by Darren Doyle:
The loss of four quality seniors from the 2015-16 Lady Cat squad will certainly make things interesting for the upcoming season, but rather than focusing on that, Coach Kevin Jackson is looking to build around the two returning starters he has, both of which were last year's leading scorers in Juniors Caitlin Simon and Peyton Martin.
"We lost some leadership from last year," Jackson said. "They really helped and led our team and you don't replace them overnight. It will take a little while to gel, but we'll get there."
He didn't spend lots of time talking about last year, but quickly turned the focus on what this year's plan will be.
"We have two returning starters and they're good ones," he said. "With Caitlin Simon, who averaged 15 points and 6 rebounds a game, you know, she's as athletic of a player as I've ever coached. Then we have our point guard, Peyton Martin. She averaged 13 points and 5 assists. We're tickled to death to have both of them back and they'll help us compete every night."
He discussed the other starting positions and what Lady Cat fans might see in the lineup with junior post player Katlin Collins, junior Skylar Lewis, and shared time between junior Abby Alexander and lone senior Maddie Cline.
"Collins is a hard-nosed kid who's only 5'8" but she just brings so much toughness in the post. Skylar is a wing player who shoots the three very well and you'll see both Abby Alexander and Maddie Cline as well. Some of these girls don't have a lot of varsity experience but that's ok."
He also said some sophomores, Chanley Logsdon and Hannah Meredith will see some time off the bench as well as some freshmen with Lauren Ballance, Emma Rose Vincent, Madison Harrison, and Mia Goad.
"Some practices have been so good where I go home and think 'boy that was great,' but there have been other days where I wondered if we'll even win one game this year," he said, laughing. "We know it might take some time to come together, but just like every year, we want to be playing our best in February."
The Lady Cats open the season tonight at home in a JV/V match that begins with JV action at 6pm.
"Logan County is a nice team that lost some key players but they're a big school and I know they'll be ready to play tonight, then we have Warren East at their place on Thursday and that's always a good rivalry."
He noted that there would be nowhere in this year's schedule to let up.
"We've got 13 games in December with two tournaments. We're going to play some really good teams which gives us opportunities to show that we can be a good team. Sometimes you have those games where you might be able to relax a little bit and enjoy things, but this year, we don't really have that luxury. We'll have to push hard all season long."
Jackson said not only does he favor Grayson County to be the team to beat in district play, but he feels like they're the top in the entire region; however, his goal is to be a serious competitor in all games, especially district action.
"We always want to shoot for a winning season and we were able to go 17-13 last year," he said. "Our goals for this year are to have another winning season, compete in the district, win the first game of the district tournament and make another trip to the regional tournament. We want to be really competitive by Christmas and play our best basketball from then on."