OWENSBORO, Ky. (WFIE) -Two local teams are still left standing in the KHSAA Girls Basketball State Tournament, both Apollo and Henderson County will face one another in the opening round of the bracket Thursday in Lexington.
“We are familiar with Henderson Co.,” said head coach, Natalie Payne. “They’ve got a great coaching staff and a great team. They play gritty defense, they’re really hard-nosed so we have to match their intensity. These girls are looking forward to the challenge, we have some familiarity with the situation so that makes it nice.”
The two teams are no stranger to each other, the E-Gals last loss in the regular season came at the hands of the Lady Colonels, 50-33. But Apollo has been on a hot streak since then and recently made history with their 2nd Region Championship win against Meade County.
”It means everything,” said Apollo senior guard, Kassidy Daugherty. “Especially with our Coach being the last person to win it and Coach McClure being the one who coached them, it’s just a dream come true really that we can do this senior year.”
Apollo’s last Region Championship win came in 1997 when now head coach, Natalie Payne, was a senior. Current assistant, Willis McClure, was the head coach of the E-Gals during that run.
“It’s so very special,” said Payne. “It’s been 24 years since we’ve been in this situation and it was my senior year 1997 so it’s really neat.”
“The girls understand it, we’ve been talking and talking about the last 10 ballgames - leave a legacy, like ‘what do you want to leave?’ and they’ve bought into it and they’re just so excited for this opportunity.”
“This is what we’ve worked towards and we’ve finally gotten here our last year,” said Daugherty. “It’s just staying to what we’re good at.”
“We’ve figured out how to come together on defense, started playing together - not playing selfish anymore, that’s what’s gotten us here so that’s what we need to continue to do.”
Apollo will look to avenge that March 9 loss to Henderson County this Thursday and snap the Colonels 9-game win streak coming into the state tournament. Tip-off between the two teams is set for 5:00 p.m. at Rupp Arena.