‘I’ve loved growing with this group of girls’: Vinemont’s Carley Stephens preparing for upcoming season

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Vinemont’s Carley Stephens. (Martha Needham/The Cullman Tribune)

VINEMONT, Ala. – Last season was a huge step in the right direction for the Vinemont Lady Eagles basketball team as they reached double-digits in the win column. They finished as the area runner-up and made a trip to Sub-Regionals as well. Vinemont junior Carley Stephens was so happy to see this team take some huge steps last year and is excited for the new season to get underway.

“I love playing basketball with this group of girls. This has been my favorite year of basketball so far. We have some really great players and winning 10 games this past year felt great. Throwing water on our coach for going to the area championship game for the first time in forever felt great. We were a very young team this past season and this year, we only have three seniors: Faith Rusk, Savannah Keel, and Berkley Gable,” Stephens said. “We are a very experienced and young team and I’ve loved growing with this group of girls.”

Having everyone back from last season will be huge for Stephens and company this year and that definitely showed in their summer play-day games.

“It has been awesome so far and we went 17-6 in our summer play-day games. We played some very great teams from out of state at our basketball camp. I personally think we can be great this season, seeing the way we all work together so well. We have so much potential on our team,” Stephens said. “The summer play-day games helped us grow and get used to playing together again after our season. Playing all of the good teams was all of us trusting in each other and being very competitive with the game.”

Carley has played for some great coaches so far during her time at Vinemont and has learned as much as she can from them so far.

“Coach James Brown has taught me to never give up on myself and push myself very hard. Our new JV coach, Emme Willoughby, pushed me when I was on JV for the first 10 games. She pushed me so hard. I worked hard and got my varsity spot,” she said. “Our coaches are great, always pushing us to be as good as we can be, giving us confidence and our athletic trainer, Ashley, has helped me the most when I got down on myself.”

Carley has learned a lot from a trio of upperclassmen on the team as well.

“Raylee Quick, my favorite upperclassmen, has always been my go-to person when I wasn’t on varsity. When I was on varsity, Raylee and I have grown together, and we have grown together, especially outside of basketball. Raylee has always been there to stop me from beating myself up. Another upperclassman I look up to is Katelyn Evans. She’s a great team leader and has always been there for our team,” she said. “Lastly, Berkley Gable taught me how to stay positive and taught me and the girls how to be like family and a real team.”

Carley and the rest of the team have been working on some things during the summer and feels blessed to be a part of a special team. She also set some big goals for herself and her team this season.

“We have been working a lot on correcting our mistakes and our defense during the off-season,” she said. “We are a very quick team, and we communicate very well,” she said. “Our goals are to make to the county championship game and to win area. Another goal I have is to grow more and more with my team.”

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