Lady Blue Devils, 2000-2001 a dream season
The Claiborne County High School 2000-2001 girls basketball team was a wonderful assembly of talent and personalities that bonded together to make a solid run at the state title. Their accomplishments included the District 2 AA Championship, Region 1 AA Runner Up, Substate Championship and a berth in the TSSAA state tournament.
They went 27-0 in the regular season and were ranked number one in the AA Classification. This team ended up losing only twice, once in the Regional Championship and in the state tournament. The team members included Abby DeBusk, Allison Malone, Lindsey Honeycutt, Pamela Ramsey, Kori Gibson, Jessica Wylie, Katasha Brown, Jennifer Pressnell, Jessie Redmond, Nicole Seals, Ashley Keck, Natasha Riggs, Sirena Hall and were coached by Dayton Parkey who was assisted by Gary Harmon and Greg Snyder.
Sirena Hall spoke about that great team, “I played that year. It was an amazing season. We never lost a game (regular season). And the team that had been undefeated for years was Gibbs high and both times that season we beat them. That’s the year we went to the state championship. We lost in double overtime by one point. We were very close. We all hung out even off the court that’s what made it so special and Coach Parkey was an amazing coach. He always keep our spirits up with a positive attitude; not only as a coach but as a real friend. He always had a open hand to help anyone he could weather you was a player or just another person. He always seen the good in everyone.”
Jennifer Pressnell Hall said this, “This was my senior year. I had played with these girls for three and four years and had coach Parkey for two. He was tough but man did I learn to appreciate that. At the end of that season I think we all learned he knew basketball and he loved it and loved us that’s why he pushed us so hard. As the season progressed that year it’s almost like you just knew what each other was thinking and what each other’s next move would be. As point guard I felt like sometimes when I would pass the ball to one of them and they wasn’t even turned around yet, I knew they would and I knew they were expecting it. So many great memories from that season and I will cherish them forever!”
Kori Gibson Edgington also provided a statement about the team, “Sometimes things just click. There was something very special about that team. It was more of a family than a team really. You pushed, trained and tried a little harder. It was expected and appreciated. Coach Parkey could see the potential in each and everyone of us and pushed us until it came out. I can still hear him in my head some days -Don’t stop Gibson- and I’m better for it.”
Natasha Riggs Smith said, “I honestly believe if I hadn’t played basketball I would not be the person I am today. Our team was some of the toughest women I have ever known. Coach Parkey never settled for less than the best which is what helped make us what we were and who we are.”
Abby DeBusk Joyner thought back on the team as well, “I was a sophomore during the 2000-2001 season. We essentially had everyone back from the prior year so we really knew each other well and how each other played. Coach Parkey was tough but he knew what he was doing and how to get the results from us even if we were mad or ticked off. He kept pushing us. That was the most successful team I have been a part of. It was nice to be part of a team that will be in the record books of Claiborne County history. I do not think we could have imagined going to the state tournament in Murfreesboro. Of course, it did not end the way we wanted it to but it was a dream season for us regardless.”
Katasha Brown Flat had this to say, “That team was special. We had all played against and with each other growing up through Jr. Pro and middle school so it was fun to finally be on the same team. After a few years of being on the same side we kind of hit our stride that year. It’s hard to describe the shift that happened our freshman year once Parkey had taken the head coaching position but it became a different mindset within the team. The program was down and had multiple coaching changes in previous years. That first season, I think the seniors had a different coach every year and no one really expected us to win. I distinctly remember Parkey coming into the locker room after a win at home and he was upset because they were playing the National Anthem “after” our game, but before the boys game as if to say -OK now the real game is starting. He took that personally and so did we. He expected us to win when no one else did and I think that changed the culture in the program and led to the success we started to see and ultimately a state championship run.”
This was a close basketball team just like all successful ones and they put aside their differences for the betterment of the team. They captured the attention of Claiborne County basketball by rallying around Coach Parkey and his belief that girl’s basketball was equally important as the boy’s team. The Lady Blue Devils enjoyed the state tournament police escort and all the fanfare that inspired them to be the best team possible. If not for controversy over a three-point shot being deemed a two-pointer this team might have been a state champion but it’s all water under the bridge and Dayton Parkey said it best right after the loss, “I’m very proud of the girls and the community for their support.”