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Lady Patriot Basketball Preview
Lady Patriot Basketball Preview

   The Allen County-Scottsville Lady Patriot basketball teams enters the 2017-18 season with hopes set on returning to the Region 4 tournament---and perhaps beyond. A year removed from a 14-16 season is expected to bring an improved and more experienced AC-S team to the court for 11th year head coach Brad Bonds.

   “Going into last year we knew we were young and inexperienced at some key spots,” coach Bonds recalled. “We progressed in a lot of areas last year but not as much in other areas. But, I feel like what we didn’t progress on last year, we have really gained some momentum in the summer and the preseason.”

   Bonds is quick to note that basketball last season and throughout the summer has given his team the court time to be more competitive this year.

   “Our kids needed floor time,” Bonds said. “They needed to learn to jell together. For the most part, that has been accomplished. They have worked hard and put themselves in a position to be very competitive among the region’s best teams and some of the state’s best teams.”

   The Lady Patriots will be anchored by five seniors---experienced players that bring variety to the court. Seniors includes Bailee Alderson, Baylea Cook, Sydney Day, Kali Mutter, and KaeLee Stafford.

   Bailee Alderson returns to the team after missing the final 12 games of last year due to injury. Prior to the injury in the Greenwood game, Alderson was averaging 1.4 points and 2.7 rebounds. Her presence will give the Lady Patriots a stronger post game.

   “Bailee went out in mid January and was not able to play this summer,” Bonds said, adding. “It was a concern whether she could ever play again fortunately she will and is looking very good. Adding Bailee back in gives us length, strength inside, and allow us to do more offensively by spreading Mason and Sarah out on the floor. This preseason, Bailee has come along way. We are thrilled to have her comeback and not miss much of a beat. Having Bailee adds weapons to our offense.”

   Baylea Cook and Kali Mutter returns giving the Lady Patriot coaches a pair of role players that bring offense and defense talents to the court. Cook averaged just under two points a game while Mutter was known as the team’s defensive stopper in their 30 games last year.

   “Baylea is very good offensively and Kali is one of the best we have ever had defensively,” Bonds explained. “Finding opportunities for them to use their assets will be key. Both have worked hard to develop the weaknesses they have. Kali is working to develop her shot offensively and Bayle continues to get better defensively. The key for us is for those girls to hone in on the weaknesses and offer us more complete players.”

   Sydney Day will again be asked to direct the Lady Patriot attack. Day---a starter in 28 games last season---averaged 3.9 points, three rebounds, and 2.5 assists as a junior. A year under her belt has strengthened Day into a proven point guard.

   “Sydney has come a long way in the last year,” Bonds said, adding, “if nothing else, in just her confidence to score with a mid-range jump shot and being able to finish around the rim better than she did last year. She also has confidence in leading the team. Sydney has become a great leader and motivator. She is being asked to be a big part of our team in leadership.”

   KaeLee Stafford has the least experience of any senior in terms of court time yet brings to the team the ability to knock down key baskets or free throws in certain situations.

   “You may see KaeLee in at the end of games to offer us another free throw shooter weapon when we have a lead and spread things out,” Bonds noted. “KaeLee also offers us a great basketball IQ. She has one of the sharpest IQ’s I have ever seen in basketball. There are times I bounce ideas off of her in practice. She is very intelligent and has a great mind and there is always a place for that on this basketball team.”

   Bonds adds that the seniors “all have their pieces and understand their pieces” and that is what makes the class of 2018 “special.”

   The Lady Patriots will gave three juniors---Sarah Sutton, Mason Towery, and Jaylee Woods.

   Sutton is the veteran of the team having made 90 starts and appeared in 122 games since her seventh-grade season. Last year, the 5’11” forward averaged 17.9 points and 7.8 rebounds. Her free throw shooting percentage of 83.5% ranked her 15th in the state. Sutton enters her junior season with 1,058 points---13th on the all-time scoring list---and with a career total of 625 rebounds. To date, Sutton has recorded 16 career double-double games in points and rebounds. She was a Region 4, Second Team selection at the end of last year.

   Towery has emerged as one of the region’s top players as well. As a sophomore, Towery averaged 13.7 points and six rebounds a game. The 5’11” forward led or shared in scoring honors nine times and led or shared in rebounding honors 11 times last season. Towery was named to 2017 Region 4 All-Region, Third Team. She will start her junior season 31st on all-time Lady Patriot scoring list with 628 points.

