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Girls basketball coach of the year: Riverdale's Cory Barrett

1:00 AM, Apr. 05, 2013 EDT

Riverdale turned in the first unbeaten championship season by a Class AAA girls program in 22 years, extended its winning streak to 58 straight games and finished the year ranked No. 1 in two national polls.

And first-year coach Cory Barrett, The Tennessean 2013 girls basketball coach of the year, isn't sure the Lady Warriors maximized their potential.

"I still don't know if we actually peaked," said the 38-year-old Barrett, named in July to replace current Lipscomb University assistant John Wild as Riverdale's coach after spending five seasons at Hickman County.

"We were winning games, but I thought at times we had so much more room to improve. There were some games when we were so good, but the coach in me goes back and looks at the mistakes, and -- we could have done more. I'm not trying to sound arrogant, but if we could have played another 10 games, I felt like we could have continued to get better."

Barrett and the Lady Warriors may have had a tough time finding 10 more opponents. Through their 35-0 campaign, they averaged 73.7 points while allowing 49.8, and won all but four of their games by 10 points or more.

Among those 31 double-digit victories were a pair over Memphis Central -- an 89-72 homecourt decision on Dec. 15 and an 85-64 win in the state semifinals.

"I don't know if they could have found a guy who could come in as smoothly as he did," Memphis Central coach Niki Bray said. "John obviously laid a great foundation, but Cory picked up seamlessly, and that's not as easy as it appears."

Prior to going 89-69 at Hickman County -- where he lost nine straight games to open his tenure -- Barrett spent two years working under his uncle, Middle Tennessee State women's coach Rick Insell. He also served as an assistant at Watertown, Riverdale and Shelbyville.

"He's been so influential on my career," Barrett said of Insell, whose 1991 Shelbyville squad was the last to go undefeated in Class AAA (33-0) before Riverdale. "I got so much of my philosophy from him. Even when I was younger, I was watching Shelbyville, watching and studying. I didn't know I was going to coach."

"Coming up and learning from so many different coaches and their trials, I was basically filling up my suitcase."

One thing apparently missing from Barrett's suitcase was a crystal ball.

"We played the toughest schedule we could play, the toughest in the country," he said. "But I did tell the kids, 'We don't have to lose.' I thought at the time, we'll probably lose some games, but we don't have to.

"This is really beyond what I envisioned. I knew we were very talented. At no time did I ever think we were going to be 35-0, win a state championship, win a national championship. If somebody had told me that, I'd have told them they were crazy."



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