Coach Mefford: Experience is key to Lady Panthers’ hopes in hoops

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By Dave Taylor

Carroll County High School girls’ head coach and athletic director Randy Mefford is looking ahead to the 2009-2010 basketball season with great enthusiasm.

“Our strengths will be experience and the fact that our girls like each other,” Mefford said. “They are very coachable which makes it fun to be around them.”

This begins Mefford’s seventh season at the helm of the Lady Panthers. He previously served 11 years as boys’ head coach at Carroll County and six seasons as boys’ varsity coach at Eminence High School. The Lady Panthers have won 117 games against 57 losses during Mefford’s tenure.

“I am proud of what we have accomplished for a school our size,” Mefford said, “especially the fact that we have been to six straight regional tournaments.”

Mefford & Co. will attempt to build on last year’s 18-12 effort. The Lady Panthers won the North Central Kentucky Conference title with a 10-2 conference record. They were the North American Stainless Classic Champions and were runners-up in the 8th Region Class A tournament. The ladies were runners-up in the 31st District Tournament last year before being eliminated in the first round of the regional.

“We were ousted by Anderson County last year in the regional tournament,” Mefford said. “They have a very solid team every year. We had trouble trying to defend them, especially inside, and did not shoot the ball well either. It would have been a huge upset for us to have beaten them with the talented team they had last season.”

Carroll lost only Lakeshia Henderson, a 5-ft 8-in guard, from last year’s team due to graduation. The Lady Panthers have a number of experienced players returning.

Expected starters include sophomore all region guard Hannah Devine, senior guard Sarah Osborne, junior guard Tashia Hunter, junior forward Kyndal Curry and senior forward Marissa Brindley.

“I am expecting another fantastic year from Hannah Devine,” Mefford said. “She has worked hard in the off season and is much improved.”

Devine averaged 12.5 points per game and 7.1 rebounds per game as a freshman.

“Sarah Osborne and Kyndal Curry both have experience and will need to come through for us as well,” Mefford said. “Sarah has been contacted by some small schools and does have an interest in playing at the next level.”

Osborne, a three-year starter for the Lady Panthers, averaged 6.6 points and 2.5 boards per game last year. Curry averaged seven points and five rebounds per game during her sophomore season.

Brindley averaged two points and two rebounds per game as a junior.

“We are expecting contributions from experienced seniors Brindley, Mercedes Martin and Jenna Goff,” Mefford said.

“Tasha Hunter played a lot of varsity” a year ago, Mefford said, “and has moved up from the JV team and should make an impact this winter.”

Hunter averaged 2.6 points per game and 2 rebounds per game in her varsity appearances last season.

Sophomores Nikki Hill and Brittany Arvin are both newcomers to the varsity who have improved their games this summer, Mefford said.

While experience and coachability may be strengths for this year’s edition of the Lady Panthers, weaknesses could be a lack of size and quickness. Martin, Carroll’s tallest forward, stands five feet-nine inches in height. Arvin, at five feet-five inches is the shortest on the squad. Osborne and Goff measure five feet-six inches. Everyone else on the roster is listed at five feet-eight inches.

“We will have trouble guarding those strong rebounding teams and those that have good inside people,” Mefford said. “We are not as quick as some of the teams that I have had in the past, and that bothers me a bit as well. Hopefully, we can continue to be good shooters, especially beyond the 3 point line, a weapon that can cover up a lot of weaknesses.”

After a couple of scrimmage outings the Lady Panthers will open the season at home against Shelby County on Monday, Nov. 30. They travel to Bedford for a date with rival Trimble County on Dec. 4, before returning to Carrollton for three straight home games in one week—Walton-Verona on Monday, Dec. 7; Owen County on Friday, Dec. 11; and Southwestern’s Lady Rebels from Hanover, Ind., on Saturday, Dec. 12. Carroll travels to Henry County on Tuesday, Dec. 15, and to Gallatin County on Saturday, Dec. 19.

The Lady Panthers will have little time for a traditional holiday season. On Dec. 21-23, Carroll County High School hosts the 16-team North American Stainless Classic for both girls and boys. The following week the girls and boys varsities will compete in the Daytona Beach Sunshine Classic in Florida, on Dec. 28-30.

“We will continue to play at a fast pace if our depth on the squad continues to develop,” Mefford said. “We may have to play more zone defense this year which I really do not like to do. I will say that all of our kids do a great job in the classroom and really try hard on the court.”

Mefford looks for Owen County, Henry County and Gallatin County to be strong among foes the Lady Panthers will face in the 31st District.

“We have been on or near the top of our district and conference for a while, and we will need some breaks this season to make it back to the regional tournament again,” Mefford said.