Grant County girls squad looks to replace seniors, contend for district crown next year

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By Paul Gable

The record may indicate that the Grant County High School girls' basketball team finished the season with a 9-18 record, but coach Darrell Guffey viewed his first season as a success, especially when one considers all the Lady Braves endured this season.

"We rode a roller-coaster all season long, and at times, it was a very tough ride," Guffey said.

The "roller-coaster ride" began early in the season as injuries and illness decimated Grant County and continued when junior point guard Candace Gorby was lost for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

"At points this year, every single girl on our team had an injury or an illness. We went through a lot of turmoil. It was tough for our team, but it made us better," Guffey said.

After opening the season 3-1, the Lady Braves found themselves at 5-7 heading into the new year, but disaster soon hit as Grant County dropped nine straight games before defeating Newport 53-44 on Feb. 5. Of the losses, five were by seven points or less.

"We were in a lot of games, which is a major positive considering all we went through. The girls were very resilient this year and showed a lot of heart. I consider the season to be a major success," Guffey said.

Grant County's season ended on Feb. 26 with a 63-53 loss to Walton-Verona in the first round of the 32nd District Tournament.

"It was on us. We didn't execute or rebound. Late in the game, we played a lot of minutes with what will be our team next year," Guffey said.

In addition to bringing about the end of the season, it also marked the end of a career for seniors Sarah Johnson, Salena McIntosh and Bethany Hopperton. Guffey said it would be "extremely tough" to replace those three players next season as all three were vital to the success of the program the last several years.

"They all logged a lot of time and minutes during their career. I am sad that I only got to coach them for one season, and they will all be sorely missed. They were good basketball players and people," Guffey said of his seniors.

However, that is not to say that cupboard will be bare as Grant County does return several players who played vital roles this season. Those players include: sophomore guard Dawn Plunkett, freshman forward Tyanna Workman and junior forward Shayna Lockard. The Lady Braves will also have Gorby back next season.

Despite the talent coming back, Guffey says his team needs to improve in every facet of the game, especially their skills.

"We have to get better. I don't see any 6-foot-4-inch or 6-foot-5-inch players so we will have to develop our skills. The girls will have workouts I will give them, and I expect them to get their shots in," Guffey said.