By Chris Parsons
The 2012-13 basketball season was a roller-coaster ride for the Knox Central Lady Panthers, who finished with a 13-17 overall mark and were 8-11 against 13th Region competition.
Darrin Mills’ squad won three of the first four games to start the season and looked primed to make a run at a 51st District title. Despite the hot start, the Lady Panthers struggled through the holidays, dropping three of four tournament games before winning five straight to start 2013 on a high note.
After the win streak Knox Central felt the effects of the injury bug when it lost center Tyra McNeil to a knee injury. Mills said he feels like that injury took a lot out from his team both physically and mentally.
“We were playing really well over that holiday stretch and we were excited about how the season was going, but then the injury bug hut us,” Mills said. “When (Tyra) McNeil went down it really affected how we played from that point on with the things we were trying to do.
“We had developed an identity in the post and Tyra was doing some good things in the post,” he added. “She had averaged about 10 points through that stretch with about five blocks per game, so it took us out of our game when she went down.”
After the five wins, the Lady Panthers finished the season by going 3-11 with a loss to Lynn Camp in the district tournament putting an end to the season.
Knox Central loses Jenna Mills and Cassi Shippy to graduation this season, leaving several holes for Mills to fill. He said with the group he has returning though, he expects the Lady Panthers to come out fighting next season.
“The kids I have coming back are going to work hard for me and any time you put in hard work, it’s going to pay off,” Mills said. “Hopefully we can stay healthy and avoid injuries next season. If we do, I think we can compete in the 13th Region.
“When you look at our region this season, it was really wide open all year and that’s what you can expect next year also,” he added. “Corbin was able to put a good run together at the end of the season and it got them to the state tournament. That gives teams like us hope that if you play well at the end of the season, you can be in the mix.”