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The Spencer County Lady Bears’ regional tournament game against Simon Kenton was in many ways a reflection of the entire program in recent years and while the end result wasn’t ideal, the progress and improvement has been unmistakable.
In the first quarter against the Lady Pioneers, Spencer County fell behind early and simply looked outmatched, unable to score, unable to defend and unable to compete. At the end of the first quarter, they trailed 25-1.
Likewise, just a few short years ago, the Lady Bears program had entire seasons like that. Two years ago, they managed just four wins, and they had a long string of consecutive losing seasons.
In the Simon Kenton game, the Lady Bears showed some courage in the second quarter and the rest of the way, refusing to surrender despite the poor start. Likewise, the program has bounced back the last couple of years.
Former coach Richard Dooley showed patience and last year it began to pay dividends as the girls were able to post its first winning season in many years and this year, new Coach Daniel Cox kept that momentum going with another winning campaign, guiding his Lady Bears into the Region Tournament for the first time in many seasons. While the last game ended on a losing note, there is hope for the future.
For the game, Cox said Simon Kenton ranked among the top teams his girls played all year, and only Casey County compared. Ironically, last week Casey County was the squad that knocked Simon Kenton out of the quarterfinals of the Girls’ Sweet Sixteen in Bowling Green.
Cox said the Lady Bears were unable to handle Simon Kenton’s press in the regional game and that took his team out of their game plan.
“By the start of the second quarter, we were very far behind and forced to play catch up,” said Cox.
But that they continued to play hard and were able to be competitive the final three quarters was a testament to the girls’ attitude, said Cox.
“I could not be more proud of how the girls kept fighting throughout the game. It would have been easy for the girls to give up, but every player that walked out onto the floor played with the personal pride that makes a coach proud.”
Despite the lopsided score, Cox said his girls now have a taste of what it will take to reach the next level, and he said it’s nothing they’re not capable of.
“In order to be one of the top teams in the region year in and year out, we must learn to play with teams like Simon Kenton,” said Cox.
“They were not taller or more athletic than us, but they were fundamentally stronger, faster and more disciplined. They shot great percentages and this is where our next step begins. Working on these things in the offseason is what takes a team to the next level.”
But before turning the page on a new chapter, Cox wanted to reflect a little on the main characters that made this past season so successful – namely the seniors.
• Lindsey Kempf – “Lindsey was a leader on the court and in the locker room. She is by far one of the hardest workers I have ever seen around a basketball floor. She never missed a workout but also worked a full-time job and plays softball. I will never be able to replace a player like Lindsey.”
• Shelby Pfeiffer – “Everyone knows that Shelby was the heart and soul of this team. On most nights, however hard Shelby played was how hard Spencer County played. Her determination will always be the measuring stick for future players to judge their hard work.”
• Kenisha Marshall – “Kenisha was the full package. She is the type of player that every coach dreams of having. I wish I could keep her for another four years, but her future has more in store for her. If I can’t keep her for another four years, I sure hope that I can go watch her play.”
Replacing those three, especially Marshall who ends her SCHS career second on the all-time scoring list, will not be an easy task, but Cox is not without hope.
“There is no doubt that the loss of Marshall will create a huge gap in the immediate future, but I am extremely excited for next year,” said Cox.
“We have some girls coming back and coming up that I feel can flourish now that they don’t have Marshall to lean on. It’s been easy the last few years to let Marshall do most of the scoring, but it is time for someone else to step up.”
Cox said the answer to that may emerge during the offseason, and said the team’s style of play most likely will have to change with the loss of height on the inside.
“Speed and discipline will need to become our weapons of the future, and looking at the roster, I see great potential,” said Cox.