Cannon County senior Abbey Sissom will end her career as one of the school’s all-time greatest girls basketball players.
The MTSU signee has scored 2,593 career points (second in school history), has been named a Class AA Miss Basketball finalist three times and will make her third appearance in the state tournament today when the Lionettes (33-4) play Fulton (28-5) at 4:30 p.m.
But knowing each game she plays in maroon and gold now might be her last, the 5-foot-8 guard isn’t concerned with her any of individual successes.
“I don’t think about it,” Sissom said about her record-breaking statistics. “None of that really matters to me.”
Instead, the Woodbury native is much more concerned with her team leaving its mark on Cannon County’s program, which last won a girls basketball state championship in 1989.
“We’ve been there, and we know what to expect,” Sissom said. “I’m excited to get a chance to play in the state tournament again, but I think this team can win it all. Last year, I think maybe we were still too excited about our win over McMinn (in the sectionals). It was a really emotional win. We were still pretty high coming off that, and we didn’t play well at state.
“This year, I think we’re in a different mindset. They team can win it all. I know it.”
While Sissom might downplay her individual success in favor of her team’s, coach Michael Dodgen understands and appreciates how important she’s been to his team’s success in her four-year career, which includes being named to the Class AA State Tournament All-Tournament team as a freshman in 2011.
On the court, she led Cannon County in points (23.6 per game), assists, steals and free-throw percentage this season on the way to her second consecutive District 8-AA most valuable player award.
Off the court, her resume is just as impressive.
“You’re talking about a kid who is the true definition of a student-athlete,” Dodgen said. “She’s got a 4.0 GPA. She’s the secretary of her class. She’s involved in all different types of things. She’s the manager for the softball team. It’s not just basketball for her.”
Sissom, who was an All State selection in 2013, has found a balance between her success with a basketball and without it, and Dodgen said he’s coached long enough to know players who are able accomplish that feat are rare.
“She’s a great teammate, a great leader,” Dodgen said. “She’s not very loud and doesn’t say a whole lot. She’s pretty quiet actually, but you can just see it in the way she carries herself and the way the younger players look up to her.
“She goes about it the right way and when you get to coach a player of her talent-level that has those intangible qualities too, it’s pretty special. She makes my job a whole lot easier I can tell you that.”
Sissom will likely cross the 2,600-point plateau at some point during today’s quarterfinal against the Lady Falcons. And the moment will come and go without any fanfare or celebration, something she wouldn’t have any other way, especially if it means that she gets to put on her uniform one, or maybe even two, more times.
“I would rather have a state championship than all the points,” Sissom said. “It would be something this school hasn’t had in a long time.”