“We’ve had some ups and downs. We started off the year hot. We’ve been in most of the games,” said Augusta head coach Willie McKay.
Augusta has lost three games by 10 points or less and has been working on putting together a solid four quarters.
After losing five games in a row to start the new year, Coach McKay thinks his team is finally getting back on track winning four of the six games from January 27th to February 11th.
McKay says what’s changed is his team’s mindset.
“The girls’ mentality of ‘we’re undersized and undermanned’ their willingness to put the work in and fight every game against bigger schools and bigger girls.”
The Lady Panthers have been led in scoring by Laci Tackett. The freshman has been scoring over 15 points per game with 5 rebounds.
“Lately we’re sharing the ball really well on the offensive side. We’re looking to make that extra pass to the person that’s open. We’re starting to box out a lot better and trying to hit the boards. It’s hard to rebound when your center is a guard on any other team. It’s a team effort on the defensive side.
Kenzington Hinson has led the team with over 8 rebounds per game and adding 8 points per game.
St. Patrick beat Augusta twice in the regular season. The Lady Saints won 62-44 on December 9th and 68-58 on January 18th.
“They’re a good team. They have a lot of experience. Some of those girls have been starting varsity since seventh or eighth grade. Andy Arn has done a very good job with the seniors he has right now. They got some bigs, they’ve got some guards. They share the ball well.
Coach McKay had a lot of praise for St. Patrick Andy Arn, a former coach of his.
“He’s done a very good job with that program and I’m looking forward to it. I get to coach against my high school coach and my alma mater. I also get to coach against my cousin as well. It’s a little bit intense before the game but after we’re still family.”
Although Augusta has lost all five games verse 39th District opponents this season, Augusta sees themselves as a very capable underdog.
“On any given night any team can get hot. We’re going into the district with a chip on our shoulder as the underdog. Everybody has beaten us even though we’ve been there and been close most of the games for a half or three quarters and just had that bad stretch.”
One of those games was their 71-57 loss to Mason County at home, where they trailed by only five points at the half.
In their last meeting verse St. Patrick on January 18, the Lady Panthers fell by only 10 points. A month prior on December 9th, St. Patrick beat them by 18 points. Coach McKay believes his team has steadily been improving throughout the season.
After losing those five straight games in January, the Lady Panthers have split with their opponents, including a three-point win over Lexington Christian and another three-point win over Ludlow.
Coach McKay said about those games, “Sometimes they can wear on you physically and mentally, but they haven’t stopped the entire year.”
It will be up to the Lady Panthers to see if they will fold in the second half, or if they will put together all four quarters when it matters most.