With no seniors on last year’s 10-15 squad, the Henry County girls’ basketball team returns all of its key players for another go around. Todd Gilley, who returns to the sideline as the team’s head coach, can already see a difference.
The Ladycats have four seniors, four juniors, six sophomores and five freshmen on the roster. They have more depth, more experience and have improved in most areas of their play, Gilley said.
“We definitely have more experience and more depth, which is good because we can now compete against each other in practice,” Gilley said. He pointed out that sometimes the second group beats the first group, showing the strength of the bench players. “We just hope it correlates over to game play.”
Last year marked the first time the Ladycats won 10 games in a single season in five years. They went 10-14 in the regular season and lost to Carroll County in the first round of the 31st District tournament. They went on one five-game winning stretch in December to start at 6-3, and then won one game in January and three in February.
The last time the Cats won 10-plus games was in 2004 when that group had a 20-7 record. Now, after earning double-digit wins, they are looking to take it another step.
Leading the way is senior Kelsey Mings, who has been starting at point guard since she was in the eighth-grade. Also filling key roles are seniors Kelley Everidge, Brittany Crawford and Kelley Everidge, juniors Jessica Booher, Taylor Clark, Tyler Sadler and Macie New, and sophomores Ally Vaughn, McKenzie Clifford and Katie Setters. Brittany Brown is the fourth senior.
“So far, our seniors have done a very good job at leadership,” GIlley said. “We have several players who can be leaders and play a big part to this team. Everyone who is in a varsity uniform will have a good chance of playing.”
The starting lineup, with the added depth, can change nightly. Most likely, Mings, Crawford, Everidge and Booher will be in that starting rotation, with the fifth spot depending on the opponent. Mings and Booher led the team in scoring last season, while Crawford was the leading rebounder.
Gilley said the Ladycats have improved in their ability to get up and down the court, pass the ball, knock down open shots and hit free throws. But he knows they have to continue to improve. He said there will be times when they run a lot, and times when they back out the ball to slow down the tempo.
“We see things now before they happen, which allows us to act instead of react,” Gilley explained. “We aren’t the fastest or tallest team, so we need to be a smart team.”
The biggest problem Henry has faced so far is its lack of height. Because they have no true post players, the Ladycats cannot simulate height in practice. That will be a big adjustment they will have to make when they start playing taller teams.
Crawford brings the most aggressive presence inside but, like all the Ladycats, can also step out on the perimeter. Henry will have to make up for it by blocking out and sending all five players to the board. They also have to work hard for 32 minutes each game.
The focus of this team, as it is for most teams in Kentucky, is to win the district championship to advance to the regional tournament. The 31st District includes defending champs Owen County, Gallatin County and Carroll County. The top ranked team in the 8th Region, according to the pre-season Coaches’ Regional Team Ranking, is South Oldham. Carroll is ninth and Gallatin is 10th. Henry is not ranked among the top-10 list.
Individually in the region, Owen County’s Rianna Gayheart is ranked the top player.
Besides the district goal, the Ladycats also want to improve on their 10-wins from last season and be competitive with some of those top regional teams.
“We always want to win districts flat out. That’s what you play for,” Gilley said. “We want to improve record wise and be really competitive with those upper-level teams. Our big goal is the district tournament, though. We talk about that every single day.”
E-mail us about this story at email@example.com. Follow the Ladycats this season at www.hclocal.com.