The Betsy Layne Basketball programs are a tale of two teams. The girls program is in a rebuilding phase and the boys program looks to add a third consecutive district title to the the trophy case.
On the girls side, enter first year Head Coach Kory Thacker. Coach Thacker inherited a program that was 8-21 last season and lost in the first round of the district to Floyd Central. Coach Thacker will have a young team with no seniors on this years squad.
KEY RETURNING PLAYERS – Junior Haleigh Damron will be the lone returning starter from last seasons squad. Damron averaged nearly 5 points and 5 rebounds a game last season. Damron is the ultimate team player who has a good mid range game and is an excellent passer. She will have to take a bigger leadership role this season if the Lady Cats are to be successful.
Freshman Kinleigh Martin will provide a dominate inside presence for the Lady Cats. Martin has the potential to be one of those players that Betsy Layne fans talk about for a long time. Last season, Martin averaged 4 points and 4 rebounds a game.
KEY LOSSES – Graduation and transfers hit the Lady Cats harder than any program in the 15th Region. Kim Akers and Kenadie Boyette both graduated. Akers averaged 9.3 points per game and 7 rebounds. Boyette averaged over 4 points and nearly 5 rebounds per game. These two individuals were key fixtures for the last three seasons for Betsy Layne and they will be missed.
Transfers have become a way of life in high school basketball in the mountains. The biggest transfer in the 58th District was Madi Meade leaving Betsy Layne to attend Floyd Central. Meade averaged 19.6 points per game for the Bobcats last season. Although not officially a transfer since she had not entered high school, the D&D Sports #1 prospect in the class of 2026, Shyla Kidd enrolled for her freshman season at Pikeville. Kidd averaged 8.1 points per game as an 8th grader.
FINAL THOUGHTS – The Lady Cats have one of the best young coaches in the mountains in Kory Thacker. Coach Thacker is working diligently to rebuild the Lady Cat program and if signs on social media are true look for great progression for this young group.
Coach Derrick Newsome is looking for his third district title in a row since coming to Betsy Layne. Coach Newsome has assembled some unbelievable athletes that look to improve on last years 23-8 record.
KEY PLAYERS RETURNING – Did someone say athletic players? Enter the ‘Ultimate Athlete” Brady Robinson. Robinson can shoot from deep or drive and “posterize” any defender. He is a true matchup nightmare. On a team full of stars last season, Robinson averaged 16.7 points per game on 42% shooting behind the arc and 72.5% from the foul line. Playing along side Robinson for two year I know there averages will increase this season.
Junior Andrew Kidd continued to develop into a solid player as the year progressed. Kidd averaged 11.4 points and 5 rebounds a game. Look for Kidd’s numbers to increase the upcoming season as his offensive touches will increase.
Cameron Pente, played valuable minutes last season when Kidd was injured. Now with the graduation of 3 players, Pente will step into the starting lineup and allow the Bobcats to not miss a beat. Finally add incoming Freshman Carter Parsons and you have 4 solid athletes that can score and defend.
KEY LOSSES- Not many teams can graduate a Jordan Frazier, Chase Mims and Shawn Howell and still be in contention for a district title but the Bobcats will. Jordan Frazier was a 5 year starter for the Bobcats. He averaged nearly 20 points per game and 7 rebounds per game his final season.
The most difficult loss to fill will be Chase Mims. Mims a 6’5″ bruiser in the the middle averaged 12.3 points and nearly 10 rebounds per game.
Shawn Howell was the steady point guard who continued to mature each season. Last season was his best where he averaged almost 9 points per game.
FINAL THOUGHTS – The Bobcats have the offensive power to compete with anyone. The area they have to develop is in the middle. Without Mims, who steps in to fill the void. If they can develop someone to fill this role, watch out they could be a top 5 team in the region.