GIRLS’ BASKETBALL: Meade’s Wingler is chasing 3,000

Meade County senior Kendall Wingler is the school's all-time leading scorer - male or female - and leads the state in six offensive categories. The Eastern Kentucky University signee is chasing 3,000 career points. MATT TYSON/The News-Enterprise

2,483 is a rather large number.

It’s the number of points that previously stood as the Meade County high school’s basketball scoring record, male or female.

2,506 is even larger.

That’s the number that became the new scoring record Dec. 29 when Lady Wave senior Kendall Wingler reached that points total and then added another 23 on top of it.

Wingler has showed no signs of slowing down since then. Her growing school record hasn’t either.

The 5-foot-10 standout has been on an offensive tear this season, averaging 32.2 points per game. Last Monday, the senior put up 50 by herself in a 93-58 win over John Hardin.

Numbers like these have propelled Wingler to the top of the state’s scoring list and is seven points per game more than second place.

If you would’ve told Wingler this is how her senior season would turn out, she’s the first to admit it would come as a surprise. A standout player through her entire career with Meade County, Wingler has elevated her game this season to new levels.

She also knows its something she wouldn’t be able to accomplish without the team surrounding her.

“I wasn’t really expecting to come into my senior season leading the state in scoring. That was always my goal to lead the state in scoring, but I never really fully came in thinking that I was actually going to,” Wingler said. “I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. Them distributing to me, getting me open. I just think as a whole, this senior season has been shaky in the beginning, but I think as a team, this is probably the best chemistry and probably the best team I’ve been around.”

Wingler has been hard to stop. Her points have come in the paint, the short corner, the elbow, other parts of the perimeter and outside the 3-point arc.

Wingler also leads the state with a free throw shooting percentage of 89.6, dropping 121-of-135. That is 13 percent higher than last year.

It was 3-point shooting that earned Wingler another Meade County record — for boys or girls — on Thursday. During the Lady Waves’ 85-21 win over Frederick Fraize, Wingler drained 11 treys in a game.

“This year I’ve been putting in a lot of work, a lot of extra practices outside of high school practice. I think just really reading into the game a lot more,” Wingler said. “I was never the ball handler, I was never the shooter I was and just getting in the gym, just putting up extra shots, just really focusing on my game and focusing on my weaknesses. I think that’s what’s really helped me excel.”

She leads the state in 3-pointers made (97), percentage (48.0, 97-for-202) and made per game (4.6). She has made 10 more 3s than she did all last season in 29 less attempts, improving from a 37.7 percentage last season.

Wingler’s scoring efforts may be among the state’s best, but she takes other stats such as assists and rebounding just as seriously. Her mindset is to do whatever it takes to help her team win, even if the best option is to get the ball to an open teammate.

Meade County coach Dina Hackert — who held the school’s scoring record at one point — explained that Wingler’s team-first mentality combined with her unique skillset makes her a special player.

“By far one of the best athletes I’ve ever coached,” Hackert said. “She’s improved her game in a year in ways that I don’t think I’ve ever seen, but she’s worked really hard at it.”

It’s this notable improvement and effort shown during games this season that has Hackert convinced Wingler should be a Kentucky Miss Basketball candidate.

While Wingler’s scoring numbers help, they are not the only reason Hackert thinks her player has a strong case for the award.

“If you look at the stats, within the state, she’s in the tops in a lot of those categories,” Hackert said. “She is the hardest-working player I think I’ve ever seen.”

Wingler knew far ahead of Dec. 29 that she was close to breaking the Meade County record for total points if she stayed on her trajectory.

Former Lady Wave player Morgan Turner — a 2015 graduate who played at Lipscomb and Creighton — had set the previous record.

Wingler said she tried not to think about reaching this point as it got closer, but that’s easier said than done. Still, she was able to put it out of her mind by game time and focus on what was allowing her to get so close in the first place.

“Even if I tell myself don’t think about it, I’ll always think about it,” Wingler said. “It’ll usually take me a minute to get there and then when I get there it’s kind of a normal game for me. I think it’s just kind of nerves that got to me knowing that you’re that close.”

The game itself took place at Raceland High School during the Ryan Keeton EXP Realty Ohio River Classic. Taking on Heritage High School of Maryville, Tenn., Hackert said Wingler needed just nine points for the team record.

The Lady Waves fell 68-56 in what was their final game of 2019, but Wingler got to close the year as the school’s new scoring leader. Once she reached this moment, her initial reaction was shock that years of hard work had finally gotten her to this point. After that, the weight of the pressure to get there was finally off her shoulders.

“I think when I officially got it, I was more relaxed,” Wingler said. “I was more relaxed and just able to be like. ‘Alright, I got it, let’s keep on going with the season. Let’s get a win.’”

Hackert described Wingler’s demeanor that day as treating it just like any other game. Her focus wasn’t on her own personal accolades. It was to try to help the team any way she could.

“She just unselfishly went about the game,” Hackert said. “She’s just a humble kid. She takes the accolades that come in stride and stays focused on just who she is.”

Wingler is shooting 51.3 percent from the field (229-for-446) and 54.1 percent from inside the arc.

She is also averaging 6.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 3.1 steals per game.

Wingler’s career points total stands at 2,891 with four games left in the regular season, the next one Tuesday at McLean County for an 8 p.m. tip.

Meade County also has the postseason to look forward to, where it is the No. 1 seed for the 11th District Tournament. A victory over No. 4 Frederick Fraize will punch its ticket to the 3rd Region Tournament, where the race to the Sweet 16 is wide open.

In addition to earning Miss Basketball honors, Wingler said it would be amazing to reach and surpass 3,000 points before all is said and done.

According to the KHSAA record book, she would be the 25th girl in state history to reach that mark.

She is committed to play collegiately for Eastern Kentucky University next year, but to reach that milestone would be a great personal accomplishment.

This represents not only a personal achievement for herself, but also for her family. In January 2019, Wingler’s grandfather passed away just a few days before she reached 2,000 points.

A little more than a year later, Wingler hopes to finish her senior season with one more milestone.

“Being able to do that I think is huge,” Wingler said. “I think for me to be able to get 3,000, being able to say I did this is huge.”

Matt Tyson can be reached at 270-505-1754 or mtyson@thenewsenterprise.com

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.
Terms of Use. The complete terms of use policy can be found at the bottom of this page.