Special to the Times-Tribune
The Whitley County Middle School eighth grade basketball team made a solid run to the final four this past weekend at the state tournament, but came up a little short in a 35-30 loss to Elkhorn City.
The Lady Colonels overcame an early loss to Louisville Noe (36-35) in the opening round of pool play to rattle off four straight wins to reach the semifinals.
Despite the loss, head coach David Estes said he was proud of the team and was quick to point out he felt like bigger and better things were ahead for this particular group in the future.
“I’m so proud of these girls and this team,” Estes said. “To make it to two straight final fours, reach a title game and win 67 games in two years is a remarkable accomplishment.
“We didn’t raise the banner we wanted, but are committed to raising the banners that we really want in the future — 13th Region ones,” he added.
After the opening round loss, the Lady Colonels picked up a 43-21 win over Royal Springs on the heels of a 13-point effort by Abby Estes. Madison Centers added 11 points and 10 rebounds in the win.
Estes said Royal Springs happened to be in an unfortunate position having come up against the Lady Colonels following the early loss.
“I felt sorry for Royal Springs, because they just happened to be the next team after we lost in pool play,” Estes said. “Our girls were upset and ready, and unfortunately for Royal Springs, we took it out on them.”
Whitley County opened tournament play with a 36-29 win over Middlesboro as Abby Estes led the way again, this time with 16 points.
The Lady Colonels picked up their third straight win when they knocked off 14th Region champs, RW Combs, 33-23, to advance to the quarterfinal round.
Despite trailing by 11 points in the fourth quarter, the Lady Colonels pulled out the 48-46 win over Eastside to move into the semifinals.
Estes said the effort his team gave was the kind of stuff usually shown on the evening highlight reels and called it the best middle school game he had ever been a part of.
“This was an effort worthy of an ESPN instant classic,” Estes said. “Our grit and determination were the difference.
“We never worried about the score, we simply kept playing,” he added. “My coaching philosophy is let players make plays and every single Lady Colonel made multiple ones in this game. It was the best middle school game I’ve ever been a part of.”
Whitley County took an early lead in the semifinal game against Elkhorn, but foul trouble eventually caught up with the Lady Colonels as they fell, 35-30.