Kevin Patton has covered Henderson County for The Gleaner in Henderson for 25 years and he’s followed Lady Colonels head coach Jeff Haile for all those years as Haile is in his 35th year at the helm of the illustrious program.
Patton has seen many Lady Colonels teams head off to the KHSAA Sweet Sixteen in his career and he took some time to breakdown this year’s Henderson County squad for the Owensboro Times.
It’s almost commonplace for Henderson County to represent the 2nd Region. What has Jeff Haile done differently, if anything, this season?
Nothing changes for Jeff Haile’s teams who always rely on defense. That’s the cornerstone for what he has done for 35 seasons. He will press teams until they show that they can beat the press.
How does this Henderson County team compare to the team that won the 2nd Region in 2019?
They are probably not hardly as strong overall after the graduation of Emilee Hope, who was an all-conference player and the conference newcomer of the year as a freshman at Oakland City University this season. Hope was not only a tremendous shooter but also a good defender, rebounder and passer for the 2019 Lady Colonels. However, the development of Jarie Thomas and M’Kyra Dixon has given Henderson County more of an inside presence than they had last season.
Everyone in WKY knows the same Sadie Wurth but the Lady Colonels have several players that have contributed this season. Who are some of those players?
While Sadie Wurth makes Henderson County go, she doesn’t have to score for them to be effective. I’ve already mentioned Thomas and Dixon. Thomas, a 5-10 sophomore, had already shown improvement by the start of the season over last year but has improved greatly over the course of the season. She’s a high percentage scorer around the basket and can also consistently make the 15-footer as well as the occasional 3-point shot. She scored 27 in the region championship game and could have had more but didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter of the 70-38 win over Union County.
Dixon, a 5-10 senior, has always had potential but has made more of an impact this season. She and Thomas are effective in the high-low game and Dixon has developed into a solid rebounder as well as good scorer around the basket
Junior Kaytlan Kemp is a terror on defense. She may be the quickest player in Western Kentucky. She’s like the Tasmanian Devil – she’s in motion all of the time. She and Wurth are a lethal combination at guard. Kemp has committed to play softball at Western Kentucky University.
At the start of the season, I expected Graci Risley to be the team’s big scorer, taking over Hope’s role. A sophomore, Risley struggled with her outside shot early in the season and ended up on the bench. Just as her shot began to come around, she suffered an injury on her shooting hand. She hit four 3-pointers and scored 17 points in the region final so it seems like she might have her shot back. She could be a big key on Thursday.
What does Henderson County have to do to win Thursday evening?
Henderson County will need to create turnovers and score off of them. They will also need to make some outside shots from multiple players but especially from Wurth and Risley. If they can score from the outside, that opens up the inside game for Thomas and Dixon. They can’t be overconfident based on their 17-point win over Apollo almost a month ago. Apollo is obviously playing much better basketball or the E-Gals wouldn’t have won a very competitive 3rd Region.