Darren Doyle, story
Laney Meredith, photos
The Lady Cats 2015-16 basketball season came to an end last night at the Owensboro SportsCenter as they fell 50-43 to the McLean County Lady Cougars in the first round of the Region 3 Tournament.
Unkind rims and tough breaks hindered the Lady Cats throughout the night, as the girls did most everything else right. The Lady Cats were 0-12 from three-point range, and only shot 38% from the field as a whole.
Coach Kevin Jackson said it was the first game all season in which the Lady Cats failed to hit at least one three. "I thought they were all good looks," he said. "The rims are tight and you're not going to get any bounces. You have to hit the shots straight on, and that's what McLean County did."
Edmonson County fell behind early and trailed 26-18 at the half. "Coach Jackson told us at halftime we needed to have the best 3rd quarter we've ever had," said senior Rachael Duncan. "Our 3rd quarter has been our nemesis all season."
The girls must have listened, because a big third quarter from the Lady Cats allowed them to gain 34-31 lead on a 16-5 run with about a minute and a half left in the quarter, but the Lady Cougars didn't go away and a huge three by McLean at the buzzer tied things up at 36 all.
Jackson said even though shots weren't falling, his team found other ways to be effective.
"That was all defensive stops, rebounding, effort, and guts. That's what it takes if you're going to win tournament games, and that's what I was proud of," he said.
Senior Madelyne Taylor led the team with a career-high 19 points and 8 rebounds in an impressive performance as her last game as a Lady Cat. "She tweaked her knee a little bit, but you couldn't see that as a fan in the stands," Jackson added. "The effort she played with tonight was great, and she left it all out there on the court tonight."
Taylor obviously would have rather had the win over individual numbers, but a boost in confidence over the last few games led to bigger performances, as seen last night.
"Towards the end of the year I realized that this was my last go around, so I needed to give it all I had and play with heart." Over the last three games, she averaged 15 points and 8 rebounds.
Unfortunately for the Lady Cats, cold shooting kept them from making any big runs, and red hot shooting from McLean County allowed the Lady Cougars to regain control in the fourth. The Lady Cougars shot 57% from behind the arc.
The Lady Cats were only able to score one point during the last 2:30 of the game as they fell to McLean County.
Caitlin Simon, the other Lady Cat in double figures, finished with 14 points and 4 rebounds. She said last night's loss was very hard. "I just didn't want this season with this team to end," she said. "We've all grown so much."
Peyton Martin said she considered it a great opportunity to play with this group of girls. "I don't think I have ever enjoyed playing basketball with any other team as much as I did this one," she said.
Jackson gave credit to his four seniors for a successful season. "We came in with a new coaching staff and they never once complained or asked questions about that. They were leaders, even though they weren't very vocal. They led by example, and they did it in practice. You have to have leadership in practice, and they showed that everyday. I wish we had them for another year, just so we could keep working with them."
Senior Jhonna Basil said this year has been her favorite, largely due to the care shown by the coaching staff. "They care so much about us and it shows," she said. "It also shows when we play because we all just want to do good for Coach Jackson. He fought for us and we fought for him."
Senior Tori Browning also said much of the same, and each senior gave credit to each other and the underclassmen. "I can't really put into words what these girls and this team mean to me," she said. "It's more than just basketball, I've made friendships that will last a lifetime and memories I'll keep forever."
Rachael Duncan said that although the ultimate goal was to win a district title and make a deep run in the regional tournament, she was still proud of her team and coaches. "I wouldn't trade our coaches or anyone on this team for anything in the world," she said.
Also helping the effort was Peyton Martin with 8 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, and 4 steals, Jhonna Basil had 2 points, Duncan had 5 rebounds, Collins 3 rebounds, Browning 1 rebound.
The Lady Cats finish the season with an overall record of 17-13, 8-8 in region play, and 5-3 in the district. From all of us here at EdmonsonVoice.com and WildcatsLive, it's been an honor to cover this team this season. Thanks Lady Cats, for a great year. We know you'll have success in the future.
Senior Manager Kayla Meredith said it best last night when she, as well as several other team members said, "Once a Lady Cat, always a Lady Cat."