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After being unceremoniously bounced from the 31st District tournament by Gallatin County, the Carroll County High School girls’ basketball team is ready to get back on track.
Leading the way is senior Hannah Devine, who averaged 25.3 points per game last season, good enough for third-best in the state. She also connected on 80 3-point baskets, second highest in the state, and was named to the All-District, All-A and All-Conference teams.
Joining Devine in the leadership role this season are fellow seniors Nikki Hill, Andie Hardesty, Brittany Arvin and Jayla Tomlinson, all of whom will be asked to play a larger role on this year’s team. “Even though they haven’t played a lot, I’ve been really pleased in the preseason with their work ethic and their ability to do some things,” head coach Randy Mefford said.
Devine has been in the program since seventh grade, while the other seniors have been a part of the program for three or four years. Hill played in every varsity game last season, while Hardesty played in all but one. Arvin also picked up some minutes on the varsity level last season. Tomlinson played her freshman and sophomore year, but did not play last year.
Mefford said he is excited about this upcoming season and his tight-knit group. “I think our team chemistry is going to be good,” he said. “I think they’re going to understand what they do best, and I think they’re going to play hard.”
He said there would be nights when the shots are not falling, but he hopes their defense will keep them in the game. Mefford also predicted his team would be better than average rebounders, and he also has some players very capable of blocking shots.
With no juniors on the team, team depth tops Mefford’s list of concerns for his squad. Accompanying the five seniors are five sophomores and six freshmen. “We’re not a real deep team with having no juniors in the program, so I’m concerned a little bit about the sophomores,” he said. “They’re kind of getting thrown into the fire pretty good, and they’re going to have to step their game up. Some of them have been playing mostly JV, (and) moving from JV to varsity is a pretty good change. The speed of the game is faster and the things that we’re doing is a little bit more complicated on the varsity level than on the JV level.”
The Lady Panthers graduated three seniors last year: Kyndal Curry, Tasha Hunter and Jill Butcher. The 2010 seniors and Devine rounded out the top four in scoring and free throw attempts and the top five in rebounding, with Hill also cracking the top five.
“We’re not wanting to drop off any from the success we’ve had in the past,” Mefford said. “(Those kids are all gone, and we’re replacing them with people like Nikki and Andie and Brittany, and they’ve paid their dues and now it’s their time to shine. We’re optimistic and hoping for a really successful season.”
Mefford acknowledged that Devine will likely draw special defenses against her, “but I told the kids, that’s going to help them because that’s going to allow them a little less defense on them so that maybe they’re able to do some things on the offensive end.”
At a recent team meeting, Mefford said the girls decided on their team goals for the season: have a winning season; return to the regional tournament; communicate better on the court; execute plays correctly; and shoot 70 percent as a team from the free throw line.
Carroll opens its season at home against Eminence on Nov. 29, followed by a road trip to Trimble County Dec. 2.
The Lady Panthers will play in two holiday tournaments: The South Oldham Lady Dragons Holiday Hoop-fest Tournament Dec. 19-21 and The Lady Cougar After Christmas Tournament in Owensboro Dec. 27-29. “Both are good quality tournaments, so we’ll be really busy over the Christmas holidays,” Mefford said.
Carroll takes on district foe Owen County Dec. 9 at home and Jan. 27 away. They also drew the Lady Rebels in the 8th Region All “A” on Jan. 11 at Williamstown. The Lady Panthers battle Henry County away on Dec. 13 and at home on Jan. 3. They will have their first taste of revenge against Gallatin County on Dec. 17 on the road and on Jan. 7 at home.