Highlanders lean on versatile Price

Nov. 14, 2013 @ 10:35 AM

Haris Price can make Gatlinburg-Pittman’s girls basketball team go.

But just how far can she lead the Highlanders?

“She can do it all,” said G-P coach Katie Parton. “She can handle the ball better than anyone in our district. She can get to the rim anytime she wants. She can shoot the outside ball. She pretty much does it all. If I had to say anything she needs to work on, it would be her leadership skills and being more vocal.”

The Highlanders are searching for that leader after graduating Karsen Sims from last year’s District 3-AA champions. No one may fit the leadership bill as well as the spunky Price.

The junior showed all that she can do in the Highlanders’ season opener on Tuesday, scoring 21 points with a combination of jump shots and slashes to the basket in a 64-37 win against South-Doyle. Dannie Luczak was equally strong inside, adding 16 points while Micki Werner and Macee Tinker had seven points each.

“I was proud of our team effort,” Price said. “I think we did well. We have to work on the little things, but we’ll get there.”

Price has some offensive help and it starts with Luczak. Parton said she’s impressed with how much the junior has developed from last year and it showed in a strong performance on Tuesday. Just as important is Werner, who Parton said does the “dirty work” for the Highlanders. The coach relies on the senior to not only battle for boards but defend the opposition’s best player. 

Werner can knock down big shots, too, sparking an 8-0 run in the second quarter on Tuesday with a 3-pointer. That spurt gave G-P a double-digit cushion that was rarely threatened in the second half.

Parton said she also has high hopes for sophomore Julia Maloney, who had a bucket in the season opener.

“We’re obviously going to have to push harder because we lost Karsen,” Luczak said. “I think we’re going to have to be more of a team and work together, instead of just depending on her in the last few seconds when you need that shot. I think we’re all going to have to contribute to go further.”

The defensive-minded Parton said it appears this team will feed off its dynamic offense. Some defensive work could be in order, Price said, after a decent opener. Part of that is figuring out how best to defend with officials cracking down on handchecks. The Cherokees drew 10 fouls on Tuesday in the first quarter.

“We have to adjust and get our hands up and use our feet instead of our hands,” Price said. “We just have to get our hands up and move our feet.”

If G-P can adjust and Price can not only be the Highlanders’ engine, but their leader, too, this team should do just fine.

“The girls look for her to do it all and then they feed off what she does,” Parton said. “If she gets frustrated, you could see our team dwindle down pretty easy. I try to help keep her as positive as possible. If she gets frustrated, I try to get her out as quickly as I can, try to get her back on track.

“I’m really trying to figure out how I can get her to be that leader I need her to be, that coach on the floor, as soon as possible.”