By Stephen Henderson
Patrick County High School was the site of the first round of the girls Conference 32 competition last Wednesday night. The Lady Cougars battled a hard-fought match-up against Cave Spring, but the Lady Knights edged ahead to claim a 45-49 victory.
Patrick County led 11-6 at the end of the first quarter and battled the Lady Knights in even play in the second quarter; the score was 24-18 at the half.
Both teams played even offense and defense in the third quarter with both scoring 11 points.
Cave Spring poured on the offense in the final quarter to out-score the Lady Cougars 20-10 to take the win in the opening round of conference play, 49-45.
Hannah Roberson led Lady Cougar scorers with 13, including one three-point shot; Autumn Hubbard added 11. Z Cole scored six and Izzy Beasley had five, including another three.
Coach Jessica Martin felt last Wednesday’s loss did not truly reflect on the team’s abilities. “As for our season, it was a disappointing ending for the girls. We really wanted to be able to give our seniors one last win on their home court, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Our overall record of 9-13 doesn’t reflect the season we had, nor the team’s success,” Martin said.
Martin said that following Coach Doug Chilton’s departure due to a back injury and necessary surgery, the team handled the news well and was determined to make the best out of the remainder of the season. “I was honored to have the opportunity to step in as their head coach and promised them I would give them my very best,” she said.
The team faced many adversities this year, with many injuries throughout and adjusting to an unexpected coaching change. However, they continued to work hard every day and gave the team everything they had. “They played their hearts out from start to finish in each of our last nine games together, which was all I asked of them,” Martin said.
“We talked about how sometimes you learn more from losing than from winning,” she said.
The team did have some exciting wins this season, and “nine wins is something they can be proud of,” Martin said. “But we also lost several close, hard-fought games. They never quit and kept going with a selfless, team-first attitude.
“I am very proud of that. My goal for this team and every team I’ve coached is to teach, and for these girls to not only be better basketball players but, more importantly, better young ladies by the season’s end. I feel we definitely accomplished that.
“This year’s seniors in particular showed a lot of character, perseverance, and leadership—and they will be greatly missed,” Martin added.
As of now, there are no definite plans as far as dates for spring/summer conditioning or scrimmage games. All summer conditioning/scrimmaging will be in June, as has been done the past two summers.
“We are looking forward to the future of our program, as our JV team did very well this season,” Martin said. “We will have eight returning varsity players who gained invaluable experience this year. They each made nice progress this year and we’re looking forward to what they will bring to a new team next season,” she said.
“We also have many rising sophomores that have extraordinary potential. We’re excited to see how they all will grow and mature into new roles next season,” Martin said.
“I have to give JV coach and assistant varsity coach Donny Rakes a huge amount of credit for how he stepped up as well. He managed to continue coaching the junior varsity full-time and he was a huge help to me when I stepped in as head coach. We couldn’t have made it without him,” Martin added.
A wrap-up of some of this season’s stats: the team averaged 47 points per game through 21 games; they averaged 55% from the free throw line and 36% shooting from the field.
Individual season stats:
• Autumn Hubbard led team with averaging 8.7 points per game.
• Kaleigh Griffith led in rebounds with 6.8 rebounds per game.
• Autumn Hubbard also led in categories of steals and assists, with 3.7 steals per game and 2.9 assists per game.
• Melanie Roberson had the highest free throw percentage at 63%.
• Sydnee Burnette had highest shooting percentage with 58% from the field