Two seasons removed from a trip to the KHSAA Sweet 16, the Bell County Lady Cats are looking to return to form after missing out on the Region 13 tournament last year. Playing in a tough district and competing against top-tier teams will make the task difficult.
“We graduated six seniors from last year and only return one starter, so it’s a lot of new faces for us,” said Bell coach David Teague. “They’ve been fun to coach so far. They’re working their tails off, they’re wanting to learn, and they’re wanting to get better. Hopefully it will be a fun season for us.”
The Lady Cats are considerably younger than last year with many of the juniors on the team lacking considerable playing time last season. The team returns just three seniors that were in the rotation a year ago — Caleigh Collett, Alex Brock and Bethany Miracle.
Collett looks to have picked up the mantle left vacant by the graduation of Katrina Johnson. Last season, she finished third on the team in scoring while shooting 42 percent from the field and 43 percent from long range.
An All-SEKC selection last year, Collett showed leadership on the floor for Bell during the recent SEKC Panorama and kept her team afloat with her efficiency from the field.
“Caleigh, we’re looking to her for a lot of things right now. She has got to be a scorer for us, she’s helping with handling the ball and those type of things,” said Teague. “She’s played a lot, but I look for that from everybody.”
Brock and Miracle round out the upperclassmen who are favored to be in the starting lineup on day one. Brock finished last season averaging 4.5 points while Miracle averaged 3.1 points. Miracle also averaged four rebounds per game off the bench. Despite those numbers, both have proved they can be efficient from the field.
Freshmen Brittany Davis and Ashley Middleton fill up the remaining spots in the starting lineup for Bell. Davis saw limited minutes in 18 games last year. Middleton only played in seven.
At the point guard position, Davis finished as the Lady Cats’ second leading scorer during the recent SEKC Panorama and showed willingness to drive to the basket, finishing with eight free-throw attempts during that game.
Lindsay Bryant, Karlee Cox, Abby Harris and Brea Browning also saw minutes during the SEKC Panorama and will likely be counted on as role players throughout the season.
“We’re playing a lot of young kids, and a lot of kids that haven’t played a lot of varsity minutes,” said Teague. “A lot of times with young teams or inexperienced teams you might have a lot of ups and downs and things, but that’s part of it. We just want to continue to work and continue to get better.”
Bell County will open the 2016-17 season at home on Tuesday with a 7:30 p.m. meeting against Oneida Baptist Institute.
Reach Anthony Cloud at 606-302-9090 or on Twitter @AnthonyCloudMDN