His roster isn’t as full of talent as last season’s, but Elizabethtown High School girls basketball coach Tim Mudd is holding out hope the 2015-16 Panthers will end up with better results.
So far, E’town has been dominant.
The Panthers entered Thursday night’s game against Adair County with a 13-1 record and earlier in the day received the No. 1 state ranking in the first Courier-Journal Litkenhous Ratings of the season.
E’town is outscoring its opponents by 30.4 points per game and is ranked No. 21 in the nation in the USA Today Super 25.
MORE COVERAGE | Complete Litkenhous Ratings
“I really like the chemistry of this group,” Mudd said. “We have some personalities that are really, really outgoing, and we have some that are very introverted. But they’ve all meshed, and they all seem to genuinely care about each other and like playing with each other.”
The Litratings are a computerized formula that ranks all of the state’s teams based on record, strength of schedule and other factors. Games against out-of-state opponents are not included.
Following E’town atop the Litratings are Mercer County (13-2), Butler (10-3), Male (11-1), Franklin County (10-1) and Eastern (10-4).
Other Louisville teams in the top 20 are No. 12 Manual (7-4), No. 13 Sacred Heart (13-3) and No. 14 Mercy (9-5).
E’town lost three NCAA Division I signees — Reauna Cleaver (Louisiana Tech), Livie Bowling (Southern Illinois) and Darien Huff (College of Charleston) — from last season’s team that finished 32-3 and lost to eventual state champion Covington Holy Cross in the state tournament quarterfinals.
But senior forward Erin Boley, whom many consider the best player in the state, did return. The Notre Dame signee is averaging 26.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, 3.4 steals and 2.6 assists per game and is shooting 61.8 percent from the field.
Mudd said he didn’t put added pressure on Boley to score more this season after the losses of Cleaver, Bowling and Huff. She’s averaging 15 shot attempts per game.
“She’s never been a high-volume shooter,” Mudd said. “Just about everything she gets is through what we do in our offense. There’s really nothing special we have in there for her. Yeah, we do want her to get touches and play through her … but it’s not that we have any sort of rule.”
Junior Jada Stinson and Taylor Thomas both average 11.8 points per game, and senior Rachel Warden chips in 9.1. Junior Ramsey Deaton (1.9 ppg) and sophomore Karson Knight (2.2 ppg) have shared time at the other starting spot.
Mudd is hoping to add some depth soon with the return of junior Kendall Pack from a shoulder injury.
“She’s high energy and a rebounder and loves defense and loves to pass,” Mudd said.
E’town won the Traditional Bank Holiday Classic at Lexington Catholic before Christmas and after the holiday was the runner-up in the Sunshine Shootout, falling to host Naples (Fla.) Community School 41-37 in the final for its only loss of the season.
“That was quite humbling to say the least because I didn’t think it was possible for this year’s team to only put up 37 points in a game,” Mudd said. “But it may have been more from poor coaching than poor playing. I learned a great deal from that game. … We have a lot of room to get better, and I think just the last two days in practice that we have gotten better.”
FIELD SET FOR GIRLS LIT
The Litratings determined the 12 Louisville-area schools for the 44th annual Republic Bank/Coca-Cola Louisville Invitational Tournament. The event is set for Jan. 26-30 at Bellarmine University’s Knights Hall and Christian Academy.
The first three rounds will be played at Bellarmine, and the semifinals and championship game on Jan. 30 will be played at CAL because of a conflict at Bellarmine.
MORE COVERAGE | LIT schedule
Joining Butler, Male, Eastern, Manual, Sacred Heart and Mercy in the field will be Bullitt East, Christian Academy, North Bullitt, Pleasure Ridge Park, Central and Assumption.
E’town, Mercer County, Highlands and Muhlenberg County were selected last March as the four out-of-town teams that will enter LIT play in the quarterfinals.
The top two Louisville-area teams that did not qualify for the LIT were Holy Cross and Fern Creek. Holy Cross would have declined an invitation because it chooses to compete in the All “A” Classic.
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and firstname.lastname@example.org.