The Lincoln County girls’ most memorable season came to an end on the final day of the season Saturday as the Lady Patriots lost to Marion County 61-40 in the semifinals of the Girls Sweet Sixteen in Bowling Green.
As was the case when Casey County reached the semifinals three years ago, Lincoln lost to a better team. The Iroquois team that knocked out Casey in 2009 went on to win the championship, and Marion is one of the two teams everyone expected to see in the state finals since the season began, along with duPont Manual, the team the Lady Knights will play in tonight’s title game.
And just as was the case with Casey, the future is bright for the Lincoln team and program. Lincoln is the only team in the Sweet Sixteen without a single senior, and talented players continue to come up through the middle school ranks. Next year’s Lincoln team will almost certainly receive a pretty decent preseason ranking and will enter the season as the undisputed 12th Region favorite.
There’s no guarantee, of course, that the Lady Patriots will ever make it back to the state tournament, but there’s also no telling what a postseason run such as this can do for a program. And there’s no doubt that coach Cassandra McWhorter will push her players to be even better next season than they were this year.
As for today, there’s Marion and Manual and there’s everybody else, and Marion proved that once again by decimating Lincoln in the second and third quarters. The Lady Knights outscored the Lady Patriots 37-12 over those two periods to take a 50-25 lead, and their reserves stretched the it to 58-26 in the fourth quarter. Lincoln went just 4 for 20 from the field with 13 turnovers during that 16-minute span.
Emily Fox led Lincoln with 19 points, and Kourtney Belcher added 10. Rachel Spangler had a team-high eight rebounds for the Lady Patriots, although she missed the last 19 minutes or so with an injury, and Sydney Harris had eight boards. Marion got 16 points from Bre Elder, 12 from Makayla Epps and 11 from Kyvin Goodin-Rogers. (Click here for the box score and here for the play-by-play from today’s game.)
Lincoln had 21 turnovers and shot just 29.4 percent from the field, and the Lady Patriots were outrebounded 44-36 and gave up 17 offensive rebounds.
Fox and Harris were named to the all-tournament team.
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Lincoln becomes only the seventh Advocate-area team to reach the final four of the state tournament, joining the 2009 Casey girls and Danville boys teams from 1926, ’33, ’34, ’35 and ’45.
Confirming this would require more research than I’m capable of, but McWhorter might well be the first person from our area to reach the Sweet Sixteen as both a player and a coach.
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The Lady Patriots’ accomplishments this week and throughout the season will be celebrated during a homecoming event at 2 p.m. Sunday at the school.
They are a team of high-character players led by high-character coaches, and their success this season allowed plenty of people outside Lincoln County to see that. Lincoln Countians who came to Bowling Green in droves to support them and those who cheered them from afar already knew that, of course, and many of them will be cheering them one more time Sunday.
Congratulations to the Lady Patriots on an outstanding season.