By Chris Parsons
The Lynn Camp Lady Cats enter this year’s 13th Region Tournament as the possible Cinderella story on the heels of a record-setting season.
This year’s 13th Region Coach of the Year, Richard Jones, led his squad to 22 regular season wins, finishing 23-9 overall and 15-8 against 13th Region competition.
After knocking off Knox Central in the semifinals of the 51st District Tournament, Lynn Camp fell to Barbourville in a 50-47 loss that Jones said his team has had a hard time dealing with.
As they get set for tonight’s showdown, Jones said he has been able to settle his squad down and explain to them there is plenty more basketball that can be played this season.
“Our kids had a hard time after the district finals, but we got back in the gym and tried to work through it,” he said. “I’ve pulled each girl aside and kind of talked to them and let them know that this season isn’t over and we still have a chance at playing more basketball, we just have to come out and prove that we belong.”
The Lady Cats will face off with a Bell County team that boasts 13th Region Player of the Year Candidate Maci Morris, who averages 20.7 points per game for the Lady Bobcats.
Bell County comes in with the second best record in the 13th Region, carrying a 25-5 mark (16-3 against 13th Region teams) with them into the region tournament. The Lady Bobcats’ only 13th Region losses came thanks to Harlan County (50-33), Clay County (47-42) and Barbourville (71-69), the latest of which came on Feb. 11 at Barbourville. They also come in as one of the hottest teams in the region, having won 15 of its last 17 games.
“Maci is probably the best player in the 13th Region and one of the best in the state,” Jones said. “They have a good point guard in the (Jessica) Sanders girl and she may be one of the better guards in the region.
“We’re going to have to try and limit what we allow them to do on offense and if we expect to gave a chance at a win,” he added.
Offensively, Bell County has the edge, averaging 63.3 points per game, while the Lady Cats are scoring at a rate of 53.9 ppg.
On the defensive side of things, which historically is a strong suit of Jones’ teams, Lynn Camp has been able to hold opponents to 47.3 ppg, while the Lady Bobcats give up 50.5 ppg.
Kayla Smith and Heather Wilson have been the leaders this season for Lynn Camp, but Jones has a few other weapons at his disposal as well. Jessica May has played well in the post at times, allowing the Lady Cats to exploit smaller teams when the opportunity presents itself. Jones said he hopes to be able to do just that against Bell County.
“It’s obvious that we’re going to have to play a super game to compete with them,” Jones said.
“I told my kids we aren’t going to try to change anything as far as the way we play,” Jones added. “We’re going to try to push the ball if we get the defensive rebound, and we have really worked on our shot selection. If we do those things, I feel like we’ll be there in the end and that’s all you can ask for in postseason play.”