After a turnover of six coaches in the last decade, the Bracken County Lady Bears have settled with Troy Archibald as their coach and are back in the hunt for a 39th District championship.
After going 8-47 the two years prior, Bracken County is now 31-23 in their last two seasons. But, Coach Archibald says they left some wins on table.
“I think we’ve had a pretty good season so far. We lost games we probably should have won. Down the stretch turnovers and free throws cost us some games. If we control those, I think we win a few more games,” said Archibald. “We lost several games by three or four points. But overall, I’m happy with how the season has gone.”
The Lady Bears are shooting just 52% from the free throw line this year. They have left almost 200 points at the foul line this season, enough points to make up the point differential for every game they have lost this season.
Some of those winnable games Coach Archibald is referring to is their two point loss to Pendleton County, three point loss to Eastern, OH, and five point loss to Lewis County.
It also includes their two point loss to Mason County on December 5th. Bracken County lost the game 33-31 and failed to score in the fourth quarter.
Bracken County hit their peak midway through the season when they upset the homestanding Paris Lady Hounds in the All “A” Classic. They would, however, fall to Bishop Brossart in the finals in another winnable game.
“I think that’s when things turned around for the girls, when they realized how good they can be. Things just kept going up from there.”
After that loss, Bracken County went on a six-game win streak. In that hot streak, the ended their cold streak verse Mason County, beating them for the first time in thirteen straight games and in nine years.
Bracken County is led by sophomore Nicole Archibald who is averaging 17 points per game.
While she may not fill up the scoring, Gineva Riley makes her name known on the boards, as she is pulling down 10 rebounds per game.
“I knew with Gineva what I was going to get… Even though Gineva doesn’t show it on the offensive end as far as putting up points, but with her rebounds we don’t get a chance to score.
The ladies from Brooksville split games with 39thDistrict opponents St. Patrick and Mason County.
After defeating St. Patrick by 8 points, the Lady Saints would turn around and beat Bracken County by 14 points a week later.
One thing Coach Archibald has preached to his team throughout the season is that they need to play to win instead of playing not to lose.
“They start getting complacent. They don’t want to keep looking to score, they kind of go into safety mode so to speak. That’s when we usually make our turnovers, and it ends up costing us. What we’ve been working on is, once you get that lead, you keep building on that lead and keep being aggressive. You don’t slow down; you keep playing.”
The Lady Bears have their most since 2016, when they lost a three point heart breaker to Mason County in the first round of the district tournament. This season, all coaches and fans agree the 39th District Championship is a four horse race.
“Our girls play extremely hard. They don’t quit, and that’s all you can ask for as a coach.”
Bracken County has not won a district championship since 2014, but this year they are closer than ever.
“The district can go either way. It all just depends on who shows up… Win or lose, I think it’s going to be a good game. I think the crowd will be happy with the game they see. It’s going to be an exciting game and hopefully we come out on top.”