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Another basketball season is complete in Henry County and it’s time to look back on some of the highlights of this past season.
1 The EHS Warriors boys’ basketball team beat Gallatin County in the district tournament to make it to the regional tournament for the first time since 2000.
The Warriors came into the game having beaten all other district opponents at least once. Gallatin was the only team to sweep them in the regular season series. Jalen Dixie’s floater with seven seconds remaining was the game-winner in another comeback win for the Warriors.
2 The Warriors winning record was the first since the 2005-06 team went 14-13. This Eminence team had several advantages over previous Eminence teams: depth, experience and a good inside/outside balance, and most importantly, belief-in-self.
3 The Henry County Wildcats 58-54 victory over Christian Academy of Louisville. The junior-dominated Wildcats struggled with inconsistency all year, but this game gave a glimpse of what might be expected next year.
The Cats played one of their most consistent and complete games of the year in handing a talented Centurions team a defeat just days after they had taken highly regarded St. Xavier to the wire.
The game featured a dominant inside performance from Austin Young and Derek Jeffries as they combined for 33 of Henry County’s 58 points. The game also was memorable because it showcased the raw athletic ability of Chase Howard who had several steals in the game and took one in for a two-handed dunk.
4 Lady Cats come back from late deficits in two consecutive games. Henry County’s girls’ team got a win against Fairdale on Feb. 5 by outscoring the Lady Bulldogs down the stretch 13-1. Three nights later the Lady Cats outscored Spencer County 10-2 in the final half of the fourth period for another come back victory. These games showed the resolve of a team that battled injury, illness and other misfortune throughout the year.
5 Wildcats last second victory over Shelby County. The Wildcats played well in spurts in this game but found themselves trailing with just a tick left on the clock. Derek Jeffries got his winning shot off with just a millisecond left and the Cats had their fourth consecutive victory. Jeffries also had his third double-double in four games.
In looking back on the season, the overall impression was that it was a down year for local teams except for the Eminence boys’ team. The Warriors won 17 games and lost 13. The Warriors had some wins over teams they had not beaten in years including Henry, Owen, Carroll and Gallatin. Many of the Warriors’ victories were memorable because they faced large deficits early and managed to put on big rallies to win.
This team will be remembered for their 3-point shooting prowess but that doesn’t tell the whole story. The Warriors did not hit many long-range bombs in their win against Henry County in the district tournament. Instead they hit a variety of medium and short-range floaters because Henry County worked hard to take away the long shots. Dixie had a big tournament for the Warriors, going for 27 against Henry County and 28 against Gallatin County. Dixie’s heroics were not a fluke. He put up big numbers throughout the season.
Coach Chris Nethery thinks the Warriors have a bright future, in part, because this group proved it was possible for a small school to succeed against their bigger rivals.
As for the Henry County Wildcats, they finished the season at 12-19 and some fans felt the season was a disappointment. They looked at the Cats’ size inside and thought that meant wins. But aside from Jeffries and Young, the Cats had very little varsity experience and it showed in their inconsistent play.
The Cats showed flashes, especially late in the season, of what could be a good 2013-14 season. They were 5-11 before Jan. 1 and 7-8 after. The Cats reached a low point with 3 straight blowout losses to North Oldham, Jeffersontown and Carroll County. They bounced back to win four in a row including the win over CAL. It was during that streak that we saw the possibilities for this team.
Jeffries is a big loss but the Cats have everybody else back for next year and that means seven seniors with extensive game experience at the highest level of high school basketball.
The Eminence Warriors’ girls’ team struggled through another rough year with little depth. The Warriors finished with a 6-14 record that belies how narrow the margin of their existence was. With 8 girls finishing the season, and one of those injured, the Lady Warriors were always in danger of one foul-happy game finishing with less than five players. Those eight girls stuck through to the end of the season and should be commended for that. But what are the realistic chances of success for a team that does not have enough players to go 5-on-5 in practice? It is a wonder that they won six games under those circumstances.
With only one senior on the roster there is a chance to build some depth next year if young ladies from the middle school level come out for the team. Hopefully, that will be the case. Only when the numbers get better, will the team be able to show some real growth on the floor.
The Henry County Lady Cats’ hard luck season was discussed in a column a couple of weeks ago, so it would be repetitive to go over the long list of injuries and illness that the team went through this season. Suffice it to say that 10 wins was a remarkable achievement for a team that went through the entire season without 60 percent of their projected starting lineup. The Lady Cats won those games with a lineup of role players surrounding the talented but inexperienced freshman Cheyenne Clark.
Coach Todd Gilley doesn’t like to make excuses and won’t, but anyone who is reasonable has to say that any team would have had a hard time with the circumstances surrounding this year’s team. Kudos go to Shelby and Sydney Abrams who, as the only seniors on the team, provided a fine example of perseverance in the face of hardship. The Abrams sisters worked hard and never complained and it rubbed off on their young teammates.