In Feb. 26 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Sports Editor
Despite a late game surge, the 14-12 Russell County Lady Lakers fell to the Metcalfe County Lady Hornets, 48-41, in the first round of the 16th district tournament on Monday night, ending their season.
“Obviously we are disappointed,” said Coach Craig Pippen. “I think the girls are disappointed in their performance and I am disappointed in my preparation. However, we are not going to beat ourselves up over this loss.”
Pippen said Metcalfe County came out with the right mindset and “played to win,” while his team came out and played “not to lose.”
“It showed in our intensity level and it was apparent in our execution,” he said. “That’s what got us beat. Hopefully a lesson learned.”
Russell County, who shot 31 percent for the game, was led in scoring by sophomore Blair Hoover with nine points while Julie Wethington and Lindsay Ramage both had seven points. Ramage also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.
LeeAnn Grider and Rachael Miller both scored six points each while Miller also dished out a team-high seven assists. Junior Kyla Thomas scored four points and pulled down five rebounds in the game.
Sara McClure rounded out the Russell County scoring with two points.
The Lady Hornets were led in scoring by Kara Reece with 16 points and shot 54 percent as a team from the field.
The Lady Lakers outscored Metcalfe in the fourth quarter, 19-16, in a valiant comeback attempt but couldn’t quite pull it out in the end.
“We had a good year going 14-12,” Pippen said. “Going in to the season with the loss of (last year’s seniors) Michelle Copley and Ashley Franklin, I didn’t think we would win as many games as we did.” Pippen said his young players stepped up and his second year players improved drastically from a year ago.
“With the loss of Kim Pierce (to a knee injury) our team responded with two district wins late in the year,” he said. “Our team didn’t fold when we were faced with adversity and we stayed the course. We didn’t reach our goal of winning the district this year but now we need to use that as motivation for next year”
The Lady Laker coach said the program’s future looks bright but they have a lot of work yet to do.
“We do not lose any players to graduation,” he said. “The summer program will provide our players with a variety of individual improvement sessions and many camp games. Everyone will be competing for a position.”
He said his younger players are ready to push each other and compete for a position on the floor.
“I am looking forward to seeing who is going to step up and lead this team next year,” he said.
“You never know who is going to respond to the many opportunities that lie ahead, but one thing is for certain, this team will learn to ‘play to win’, regardless of whom or when we play.”