In Feb. 19 Issue
Senior Blair Hoover has improved by leaps and bounds since her early days as a Lady Laker and with her senior year winding down, Hoover, a starter and threat from the perimeter, wants to be part of something special as the girls look to repeat as district champions next week.
"Individually, I've gotten a lot better and as a team it is probably the best season we've had so far," she said. "It just seems like everybody knows what they're doing now and what their roles are … we've had a lot of success this year."
With Russell County sitting at 16-7 overall and 6-0 in district play, no one can argue with Hoover's assessment of the year, but basketball will soon come to an end, far too soon for her.
"I'll definitely miss being with all the girls every day," she said. "The past four years that's who I've been with, my whole high school career, and when I go to college it is not going to be there."
She said her and the other seniors have tried to be role models for the underclassmen and show them how to act both in the community and on the court.
With time running out for her and her fellow seniors, Hoover said she wanted to bring another 16th district title back to Russell County as well as compete for a 4th region crown. After falling by one point to Logan County in the opening round of region play a year ago, the Lady Lakers are hungry for a return trip to E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green.
"That was heartbreaking," she said. "This year we know we can win more than one game in region."
Hoover's confidence and improved play stems from a belief in herself and a strong support unit around her.
"When I was a freshman I was scared if coach Pippen even called my name to go into the game," she said. "But now I know what I can do on the floor and I work every day to improve on what I know I can do."
Hoover said her role on this season's team was to run the floor, defend, rebound and take the open shot, if available.
"I'm definitely a rebounder and that is what I'm supposed to do," she said. "Get offensive rebounds and try and stick them back in."
When it comes to influences in her life, Hoover said her father, Jeff, a highly productive member of the Laker basketball team in the 1970s, was an integral part of her love for the game.
"It is just good knowing that when I go home I won't get negative comments," she said. "He always tries to keep it positive but help me to improve too."