published Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

Tiffany Lewis progress helping Lady ’Canes

When East Hamilton’s Tiffany Lewis set her goals for the 2011-12 high school basketball season, she wasn’t thinking in terms of numbers of any kind.

“One was my attitude,” Lewis said. “That’s improved. I think it’s improved. And me taking over and being a leader. Those were my goals — to step up because it was my junior year.”

As her scoring has increased from 9.8 points per game last year to 15.4, the Lady Hurricanes’ losses have gone down.

East Hamilton (23-9) is assured of having the fewest losses in a season in the third-year program’s history, regardless of the outcome of tonight’s Class AA state sectional at Livingston Academy. The Lady Hurricanes are hoping for a victory to give them their first state-tournament berth.

Earlier this season Lewis became the school’s first to surpass 1,000 career points. Coach Derek Morris said her average this year could be a little higher if not for sacrificing some scoring during the two weeks she spent running the point while classmate Jessica Caudle was out with a shoulder injury. Lewis is second on the team to Caudle in steals and assists.

“I think the most impressive thing about Tiffany — obviously she’s a scorer — is her overall game,” Morris said. “She turns it over sometimes like everybody does, but on the defensive side she’s super active. And if we’re getting killed on the boards, I can slide her down closer to the goal.”

Lewis is the younger sister of former GPS softball standout and Tennessee sophomore Tory Lewis, who hit her first home run for the Lady Vols on Thursday night.

Tiffany’s last attempt at softball was as a pickup player for Tory’s 16-under Tennessee Fury team in the ASA national tournament three years ago in Sioux Falls, S.D. Tory played regularly. All Tiffany did was run.

“She was running and did this crazy dive and still has a circular scar from it,” Tory said. “She ended up with her picture in the paper for that wonderful dive she did.”

Tiffany knew from age 9 she would be going in another direction.

“I liked basketball better,” she said. “I’m not really an outside person.”

The sisters have had athletic success based on speed, but Tiffany said they’ve never raced each other. Tory said they are closer more than competitive with each other. Being the older, she’s more fostering.

“Of course we fight. We’re sisters,” Tory said. “I’ve had people ask me, ‘Are you her mom? You yell at her like you’re her mom.’”

Tory surprised her sister by dropping by East Ridge’s gymnasium last Monday when East Hamilton beat Sequoyah to clinch tonight’s sectional berth. She even brought a supportive sign.

Tiffany totaled 30 points that night, which was sandwiched between the 23 she scored in the Region 3 quarterfinal and the 25 she had in the loss to McMinn Central in the final.

So it looks like she made the right choice in sport. And her numbers continue to increase, whether goal-oriented or not.

“There’s no doubt about how hard she works,” Morris said. “Now it’s crunch time, so your big-time players are who you hope step up. The last two weeks she’s been playing the best basketball she’s played since she’s been here.”

about Kelley Smiddie...

Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com.

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