DESPITE a solid defensive effort and a standout night on the offensive boards, Jackson County is now shelving away the 2010-2011 campaign.
The Lady Panthers (14-12) fell to Union County 49-42 in the opening round of the region tournament Monday, ending their season.
Jackson County forced 17 turnovers on the defensive end and grabbed 20 offensive boards but shot a mere 17-of-60 from the floor.
“(It was) our best effort on second opportunities all year,” coach John Hawley said. “We had great looks but (they) just didn’t fall. The will and the fight was there all night long. It has been my pleasure to work with such an outstanding group of ladies.”
Bre Drew finished with 15 points and Ashley Skelton added 11 points in their final games as Lady Panthers.
Jackson County trailed 17-15 at the half and 30-26 after three quarters but couldn’t overtake Union County in the fourth quarter to save its season.
But Hawley couldn’t fault his team’s effort in trying to stave off elimination.
“The girls really laid it on the line tonight (Monday),” said Hawley, whose team limited Union County to just 13 field goals.
Jackson County’s offensive problems weren’t a result of a lack of execution. The Lady Panthers simply couldn’t get any shots to fall.
“It either all comes together or it doesn’t … In the region tournament, sometimes you’ve got to have a little luck of the Irish, too,” Hawley said.
Jackson County finishes with a winning record in year one under Hawley, who came out of retirement to coach the team. This is also the second-straight winning campaign overall for the program.
The Lady Panthers now lose four seniors and a lot of offense next year as two 1,000-point career scorers —Skelton and Drew — will graduate. But Jackson County has several returning players who contributed significant minutes this winter.
Macey Latty, Victoria Fontana, Savannah Roncadori, Katie Phillips, Mason Garland and Danni Cunningham are all back next year, among others, as Jackson County looks for a third consecutive winning season in 2011-2012.
Hawley said the Lady Panthers have a solid group returning.
“I’m excited for the opportunities it opens for some of our other kids,” Hawley said. “Hopefully, they’ll step up and fill those roles.”
As for this year’s group, Hawley praised it for putting in the effort and hours to learn a new system offensively and defensively.
“Everyday it got better and better … There were a lot of really good things that happened this year,” Hawley said.