With the departure of key leadership pieces a year ago, Christian County head coach Kiki Radford was looking for some of her experienced returners to step up and carry the 2021-22 version of the Lady Colonels to the next level.
“We had to get some leaders out of this senior bunch,” she said. “I knew coming in we were going to be young and inexperienced. We had a few that played varsity last year but all around as a team, we’re still young. I just wanted to make sure at the beginning we had the leadership.”
Radford didn’t have to look far for those leaders.
Mikayah Killebrew and Destinee Catlett-Watkins, County’s two returning senior starters, have stepped up in a big way for Radford, being the exact leaders she needed coming into the year.
“They have taken the title and run with it,” Radford said. “They’ve been coming out and being the leaders. It’s not too much pressure on them. Even if the varsity kids aren’t doing what they’re doing they’re getting on them. But they’re also making sure they do what they’re supposed to do.
“We want Destinee to be the floor general and she’s been doing that. Mikayah is playing inside and outside for us. … I’ve been very pleased with how those two have come out and become leaders for us.”
While the leadership with this relatively is going to be important for the Lady Colonels, the youth that got key experience a year ago will be vital in the team’s success.
Radford said she will be leaning heavily on youngsters Nevaeh Day and Anaysia Bagwell this season as the Lady Colonels push ahead toward an EIghth District championship repeat.
“We’re depending on both of those young ladies,” she said. “We’re going to need Anaysia to handle the basketball and give Destinee a breather, as well as knock down some shots. Nevaeh Day is going to be Nevaeh Day. She’s long and lanky, runs the floor and brings defensive pressure. I told both of them early on that we’re going to need both of them to have a fantastic season.”
Radford still has one big question to answer heading into the year and that is the presence down low.
After graduating Trinity McGee, Reni Shemwell and Treliyah Thomas, all of which played key possessions in the post for the Lady Colonels a year ago, County will look to a mix of different players to try and fill the gap the three of them leave.
“We lost a lot with Trin (McGee), Reni (Shemwell) and Treliyah (Thomas) down low,” Radford said. “Sarah Harris stepped into that role but we can’t have her down there by herself. That’s why we’re using Mikayah some and Nevaeh as well. … We can’t replace all we lost down there … We’ve just got to know our roles to offset the forewards and centers we lost last year.”
County kicks off its Eighth District championship defense on Nov. 30 against Muhlenberg County and while the key pieces of this team return after the Eighth District Championship a year ago, Radford is telling her team to make sure they are locked in now that the Lady Colonels are the target within the district.
“I let them know that we have a target on our back now,” she said. “We’ve got to maintain and continue to focus and hopefully repeat. We can’t be satisfied with what we were able to accomplish last year. It’s a new team, new faces and a new environment. We’ve got to come out and hope we can win that district title again.”