• Rick Capone, Sports Editor

WCHS girls’ basketball reaches critical stage of season

CAITLIN FERGUSON has been one of the key players for the Woodford County High School girls’ basketball team so far this season. To date, the senior is third in the state in three-point shooting and in the top 20 in scoring. (Photo by Steve Blake/multiexposures.com)

Heading into the Woodford County High School girls’ basketball 2015-16 season, head coach Jay Lucas knew he had a young team that was full of potential but lacking playing experience at the varsity level. He also knew he had a solid senior leader in Caitlin Ferguson, a young up-and-coming sophomore in Peyton Rose, and a host of young players, many of them eighth-graders, that needed to step up for the team to have any success this season. To date, Woodford is 5-13 overall, 2-5 in the region and 1-4 in the district. But, that record does not tell the whole story, as this young Lady Jackets’ team has played hard all season long and has lost some very close games. More importantly, if they defeat Frankfort in a district match-up this Saturday, Jan. 30, then they would control the No. 3 seed in the upcoming 41st District tournament and would have a good chance of winning their first-round game and advancing to the 11th Region tournament. “We have had a tough season record-wise, but I see improvement every day in our team,” said Lucas. “Remember that we are playing four eighth-graders in our top 10 and two eighth-graders start varsity. “I feel like there are four games we could have won that were very close in the last minute – Thomas Nelson, Owen County, Garrard County, and Western Hills – and if we won those our record would be 9-9. Two of those games were overtime losses and we lost each game by less than four points. So, really we are playing better than our record shows at 5-13.” Leading the team is Ferguson, who has become a very strong team leader. She is a player who leads by example, and has set a high bar for her teammates to follow. To date, she averages 18.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, and is the team’s “sharp shooter” as well, as she averages 42.0 percent on three-pointers. She also has 55 assists and 32 steals. “Caitlin Ferguson has had an amazing senior year shooting the basketball,” said Lucas. “Currently, she is third in the state in three-point shooting and in the top 20 in scoring. Caitlin has matured and come so far as a leader on this team. She shows up to play every game as hard as she can and is one of the best all-around players I have ever coached. She can defend, rebound, pass and, in addition, we look for her to score for us in a variety of ways. I have enjoyed coaching her throughout her career and want her to play in the regional tournament her senior year as a great way for her to finish her career.” Another big contributor to the team this year is Delaney Enlow, an eighth-grader who plays the middle and has incredible potential. Enlow currently averages a double-double this season with 11.1 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. At this point in the season, while she still might be young, she has fast become a seasoned varsity player. She is also rapidly learning how to control her composure and score from underneath the basket, rebound and score on put-backs and, maybe, most important of all, stop opponents from scoring by blocking shots and pulling down rebounds on the defensive end of the floor. “Delaney Enlow has averaged a double-double as an eighth grader, which is awesome,” said Lucas. “But she still can grow as a player and get better with scoring, rebounding, defending, and conditioning. She has really stepped up to patrol the middle for us and we are much better defensively when she is on the floor. Currently, she is in the top 20 in the state in field goal percentage and rebounding.” Sophomore Peyton Rose has taken over the point-guard duties this season and has steadily improved all season long, which has helped free up Ferguson, who now plays many different positions on the floor. To date, Rose averages 7.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. She also has 71 assists and 36 steals on the season. “Peyton Rose is becoming the point guard that I want,” said Lucas. “Defending and distributing the ball to her teammates being her first priority. She has really worked hard on her outside shot and is starting to score from the three-point line. Peyton plays really hard and has led us in assists almost every game. She has really turned the corner in her decision making, which is helping her become a much better player.” Two other players that have stepped up and are playing well are senior Erica Hysell and eighth-grader Abby Moffett. Currently, Hysell averages 3.2 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, while Moffett averages 4.8 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. However, it is the intangibles, the “little things,” that both players do that are helping the team the most. “Erica Hysell has blossomed into a starter and does the dirty work for our team,” said Lucas. “Rebounding, taking a charge, guarding the other team’s best player. She does the stuff that’s not in the box score, but we must have to be successful. I am beyond pleased with what she has contributed this year. “Abby Moffett is starting to become the scoring guard that we need,” Lucas continued. “When teams try to shut down Caitlin, she has been stepping up as a scoring option. I have been pleased with her energy level as she is beginning to understand how hard you have to play on the varsity level. She has come such a long way since December and will continue to get better and better as the post season approaches.” Lucas also made sure to note the play of other players on the team as well; all crucial for the Lady Jackets to be successful down the stretch in the regular season and into the post-season. “Not to be excluded, our bench is led by senior Sydney Fugate, junior Sylvia Collier, freshman Allison Birch, and eighth graders Abbie Hudson and Kasey Abel,” said Lucas. “They push our starters to be the best they can be. They show up every day to practice hard and support their team mates. They are one of the reasons we have such good chemistry on our team. They really want our starters to do well and support them in every way. They are a big reason why I love coaching this team.” Woodford has nine games left in the regular season to get stronger for the 41st District tournament. Next up, they play a very important district game at Frankfort this Saturday, Jan. 30, at 6:30 p.m. In their first meeting, Woodford won 64-56.

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