Feb. 20, 2013 —
Hager Easterling knew he had something special way before the season started.
While evaluating his team last summer, he determined that the 2012-13 season could be one he remembers for quite some time.
“They are one of the best groups of kids I’ve ever coached in 33 years,” Easterling said. “From the sixth graders to the seniors, I don’t know if I’ve ever had a better group from top to bottom.”
The Lady Raiders have played remarkably throughout the season and getting better day-by-day. They are making plays on the defensive end whether it is a rebound or diving for a loose ball. East Carter looks to be one of the favorites heading into the 62nd District Tournament and quite possibly the 16th Region.
“There is not one person on this team that doesn’t want to go all the way,” senior Kerie Steele said. “We have to put in the hours and play as a team and have to be focused every single day and not be looking ahead.”
With a solid point guard in eighth grader Kristen Mayo, a strong presence inside with Kelsey Stumbo, and strong guard play with Bryana Greenhill, the Lady Raiders have all of the confidence in the world to make a run in the postseason.
“We’ve been practicing for every game, when the tournament comes, we have to be prepared for any team because we won’t know who we’re playing,” Steele said.
“We think every shot is going in,” Easterling said. “A few weeks ago, we could tell in their body language they weren’t that confident.…they’re disappointed when shots don’t fall but they don’t let it affect them.”
East Carter has won more games than any team in the 16th Region this season and like many others, they are close to accomplishing their goal from the start of the season: to represent the 16th Region at the Girl’s Sweet 16 at Western Kentucky University.
“We’re really starting to pick it up,” Easterling said. “We know when we get to the postseason we have to play really good defense. Now we’ve taken it up to the next level a little bit and look more confident in our shooting.”
East is only one of three teams in the 16th Region to go into the postseason with 20-plus victories.
“I think if we play the best we can, we’re going to go far,” Steele said.
The Lady Raiders feel like this is their time to shine. And they all agree, 2004 was a long time ago and they are due to cut the nets down in the 16th Region Championship.
But the road to a championship starts Wednesday night as they take on Elliott County at 6 p.m. in the 62nd District Tournament.
MacKenzie Bates can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 1-800-247-6142.