Notes from state

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McKenzie sophomore Savannah Davis certainly has distinguished herself over the last two basketball seasons.

She helped lead her team to the Class A state championship Saturday, was the state-tournament MVP and was on the dais for the coveted Miss Basketball award ceremony (presentation results were not known by press time).

With 5:10 remaining in the second frame of the Lady Rebels’ semifinal tilt with Gleason, Davis reached 1,000 career points. She was face guarded most of the game and still finished with nine points in their 58-44 victory.

MHS coach John Wilkins thinks Davis is a special player.

“She’s been a big player for us since she was a freshman and we’re glad she’s just a sophomore,” he said. “She’s a finalist for Miss Basketball and I think she should win it. She deserves it.”

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Winning state championships has become a generational thing for the Wilkins family. In 2018,  family patriarch Mitch Wilkins led Gibson County Lady Pioneers to the 2018 state title. Son John Wilkins added another gold basketball on the family trophy case.

Wilkins, who also has two brothers in the coaching ranks, said his father has been a big influence both inside and away from the gym and referred to him as a legend. 

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Wilkins had coached the McKenzie boys and girls teams to district and regional titles and two state tournament bids. But Wilkins said the focus was on the here and now. 

“I really haven’t thought much about it. We’re focused on the state tournament, but maybe, in a couple of weeks, we may sit back and think about what we’ve accomplished. “

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With an unseasonable snowfall and gasoline prices soaring to nearly  $4.50 per gallon, a good crowd of McKenzie fans made the long, and sometimes treacherous, trek to Murfreesboro to support the McKenzie girls team.

The team expressed gratitude to the community for its financial support for the team. Bus rides,  hotel accommodations and meals don’t come cheap.

With a big grin on her face, Lady Rebel Dani Dyer said: “We’ve eaten well here this week.”

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When McKenzie fell to Loretto in substate last year, ending No. 1-ranked McKenzie’s quest for a state tournament appearance, a fire had been lit.

“Loretto beat us last year and that bothered us ever since,” said Wilkins. “I think it lit a fuse in us. We wanted to find a way to get up here and give ourselves a chance.”

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Wilkins singled out his assistant Ashley Lowe for being a big part of McKenzie’s success this year. Wilkins coaches both boys and girls teams. One of the many ways she assists the team is by breaking down film of opponents.

“She doesn’t get enough credit,” said Wilkins,  pointing out his assistant in the gallery during the post-game presser. “She does a tremendous job for us, breaks down film and allows me to do more things with our boys and girls teams.”

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