Amree Youngmon wouldn’t have guessed last winter her sophomore year this season would see her play a significant role for Sparta.
After a so-so start, she’s emerged into one of the Lady Trojans’ best offensive threats during the new year.
Youngmon enters Class 3 District 11 play this weekend having shot at a 60-percent clip from the field over Sparta’s last 10 games. The Lady Trojans (18-7) host Conway (8-15) in first-round play at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
“This season has been kind of an adventure,” Youngmon said. “I had to step in and play more than normal, after we lost our ‘big’ from last year. I knew I had to step it up.”
Sparta struggled at times offensively against winning teams over its first 15 games. But as Youngmon progressed, the Lady Trojans averaged 64.1 points a night in their final 10 regular-season games. They were 8-2 during that stretch.
“Amree has gotten better and better and I knew she was going to be a key to our offense from the beginning,” coach Josh Loveland said. “I also knew she was going to need time to develop and acclimate herself to more varsity time. Her playing time has gotten more and more and she’s gotten stronger at the basket. As a sophomore who is kind of undersized at her position, she’s been a big reason for a lot of our success.”
Youngmon and fellow sophomores Mya Fulton and Alivia Loveland were part of successful teams in junior high and have adjusted over the past two seasons to playing with older players.
“It’s a little intimidating at the beginning for an underclassmen to play with upperclassmen,” senior guard Shelby McMurry said. “Amree has become more confident and we’re more confident in dishing it off to her. We know she’s capable.”
“It’s not as bad for me now as it was last year. I’ve gotten used to it,” Youngmon said about playing alongside upperclassmen. “Every and now then it’s still a little bit intimidating. My confidence is a lot higher now, but some nights it’s a little low. When Mya and Alivia are out there with me, I ease up.”
With Youngmon shooting at such an exceptional rate, Loveland has implored her to be offensive-minded around the basket.
“He wants me to shoot more,” Youngmon said. “Every time I step in the paint, he always wants me to shoot. It’s more of a reaction now for me to shoot.”