12th Region Kentucky High School Girls' Basketball Preview (2006-07)
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12th Region Kentucky High School Girls' Basketball Preview (2006-07)
By Mike Marsee
The (Danville) Advocate-Messenger
Everybody's picking on the new kids.
Rockcastle County has only been in the 12th Region for one year, yet the rest of the region's coaches have tabbed the Lady Rockets as the team to beat.
Of course, that's because Rockcastle won the region last season, giving it three straight titles counting the two it won in the 13th Region before realignment. And it's because the Lady Rockets return most of the players who were part of last year's title run.
"Rockcastle is No. 1, and after that there are maybe five teams that could all be No. 2," Somerset coach Chris Adkins said.
Rockcastle coach Chrysti Noble doesn't want to hear that, saying her team was lucky to make it to Bowling Green last season.
There will be plenty of teams trying to shoot down the Lady Rockets before they can make their fourth straight trip to Diddle Arena. And like Rockcastle, several of those teams return most of last year's key players.
Here's a look at Rockcastle and some of the teams trying to take its place:
1. ROCKCASTLE COUNTY (23-10)
The Lady Rockets have three starters back, and all of them will be back next season as well. That's as good an indication as any that they're going to be near the top of the region for some time to come.
The returning starters are junior forward Sarah Rowe, who will be one of Rockcastle's top scoring and rebounding threats; sophomore guard Mary Saylor and junior guard Sonya Lunsford. Also back is Lunsford's twin sister Tonya, who was injured at the end of last season.
Another player coming back from injury is forward Lura Cash, the team's only senior, who missed almost all of last season. Sophomore guard Katie Mattingly and eighth-grade guard Sara Hammond will also play larger roles.
"We're hoping to be pretty deep again," Noble said.
2. WAYNE COUNTY (21-9)
Those who don't think Rockcastle can win the region are likely to pick Wayne, another team that isn't going anywhere any time soon.
The Lady Cardinals are long on experience, with three returning starters and a total of seven lettermen returning. But they don't have a single senior, something that coach Tim Pyles said could be a handicap.
"It's hard to win the region without senior leadership, but the bulk of our minutes is back," Pyles said.
Sophomore guard Heather Stearns and sophomore center Meg Latham were last year's top two scorers and are coming off a strong summer season, Pyles said.
Eighth-grader Kayla Bowlin, whom Pyles compared favorably to former Wayne point guard Whitney Shearer, is expected to start at that position.
Junior Courtney Duncan and sophomore Kayla Jones will add to the backcourt, and junior forward Rachel Bristow will help in the frontcourt after transferring from Monticello.
3. SOUTHWESTERN (17-12)
The Lady Warriors are another team that figures to be strong both in the present and the future. They have worked hard to put themselves in position to contend, and coach Tim Rice has strengthed the schedule to help make it happen this year.
"We expect to be very competitive for the regional title," Rice said. "It's been a long road, but it's a huge difference from where we started two years ago."
Two double-figure scorers, senior forward Jasi Flynn and sophomore guard Devin Fothergill, will again be the top options on offense. Senior guard Chasidy Zimmerman returns to the starting lineup, and sophomores Ashley Fowley, Heather Overton and Stephanie Salyers will be bigger factors after gaining experience as freshmen.
4. CASEY COUNTY (14-11)
Casey is yet another team relying on experience to make a run at the regional title, as the Lady Rebels lost only two seniors.
The Lady Rebels were balanced on offense last season and might well be that way once again. The top returning scorer is junior forward Kara Weddle, who is critical because Casey has few other options for scoring from the inside.
Her sister, junior guard Tara Weddle, and senior guard Demi Murphy also return to the lineup.
Senior forward Courtney Laman and senior guard Ashley Shugars are next on the list of experienced players, along with sophomore guards Lauren Hatter, Kayla McFarland and Natalie Wesley.
Casey could struggle to keep up with its opponents on the boards, as none of the players mentioned are taller than 5-10.
5. LINCOLN COUNTY (19-8)
The Lady Patriots' last loss on the court was a heartbreaker, as they bowed to Rockcastle in the regional finals in their own building. They suffered another loss on graduation day when seven seniors left the school.
Lincoln has considerable talent with which to rebuild, even if it doesn't have the experience of many of its competitors. And coach Don Story said he wants this year's team to develop the same winning mentality shared by the seniors who left.
The Lady Patriots' leaders are junior guards Andi Martin and Shakelia Miller, the two returning starters. Sophomore forward Keira Henderson, Lincoln's best post player in the summer, will miss at least half the season with a knee injury.
Sophomores Kristin Patterson and Sabrina Spears and juniors Kristen Grant and Savannah Lane will see much more playing time this winter, and Story said as many as six freshmen could also make an impact.
6. SOMERSET (9-19)
Adkins is new on the job but very familiar with the players he's working with, as he coached virtually all of them in middle school before becoming an assistant with the Somerset boys.
He knows he'll have to have to count heavily on senior guards Caiti Cowan and Chelsea Gomez, both of whom are coming off knee injuries that sidelined them last season and left the Lady Jumpers without much of their punch.
Somerset's experienced junior class includes forward Caroline Clay, guard Chelsea Felts and center Breanna Jones. Guards Polly West and Hillary Kerr should also be improved after seeing time last season.
The Lady Jumpers will rely on their speed, but they haven't much size.
7. MERCER COUNTY (22-9)
Mercer has been one of the power brokers in the region for the past several years, but the Titans face a rebuilding year after losing three starting guards.
Junior guard Loran Crowell is the most experienced returnee, and senior forward Brittney Kendrick, junior center Meredith Cinnamon and junior guards Hayley Spivey, McKenzie Carey and Hannah Barnett also have experience.
Senior guard Annie Sutton and junior guard Jassmen Brown should contribute as the most experienced players of the eight players from Harrodsburg, which merged with Mercer this summer.
Lindsey Waters, McCreary Central, 6-0 Jr. C
Waters can score and rebound with the best of them, and better than most players her size.
Sarah Rowe, Rockcastle County, 5-9 So. G
Rowe starred as a freshman and will try to lead Rockcastle to a fourth straight regional crown.
Tasha Milby, Danville, 5-7 Jr. G
Milby scored almost half of Danville's points last season and should average over 20 again.
Caiti Cowan, Somerset, 5-9 Sr. G
Somerset missed Cowan terribly last season and should be much better now that she's back from a knee injury.
Jasi Flynn, Southwestern, 5-10 Sr. F
Flynn will lead the way as Southwestern rises toward the top of the region.
Shakelia Miller, Lincoln County, 5-5 Sr. G
Miller figures to emerge as the leader of an otherwise young Lincoln team.
Devin Fothergill, Southwestern, 5-8 So. G
Fothergill's production should only increase for the Lady Warriors.
Mary Saylor, Rockcastle County, 5-6 So. G
She may be small, but Saylor will be a big part of the Lady Rockets' success.
Tori Alcorn, Boyle County, 6-0 Sr. C
Alcorn should follow a breakout season with an even bigger year in the middle for Boyle.
Kara Weddle, Casey County, 5-10 Jr. C
Weddle figures to score more for Casey, and she'll also have to be bigger on the boards.