TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY
By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
KNOX CENTRAL — The Knox Central Lady Panthers may be coming off an 11-14 season, but late in the season last year Barb Gregory’s team played much better than a team with 11 wins.
The Lady Panthers won five of the last seven regular season matches in 2012, with wins over Middlesboro, Harlan, Oneida Baptist and Lynn Camp to close things out.
As she looks ahead to the 2013 season, Gregory said she feels like this is the season her Lady Panthers could put things together and have the kind of season they’ve been working toward.
On the downside, Gregory said one of her starters (Ashley Jones) moved away and the Lady Panthers’ main threat on the front line, Tyra McNeil, is recovering from a injury she suffered during basketball season. Even with the loss of Jones, and McNeil slowly working back into form, Gregory said she’s excited to get back in the gym and see her squad at work.
“The girls are ready for the season and I think this season has been a long time coming,” Gregory said. “We’re expecting a good season, but it’s heartbreaking that we’ve lost one girl that moved away and Tyra McNeil is coming back from a knee injury.
“Tyra has been released to practice and play the front line, but we’re not sure how she’s going to do on her back-line rotation,” she added. “I feel like if she can’t go on the back line, we can cover her because we have some depth to work with.”
The Lady Panthers open the season at home against Harlan, but hit the road for five matches against Whitley County, Harlan, South Laurel, Lynn Camp and Harlan County. A string of home contests against Clay County, Harlan County, Leslie County and Bell County will round out the first half of the season. From that point Gregory’s squad will split games at home and on the road as the second half of the season winds down.
Gregory said she feels like this year’s schedule is a little tougher than years past, but she also said her team’s improvement has warranted better opponents.
“We want to get better as the season progresses, so you want to play better competition,” Gregory said. “I feel like we improved every time we stepped on the floor last season, so you always want to try and build off any momentum from the past season.
“Hopefully the girls will come in here and show that they’re hungry and really get after it,” she added. “We have some young kids that are hungry and I feel like they can challenge some of our upperclassmen and I expect them to do just that.”
Knox Central will open the season at Harlan County on Aug. 22.