Carman: Lady Rebs a hard act to follow

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By Donna Carman

I have always been a fan of Casey County sports.
No matter what the sport — from the first swing of the golf club in August to the last race at the state track meet in June — I’m always rooting for the boys and girls who wear the Columbia blue.
I may not get to take in as many games, matches or meets as I’d like, but I’m there in spirit.
The current season’s schedules hang on my wall, dutifully marked off with “W’s” and “L’s”, and I maintain a running list of whose picture we’ve used in the paper and try hard to get as many different faces as we can. (Sometimes that doesn’t work, for whatever reason, but I try.)
Last year (or maybe it was two years ago, time goes by so fast, I don’t remember), I wrote here that I had been cheating myself by not going to see as many Lady Rebel basketball games as I would’ve liked to. And I vowed to do better.
Fast forward to this season, and I found myself in the same boat.
With Casey not having a home game until sometime after the first of the year, I did manage to make it to that first game (after two snow delays), and maybe another one or two after that. But, by no means, did I get to see the majority of them.
Come tournament time, though, things always take on a different perspective, and I found myself at the Pulaski County gym every night our girls played in a district or regional tournament game.
One thing was very different for me this year, however. I actually played the role of fan/spectator — (that means cheer/clap/whistle or yell at the refs) — a lot more than reporter/photographer — (who must remain composed, although silently cheering or booing).
And that felt very strange, but that’s a topic for another time.
I’ve watched a lot of girls play basketball over the years, and there have certainly been some standouts. Most notably, the ones who come to mind are the girls from the 1999-2000 team who captured Casey’s first-ever 12th Region title, and the team of 2008-09 who made it all the way to the Final Four of the Girls Sweet 16.
But the team of 2010-11 will have its place in history too.
You’ll read elsewhere in today’s issue a column by Chris Zollner regarding this team. Zollner has photographed a lot of Casey County sports for us this school year, and he’ll be taking over sports writing duties as well beginning next week. Josh Robinson, our current sports writer, is venturing off in another direction regarding sports as he is taking on the role of assistant baseball coach at Northern Middle School in Pulaski County, where he teaches.
These Lady Rebels have sure had a lot to overcome. With leading scorer Megan Pittman sitting out two-thirds of the season due to a knee injury suffered last summer, they had to regroup and build a team  that would gel without its starting center.
And that they did.
Casey played its first 11 games on the road, going 9-2, with those two losses being in the final games of two separate holiday tournaments.
Their home-opener, set for Jan. 7, was snowed out with district foe Somerset, and three nights later, the second home game on the schedule, with Monticello, was also called off due to weather.
The girls never played at home until Jan. 14, which was a district double-header against, who else, but Rockcastle. Casey lost this one, and lost to the Lady Rockets again a week later, but never suffered another “L” until a 3-point double-overtime loss to Lincoln, at Lincoln, in the last regular game of the season. By this time, Pittman was back, but limited.
After finishing runner-up to Rockcastle in the district tournament, Casey’s first game in the 12th Region Tournament with Lincoln County saw the Lady Rebels suffer another blow as leading scorer, and senior leader, Nicole Coffman went down in the final minute of the game — with the same type of injury suffered by Pittman. An MRI confirmed that her season was done.
Although they could easily have given up in the semi-finals with Southwestern — and it looked very much like that when Casey was down 18-4 in the first quarter — they rallied and pulled out a 4-point win. The heartfelt, teary-eyed hug between Pittman and Coffman at the end said it all.
That set up the rematch with Rock again for the finals on Saturday night, and although the Lady Rebs showed true grit and a spunky spirit, a win wasn’t going to happen.
Casey ended its season at 25-7, with four of those losses at the hands of Rockcastle.
The Lady Rockets will lose six to graduation this year, while Casey loses four. We’ll certainly miss Coffman, B.J. Hogue, Katy Laman and Jamie Wesley. Their departure will leave Casey very young with Pittman its only senior next season and Jasmine Johnson and Katie Douglas as the only juniors. However, there are some very bright and promising stars on the horizon in the current freshman class and some eighth-graders.

I think we’ll be writing some very good things about the Lady Rebels this time next year too.

Thanks for adding to the memory book girls.