Carroll County head coach Marc Motley said Lineberry worked as hard in the offseason as any player he’s ever coached.
“You got a kid that doesn’t miss anything. She probably works as hard as any kid I’ve ever had in the weightroom. You have an open gym, she is there. If the gym is open, she is in there working on something all the time,” Motley said. “She said she thinks she did what everybody else did, but she did a little bit more. And when the other kids are out there doing stuff and complaining about it, she is the one telling them to get their butt in gear and quit complaining. That helps a lot.”
A 6-0 center, Lineberry’s dedication in the offseason helped her go from a junior that saw limited playing time to the Cavaliers’ leading rebounder (7.2 per game), shot blocker (two per game) and most accurate shot (team-high 51.4 percent field goal percentage). A year after scoring just 21 points as a junior, she finished third on the team in scoring with 6.7 points per contest in 2007-2008.
Lineberry’s emergence was also a big factor in the Cavaliers’ undefeated campaign in district play this winter, Carroll’s ninth SWD title in the past 10 years.
“She took a leadership role and she didn’t do it by talking, she did it by her actions. I think she felt last year being a senior, I think she wanted to go out with a bang,” Motley said. “I think she wanted to do as good a job as she could possibly do and she committed herself to that. She found out it got her a little bit further than just going one year and going out with a bang. She could keep playing.”
Lineberry said she didn’t feel like she did anything more than anybody else on the team. However, she did feel like not playing her freshman season motivated her to improve her game for the varsity level.
“I didn’t play basketball my ninth grade year. Everybody else was a lot more advanced than I was when I came back into jayvees, so I felt like I had to catch up,” Lineberry said “I had twice as much work to catch up where I missed out on a year. I did a lot of weightlifting, a lot of weightlifting, and a lot of running.”
Lineberry said her on-court improvement came by way of more than just her hard work. She credits many for helping her develop into a college athlete, especially Coach Motley and her parents, Robert and Angie Lineberry. In particular, Lineberry said her pastor, Cas Horton of the Galax First Assembly of God, and his son, Levi, played huge roles in advancing her basketball game.
“I want to thank my pastor Cas because he worked with me and contacted colleges. He actually didn’t contact Salem, but he worked with me more than anybody in basketball,” Lineberry said. “Even in the offseason, he worked with me more than anybody. He wanted me to do this.”
Lineberry said the coaches at Salem, which is located in Winston-Salem, N.C., have told her she will probably get playing time right away as the team is in need of a presence in the paint. Having played for Coach Motley her entire career, she admits she is a little nervous about the transition. But having high school teammate Jessi Watts, who will also begin her collegiate basketball career at Salem this fall, will be a tremendous benefit.
“That will help a lot because I will know somebody down there. We have played together, we know each other, and we’ve grown pretty close the past year,” Lineberry said.
Over the past few seasons, Motley has headed a successful Carroll County basketball program that has sent several players to the college ranks. He believes Watts and Lineberry have a very good chance of experiencing success at the next level.
“I am hoping I was able to give Hailie and Jessi both the tools they need to be able to participate and compete and that level. We’ll find out. But if their work ethic stays true to how they have done in the past, they’ll be fine. I am not the least bit worried about that,” Motley said. “I’ve had some kids go to college I was a little bit worried about whether their work ethic was going to hold up, about whether they were going to be able to last more than six weeks. These two, I don’t see that. They have had such a good work ethic that I am pretty pleased.”
Watts made a quick impression at Carroll, playing varsity since her freshman season and earning Southwest District Player of the Year honors in 2008. But Motley is particularly pleased with the way Lineberry dedicated herself and took her game to a new level over the past year.
“I am ecstatic. I am very proud of her. I had talked to her a little bit earlier during the season last year and she didn’t seem to be that interested (in playing college basketball),” Motley said. “I think when the season was over she missed it and I think she really wants to get back into it. I think she just loves competition. I think that is the key. She loves to compete and that is a place for her to compete. She will do whatever it takes to compete.”
As for the future of Carroll County basketball, Lineberry hopes her story will help other aspiring Cavaliers meet their goals.
“Oh no, I definitely didn’t think this was possible (a year ago). When you think about it and you think about scholarship material, you don’t think you can work that hard,” Lineberry said. “But it is possible. Anything is possible if you work hard.”