Last season: 20-15 (Lost to Franklin County in the 11th Region title game)
Coach: Shawn Ransom (fourth year)
Three key contributors
Carah Burdette: A senior guard who averaged 12.4 points last season and carries a lot of responsibility in Ransom’s offense. “For the last two years that I’ve had her, she’s been awesome,” he said. “When you say scorer? Go get the ball? She wants it. She loves the pressure. … Schools are starting to come into the picture for her, as far as college scholarships.”
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J’Lyn Martin: Another senior with “in-the-gym range” who provided instant offense from the three-point line last year shooting 38.2 percent from beyond the arc. She will be on the point and expected to keep letting it fly this season. “She can stroke the ball with the best of them,” Ransom said. “I believe in the region (tournament) last year, she hit 17 threes in three games. … I told her, even with her being the point guard, she still has free rein.”
Emoni Washington: A senior transfer from Eastern. “She’ll be what I call a tweener. She’ll play inside. She’ll play outside,” Ransom said. “She can handle the ball as well and has a nice mid-range shot. … She’ll be one of our senior captains and I look for Emoni to hit the ground running.”
Others to watch
Junior Kyrah Hardin’s athleticism will spearhead the Defenders’ pressure defense. “She plays a lot in the middle on our pressure defense because she’s so agile and so long that she can go different directions.” Sophomore KeyLynn Clay started some games as a freshman and “you talk about a pure athlete that can play both ends of the floor offensively and defensively, 84 feet? She fits that picture.”
Games you gotta see
Lafayette brings almost everybody back on a team the Defenders eliminated in overtime in the 11th Region semifinals last year. Though they play in different districts, the city rivals square off twice, Jan. 12 at Lafayette and Feb. 7 at Bryan Station. The Defenders get 42nd rival Henry Clay at home Dec. 6 in an early test.
Bryan Station lost nine seniors off last season’s surprise 11th Region finalists. Ransom’s fast-paced, free-flowing style has seen Station’s record improve from 7-17 and 8-22 in his first two seasons to 20-15 last year.
Coaching philosophy: “I want to teach 110 percent, pedal-to-the-metal, full-speed no matter what the whole time. … We’re always usually undersized. But we’re usually a whole lot quicker than the other teams, so we use our quickness to create what I call chaos — controlled chaos — to where we’re either deflecting the ball, stealing the ball or stopping the ball. Something to make the other team feel like ‘Oh my, they’re coming from everywhere,’ I want it to be like we have bees, and we’re just swarming, swarming, swarming, and we get that steal and we’re going to the hole. And if we get a wide-open transition three, we’re going to shoot that, too.”
On prospects this season: “It’s just a matter of everybody getting on the same page. … Every year is different. … Hopefully we can bring some of that same fire we had last year and make our way back to the region, make some noise and hopefully get out of that thing this year.”
J’Lyn Martin: “I’ve been working on my ball-handling a lot this summer and doing a lot of ball-handling after practice. I’m pretty confident. (Now), it’s just being able to figure out when to pass and when to shoot, when to keep it for myself.”
Carah Burdette: “(Coach Ransom) is just like my dad. We’re really close. He’s funny. He keeps me energized, and in the game he coaches me up well. He’s critical on me, but I know he just wants the best from me.”
Emoni Washington: “I think I fit in pretty good. … It’s a whole different ball game (here). (Coach Ransom) let’s you play your game. … I’m actually a guard, but I can play all five, so, if he needs me down there, I got to do what I’ve got to do.”
KeyLynn Clay: “It feels like I’m going to play more than I did last year, because I was just a freshman playing varsity, even though I didn’t play that much. I think we’re coming along as a good team, working together.”