There's little question that Sophie Galloway's decision to focus on track and field will affect the trajectory of Graves County's 2019-20 season. If there were such a thing as a First Region "Most Improved Player" award, she would've captured it with ease last year, after averaging 12.4 points and 7.7 rebounds on her way to the All-Purchase Team.
But the Lady Eagles might be one of the most intriguing teams as tip-off approaches in the Jackson Purchase. Murray State women's soccer signee Raychel Mathis is poised to build on what is already a career-record number of assists, and the senior took on more of a scoring role by averaging more than 11 points on 38% from the arc.
Three other seniors - Callie Jackson (6.7 ppg/5.7 rpg), Bailey Wilson (7.1 ppg/3.5 rpg) and Carson Travis (3.8 ppg/2.7 ppg) - are also primed for big, big seasons, and should be key weapons with which Mathis can work.
The biggest change at Graves County, however, comes at the very top.
After Aaron Beth opted to take the head coaching position for girls golf at his Alma mater, Marshall County, Eagles brass turned to Webster County's Brandon Fisher as its next leader in hopes of competing for a regional title now, instead of later.
Fisher spent seven seasons as an assistant for Marshall County boys basketball before taking on the Second Region Lady Trojans in the summer of 2016. In three years, Fisher and Webster County danced to a 78-24 record with three consecutive Second Region title game appearances - most recently falling to Henderson County in last season's bout, while finishing 29-4.
A 1999 graduate of Henderson County, he's also been an assistant for the Colonels (six years), a boys basketball coach at Logan County (2007-08) and has served as a graduate assistant at Division II powerhouse University of Southern Indiana.
"It's a veteran team," Fisher told Mayfield Messenger's Eric Walker on June 21, in describing Graves County's squad. "There aren't many times you get to take over a job where they're well-coached and well-schooled. I don't feel I'll have to change a lot because Aaron (Beth) did a great job."
Even with Galloway's personal choice, the Lady Eagles should be in serious consideration as a threat to win the 2020 First Region crown. Mathis, along with Calloway County's Charlee Settle, Marshall County's Halle Langhi and McCracken County's Destiny Thomas, will spend most of the season as a potential candidate for All-Purchase Player of the Year.
It's also, very likely, the three strongest teams in the way of a championship.
Mayfield looking to muddy
Bradley Nanney and the Mayfield Lady Cardinals are still trying to figure some things out heading into the 2019-20 season, following the graduation of stalwarts like Laken Emerson, Lyndsey Looper and Elly Rhodes.
But he returns a very potent 1-2 tandem in Madi Felts and Kyler Henson and two key rotation players in Desiree Thomas and Haley Sullivan, which accounts for more than 70 3-pointers and half the team's rebounds from a year ago.
It's a really solid core that may go unheralded this year, particularly after these girls helped limit opponents to just under 38 ppg in what was an icky, sticky defense that made nothing easy...and looked at its best late in the season by holding the defending regional-champion Murray Lady Tigers to just 39 points in the First Region quarterfinals.
"At this point, I think we will be very balanced in scoring as we were last year," Nanney writes. "We will focus heavily on defense to stay in games, and we're very excited about the potential of this team."
Tim Adams and the Lady Bombers were supposed to have a fun season in 2018-19 behind potential All-Purchase player Mady Calvin and a host of talent around her.
Instead, Calvin was lost for the season after nine games due to injury, and Autumn Dowdy and the gang had to pick up the scoring slack in gritty, but admirable, fashion.
The silver lining? Dowdy managed 8.3 ppg and nailed 50 3-pointers in Calvin's absence, only sharpening her skill-set with more defensive pressure in her face. And now, approaching 1,000 career points and 500 career rebounds, Calvin's returned ready to become a top-10 regional player.
"We have most of our team returning from last year," Adams notes. "Hoping to stay healthy and
continue to improve, as we are still a young team with only two seniors this year. It will be important for us to stay healthy and to build in depth as the year goes along."
The exciting part about Adams' group is that Dowdy, Calvin, and forward Katelyn Sanderfer are just juniors. Ilyssa Holdman, just a sophomore. Only two seniors - starter Abby Tyson and key reserve Madison Nichols - are on the squad, meaning there's a bit of perpetuity in store for this team.
Nickname: Lady Bombers
Coach: Tim Adams
2018-19 Record: 6-23
Key Losses: None
Potential Starters: Mady Calvin, Autumn Dowdy, Illyssa Holdamn, Abby Tyson, Katelyn Sanderfer
Outlook: "Smaller goals: improve Defensively and play together as a unit. Bigger goals: Put ourselves in a position to be competitive in the All 'A' and in a place to compete for a spot in the regional tournament by the end of the year." - Tim Adams, Ballard Memorial
Ballard Memorial Girls Basketball
Dec 2 Cairo, IL away 6:00 PM
Dec 6 Todd County Central home 6:00 PM
Dec 7 Crittenden County home 3:00 PM
Dec 10 Christian Fellowship home 6:00 PM
Dec 12 St. Mary away 6:00 PM
Dec 13 Community Christian (Paducah) home 6:00 PM
Dec 16 McCracken County home 6:00 PM
Dec 17 Hickman County away 6:00 PM
Dec 19 Graves County home 6:00 PM
Dec 26 TBA at Community Christian Academy Lady Warrior Christmas Tournament
Dec 27 TBA at Community Christian Academy Lady Warrior Christmas Tournament
Dec 28 TBA at Community Christian Academy Lady Warrior Christmas Tournament
Jan 2 Murray home 6:00 PM
Jan 3 St. Mary home 6:00 PM
Jan 7 Mayfield home 6:00 PM
Jan 11 TBA at Mayfield 1st Region All "A" Classic
Jan 21 Christian Fellowship away 6:00 PM
Jan 28 Hickman County home 6:00 PM
Jan 30 Fulton County home 6:00 PM
Feb 1 Carlisle County home 4:45 PM
Feb 3 Lyon County away 7:30 PM
Feb 7 Mayfield away 6:00 PM
Feb 11 Graves County away 6:00 PM
Feb 14 Carlisle County away 6:15 PM
Feb 15 Dawson Springs home 1:00 PM
Feb 20 Fulton County away 6:00 PM
Feb 21 Calloway County home 6:00 PM
Ballard Memorial Girls 2019-20 Roster
- Bella Adams Fr.
