Lincoln girls show signs of growth under first-year coach

Published 3:00 pm Thursday, March 7, 2024

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The Lincoln County girls’ win total didn’t improve all that much this season, but perhaps their confidence did.

Coach Caitlin Hall Parson said the confidence the Lady Patriots gained as they grew this season should serve them well as they begin a long climb back to a place of sustained success.

Their season ended Feb. 27 with a 60-31 loss to Danville Christian in a 45th District Tournament semifinal at Garrard Middle School.

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It was an ugly ending to a season that Parson said was otherwise a pretty good first step for her and her team.

“I feel like their confidence grew from the younger ones to the older ones, and I think that’s a big key to everything you do,” Parson said. “You’ve got to have confidence in yourself and your team, so I hope to continue to help the younger ones grow and get confidence.”

Parson, a 2016 Lincoln graduate and a first-year head coach, returned to her alma mater in hopes of bringing stability to a program that had three head coaches in the previous four seasons.

She led the Lady Patriots to their highest win total since the 2018-19 season, which was their last winning season and the last in which they advanced beyond the district tournament.

Lincoln (14-16) defeated Garrard County 50-48 in a first-round game, but it had no chance to advance beyond that win after DCA scored 28 unanswered points at the start of its semifinal.

The Lady Warriors hit six of 11 3-point shots in their opening run before the Lady Patriots got on the board 74 seconds into the second quarter with a basket by MaKayla Greer.

“It’s almost impossible to defend them when they’re hitting like that,” Parson said.

Greer scored 13 points and Gatlynn Lewis had 10 in the loss that brought an end to a rollercoaster season in which fourth-seeded Lincoln won five of its first seven games, then suffered through an eight-game losing streak late in the season.

The Lady Patriots won their last three regular-season games and the Garrard game in the first round of the district tourney, and Parson said that modest winning streak did them a world of good.

“It helped a ton,” she said. “During that losing streak, our heads were really down. During that we didn’t have one of our starters, either, so that hurt us (because) our chemistry was a little different. But those wins definitely helped us get more confidence.”

Four of the team’s top five scorers will graduate, including double-digit scorers Rice (12.2) and Greer (10.1), and Parson said those seniors brought positive energy and set a good example even as they endured another transition.

“I’m extremely grateful for them,” Parson said. “They’re a great group of kids. They’re just a joy to be around, and funny outside of basketball. And I think that’s what it’s all about. They’re a good group, and that’s what I’m looking for.”

Parson is also looking for improvement from what will become a very young team. There are only two juniors on the roster, along with two freshmen and five middle-schoolers.

“I can’t wait to work with them, get them better,” she said. “It may take us a few years, but I think we’ll get there.”