As a new decade approaches, a new day also dawns for Lyon County basketball. Excitement and expectations are as high as the banners that line the rafters of Jason White Gymnasium. Past successes in District Five and All 'A' tournaments mixed with returning stars and new potential in both players and coaches lead many to believe that heights not yet seen could be reached in 2020.
Before we go any further, allow me to introduce myself. I'm Aaron Clayton and I am entering my ninth season as the radio voice of Lyon County basketball on 95.7 FM, WCCK. However, this is my first year with the Herald-Ledger as a guest columnist. I would like to thank the staff for allowing me this opportunity to converse with you, the reader and listener, on a different level. While my element is alongside a mic and the fast-paced style that play-by-play brings to the airwaves, it is my hope that the in-depth and relaxed setting that print lends itself to brings both information and intrigue. Before we look forward to what lies ahead, let us not forget the groundwork that has already been laid ... and with that being said, ladies first.
The 2019-20 Lady Lyons basketball team will have a very familiar face patrolling the sidelines as Jeff Doom returns for his 11th season at the helm. In a decade that saw three District Five championships, the 2nd Region All 'A' Classic title in 2018 and 161 wins that have been a part of six consecutive winning seasons and two 20-plus win campaigns, one would think that would suffice. However, Coach Doom and his Lady Lyons are far from resting on their laurels.
While there may not be a P'Poole, Somers, Blackburn or Murphy on the active roster, depth will not be an issue. Speaking of Murphy ... Allison Murphy that is ... we would be remiss not to mention that losing the star-studded graduate of a year ago will not be an easy task to replace. Murphy left behind not only the team accolades, but over 1,000 points and rebounds and nearly 500 assists on her resume that includes being the winningest player in Lyon County basketball history.
Moving on to 2020, Coach Doom will always look to his table setter: defense.
Lyon County allowed only 35 points a game last season (best in the 2nd Region and top-10 in the Commonwealth) and will look to replicate that again this year with a dozen returning from 2019's 15-win squad. Some of the notables include multi-sport athletes in freshman Cathryn Brown and junior Calista Collins. While they are receiving Division I offers in golf and softball respectively, they are more than capable of holding their own on the hardwood. Brown led the team in threes a year ago with 25, while Collins was second on the team, behind Murphy, in rebounding with seven a game. Add sophomore Rose Smith (7.0 PPG) and junior Kent'Tavia Matthews (5.0 APG, 3.0 SPG) filling out that rotation in 2019, along with six seniors this year that are strong leaders both on and off the floor, it's no wonder the outlook of 2020 brings a smile to the faces of the coaching staff.
In next week's column, we'll preview the Lyon County Lyons boys basketball season, under their new head coach Ryan Perry, and look ahead to the first week of regular-season games for both squads. Until then, thanks for tuning in.