Lewis County is getting a fresh start.
And they’ll have a fresh new floor in The Jungle to do it on.
After graduating several key players from last year’s team, the Lady Lions have been using the summer to try to gel for the upcoming season, where they’ll be playing on a recently revamped floor in Vanceburg.
“We’re all very pleased with the way it looks. The kids got their first peek at it today before we left to come down here. It’s always exciting to get something new and something fresh, and it’s kind of a fresh start for us,” said Lewis County coach Jay Fite after a game against Montgomery County at Mason County’s two-day team camp on Wednesday. “We have a fresh group, so they get to start on a fresh floor this year.”
Fite says he and the coaching staff were given freedom to come up with a design they liked, and it was approved by the school’s administration. Situated behind the intertwined “LC” found at midcourt is a silhouette of Lewis County. They’ve also added more color to the floor.
“We didn’t want it to be crazy wild. We wanted to have a classy look. It’s got some retro touches. It’s got the nice stained look as well as a little color added in there,” said Fite. “We put our accent color, red, just to add those things but not to be overwhelming with the red.
Gone from the final class to play on the old floor are Jalyssa Cortez, Jaycee Evans, Allison Voyles and Gracie Yates. The four members of the Class of 2018 combined to score 927 of the team’s 1,494 points during a 12-17 senior season.
They’ll bring back rising seniors Abby Applegate, Hailey Evans and Tierra Tully, who each appeared in at least 27 games and all averaged over four points per game last season.
That’ll be combined with plenty of younger size, including 6-foot duo of Payton McGlone and Cheyenne D’Sousa. McGlone, who’s going to be a junior this year, appeared in 28 of the team’s 29 games last year and averaged 1.4 points and 1.6 rebounds, while D’Sousa, who’ll be entering high school, appeared in 22 games, averaging one points and just over one rebound a game.
Working on improving rebounding after losing the top two rebounders from last year in Voyles and Yates, along with defense, are the main priorities heading through the summer months.
“At times we’ve been solid defensively and we’ve been solid on the boards. Today we got a little tired in the heat I guess. We defended pretty well early today,” said Fite. “We’ve still got so many things to learn on the offensive end, so we’re really trying to focus defensively and rebounding wise. The offensive end – it’ll take care of itself when the season comes. We’re just trying to get the kids to learn to play together.”
The Lady Lions took on Pendleton County at 9 a.m. on Wednesday and followed it with a 3 p.m. game against Montgomery County in which they led at halftime, 16-12, following a corner 3-pointer from Macy Lewis, who Fite is expected to contribute this season, along with Aliyah Horsley. They ended up losing, 31-28.
“We’re going to have to find ways to generate offense. I think we’ve got kids that are capable of scoring, but we’ve had our ways of scoring the last several years that we’ve kind of relied on and now we’re going to have to find it in a different way. I feel like we’re going to have to create some things with our defense and then be able to go the other way with it and get some easy opportunities with some layups,” said Fite. “We’re trying to get a bunch of kids that are able to get a loose ball and go the other way with it. That’s why we look a little helter-skelter right now, because a lot of kids are getting rebounds and going with it, when we’re used to rebounding, waiting and out letting.”
Lewis County has already been to Raceland for an area league that included several teams from the 16th Region, along with teams from West Virginia and Ohio. After playing at Mason County’s team camp, the Lady Lions plan on heading to Ironton for two days next week, before playing at Fleming County.
The new-look Lewis County girls’ team will use the rest of the summer to try to continue to get things looking better on the court – or at least in the results column – in hopes of returning to the 16th Region Tournament next season after missing out a few months ago for the first time in Fite’s tenure with the Lady Lions.
“It’s going to take a little bit of time and it’s not pretty basketball at the moment, but sometimes you don’t win pretty and you don’t play pretty,” said Fite. “We’ve just got to learn how to try to win with the pieces that we have.”