Lady Cats’ stellar season stems from sense of family

Published 6:44 pm Friday, February 6, 2015

They’ve put in the work.

They’ve sweated, pushed themselves and struggled over the last few years.

Now the Bainbridge High School Lady Cats are looking at a 20-4 season, standing at a perfect 9-0 in Region 1-AAAA (as of Thursday), and the momentum shows no sign of dying anytime soon.

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“It’s our last year, and I feel like we deserve to win after all the hard work we put in since our freshman year,” senior Alex Carter said.

Not only do the Lady Cats feel they deserve to win, they prove it game after game. Last Friday, Jan. 30, they trampled the Worth County Lady Rams 78-18. The next night in Thomasville, the Lady Yellow Jackets suffered a 77-24 loss, courtesy of Bainbridge. A 56-27 win against Cook County on Jan. 17. A 70-48 beat down against Cairo on Jan. 10.

The numbers don’t lie. So what’s clicking for the Lady Cats this season?

“It’s very simple,” coach Kelvin Cochran said. “These girls have put the work in the weight room and on the court. They’ve grown from babies to young women. It’s our time. They have been working hard ever since I’ve been in the program.”

Cochran tells his players every day there is no substitute for hard work. Today’s team started with five sophomores and three freshman back ups, and those early years didn’t come without growing pains. Last season, the Lady Cats ended on a 14-15 record. According to Cochran, a number of those games were ones where the Lady Cats beat themselves. Missed free throws and easy layups were costly, but necessary for growth.

“Those are learning experiences that they use,” Cochran said. “They put the work in and now they are seeing the success.”

Senior Beonka Madge has been out at some point during the past few seasons. Last year and the year before were broken hands, and before that was a broken ankle.

“This is the only year I’ve succeeded in without breaking any kind of bones,” Madge said, cuing the whole team to lean over and knock on the hardwood court floor. “It feels good.”

Something Cochran has seen since day one of coaching these young ladies as the biggest contributor to the season’s success is their “buddy coaching.”

“I’m the coach, and I get everybody mad and upset with me, but they do a great job of encouraging each other,” Cochran said. “You don’t have anybody out here trying to get on anybody. That’s my job. I’m the one that ruffles all the feathers. They do a great job of buddy coaching, and the older girls pass it down to the younger girls. They set the tone so when they leave, these young girls know how it works. They are going to leave the program in good hands because they will know what’s expected of them.”

Of course, the Lady Cats have their eyes on only prize—a state championship. They want one not only for themselves, but for Coach Cochran too. The Lady Cats believe it’s their time to shine. They are humble, yet hungry, and ready to take advantage of the opportunities still awaiting them this season.

“The chemistry on the court is way better than it used to be,” senior Patra Parris said. “I like all of them.”

“Correction—we love each other,” Carter added. “We’re a family.”

The Lady Cats played their final game of the regular season against region opponent Americus-Sumter on Friday.