BOWLING GREEN — Back in middle school, Kourtney Belcher and her teammates had their plan set: They were going to win the region and make state.
Of course, in their plans, it probably ended with them hoisting the state title trophy.
And while it may not ease the pain of a first-round loss in the state tournament, Belcher and her fellow Lincoln County seniors know they are leaving quite a legacy for future Patriots to follow after back-to-back 12th Region title and one run to the state semifinals.
“The accomplishments we’ve made this year are phenomenal,” said Belcher, who had six points and four rebounds Thursday in the Patriots’ 66-55 loss to Owensboro Catholic in the Girls Sweet Sixteen. “I thought back in seventh grade when I was with my group of girls, we planned it out and everything. But to see it become reality is just amazing. And just to see us do this back to back and be able to leave people wanting more makes me feel like a big part of something special.”
Lincoln reached the state semifinals last season, and with everyone back and the Patriots cemented as the team to beat in the 12th Region again, they ran through the region unscathed and earned another trip to Bowling Green.
Senior guard Ciara Saylor, who had two points, two assists and a steal, said that in time the seniors will realize the legacy they left for themselves.
“It’s huge for us. something that hasn’t been done in our school in a long time. Right now we’re sad, but we know we have nothing to hang our heads about,” she said. “I’m so proud of each and every one of them. They’ll never know how proud I am of them.”
Coach Cassandra McWhorter praised her team for raising the bar for future Lincoln squads.
“I told them in the locker room this is definitely not what we envisioned coming down here. We got a taste of what it was like last year, getting that final four. It’s disappointing coming up on the losing end, but that group of seniors and that who team has something to be proud about,” McWhorter said. “Because they can always say that they went back to back, and no other team has done that. No other (Lincoln girls) team had been except when I was a senior in high school (in 2001). And you all were little girls and were thinking, ‘I want to do that,’ and do even better.
“And now they’ve set the bar for every little girl in Lincoln County that has looked up to them and wants to be just like them. And they can say, ‘I want to do that, too, and I want to do even better.’”
Saylor was just hoping to finish off a great career with another great run.
“We just wanted to go farther than we did last year,” she said. “We just wanted to make it to the championship game.”