Prep Basketball: Lincoln County girls know the pressure is on to repeat last season
Lincoln County senior guard Emily Fox leads a Patriots squad that returns every major player and reached the state semifinals last season. Fox was second team all-state on two teams. (Clay Jackson / November 19, 2012)
The Patriots return every main contributor from their state semifinal squad, and coach Cassandra McWhorter knows everyone will be expecting a repeat.
Just don’t expect the Patriots to be among those listening to that talk, or making it themselves.
“We don’t focus on necessarily repeating or anything of that matter. We’re just focusing on daily what we need to do to get better,”¿McWhorter said. “Last year’s in the past and we’re looking to right now, and take it day by day and see what we can do to get better.”
But how tough is it to not think about hanging another banner or making another run to the state Final Four?
“It can be tough at times when you’re dealing with 16, 17 and 18 year olds,” McWhorter said. “But I think the girls have done a good job going in.”
Emily Fox leads the way for the Patriots. She earned second team all-state honors by The Associated Press and the Courier-Journal after averaging 17.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 3.0 steals per contest. She shot 46 percent from the floor, 40 percent from 3-point range (90 of 227) and 76 percent at the foul line.
Senior Sydney Harris averaged 11.2 points and 6.7 rebounds per game, Kourtney Belcher averaged 7.0 points and 4.3 boards, Rachel Spangler averaged 5.6 points and 4.4 rebounds and Ciara Saylor 4.6 points and 2.6 boards. Senior Chansler Gilbert was first off the bench and averaged 3.0 points a game.
Throw in sophomores Tiandra Hocker, Spencer Sims and Kelsi Honaker and freshmen twins Cristin and Caitlin Hall and the Patriots have an abundance of depth.
The only player lost off last year’s team is Heidi Huffman, who transferred to Mercer County.
So everyone is back, and McWhorter is hoping even better.
“I’m hoping we’re a year better,”¿McWhorter said. “We just got Rachel back from soccer and she’s been battling a shoulder injury, we’re hoping it’s not a lingering thing. And Emily has been battling a sore ankle since last season and through the summer.”
If Lincoln, which went 26-10 last season, can stay healthy, the Patriots are the odds-on favorite to win another regional crown.
With all of the experience back for Lincoln, McWhorter doesn’t think the talk of repeating will be too much for the team to handle.
“I don’t think they know to let it bother them. They were successful in the middle school years, so they’re used to that success,” she said. “But it’s a different level and they don’t seem to let it bother them, or even think about it. They just show up and play.”
Keys to the Season
McWhorter said keeping the team’s chemistry and unity will be key.
“And it’s funny to say that because we have it. But it’s easy to get complacent when you’ve had success,”¿she said. “It’s just that hunger of not being satisfied and to want to get better every day.”
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