DICKSON — Life sometimes leads you down unexpected paths. There’s no telling what will happen, but a positive mindset can make it a smoother journey.
You don’t have to tell that to Wes Thomas, as he focused on that strategy three weeks ago when he took over as head coach of the Dickson High School girls basketball team.
“I told the girls that first day we had practice, ‘We can go one of two ways from here — we can band together and you can play for each other and play the brand of basketball I know you can play. Or we let this thing go haywire and go south quick,’” Thomas said. “Right now, they’ve bought in. They’re holding each other accountable. They’re picking each other up when they get down. They’ve bought into the team aspect. It has nothing to do with me. It 100% has to do with this group of 13 girls that we have.”
That was apparent on Friday night as the Lady Comets tallied a hard-fought 50-43 victory over Madill. It was Dickson’s second win over the Lady Wildcats in three weeks, following a 51-45 decision on Dec. 17 at the Comet Holiday Classic.
“(Madill) is a good team,” Thomas said. “Coach (Shawn) Runyan has been coaching for a long time. They have Jayden Weiberg, she gives us fits. We had a goal and we held her under her point total for this game. Our girls dug in. They’re feisty.”
Weiberg finished with a game-high 21 points in the first meeting, but the Lady Comets held her to 14 this time. And almost half of those points came in the fourth quarter when Weiberg accounted for a 6-0 run to give the Lady Wildcats their only lead of the second half at 37-35.
That didn’t last long though, as Dickson answered back with nine of the next 11 points for a 44-39 advantage at the 2:24 mark.
That was plenty, as the Lady Comets held on for their sixth win of the season.
“I told them we have to appreciate these victories,” Thomas said. “Hats off to coach Shawn Runyan. This guy has been doing it a long time and he has a good group of girls. I told our girls, ‘The storm is going to come.’ At halftime, I said, ‘We pushed the lead to seven or eight and then we let them come back in. We have to learn how to deliver that knockout shot.’”
Only time will tell if Dickson can do that, but the team-first mentality should pay dividends down the road. The Lady Comets proved that against Madill, too, as six different athletes finished with at least four points.
Audrey Young led the way with 14, followed by Marya Southerland with 11 and the duo of Chesleigh Apala and Ashlen Clem with eight apiece.
Thomas praised Southerland as “one of the most athletic girls” he can put on the floor who can score down low, on the run and from long range.
Meanwhile, Young is just as instrumental as a senior leader.
“Audrey Young is a four-year starter and followed in her sister’s footsteps,” Thomas said. “She’s a Swiss Army knife for us. If she has to play the 5, she’ll play the 5. If she has to bring the ball down the floor, she’ll bring the ball down the floor. I love that kid to death. A tough, hard-nosed kid. And that’s what we have. And that’s what I’m trying to build on — kids who play gritty defense, that are hard-nosed and get up and get after them.”
It’s safe to say that type of team will be tough to beat in the postseason, which is where the Lady Comets hope to be once calendar flips to February.
“The first day we talked, we all raised our hands that the state tournament is our end goal,” Thomas said. “In order to do that, we have to be 1-0 every day. I know that’s cliché, but if we’re 1-0 every day, that’s going to help us going forward.”
This article originally appeared on The Daily Ardmoreite: Dickson girls basketball rising to the occasion with new leader