The Buckhorn Lady Wildcats are ready to kick off the 2012-13 season. The Lady Wildcats went 12-15 last season before falling to Perry Central in the first round of the district tournament, and are looking for an improved season this year.
Buckhorn will be returning every player from last year’s squad, but will still be extremely young. The Lady Wildcats will have but one senior, Alex Noble, and one junior, LaVaughn Henson. They will put seven underclassmen on the court, mixed with a handful of grade schoolers.
Buckhorn will look to build on the work of last year and keep the team spirit going into this season. The Lady Wildcats’ coach, Lincoln Spence, said he believes that keeping all of his players is helpful in making the team feel like a unit on the floor.
“Given that we didn’t lose anybody from last year, last year and this season are kind of like one big season, or like one big project that is two seasons long,” said Spence.
Keeping the same team for two years means Buckhorn will have a group that knows how to play together, but the Lady Wildcats will still put a young team on the court. Spence said that in the past it has been some of this inexperience that has held the team back from the potential that they have, but being older, wiser, and having that experience he feels confident they will do well this season.
“Conditioning, athleticism, improving as you get older, growing, you get longer and leaner, and of course the experience that we gained,” said Spence. “We lost a lot of close games last year, but even when you lose a close game you learn something out of it.”
Buckhorn’s players have been hitting the gym and working on their conditioning and getting back to fundamentals to prepare for this season. “We kept everyone from last year’s team, which is a positive, but we have worked hard in the gym and are trying not to take advantage of the fact that we just said we are going to be good because we have got everybody back,” said Spence.
Despite only having two upperclassmen, Spence said that many of his players have been on the team for years and have taken on leadership roles.
“Even the younger girls that are sophomores are on this team, they have been playing varsity basketball since they were in the seventh grade, so the leadership level is pretty high among all of them,” he said.
Being the smallest high school in the county has often meant having a hard time keeping good players, but with the basketball teams at the school progressing in such a way that they are becoming known for having better teams, they are able to keep more of their players
“We struggled a few years ago because we started four eighth graders varsity, and a freshman,” said Spence. “It was hard to compete with the bigger teams. I think that we are young, but we have been more competitive in the last couple of years.”
When last year’s boys’ team was able to make it to the region title game and have the region’s top player, the school was able to solidify a new winning tradition, Spence said, and that could mean that the school’s athletic talent will opt to stay there.
“Buckhorn is getting more of a winning tradition, and I think the boys team might even be carrying over to the girls team where there is an incentive to stay at Buckhorn and to play at Buckhorn,” said Spence.
The team has scrimmages coming up this week with the first game coming against Prestonsburg at home. Spence said that he is waiting to get through the first game before he starts making any predictions on the rest of the season, and especially any tournament appearances. Even so, he expects his team to compete this year.
“We are pretty optimistic that we are going to be competitive in the region,” he said.
The Lady Wildcats have a good variety of local teams on their schedule, as well as a trip to the Smokey Mountain Classic over the Christmas break. Their schedule should have them ready as the All “A” rolls around in January. Buckhorn will take on June Buchanan in the first round.
Buckhorn Lady Wildcats 2012-13 Basketball Schedule
Nov. 27 Prestonsburg Home
Dec. 4 Owsley County Away
Dec. 6 Knott County Home
Dec. 11 Leslie County Home
Dec. 15 South Floyd Away
Dec. 17 Breathitt County Away
Dec. 20 Smokey Mountain Classic
Dec. 21 Smokey Mountain Classic
Dec. 22 Smokey Mountain Classic
Jan. 2 June Buchanan Home
Jan. 4 Jackson City Home
Jan. 5 Prestonsburg Away
Jan. 8 Jackson County Away
Jan. 9 Cordia Away
Jan. 11 Wolfe County Away
Jan. 14 June Buchanan All “A”
Jan. 21 Lee County Home
Jan. 23 Owsley County Home
Jan. 25 Breathitt County Home
Jan. 29 Cordia Home
Jan. 30 Wolfe County Home
Feb. 1 Jackson City Away
Feb. 5 Leslie County Away
Feb. 8 South Floyd Home
Feb. 11 Estill County Away
Feb. 15 Lee County Away