Clash of Lady Cats Monday should be high quality
By Jim Turner


Posted on January 16, 2022 7:42 PM



 

When the first Clash of the Cats of the season is played Monday night at Russellville’s Jim Young Gymnasium, in addition to the Hall of Fame induction the girls game will be the featured attraction. The Lady Cougars and the Lady Panthers are both in the midst of good seasons.

The R Club calls the evening the Mullen-Meguiar Cat Classic in honor of retired coaches/administrators Wayne Mullen and Mickey Meguiar.

Lady Cougars

Coach Dedra Adler, who has coached the Lady Panthers in the past, led her Lady Cougars to a great start this year. Logan started 13-2, including going 5-0 in an invitational event at Cumberland County after tying for the best record at a similar tournament at Edmonson County.

The Lady Cougars have struggled so far in the 2022 season, losing all four of their games so far. They are experiencing shooting woes, especially from three-point range (just barely 25 percent) and the free throw line (less than 60 percent). But overall, it’s been an excellent start to their season.

Logan returned four starters from last year’s team—Gracie Borders, Kadyn Costello, Emily Borders and Emerson McKinnis. Gracie is not only second on the team in scoring—a point per game behind Costello, but she’s taken a lot of the rebounding duties off McKinnis, who was having to battle players much taller than she is last year.

Nora Epley missed most of last season with a serious injury, and she is fourth on the team in scoring behind Emily Borders, but she is potentially a great contributor if she can get her long-range shots to start falling more frequently. Coach Adler obviously believes in her, as is shown by allowing her to take 101 three-point shots, hitting only 28 of them. Gracie Borders (5 of 35) and Costello (1 of 9) are shooting even worse from long range. Sierra Seiber, who has played in 16 games, is right at Borders’ percentage at 6 of 22.

Freshman TaKayla Mason also sees a lot of action, and Adler goes deep into bench most games.

After having only one senior last year, the Lady Cougars are young again. Costello and reserve Samarah Dowell are the only 12th graders this year.

Lady Panthers

The Lady Panthers will bring a 6-5 record into the game. They are getting to know their new coach, and he’s adjusting to coaching girls basketball. He’s Dennis Pardue, one of the most successful boys coaches in Panther history. And the Lady Panthers are getting better all the time, as shown in their reaching the finals of the 4th Region All A Classic played last week.

The RHS girls are a talented, highly experienced team. Senior Anastasia Dowlen is a five-year starter in the post. She started averaging double figures in rebounding as an eighth grader, and has been one of Kentucky’s leading rebounders ever since. Junior Amiyah Collier is a four-year starter at point guard and is a remarkable athlete. Classmates Brinley Mason and Jaylah Kees are also in their fifth year on the team. In fact, Mason played in 17 games as a seventh grader.

Russellville’s published statistics are not up-to-date. Numbers for the last four games (two wins, two losses) have not been reported to the KHSAA. When they were reported after the first seven games, freshman Lareesha Cawthorne was the leading scorer at 14.4 points per game. Dowlen was averaging 13.7 points and her normal 10.9 rebounds an outing. Collier was third at 8.0.

The Lady Panthers are also struggling on specialty shots. They were hitting 19 percent from three-point land (11 of 58) and an anemic 66 of 185 (35.7 percent) at the free throw line.

In addition to the 21 years of experience from Dowlen, Collier, Mason and Kees, the Lady Panthers are getting lots of help from Jordin Morris and Jasmine Patel.

In the five and six (Dowlen) years these girls have been on the RHS varsity, there have been five different head coaches—Calvin Head, Shannon Booth, Cameron Jackson, Ryan Davenport and now Dennis Pardue.

Panthers

On the other hand, the Cats—as opposed to the Lady Cats—will Clash in the midst of slumps.

This is the fifth straight season that RHS teams have not been able to play at the level they did during the 27 seasons Phil Todd and Dennis Pardue were at the helm. That came to an end after the 2017 season when Todd’s Panthers finished as regional runner-up to eventual state champion Bowling Green. During those 27 years RHS reached the regional finals six times, winning three of them and reaching the Final Four at state twice. Four players on those teams have played professional basketball and several more semi-pro ball.

