Monday, November 28, 2016

Lady Rockets open tonight at St. Mary

Cassidy Moss scored 11 points
in last week's 20-point scrimmage
win at Ballard Memorial. Amanda
Lynch led the way with 12 points.
With Cassidy Moss in the lineup, Crittenden County isn’t going to slip up on anyone this season.
Moss is widely considered one of the top five players in the region. She’s a two-sport college prospect – basketball and softball – and is closing in on the school’s all-time girls’ scoring record.
So there is no secret where the Lady Rockets get their offensive muscle. Problem is, she’s also the team’s best defender, which can be exhausting at times.

With a bit more help from the rest of the forces, Crittenden County will be a district contender and perhaps more.

The girls open the season tonight at St. Mary, but will turn their attention quickly to league play as the girls play at Trigg County on Friday.

The Lady Rockets are certainly considered a favorite to claim the Fifth District crown. They’ve played second fiddle to Lyon County the past two years, but the Lady Lyons lost a great deal of firepower to graduation. Livingston Central is expected to be much improved under new skipper Jim Parks and armed with junior stars Tabby Padon and Kaylyn Campbell. Trigg County is retooling with a new coach, too. The Lady Wildcats will feature mostly underclassmen on Cory Coble’s first-year team.
Teams are going to key on Moss, that’s for certain. So 24-year coach Shannon Hodge knows there will need to be at least some offenive collaboration in order to reach this year’s goal.

“Our girls are in agreement that they want the district nets,” Hodge said. “They feel like they should have had them last year and maybe even the year before. Their expectations were a little higher than we performed.”

The girls were 15-16 last season and lost in the regional tournament to Madisonville. Hodge said there were a few games that “got away.” Otherwise, the campaign might have been different, certainly a winning season was expected.

Last year’s record was seventh best in the region and already some early forecasters have Crittenden picked seventh again.

Hodge thinks this team can be better and a whole lot is riding on Moss’s shoulders, but she can’t be the only burden bearer.

“Cassidy can do it all,” Hodge said. “We should have the kids around her and they expect a lot out of themselves.”

Moss who has scored 1,273 in her career – which started as an eighth grader – needs 356 points to become the Lady Rocket all-time scoring leader. Jeanne Hinchee (1973-78) is the current record holder. Between Moss and Hinchee are her coach, who scored 1,534 in her career that ended in 1985; the coach’s daughter and assistant coach Jessi Hodge Sigler, who scored 1,502; and Morgan Dooms and Chelsea Oliver. Moss scored 485 as a junior, so she’s perfectly capable of getting the record.

Flanking Moss on offense will be senior Amanda Lynch and junior Madison Champion. They both emerged as scorers last year, but will be need to be more consistent.

Lynch has long arms and legs and makes things happen defensively. She has worked hard on her offense during the offseason, improving her jump shot from about 15 feet out to the three-point line.
Champion has a similar frame and is very versatile. She can play just about anywhere on the floor and is a good rebounder.

“She can take you one on one and score and she’s a competitor,” Hodge said.

Senior Kiana Nesbitt will handle a whole lot of the inside work. She runs the floor very well with her 5-foot-9 frame and defends the post well. If her confidence improves on the offensive end, she could average double figures nearly every game and be a key component in the girls’ success.

The other two seniors, Francesca Pierce and Meredith Evans bring different skill sets to the table. Like the other seniors, they’ve been key contributors since their freshman seasons or before. Pierce is a spot shooter and natural leader. She can be a solid defender and runs the floor very well. Evans is the inside force. At 5-9, she could be physical presence under the basket and has nice touch out to about 15 feet.

Junior Mauri Collins could be the wildcard. She’s the coach’s niece and has spent a lot of time in the gym. Her game has improved as she’s gotten stronger. At 5-2, she’s learning to use her size as an advantage against much taller players, the coach said. Collins has a nose for the ball and can score in multiple ways.

Beyond those upper classmen there probably isn’t a whole lot of varsity help until you get down to the middle schoolers. Nahla Woodward will be a force in years to come. Just an eighth-grader, she logged a handful of varsity minutes last year. Chandler Moss, Cassidy’s eigth-grade sister, might also figure into the team’s depth.

There is no secret that Cassidy Moss will be the centerpiece on the team, but the trimmings will determine how far the team goes this season. Consistent scoring from the rest of the cast will create big problems for opponents.

“There are no excuses this year,” Hodge said. “We certainly can’t say we’re young and inexperienced. Our top seven are interchangeable and they each have a role.”

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