaign eager to improve upon last season's finish. Farragut hits the hardwood this season with some battle-tested veterans.

“Last year, I think we were just trying to come together,” said Admirals junior guard Demarcus Martin after Farragut nabbed a 20-6 victory over Webb School of Knoxville in Tennova Tip-Off Classic Monday night, Nov. 14, at Thompson-Boling Arena. “Last year, we had all new people.

“I really think we’ll be five times better than we were last year. We're just going to take things one game at a time.”

Martin was one of the newcomers to Farragut’s program last season. He transferred from Austin-East and joined the team in January.

Second-year head coach Chris Cool is hoping that the now veteran Admirals can make an impact in the ultra-competitive District 4-AAA race.

“Last year, we had Blake [Williams] and Will Park who had varsity experience,” Cool said. “The rest of the guys were brand new.

“The district has been really tough in the past. Bearden and West will be the teams to beat, as usual. Any of the other remaining teams can beat each other on any night.”

Farragut's top returners include: Duncan Powell (senior, guard); Connor Martens (senior, guard); Trent Hawkins (senior, guard); Williams (senior, guard); Martin (junior, guard); Preston Spalding (junior, center) and Brian Park (sophomore, guard).

Key newcomers are: Matthew Odom (sophomore, guard); Marvin Mendy (sophomore, forward/center); Tommy Tucker (junior, guard) and Billy Williams (sophomore, forward/center).

Expectations are high this season at Farragut.

“I think we come in with high expectations but the big key is to stay healthy,” Williams said.

“This district is tough. Bearden and West are always two of the best teams in the state. Maryville is always good.

“Lenoir City is tough. William Blount and Catholic are good. Everybody's good. But I think we can surprise some people this year.”

Cool said he and the team set a few goals before playing the Spartans Monday.

“Me and the guys talked about what expectations we have before we came over here,” Cool said. “A lot of it had to do with the record.

“We want a better overall record, but the district is what we really want. I don't mean necessarily winning it. We want to finish in the top four so we can get a bye in the first round of the tournament.”

Meanwhile, the Lady Admirals appear poised for another successful campaign under fourth-year head coach Wes Edmonds.

Farragut, which went 27-7 in 2010-11, has a veteran and savvy team. The Lady Admirals, however, will have to replace three seniors from last season's squad.

“Our three seniors played a lot last year,” Edmonds said. “This year will be an adjustment period for us after losing those three seniors.

“This year, we're not really worried about where we start. We're going to worry about where we finish.”

Despite the loss of the senior trio, the Lady Admirals feature eight returners from last year's squad: Madison Blevins (junior, forward/guard); Courtney Ingram (senior, guard); Rebecca Jameson (sophomore, forward-center); Caylee Carter (senior, guard); Madison Maples (sophomore, guard); Whitney Smith (junior, guard); Anna Brinson (senior, forward/center) and Katie Overton (junior, center).

The Lady Admirals would appear to have a veteran squad. Edmonds, however, said that looks can be deceiving.

“We only have two returning starters this year,” he said. “We'll have some kids that will be filling different roles. Our biggest weakness is just the fact that we're so inexperienced.

“We're looking for Katie Overton to be a big presence inside for us this year. I'm also looking for Rebecca Jameson to do some big things for us because she can play both the three and the four.”

Both Smith and Brinson are relishing the opportunity to lead the Lady Admirals.

“One of the ways I can lead is by staying positive,” said Smith, who can play both the point guard and shooting guard position. “I get down on myself. I've tried to change that because I want to be positive, both on and off the court, for the younger players.”

Brinson added that the Lady Admirals are a close-knit group.

“We're very good friends and our bond is strong,” she said. “For me, it's about stepping up and being positive.”

As far as the district race, Smith looks forward to competing in a wide-open competition.

“I feel like we're underestimated this year and I think we can use that to our advantage,” she said.

Joining the experienced veterans are newcomers Anna Woodford (a freshman guard who scored three points in Farragut's 27-17 loss to Webb Monday); Kristen Freeman (freshman, guard/forward) and Madyson Newby (sophomore, center).

Farragut’s teams will start play in Central Thanksgiving tourney Tuesday. Nov. 22.

Cool’s boys will tangle with the host Bobcats at 5 p.m., while Edmonds’ girls will play Gatlinburg-Pittman in Fountain City at 8:30 p.m.


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