Lady Pacer season ends

374

Saturday night as the final horn sounded and Southwestern began to celebrate its Class 2A Sectional Championship, the other side of the court saw a group of exhausted and emotional Switzerland County Lady Pacers head to the lockerroom as their season came to an end.

The year was a roller coaster for Coach Wayne Ellegood and his team, having high expectations early but falling victim to key injuries and a tough schedule along the way. Saturday’s loss not only points the Lady Pacer coaching staff towards next year; but also proved to be a time of reflection for Coach Ellegood as he saw the high school careers of two of his players come to an end.

“We’re losing two seniors in Brittany Hall and Ashley Bright, and that’s always difficult to see two outstanding kids move on,” Coach Ellegood said. “Our program is really going to miss them.”

The two seniors took much different paths to the varsity level, but each was a vital part of this year’s team.

“Brittany Hall’s a kid who played more this year than we anticipated her playing after Courtney Cole went down with a knee injury,” the coach said. “Brittany came in and did a great job for us. She’s a real team player, and she really helped motivate the other kids on the team. We’re going to miss her leadership. More teams need players like Brittany.”

Ashley Bright wraps up her time as a Lady Pacer as one of the most celebrated players to come through the program. A three-year starter at point guard, she leaves the Lady Pacers ranking in the top 10 all time in scoring and assists.

She also leaves as the top player in a very important category.

“Ashley is probably the best freethrow percentage shooter in the history of the school,” Wayne Ellegood said. “She was also right up there in the state rankings in three-point shooting all year, as well.”

Wayne Ellegood said that at the close of the regular season, Ashley Bright was fourth in the entire state in freethrow percentage, and after going a perfect 6-for-6 in the sectional, she either solidified that ranking or moved up.

“She finished the season over 87-percent, and she was over 80 percent for her career,” Coach Ellegood said. “She made a lot of those freethrows at the end of games when we really needed them, which helped the team be successful. She just doesn’t miss any at the end of a game.”

As he loses two seniors, Coach Ellegood also has reason to smile, as the Lady Pacers will return the core of their team next season.

“You have to be upbeat about next year’s team,” Wayne Ellegood said. “We’ve got seven juniors this year who have played a lot of basketball for us. They can all play.”

The coach was quick to spread the praise.

“Courtney Cole would have been All-Conference this year if she hadn’t hurt her knee. Morgan Ross really came on strong in the second half of the season for us; and April Thieman has played well for us all season long,” the coach said. “Amber Smith hit some big shots for us during the year; and Tanya Sefton has really improved a lot. Megan McCarty did a great job for us this year. She rebounds tremendously and goes 100-percent all the time. We’ll also have Shana Todd up the jayvee team.”

With that core of seniors next year, the coaching staff also sees a successful junior varsity team this year; and the current eighth grade class has some promising talent on it, according to Coach Ellegood.

“Our outlook looks really good,” Wayne Ellegood said. “Next year will probably be the first year in a long time that we won’t have an All Conference player coming back, but we feel really good about the team that we’re bringing back. If Courtney hadn’t gotten hurt, she would have been All Conference, and we’ve got four or five other girls who are knocking on the door.”