4 Madison Calvin G Jr.
54 Zoe Dillworth So.
20 Autumn Dowdy G Jr.
- Molly Harris Fr.
22 Ilyssa Holdman G So.
- Hannah Monroe Fr.
23 Madison Nichols Sr.
- Kaylee Oconnor Fr.
5 Katelyn Sanderfer F Jr.
11 Abby Tyson G Sr.
Nickname: Lady Eagles
Coach: Brandon Fisher
2018-19 Record: 25-7
Key Losses: Taylor Carrico, Sophie Galloway, Aaron Beth
Potential Starters: Raychel Mathis, Callie Jackson, Bailey Wilson, Carson Travis
Graves County Girls Basketball
Dec 7 Murray away 4:30 PM
Dec 10 University Heights away 7:30 PM
Dec 14 Southwestern away 3:00 PM
Dec 17 Calloway County away 6:00 PM
Dec 19 Ballard Memorial away 6:00 PM
Dec 21 Bardstown at Breckinridge County 1:15 PM Cecilian Bank Christmas Classic
Dec 27 Christian County at South Warren 1:30 PM FNB Holiday Bash
Dec 28 South Warren away 7:00 PM FNB Holiday Bash
Jan 7 McCracken County home 6:00 PM
Jan 10 Mayfield home 6:00 PM
Jan 21 Hopkinsville home 7:30 PM
Jan 23 Eastern away 7:30 PM
Jan 23 Castle (Newburgh), IN away 7:30 PM
Feb 1 McCracken County away 6:00 PM
Feb 4 Paducah Tilghman home 6:00 PM
Feb 11 Ballard Memorial home 6:00 PM
Feb 14 Mayfield away 6:00 PM
Feb 15 Apollo home 4:30 PM
Feb 18 Calloway County home 7:30 PM
Feb 20 Muhlenberg County home 7:30 PM
Graves County Girls 2019-20 Roster
- Morgan Anderson Fr.
4 Ellie Carter G So.
14 Chloe Dawson F Sr.
- Hannah Glisson 7th
15 Autumn Harris G So.
- Lilly Hayden Fr.
42 Callie Jackson F Sr.
3 Nealey Jackson F, G So.
- Onyx Mangrum Fr.
24 Raychel Mathis G Sr.
11 Avery Myatt F Jr.
- Carley Riley Fr.
- Avery Thompson Fr.
25 Carson Travis G Sr.
2 Anna Whitaker F So.
- Kaylee Willis Fr.
10 Bailey Wilson F Sr.
- Bailey Wimsatt 8th
Nickname: Lady Cardinals
Coach: Bradley Nanney
2018-19 Record: 18-11
Key Losses: Lyndsey Looper, Laken Emerson, Elly Rhodes
Potential Starters: Madi Felts, Kyler Henson, Desiree Thomas
Mayfield Girls Basketball
Dec 2 Murray home 7:30 PM
Dec 9 TBA at Massac County, IL Massac County Illinois Shootout
Dec 10 TBA at Massac County, IL Massac County Illinois Shootout
Dec 12 TBA at Massac County, IL Massac County Illinois Shootout
Dec 17 McCracken County home 6:00 PM
Dec 19 St. Mary away 7:30 PM
Dec 20 Carlisle County home 6:15 PM
Dec 27 Caldwell County away 2:00 PM West Kentucky Hoops Classic
Dec 28 Webster County at Caldwell County 11:00 AM West Kentucky Hoops Classic
Jan 3 Calloway County away 7:30 PM
Jan 4 Community Christian (Paducah) away 5:00 PM
Jan 7 Ballard Memorial away 6:00 PM
Jan 9 South Fulton, TN away 6:00 PM
Jan 10 Graves County away 6:00 PM
Jan 11 TBA home 1st Region All "A" Classic
Jan 21 Crittenden County away 7:30 PM
Jan 24 McCracken County away 7:30 PM
Jan 27 Carlisle County away 7:15 PM
Jan 28 Christian Fellowship away 7:30 PM
Feb 1 Marshall County home 4:30 PM
Feb 4 Calloway County home 7:30 PM
Feb 7 Ballard Memorial home 6:00 PM
Feb 8 Caldwell County away 4:30 PM
Feb 11 Fulton County home 6:00 PM
Feb 14 Graves County home 6:00 PM
Feb 17 Fulton County away 6:00 PM
Feb 21 Hickman County home 6:00 PM
Mayfield Girls 2019-20 Roster
3 Messiah Benjamin Fr.
23 Deja Dawson Fr.
12 Halie Duke F Jr.
24 Madison Felts F Sr.
21 Samantha Henley Fr.
10 Kyler Henson G Sr.
25 Samantha Hurt G Jr.
4 Emma Morris Fr.
2 Kiya Morris G So.
22 Kaileigha Redd Fr.
15 Addaley Smith F Fr.
1 Hayley Sullivan G Jr.
14 Desiree Thomas F Sr.
20 Mya Thomas G Sr.
5 Chloe Wilson Fr.