   “Sarah and Mason are among the region’s top players,” Bonds said. “A lot of what we do goes through those two athletes. One of the reasons that our seniors are special is that they understand their roles and their piece in providing the best opportunities for Sarah and Mason to go and make plays. We’re looking for Sarah and Mason to have big years but it can’t be just about Sarah and Mason. This entire team has to be prepared offensively and defensively every night to do what they are capable of doing so that teams don’t just take away Sarah and Mason and leave us with no other options. Sarah and Mason can play and are capable of playing at the next level.”

   A strong positive to both Towery and Sutton lies in the fact that each can take their games outside the paint.

   “Mason is a complete player,” Bonds added. “She is good defensively, Mason alters things with he length. She is a great rebounder and a great ball handler. Her versatility allows us to do a lot of things in our offense. Mason can play point guard, scoring guard, the wing or the post. Sarah is a lot of the same way. She shoots the ball well from outside and can handle the basketball in the open floor. Sarah can break you down off the dribble and play with her back to the basket.”

   Bonds points out that Woods continues to make strides despite being the team’s smallest player (5’1”) in height. Last season, Woods appeared in 29 games and slowed flashes of her potential with her cat-like quickness.

   “Jaylee has had a wonderful summer and a very impressive preseason,” Bonds said. “I’m very pleased with what she is doing right now. If she continues to play well she will turn a lot of heads in this community and in this region.”

   The remaining varsity rosters will include role players that have the potential to contribute in different ways throughout the season.

   “We have several underclassmen that could see time,” Bonds added. “The players on the varsity roster have assets that can help this team be successful.”

   Roster players include Kaylee Bullington, Jae McReynolds, Allison Meador, Taylor Carter, and Chloe Cook. The group is expected to have roles on the varsity and will improve with junior varsity experience---with Meador being the exception. In the Lady Patriots preseason scrimmage in Lebanon, Meador tore her ACL. The injury required surgery and will necessitate her missing the entire season as she undergoes recovery and rehabilitation.

   “That will affect us,” Bonds said. “Allison had a good summer and was going to be a key factor for us. We were looking at balancing our offensive attack with her. Allison had become an offensive threat. But, we have other kids that have the capabilities but they need to gain confidence.”

   Bonds is expecting District 15 to be competitive as usual. Last season, AC-S finished with a 1-6 district record, including a loss to Monroe County in the opening round of the District tournament. The loss snapped a four year streak in which AC-S had reached the district tournament finals and the Region 4 tournament.

   “Going in, I think you are looking at Barren and Allen as being the top two teams in the district,” Bonds explained. “Glasgow lost a lot with (Eli) Bartley and (Skyler) Burd graduating. They still have athletes that can dominate the boards and inside. Glasgow will always be a threat. Monroe County took a hit with graduation. They have a new coach and a new roster of kids that will be learning and growing as the year goes along. You can never count them out. Barren County and Allen are the teams out of the gate that will be the top two teams.”

   In the Region 4 race, Bonds sees South Warren---the team AC-S opens the season with on November 28---along with defending Region 4 champion Russell County---as the top two teams, followed by Barren and AC-S. Bonds sees Bowling Green, Greenwood, and Logan County among the top seven.

   For the Lady Patriots to be successful this year, Bonds will look for his team to finish the year strong, improve game to game, and avoid additional injuries.

   “I felt like we kind of faded at the end of the year last season,” Bonds admitted. “We can attribute that to a lot of different factors. Our inexperience in the situation last year was one thing. We put ourselves in a bad spot and had to play Monroe County in the first game of the district. But, I feel like that has taken care of itself. These kids are hungry to get back to the regional tournament. By season’s end, if we stay healthy and if we continue to get better in our offense and if we can get consistent scorers outside Mason and Sarah, then we are going to be a hard team to beat come the end of the year.”

   Bonds also expects his Lady Patriots to improve on the defensive end of the court.

   “We did not play defensively last year as we had in the last several years,” Bonds explained. “That was because we were small and inexperienced. We have several options to negate the fact that we do have small guards. We are going to be bigger than what we were last year. Bailee Alderson helps us. Our guards know how to use their lack of height to their advantage. We will be a lot better defensively”

   The Lady Patriots will again play a challenging schedule. In addition to the district and region opponents, AC-S will step outside of Region 4 play in games against Central Hardin, Casey County, Muhlenberg County, Owensboro Catholic, Apollo, and Caverna. The squad will face three unknowns in a holiday tournament in Maryville Tennessee as well as hosting the annual South Central Bank-Halton Classic---an eight team tournament that includes Tennessee powerhouse Upperman as well as Simon Kenton and Madisonville-North Hopkins.

   The Lady Patriots enter their 44th season in realistic expectation of reaching the 800-win milestone. AC-S girls basketball has an overall record of 790-429. If the team reaches the 800-win mark, the Lady Patriot program will become only the sixth Kentucky school to achieve the historic level.  

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