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After a 3-year absence, the Shelby County girls’ basketball team may be ready to return to the regional tournament.
“A trip to the region, that would be a big accomplishment for us,” Rockets Coach Mike Sowers said in the summer. “That’s a big goal for us.”
It seems like an achievable one for Shelby County, which hasn’t been to the 8th Region Tournament since 2010 (the year the school “split”). The Rockets return their top six scorers and top seven rebounders from a team that went 16-14 last season, which ended with a heartbreaking, double-overtime loss to crosstown-rival Collins in the 30th District Tournament semifinals.
The Rockets, who lost Lynsey Nichols (a usual starter) and bench leaders Kirstin Dugle and Jamie Bradley to graduation, will be led by 6-foot-1 junior forward Mackenzie Raizor (12.4 points, 6.7 rebounds per game), who earned all-region honors last season.
She tops a quartet of returning starters that also includes 6-0 sophomore forward Justus Martin (9.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg), 5-7 junior guard Katie Hudgens (6.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg) and her twin sister, 6-1 junior forward Savannah Raizor (6.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg).
Also back are several key reserves, including 5-10 forward Nikki Simmons (5.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg), the team’s only senior, as well as 5-7 junior guard Jordan Holt (2.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg), who started late last season, and 5-10 junior center Kara Wiley (2.1 rpg).
The Rockets had a roster replete with youth and inexperience in Sowers’ first season (2010-11), when they went 3-22, but that’s not the case after back-to-back 16-victory campaigns.
“I wouldn’t consider us young any longer,” Sowers said in the summer.
Matching its victory total of each of the last two seasons may be difficult for Shelby County this year, though, because Sowers has strengthened the Rockets' schedule.
They open their season next Tuesday at Owen County. Their first home game will be Dec. 6 against Henry Clay.
Shelby County at a glance
Head coach: Mike Sowers (4th year, 35-45)
Assistant coaches: Kevin Radford, TaNeisha Johnson, Heather McCall.
Last season: 16-14, lost to Collins, 52-48, in the 30th District Tournament semifinals.
Starters returning (4): F Mackenzie Raizor (6-1, Jr., 12.4 ppg, 6.7 rpg); F Savannah Raizor (6-1, Jr., 6.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg); F Justus Martin (6-0, Soph., 9.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg); G Katie Hudgens (5-7, Jr., 6.7 ppg, 2.5 rpg).
Starters lost (1): G Lynsey Nichols (2 ppg).
Other returning players: F Nikki Simmons (5-10, Sr., 5.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg); G Jordan Holt (5-7, Jr. 2.5 ppg, 2.6 rpg); C Kara Wiley (5-10, Jr., 2.1 rpg); F Madison Todd (5-8, Soph.); G/F Jordan Rood (5-7, Jr.); G Kelli Armstrong (5-5, Jr.); G Hailey Poe (5-5, Soph.).
Newcomers: Zephy Gray, Amie Conley, Alyssa Roberts.
3 - at Owen County; 6 - HENRY CLAY; 7 - at North Hardin, 5 p.m.; 10 - JEFFERSONTOWN; 13 - COLLINS, 6 p.m.; 14 - GALLATIN COUNTY, 5:30 p.m.; 17 - SPENCER COUNTY; 18 - at Anderson County; 21 - at Carroll County, 3:30 p.m.; 26 - vs. Bishop Brossart at Conner, 4:30 p.m.; 27 - at Conner, 1:30 p.m.; 27 - vs. Belfry at Conner, 7 p.m.; 28 - vs. TBD at Conner, TBD
3 - vs. Iroquois at Central Hardin, 3 p.m.; 4 - TATES CREEK, 2:30 p.m.; 7 - SOUTH OLDHAM; 11 - at Trimble County, 2:30 p.m.; 17 - at Collins, 6 p.m.; 18 – WAGGENER, 5:45 p.m.; 21 - ANDERSON COUNTY; 24 - at Spencer County; 28 - WESTERN HILLS, 6 p.m.; 31 - at Oldham County, 6 p.m.
1 - at Madison Central, 3:30 p.m.; 4 - LEXINGTON CHRISTIAN; 7 – at Fairdale; 13 - NORTH OLDHAM; 15 - at Atherton, 1 p.m.; 18 - at Scott County; 20 - at Franklin County.
Home games in CAPS. Start time is 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted.