Lady Cats continue to build experience

Published 5:28 pm Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Last season, the Bell County Lady Cats began adjusting to life without some of its top scorers. The team finished with a 12-16 record and missed out on the 13th Region tournament. This year, the Lady Cats will continue to work on growth with a plethora of new players in the starting rotation.

“Last year, we were a little down. We had a 12-16 record, and the year before we had a pretty good run. Last year was kind of a rebuilding year for us,” said Bell County coach David Teague. “We went through a transition period. We graduated some kids, and then you get kids not used to being in that role of being a key contributor.

“I think last year we gained some experience, and I’m hoping that experience that we gained last year will help us as we move forward into this year. The good thing is kids have been working hard. One of the positives is each year is a new year. Everybody is 0-0. This team doesn’t really worry about what we did last year or what the team three years ago did. This is their year and they’re excited to go.”

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Despite losing three of their top scorers from a year ago, Bell County returns a few players with varsity minutes. With four seniors on the roster, only one has substantial minutes.

“It’ll be an interesting season. I’m sure that we’ll have some growing pains at times early because we do have some new pieces with graduating some kids that played a lot of significant minutes,” said Teague. “We’ll see how it goes. I’m excited to get going with the season.”

Brittany Davis returns as the veteran starter after taking over the point guard position last season. The sophomore averaged 6.7 points last year while taking a team-high 119 free throws.

Cumberland Gap transfer Brittney Cupp brings size to a team that lost much of its post presence over the past two years. The senior D-I commit averaged a double-double for the Lady Panthers during her junior campaign averaging 14 points and 10 rebounds to go with her 4.0 blocks per game.

Abby Harris will likely see an uptick in minutes after being the sixth player for the team during the 16-17 season. The sophomore tallied 5.1 points off the bench while shooting 66.7 percent from the floor. She also averaged 2.3 rebounds per game.

Seniors Lindsay Bryant and Karlee Cox will also see their roles increased as they find themselves in the starting rotation. Bryant and Cox both came of the bench and combined for 43 percent shooting from the field.

“Right now, we’ve been working with Brittany Davis…at point guard. She started there for us last year as a freshman. Lindsay Bryant and Karlee Cox are playing a lot at the guard spots, and both of them are seniors,” said Teague. “They played some last year on varsity, but this will be their moment. They put the time and the work into it, so we expect a lot of big things out of them.

“Abby Harris is in a starting position for us. Abby was pretty well our sixth man last year. Expect big things out of her. We have Brittney Cupp starting inside at the post. We expect a big year out of her, and we will play a lot through her. Then I think we got several kids that can contribute and do some things. Expect a lot of things from Brea Browning off our bench. She is able to play multiple positions and bring a lot of energy.”

As far as the 52nd District goes, Teague believes that Harlan County has to be considered the favorite. After that, the remaining three teams could finish in any order after Harlan lost Jordan Brock.

“I feel like right now Harlan County has to be the favorite. It isn’t like it’s a big secret,” said Teague. “They’ve got not only the best player in the region but maybe the best player in the state. They’ve got an extremely experienced ball club, and one of the best post players around in this area. I feel like they’re the favorite not only in our district but probably the region.

“After that, we just kind of have to see. Harlan city is very experienced with some kids back, but when you lose the caliber player Jordan Brock was it’s going to been an adjustment. I think Middlesboro will be improved as well. It’ll be interesting. Our goal will be to get to that district championship and hopefully get ourselves into the regional tournament. After you’re there, you never know what could happen.”

Bell County finished last season with a district record of 2-5 and were eliminated from the district tournament in the first round by Harlan.

Reach Anthony Cloud at 606-302-9090 or on Twitter @AnthonyCloudMDN