CHICKAMAUGA, Ga. — No one is comparing Kassidy Blevins to Michael Jordan, but one aspect of their game is very similar.
Jordan was known as the ultimate competitor in anything he did and often the worst thing an opponent could do was trigger whatever it was that propelled him to the next level. Blevins, the Gordon Lee High School senior guard, possesses that same competitive fire. Just ask Towns County.
In the teams' GHSA Class A public school semifinal last week, a physical contest in which Blevins picked up two fouls in the game's first three minutes, Blevins was knocked to the floor and lost the ball while bringing the ball up court. No foul was called and the ball was turned over to Towns.
Blevins stood up, looked at the official, and after realizing no call was forthcoming, flashed a wry smile. The trigger had been pulled. She would go on to score 16 fourth-quarter points, most on relentless drives to the basket, as the Lady Trojans earned their first state championship berth.
"Sometimes, when I get really motivated like that, I can really turn it on," said Blevins, again with a hint of smile. "I guess I got a little fire under me."
When relayed that comment, Gordon Lee coach Lester Galyon also laughed. He's seen such moments often over the past four seasons and wasn't the least bit surprised at the outburst.
"I don't have to say anything to her," Galyon said. "I know at some point that if there is a crack in the defense she is the best I've ever coached at turning the corner, staying low and getting to the rim. When the game is on the line she does what she does best -- attack -- and few teams can do much about it."
The Lady Trojans will need all the Blevins fire they can get in today's final against the tournament's No. 1 seed, 29-2 Randolph-Clay. The Lady Red Devils, with athletic players like 6-foot sisters Brianna and Kobi Thornton, are capable of putting teams away early. They've won their three playoff games by a combined 67 points.
Galyon believes the first few minutes of the game, set for the Macon Centreplex at 3, will set the tone.
"What I think they'll do is test us with the press," said Galyon, who will rely on point guard Blevins to handle most of the pressure. "If we handle it and we hurt them in transition, they'll get out of it and go to a more passive zone. I know they won't be the best pressing team we've faced, and I think we'll be able to handle it."
In other words, the Lady Trojans won't stray from what they know.
"We're excited to be in the finals and to be the first Gordon Lee to get there," said Blevins, "but we have more to do. We just have to play our game, and I think we'll be all right."
Lindsey Young is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who started work at the Chattanooga News-Free Press 24 years ago. He covers the Northwest Georgia prep beat and NASCAR. Lindsey’s hometown is Ringgold, Ga., and he graduated from Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He received an associate’s degree from Dalton Junior College (now Dalton State) and a bachelor’s degree in communications from UTC. He has won several writing awards, including two Tennessee Sports ...