Dooley, Ballinger see improvements during season

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Lady Eagles, Lady Cards will again field young squads

By Bobby Brockman



The girls’ high school basketball teams at Campbellsville and Taylor County played in a district with two of the better teams in the Fifth Region this year and were eliminated on Feb. 21 by Adair County and  Marion County, respectively.
However, both head coaches expect things to better in their second year at the helm.
CHS Lady Eagles
“I was really hoping to win 12-14 games this year,” Lady Eagles’ Richard Dooley admitted of his team that won nine games.
“The injury bug affected us in mid-January, but I’m not sure there was anything we could have done to prevent that.
“Our young kids began to improve and give us more options as far as player line-ups (for next season). Several of those kids really improved including Caylie Blair, Caroline McMahan, Jemeka Spurling and Kiyah Barnett. “Heather Watson also improved with her ability to score (as a senior).
Blair, McMahan and Brenna Wethington, who started most of the season were in the starting quintet as eight-graders, along with seniors Watson and Brittany Vaught in Thursday’s setback.
“We will be young and I am concerned about scoring. But, our young kids play really well with each other, are very unselfish and have a desire to get better,” Dooley continued.
“I think the girls’ district (next year) will be much like the boys district this past season in that on any given night anyone will be able to beat anyone.
“Marion County will still probably be the most talented team, but they will not totally dominate the rest of the district like in the years’ past.”
Dooley thinks his CHS team needs to work on “the offensive skill set of each individual player.
“We need to keep doing what we have been doing for the last 3-4 years and that is getting kids started playing basketball by at least grades 3-4.
“Our seventh-eighth grade group is the first group that we got that started with and it will pay off in the next few years for us.”
Seventh-grade guards  Nena and Kiyah Barnett started or logged valuable mentions in varsity tilts.
“There will be some schedule changes as some contracts are up,” Dooley offered of next year’s slate. “The biggest thing I want to change is to try to get the schedule from being so back-loaded in February (such as four games the last five days of the regular season). It just didn’t allow for any practice time.”
TCHS Lady Cardinals
“There is not one player who I am most proud of, but I am extremely proud of them all,” Taylor County’s Whitney Ballinger offered after the season-ending loss to Marion County. “As a team we got significantly better and we gained a few things no one can take away from us — experience and a better understanding for the game.
“At the beginning of the year we were asking the girls to do things they had never been taught or asked to do. I am extremely proud of Reagan Pollock and Rachel Shoemaker, a freshman and an eighth-grader, who ran point for us the majority of the year.
“We were constantly on them and you can really see that they wanted to make the changes we asked and worked hard to improve.
“It’s hard to believe that we only graduate two (Summer Bailey and Shelby Johnson) and will still be an extremely young basketball team next year. But, we will at least consist of all high school kids next season. We will have no juniors next season and the majority of our scoring and rebounding will be back.
“Both of those (top) teams (Marion County and Adair County) will drop back a step or two from their teams this season. I believe we will at least take a couple steps forward and, depending on how bad this group wants it and how much they are willing to work this off-season, they have a chance to take even more steps in the right direction and to really make the district more competitive.
“This team, despite all of the experience gained this off-season, needs to get in the gym and just play games together. This off-season will look differently than last season now that the girls know the system and we are all more comfortable with what we want and what we are trying to accomplish.
“Our first priority is to find ways to score the ball. We have to find people who can start consistently hitting outside shots and we have to develop our inside game.”
Ballinger admitted she wish she would have done a few things differently if she could do her first year over again.
“If I could go back and do anything it would be to have put in our three-quarter court,  trapping defense a lot sooner and before we played Marion the second time.
“With a young team and new coach it was difficult to get everything in we wanted.”
Ballinger also has a plan for the long run.
“We must find a way to get more girls involved and interested in basketball,” Ballinger said. “We didn’t have enough numbers this year to even have a Little League season. We have to find ways to develop these girls and to get them around basketball and playing basketball.
“Those that we already have in the program now know the system, so now we have to develop them fundamentally and increase their understanding of what we expect in the future.
“There will be several changes to our schedule next season,” Ballinger admitted. “We are looking to find competitive games where we as a team can grow and learn and build for the future.”