By Chris Parsons
There’s an abundance of words that could be used to describe the Lynn Camp Lady Wildcats’ 2012-13 basketball season, but head coach Richard Jones said if he had to choose two, he would use exciting and heartbreaking at the same time.
Exciting comes to mind due to the fact that Jones and company set a new program record for wins in a season after finishing 23-10, good enough for the fifth best record in the 13th Region.
Heartbreaking because despite the number of wins, Jones said his team failed to reach a few goals it had set at the start of the season, including a 13th Region All ‘A’ Championship and a district title.
“This was a very exciting season and considering the things we were able to achieve, you have to be pleased with the kids’ effort,” Jones said. “At the same time, it was really heartbreaking to come so close to that All ‘A’ Championship in a close game against Pineville and then to lose that district championship by three points to Barbourville.
“Any time you work as hard for something as our kids did, it’s tough to fall short of that goal,” he added. “But we were able to set the record for most wins and we did some really good things this season, so it was a success overall.”
The Lady Wildcats started the season with a bang, winning 11 of their first 13 games, including victories over 13th Region foes Knox Central, Williamsburg, Pineville and Middlesboro.
Jones’ squad went 3-1 in the 17th Annual Bowman Memorial Classic with the lone loss coming at the hands of eventual champion Barbourville, leaving a bad taste in the mouth of the Lady Wildcats for a little less than a month.
Lynn Camp made good on its shot at redemption when the two teams met up in the opening round of the All ‘A’ Classic with the Lady Cats coming away with a 56-51 win, eliminating Barbourville from the tournament.
After squeaking past Middlesboro in the semifinals (37-35), Lynn Camp came up just short in a controversial 56-52 loss to Pineville in double overtime. The controversy was that the Lady Mountain Lions' shot at the buzzer in regulation was counted despite being waved off by two of the three referees on the floor, tying the game instead of giving the Lady Cats the victory.
After that loss, Lynn Camp lost two straight before recovering to win three in a row and eventually winning four straight to close out the regular season.
One of the biggest differences in this year’s squad according to Jones was the overall toughness of the team both physically and mentally. He said in years past his squads would have folded the tents after the loss to Pineville, but instead they recovered and played well to close out the season.
“We took that loss in the All ‘A’ tough because it was really heartbreaking for us,” Jones said. "The kids were able to get things going again and play well and I think that was due to their toughness and size, which is something we haven't had in the past.
“We were a pretty big team and I think that's going to be a key next season,” he added.
Speaking of next season, Jones is in good shape as far as returning players, having only lost one starter to graduation in Kayla Smith. He said if all goes well and his squad stays healthy, he expects the same kind of success the Lady Cats had this season.
“We have some good kids coming back and they’re a tough group as well,” Jones said. “This group has worked hard and I expect them to do the same this offseason to get better.
“If we improve the way I expect us to, I feel like we'll have another good season,” he added.