The No. 7 Madisonville North Hopkins Lady Maroons are off to their best start in 35 years, going 14-0 to open up the season. North is also the only remaining girls basketball team in Kentucky with an undefeated record this season.
The Lady Maroons can credit their success to not only their offense, but their defense as well.
"We focus a lot on the defensive end," head coach Jeff Duvall said. "The better we can do on defense, the more we can get out and run and play the offense we want to play up and down the floor."
Duvall's players agree.
"Our coaches always say that our defense leads our offense," Courtney Peyton said. "When we play good defense, it leads to easy layups and open shots so we focus strongly on defense and a lot of the times, it'll help us on the offensive end."
Sister Lindsey Peyton has been leading the charge defensively.
"I'm getting rebounds and blocks to push the ball up the court," Lindsey said. "That's how we're getting a lot of our points because we're getting those open outside shots."
Of North's 14 wins, only one has been by less than three points. That 48-46 win came on Dec. 28 against Shelbyville Central (Shelbyville, Tenn.) in the Marlin Holiday Classic at Panama City, Florida. North relies heavily offensively on Camryn LaGrange and the Peyton sisters, but other players have been stepping up.
"LaGrange and the Peytons are important players but everybody else on the floor knows their role," Duvall said. "Kara Franklin can put up 10 or 15 points if she wants to. Amari Lovan is capable of putting up 20 points in a game, and we've got some girls on the bench that can give us some good minutes if we need them."
The 14-0 start has brought up memories of the 1986-87 team that opened 27-0 before dropping a 57-54 contest to host Livingston County in the 2nd Region Championship game. That team was led by Tonya Wells, who averaged 21.8 points per game in her senior season. She went on to play women's basketball at Western Kentucky University and coached for Hopkinsville and Webster County. Wells also holds the record for career points at North with 1,907.
"We're doing something historical," LaGrange said. "We're doing something that can go down in the school's history, and we're just trying to follow that team's lead except we want to win the 2nd Region Championship."
The current Lady Maroons squad is tied for sixth for winning streaks in program history along with the 1987-89 and 1981-82 teams at 14 games.
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"It's high school basketball and even more than that, it's girls high school basketball," Duvall said. "You can get beat by anybody on any given night. Nothing's written in stone that we can go into Dawson (tonight) and win. We've got to treat Dawson like we did against Hoptown -- with a little bit of fire in us."
Looking ahead at the schedule, there are some tough opponents coming up, including defending regional champ Henderson County next weekend.
"At the beginning of the year, it was all about who was going to win the region between Henderson and Webster," LaGrange said. "But we've gotten into that conversation where we're really proving ourselves. I really think we can win region as long as we keep the same mentality that we've had all year."
Out of the 13 remaining regular season games, six of them will be at Maroon Gym as North will start a five-game stretch on the road tonight with at Dawson Springs. Opening tip off against the Lady Panthers is scheduled for 6 p.m. The Madisonville boys will play the Panthers in the nightcap.