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Cardinals have major holes to fill

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Nelson County Lady Cardinals preview

KENNY FOGLE

Contributing writer

For Nelson County, it’s 2010 AD: After Drake.

Cardinal coach Kelly Wood will send his bunch out into the fray this year without the most decorated player in school history in Samantha Drake, who took her talents down the Bluegrass Parkway to the University of Kentucky, where she has been a starter for the 6-0 Wildcats.

Wood says the look of the team this year will obviously be much different from previous years. In the past, there was no question who the No. 1 option for the Cardinals would be.

This version of the Cardinals will need to find its offense from a variety of sources.

“With the loss of Samantha, we will be mixing up our plays more,” he said. “While plays are not designed for specific individuals, they are meant to include more players on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court.”

Sophomore A.J. Lewis has shown a knack for scoring in the past and figures to be a likely source of points for the Cardinals, who lost three other senior starters in addition to Drake from last year’s 18-11 club. Lewis can play guard or forward.

In the backcourt, juniors Megan Mattingly and Ashley Wimsett figure to get a lot of playing time and will also be counted on for leadership on a Cardinal squad devoid of seniors. Junior Shelby Maupin is a solid shooter from the wing.

While Drake’s departure leaves a big hole in the middle, the Cardinals aren’t without size.

Sophomore Allysa Johnston and freshman Kaylee Dickson both top the 6-foot mark, as does Wood’s most intriguing returnee in 6-3 sophomore Cierra Drake, who drew a few starts last season alongside her older sister.

“Samantha,” Wood said, “had a high shooting percentage from the field and was the source of a good majority of rebounds and tip-ins. Cierra will be looked at by a lot of people to replace her older sister and that is a personal challenge for her. She has some skills that Samantha didn’t have and doesn’t have some others (Samantha did have).  Only time and experience will make her into her own player and to reach her potential.”

With no seniors on the squad and five juniors, it might take some time for the current Cardinals to grow into their respective roles. But with a December schedule featuring heavyweights such as Lexington Catholic and Holy Cross, as well as challenging regional matchups with LaRue Co. and Central Hardin, Nelson County figures to be tested early.

Nelson County opened its season Tuesday at Central Hardin in a game after press time for this edition. The Cardinals are back in action next Tuesday when LaRue County visits.