SHEPHERDSVILLE – There is no doubt about it that his first season at the helm of the Bullitt Central Lady Cougars was not a good one for Kyle Roach.
Both the coach and the players expected much more than the final 11-18 record. Worse, despite winning five of the last six games of the regular season, the team lost in the first round of the 23rd District Tournament to Moore.
Roach really couldn’t see a silver lining. It was just a bad season.
“There is no doubt about that,” the coach said as he sat in his office last week. “We only won 11 or 12 games. We thought we could play North (Bullitt, in the district final). Then Moore got us. We might have overlooked them some. That’s disappointing for the seniors.”
Two points certainly stand out.
First, there was the change in the coaching staff and it was a late change as Roach was not hired until late in July, after the summer shoot-out and camp season
“It was tough with me coming in when I did,” Roach said. “It was a big transition for everybody.”
Second, the team lost two seniors during the season to knee injuries. Returning starter Kristen Collins went down during the second holiday tournament. She was followed by Katie Hutchison who suffered the second major knee injury of her athletic career.
“That killed us,” Roach said of the injuries. “We don’t depend on one person, but Kristen was a leader. Some other kids grew, but it hurt us for sure.”
Collins was the team’s best outside shooter and the second most experienced player behind point guard Kayla Riggs. By the end of the season, only Riggs and fellow senior Selena Yunt had major playing time in a post-season game.
The Lady Cougars started the season with eight seniors.
“We were young, well inexperienced, even with the seniors,” Roach said.
The final loss to Moore just ended a bad season.
“The biggest disappointment was that we had won those five of six games and I thought we were playing well,” Roach said of the end of the season. “Then we had a clunker of a game with Moore.”
At this point, Roach is thinking that two of his seniors will be playing in college next season. Riggs has an offer from Spalding on the table while Collins has had a lot of contact from Midway College.
Riggs was selected to the All-Sixth Region team this season.
Now Roach is looking at a serious rebuilding job. The Lady Cougars lose the eight seniors and there were no juniors in the program. Roach does not anticipate having any seniors on the roster next winter.
Bullitt Central did play a lot of younger kids during the season as Roach tried about anything to jump-start his team. At least four sophomores or freshmen started at least one game.
“We have a lot of kids,” Roach said. “It’s definitely rebuilding but we have some girls who have played. We want to get them a lot of games this summer.”
Freshman Belle Leonard got the most playing time of the younger girls and sophomore Casey Renfrow also got playing time as a forward. There is also strong post-presence with 6-footers Stephanie Still and Shelby Flener. In the back-court, both Alexis Graham and Cassi Gilbert saw varsity action late in the season.
Despite not having any juniors, the Bullitt Central junior-varsity team posted an 11-8 mark. The freshman team, which seldom had Leonard or Flener, posted a 9-7 record.
“There is a lot of potential,” Roach said of the younger girls. “There is a good mix of ball-handlers and size.”
While some of the returning players are taking part in softball or track this spring, Roach is already working with some of the players on individual development. There is also an AAU program that many of the girls will be playing in.
In June, the team will get together for a number of scrimmages and will take part in the North Bullitt Shoot-out as well as a summer camp.
In addition to the new job, Roach also had to accept the schedule that was already in place. Now, he has been able to build his own schedule.
One major change next season is that the Lady Cougars will play in just one holiday tournament. That would be the first time a Bullitt County team has played just once over the holidays in at least a decade. The Lady Cougars will play in a tournament at Spencer County before Christmas and then be off between the holidays.
In addition, Roach is cutting back on his games against Sixth Region teams. This season, the Lady Cougars lost a number of junior-varsity games when Jefferson County teams cancelled at the last minute because of a lack of players, competing in just the varsity game.
That will mean more games against Fifth Region squads. In addition, the team will take part in the Bullitt County Classic at North Bullitt as well as a one-day showcase event at Franklin County.