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GIRLS' PREP BASKETBALL: Lady Panthers spoil Covington's return as head coach (12/16)

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By John Groth

Central Hardin’s Kristina Covington had a rough homecoming in her first time back to Elizabethtown as a head coach.

Elizabethtown opened the game on a 24-0 run and rolled to a 68-11 victory at Charlie Rawlings Memorial Gymnasium. The Lady Panthers led 26-3 after one quarter and 47-3 at the half.

The former Lady Panthers’ standout had visited the past two seasons as an assistant at North Hardin and Central Hardin, but Friday night was much different. It was her first as a leading lady. She thought all her emotions had passed.

“But when we got to the ‘Star Spangled Banner,’ I literally had to hold back tears. It’s so weird because I have so much love and passion for the game of basketball and I am so much a Bruin, but yet I am so much a Panther. But when it’s time to clash, I’m all about Bruins. So it was weird,” said Covington, a 1998 Elizabethtown graduate.

“When the fight song comes on, it’s just automatic for me to stand up,” she added. “But I’m a Bruin. So it’s weird. And then they had to say all that extra about me (during the team introductions). …  A little backlash of everything comes back and then I see like the pictures and stuff, but yet deep in there I’m always going to be a Panther. I’m a Bruin and my goal as a Bruin is to beat the Panthers, beat the (North Hardin) Trojans, beat the (John Hardin) Bulldogs.”

As for now, she’s still in search of her first 17th District win.

Coming off its first loss against Louisville Mercy on Tuesday, Elizabethtown (6-1, 3-0 district) put Central Hardin (1-7, 0-2) in a huge hole. Freshman forward Erin Boley scored 12 of her game-high 15 points in the first period – all coming during the 24-point run. She finished 6-of-7 from the field and 3-of-4 from the foul line.

The Lady Bruins recorded their lone first-half basket on a 3-pointer by junior guard Mikaela Worth with 1:12 left in the first quarter off an assist by junior guard Aislynn Barnes. Central Hardin, which lost its sixth straight, shot 1-of-15 from the field and had 20 turnovers in the first half.

“They came out and they’re long and aggressive. They only have five players out there but it looks like to my girls, who are small, six or seven players. And that can intimidate you,” Covington said. “It’s still a learning process and we’re going to get through it.”

Elizabethtown coach Tim Mudd acknowledged it was a little different going up against a former player. He helped Covington develop into a Kentucky All-Star and play college basketball at Western Kentucky University.  

“Sure you’ve got emotions. She’s a big part of the tradition of this program,” Mudd said. “It’s always, I think it’s kind of sentimental because I think so much of her not only as what she did for this program, she made me look smart for quite a few years.”

Mudd’s players made him look smart again Friday, as the Lady Panthers won their 11th straight in the series.

Sophomore center Reauna Cleaver had 12 points, while senior guard Madison Lark added 11 off the bench. Lark made 4-of-5 shots, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range.

“I’ve just been waiting for my chance to show them I can shoot. I feel like tonight gave me confidence to shoot more,” Lark said. “I think we all just need to have more confidence. (Coach Mudd) has been telling us we need to find someone who can shoot 3s. We need to make wide open shots. We need someone to depend on to do that.”

Sophomore reserve guard Darien Huff added seven points and two assists, while senior reserve center Kaitlyn Coffman had seven points and three rebounds.

Barnes led Central Hardin with six points.

“Our girls’ confidence is down right now. Our biggest thing is building them up,” Covington said. “I don’t care if we’re 1-8. I believe in them. They need to start believing in themselves a little bit more.”

UP NEXT: Elizabethtown plays in the Republic Bank Classic at Lexington Catholic at 7:15 p.m. Friday. Central Hardin plays at North Hardin at 7:30 p.m. Monday.

John Groth can be reached at (270) 505-175 or jgroth@thenewsenterprise.com.

ELIZABETHTOWN 68

CENTRAL HARDIN 11

Central Hardin           3    0   6      2—11

Elizabethtown          26  21   7    14—68

TEAM STATISTICS

Team                    FG      FT     R     TP

Central Hardin      5-35     0-0    20     11

Elizabethtown     26-44  10-12    28     68

CENTRAL HARDIN

Player                  FG      FT      R    TP

Barnes               3-13      0-0      8      6

Powell                  0-0      0-0      1      0

Maggard               0-1      0-0      0      0

Humphrey             1-3      0-0      0      2

Jaggers                0-0      0-0      0      0

Anderson              0-2      0-0      4      0

Worth                   1-4      0-0      1      3

Zoehringer            0-1      0-0      1      0

Cross                  0-1      0-0      0      0

Krupinski              0-2      0-0      1      0

Helton                  0-8      0-0      1      0

Team                                       3

ELIZABETHTOWN

Player                  FG      FT      R    TP

L. Bowling            1-1      0-0      0      2

A. Bowling            0-1      0-0      1      0

Mudd                   2-5      0-0      2      6

Boley                   6-7      3-4      4     15

Cleaver                5-8      2-3      3     12

Huff                     3-4      0-0      1      7

Coffman               2-3      3-4      3      7

Warden                0-4      2-2      1      2

Downs                 2-2      0-0      7      4

Lark                    4-5      0-0      1     11

Duwe                   1-4      0-0      2      2

Team                                       3

3-POINTERS: CENTRAL HARDIN (1-11): Mikaela Worth 1-2, Aislynn Barnes 0-1, Jasmine Zoehringer 0-1, Mariah Helton 0-7. ELIZABETHTOWN (6-13): Madison Lark 3-4, Kinsey Mudd 2-5, Darien Huff 1-1, Anna Bowling 0-1, Rachel Warden 0-1, Jessica Duwe 0-1. ASSISTS: CENTRAL HARDIN (1): Aislynn Barnes. ELIZABETHTOWN (20): Livie Bowling 5, Kinsey Mudd 4, Rachel Warden 4, Darien Huff 2, Jessica Duwe 2, Anna Bowling 1, Erin Boley 1, Kaitlyn Coffman 1.