By Chris Parsons
Less than 24 hours after her team knocked off Bell County in a 63-60 thriller to seal the program’s first 13th Region Championship since 1982, head coach Jennifer Parsons said her head was not only still spinning, but it was nodding as well from a lack of sleep.
“I didn’t get too much sleep after the win, but you know we just want to enjoy this while we can,” Parsons said. “It’s taken us so long to get to this point and the girls have worked so hard, my head just hasn’t come down out of the clouds yet.”
After taking some time to sit back and think about the way things unfolded Monday, she said she had a good feeling about things early on. From the time her team started putting on their uniforms, Parsons said she could see that her team was as ready as they had ever been for a game.
“From the time we walked into the locker-room and started getting ready, even when the girls were doing our warmups, you could see that they were hungry,” she said. “When the game started and we made our first trip up the floor, I knew that Bell County would eventually make a run that we would have to withstand, but I just knew that we were going to come out of that game.
“We were winning the hustle points early on and anytime our kids have done that throughout the season, we’ve played well,” she added. “We set the tone and came out ready, hungry and eager for that win and that was the difference in the end.”
As time wound down in the game, the Lady Cats were eventually able to cut the lead to one point late. Parsons’ squad maintained its composure and knocked down important free throws down the stretch to get the win.
When all was said and done with the on-court celebration, which included a large group of fans that made the trip to Harlan County, Parsons said her team got a pleasant surprise when the team bus arrived in Corbin. She said her players were as happy as she had ever seen them on their escort through downtown Corbin en route to a celebration at Corbin High School.
“For that many of our fans to make the trip on a weeknight was really special,” Parsons said. “Then, when we got back into Corbin and were greeted with the police and fire escort back to town, our kids screamed and yelled the whole way. One of them even made a comment that they felt like royalty as they paraded through town.
“Coming into the gym, there was probably 150 people or so, it was just awesome to see,” she added. “It meant more than I could ever express to know that we have the support of not only our team parents and coaches, but from the community as well. To be able to win this for our school and for our community is a really great feeling to have.”
With the initial celebration behind them, Parsons said she knows there’s still more work to do. Her team is slated to face Shelby Valley in the final game of the day next Wednesday at Western Kentucky University’s E.A. Diddle Arena.
With that said, her team will be back in the gym in no time preparing for its next opponent with the same expectations its had all season.
“We’ll enjoy this for a day or so, but we’ll get back to work,” Parsons said. “These girls aren’t finished with what they want to accomplish and they want to win some more games together.
“They want to go as far as they can and that’s our focus after we come down a little bit from the rush of winning this thing,” she added.