That 2017 team were led by Russellville’s most honored basketball player ever, Pedro Bradshaw, and great all-around athlete Jaylin McMurry. Only the talented Jacob Naylor returned for the next season.

In the four and a half years since that regional finals, the Panthers have gone 32-66 overall, 13-47 in 4th Region play and 8-21 in the 13th District. In 2018 they lost 10 of their last 11 games and ended a region’s best 13-season regional qualification streak. They lost 8 of their last 9 games the next year. In 2020, they went 2-18 in their final 20 games, including a 50-point loss to Logan County in the district tournament.

Last year ended the three-year absence from region. Coach Carlos Quarles’ team went 9-11 and beat Logan in the district opener before losing in the finals. Key players Lennon Ries and Jovari Gamble were returning this year. The fifth-year senior rule gave them transfer standout Anthony ‘Rooster’ Woodard, Jaquis Todd, Chevis Elliott and Jackson Hampton, which could have translated to a return to glory for Panther Basketball.

It hasn’t happened that way, though. Quarles’ Panthers are 3-8 overall and 0-2 in the region; one of the wins came on a COVID-19 forfeit. Elliott and Hampton decided not to play and Woodard has appeared in only four of the games.

Jaquis Todd leads the Panthers in scoring at over 14 points per game and is tied with Gamble for the rebounding lead at 5.4 board per outing.

Cougar basketball has experienced long streaks of futility before, but coaches Harold Tackett, Lonnie Mason and John Tinsley had led Logan to region in the last 10 years, with Tinsley coaching the Cougars to district championships in both his seasons at the helm in 2019 and ’20. The Cougars went 53-11 during those two seasons (years two and three of the RHS slump) and won a game at region both years.

He not only left the program after that, but he left with the cupboard basically bare with the exception of the aforementioned Rooster Woodard, who is now a Panther again.

Nathan Thompson, a starter on Russellville’s state semifinalists in 2001 and head coach of a league-champion semi-pro team, was given the tough role of trying to keep Logan’s winning ways going. It hasn’t happened yet.

The ‘20-21 team finished 4-13 while concentrating on defense. Only three players who scored points last year are currently on the team. Dakota Clinard, Chance Sweeney and Zane Batten combined for a total of 6.8 points per game last year. Nathaniel Petrie played in eight games last year but didn’t score, so in many ways Coach Thompson had to start over again this season.

He has used 14 different players in at least five games each as the Cougars have gone 0-12, losing by an average of 22 points per game. The current roster on the KHSAA site includes one senior, two juniors, eight sophomores and a freshman.

Sophomore Kaden Wall leads the Cougars with an average of 8.2 points per game. Batten is averaging 5.8, Clinard 5.6 and Jack Delaney 5.4.

Delaney is one of the standout players from Logan’s Class 4A state semifinalist football team. Also playing are footballers Harper Butler, JunVontre Dillard, Brady Hinton and Davin Yates, who is also a baseball starter.

A couple of bright spots for the Cougars have been their free-throw and three-point shooting. Petrie is 5 for 8 from long range, Yates 7 of 14, Wall 13 of 28 and Hinton 3 of 9. Wall has hit 25 of 32 free throws, Hinton 6 of 8, Sweeney 7 of 10, Evan Campbell 5 of 8, Batten 18 of 30 and Harper 8 of 13.

Batten leads Logan rebounding at 5.5 boards per game. Clinard averages 3.7, and Petrie and Delaney 2.6 each.

Cats Classic details

The girls game will start at 6 p.m. Both games will be aired on WRUS (104.9 FM, 610 AM, www.wrusradio.com and the WRUS app.

In between games, the Russellville Alumni Association will induct five new members into the Athletic Hall of Fame. They are Huey Hinton, Gwynne Gaddie, Dennis Sydnor, Sandra Brown Egggleston and the late Jonathan Cage.

Tickets are six dollars each, and only cash will be accepted at the gate.

Those attending are required to wear masks.

 




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