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The Season Ends, and the Scoreboard Doesn’t Tell the Story

On the first day of practice in October, Lutz asked her players some basic questions. Where is the free-throw line? What is traveling? How many players are on the court at a time?

Most of the girls replied with blank stares.

“Until Christmas, I was teaching them offense versus defense,” Lutz said. “We have a crash course in peewee basketball — dribbling, passing, shooting, defense.”

She knows that her record with a team that always loses may preclude her from coaching elsewhere someday. It gnaws at her. But she musters enthusiasm for the job — doggedly challenging referees, for example, or diving for loose balls in practice to set an example.

“I’m going to coach like we’re going to win a state championship,” Lutz said. “They deserve that.”

Players see her as a stable, trustworthy role model, unlike anyone they know. She is fiery, sassy and confident. She gives them pointers on everything from manners to hairstyles.

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For Carroll Academy’s Players, Home is Not Always a Haven

One side of the gym had a smattering of fans for Sacred Heart. The bleachers set aside for Carroll Academy’s Lady Jaguars were virtually empty. Again.

The nine girls on the team usually outnumber their fans in the stands.

“That tells you all you need to know,” said Randy Hatch, the day-to-day leader of Carroll Academy, a school in Huntingdon administered by the juvenile court. “That’s why we’re here. If their parents had been there all along, maybe we wouldn’t be here. Right now, we’re the only family they got.”

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From the New York Times’ John Branch: Carroll Academy Basketball: ‘It Ain’t About the Record’

Carroll Academy is in Huntingdon, about 100 miles east of Memphis and 100 miles west of Nashville in West Tennessee. It is a strictly run day school with about 80 students operated by the Carroll County Juvenile Court, filled with teenagers trying to work their way back to their home schools with the velvet-hammered guidance of parole officers and people like Lutz, Hatch and Steele.

Among the nine girls on the Carroll Academy basketball team, only one lives with both her mother and her father. A seventh grader, she lived with her parents and two younger siblings at a grandmother’s house, having been evicted from one trailer and waiting to move into another.

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