By Rick Sheek
The path was paved in 1988, 25 years ago.
Coach Mike Rader guided Happy Valley’s girls to a state basketball tournament berth in Murfreesboro. That was the first Carter County school to advance a team of that gender to the ultimate stage in the state’s prep hardwood ranks.
“That was a great group of girls that came over,” Rader said. “They were very dedicated on what they wanted to do. They had their eyes set on it.
“Of all the teams I coached, that had to be one of the hardest-working teams. They just loved basketball.”
The Lady Warriors (23-10) were eliminated in the Class AA quarterfinals by Westmoreland at Murphy Center. They fell behind by a large margin early, and a second-half rally fell short.
“We had gone to camp there, so we were familiar with the gym — not in the capacity that we were in,” said point guard Shane Leach Goines, the team’s leading scorer. “That made the gym look totally different. We were awestruck, to be as cocky as we were.
“We put a lot of pressure on ourself. We didn’t want to go down there and come right back home. That was not the plan.”