BACK TO WORK: Riverdale girls gear up for title defense

BACK TO WORK: Riverdale girls gear up for title defense

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BACK TO WORK: Riverdale girls gear up for title defense

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MURFREESBORO

Alexa Middleton arrived at Riverdale earlier than normal Monday morning.

The adrenaline of tipping off the high school basketball season sped up her morning process.

Riverdale — the two-time defending Class AAA state champions as well as defending MaxPreps and ESPN national champions — joined the rest of the state in returning to the hardwood for the first day of practice for high school basketball teams.

“I think I was a little too hyped for it,” said Middleton, a Tennessee commitment and 2013 Miss Basketball finalist, about the first day of practice. “I had a few comments about my over tweeting. But I love the game. I’m excited about it.”

Middleton said she arrived on Riverdale’s campus before the rest of the team, something unheard for the Lady Warrior guard.

“Not to brag, but I was the first person here,” she joked “And I’m normally late to everything. I was really early. I got to practice earlier than I thought I would.”

Middleton pulled into the parking lot at 4:25 a.m. — 20 minutes before the team was required to be there, and 35 minutes before the start of the Lady Warriors’ first of two practices.

Middleton and Clemson commitment Shelbie Davenport are the lone starters returning from the 2012-13 season that finished 35-0 this season with a 58-game winning streak.

“You can’t get caught up in everything that happened,” Riverdale coach Cory Barrett said. “It was so unreal what we accomplished. I told a lot of people that I don’t know if that could ever be duplicated again. What we went through last year was unbelievable. But at the same time now, we can’t worry about what we did last year. We have to create this team’s own legacy.”

Blackman may be the state favorite this season with four starters returning along with the addition of MeMe Jackson, who sat out last year after transferring from Mt. Juliet. However, Oakland and Smyrna will also be contenders in District 7-AAA.

Middleton and Davenport are both four-year starters. Middleton has played on three straight state finalist teams. Davenport, who started at Siegel her freshman year, has played on the Lady Warriors’ past two state championship teams.

Missing from last season are guards Tyisha Petty, Tiffany Lewis and forward Olivia Jones. Petty and Jones are both now freshmen at MTSU.

Riverdale’s roster also includes Faulkner commitment Brandy Alley, guard Shanique Heard, both of whom played several minutes last season.

Three transfers also may add to Riverdale’s lineup. Former Hickman County guard, Hannah Pendergrass, Summit guard Caroline Patrick and Friendship post player Deja Jones all transferred in the offseason. Barrett said Jones may miss the start of the season due to a hand injury.

Davenport said she expects it will take time to mesh with the new lineup.

“I remember last year, our first game was so ugly,” Davenport said. “It’s crazy to think first game, then state championship, what a big of a difference it makes. Hopefully, we’ll get going when district starts.”

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BACK TO WORK: Riverdale girls gear up for title defense
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