Guinn offers advice to Pigeon Forge basketball team

Dec. 17, 2013 @ 10:37 PM

The Pigeon Forge boys basketball team got some words of wisdom from a state championship coach last week.

Mike Guinn, who led the Tiger baseball team to a state title last spring, spoke to the team last Monday at the request of basketball coach John Kucela.

“We talk a lot,” Guinn said. “We were talking on the weekend, talking a little basketball. I told (Kucela) what I saw and he wanted them to hear it from another person. ... I think he does a fantastic job. He’s a real hard worker. I really echoed a lot of his sentiments. He had them ready to play.”

Shortly after his speech, Pigeon Forge went out and had one of its better all-around team efforts in a win at Catholic. Guinn said he didn’t have much Xs and Os advice to offer the basketball team but gave more of a motivational talk.

“I think obviously you want to build self-esteem,” Guinn said. “As far as motivation, understanding how to play hard and push yourself to another level, some kids don’t understand that and you try to define that for them and how they can reach a little deeper. A lot of it goes back to self-esteem.”

Guinn said he’s a big basketball fan and he became friends with Kucela after meeting him last year. He said the two coaches talk often and he expects this Pigeon Forge team to go far.

“I enjoy talking with him because he knows the game,” Guinn said. “I think he’s a good leader. I expect big things from that team this year.”

Seymour narrows search

Seymour High School hopes it can announce a new football coach in the coming week.

Athletic Director Gary Householder said the school has interviewed 10 candidates after receiving around 75 resumes.

“We hope to be (done) next week,” Householder said. “If the guy we want takes it, then we’ll have it. If he doesn’t, we’ll still be looking.”

Jim Moore stepped down from the head coaching position with the Eagles in November after five seasons.

Power of the east

Pigeon Forge got revenge earlier this week for last year’s loss in the A/AA dual wrestling state championship match, beating Greeneville. Tigers coach Greg Foreman said regardless of who won on Thursday, he’s happy to see East Tennessee well represented by some of the better wrestling programs in the state in recent years.

Greeneville’s win over Pigeon Forge last year was the first time a team outside the Chattanooga area had won the A/AA dual title since 2005. The Tigers had lost the previous two years to Chattanooga Central in the final. Of course, if Pigeon Forge could make it back to the state final and win, that would make two straight titles for East Tennessee.

“It’s really nice to shift some of that successful momentum, whether it’s us or Greeneville, back to East Tennessee,” Foreman said. “Traditionally Chattanooga’s been the stronghold of wrestling in the state. It’s nice to spread some of that success to East Tennessee.”

Picking the best

After Jefferson County held his Sevier County team to 32 points Friday night, coach Ken Wright was ready to peg the Patriots as the best team in District 2-AAA early on.

“They returned everybody off of a team that played us for the championship last year,” Wright said. “They’re the favorites this year.  They’re picked to win this thing.”

A 4-0 start in the district seems to justify that. Jefferson County has now won six straight since losing to Tabernacle Baptist in the Bahamas on Nov. 29.

The hottest team in Sevier County, though, may be Gatlinburg-Pittman. The Highlanders are 12-1 with their only loss coming by a point — on a last-second foul shot — to Cocke County in November. G-P has scored at least 90 points in back-to-back games and already weathered injuries to stars Steffen Schroeder and Clay Leatherwood. Leatherwood scored 38 points in one game this year and he combined with Schroeder for 35 points against Union County on Friday.

Thomas Mackey scored 20 in that Friday win, showing this team can get big points from just about anywhere. That is why the Highlanders are having so much success coach A.J. Bennett said.

“On our team, anybody could be the leading scorer,” Bennett said. “People focus on Steffen and Clay so much, Thomas is another weapon. We’re just trying to get him to be more aggressive.”