The end of the season came all to quickly for the "never say die" Lady Wildcats of Paden City on Monday in Ritchie County as the Green and White faced off with the Parkersburg Catholic Lady Crusaders in the Class A, Region I, Section two girls basketball tournament.
After a hard fought and classy win at home on Feb. 17 over Calhoun County, the Lady 'Cats were poised to make some noise in the second round of Sectional play at Ritchie County. Unfortunately, they came up against the sixth ranked class A team in the state in Catholic, and had their dreams of extending their season dashed against the wall to the tune of 69-21.
"Make no doubt about it, Parkersburg Catholic is the real deal," said head coach of the Wildcats, Kelly Sine. "They are an excellent team with great coaching and a great program. They came out on fire and put pressure on us right from the start like we knew they would, and we just couldn't handle it."
"It was a tough loss to handle, but our girls did not give up for one single second out on the court. They fought till the very end, and for that I am so very proud of them."
At home on Feb. 17, the Green played host to the Red Devils of Calhoun County in the first ever Sectional hosted at Paden City. With the "one-and-out" situation coming into play, both teams were hungry for the win and played like it, taking the game into overtime after tying the score at 36-all after regulation play. The 'Cats earned the right to advance in the Sectional tournament with the eventual win, 46-43, making this the first Sectional win by a Lady Wildcat basketball team since 2002.
Scoring for the home team in the game was led by senior Dominique Craft with 15 points, Logan Cosper, 12; Kayla Hizer, eight; Lynnsie Parsons, seven; and Amanda Heasley, five.
"I was extremely proud of the kids in this game," the coach said. "Everybody was focused. That's what we've been after, focusing on just basketball. This is the first time we've been able to focus on just basketball since August. We're a small school, so the kids are pulled in several directions at one time. But with everything else basically over and done with now, we were able to focus on basketball, and it showed in this game."
"If we could have shot our foul shots better, if we could have played with more focus every time out, if we could have been stronger, we would have had a better season," said Sine. "But we didn't."
"That takes nothing away from how proud I am of these girls and what they have accomplished this year. They never gave up, they always gave everything they had, and nobody can fault a team that does that, no matter what their record is."
The team will graduate two seniors in the Spring, Dominique Craft and Amanda Heasley, two players which coach Sine attributes the heart of the team to. "Amanda has played hurt practically all year," he said. "But she's always been there ready to play. And Dominique is as busy as anybody can be, but still had her priorities straight with this team. The two will be irreplaceable."
As every season comes to an end, thoughts of next year are never far from a coaches' or fans' mind, and it is the same in Paden City. "We're only losing two," Sine said. "And we have an excellent group of underclassmen ready to step up their game and a whole new crop of freshmen moving up next year. We've been building and building this program, and I believe next year that will start paying off for us."
This year the Lady 'Cats finished the season with a 4-20 win/loss record. Next year, hopes are that these numbers will be turned around.
"Oh we have already started making our plans for next year," the coach said. "In fact, next week we're going to start lifting in preparation."
"We need to be stronger. We're starting next week."