According to Watson Chapel head coach Leslie Henderson, the Lady Wildcats’ run in the 2013 5A state tournament was “semi-painful.”
“We did not have a good state tournament,” Henderson said. “We just did what we had to do to win.”
Henderson, the Southeast Arkansas Coach of the Year in girls basketball, said that the first two games came down to a heroic-type play to save.
“If Kierra Cox doesn’t hit two free throws, we aren’t even in the second round,” Henderson said. “We don’t shoot it well. We’ve never been great at anything, but we’ve never been bad at anything either.”
Watson Chapel finished the season undefeated in the 5A-South Conference and made it to the semifinals of the state tournament before being eliminated by Paragould – this year’s state champion.
“Our best game was against Paragould and that’s the one we get beat in,” Henderson said.
Henderson said finishing the conference season undefeated was “something of a miracle.”
“I never would have guessed we would go undefeated in conference,” Henderson said. “I feel like we won about as much as we could win. We had our chances, but I was very pleased with the outcome.”
Watson Chapel did not run away with a lot of games. The Lady Wildcats won two games in overtime, including one that went into double overtime, and squeaked by Hot Springs with a two-point victory.
“It really is a great accomplishment,” Henderson said. “We had to work hard to win some of those games.”
Senior Kamera Bozeman averaged 13 points, five rebounds and two blocked shots per game. Senior Chelsea Payne averaged 10 points, eight rebounds and three assists per game and senior Leonicia Hart averaged five points, three assists and two steals per game.
“Hart became a great leader,” Henderson said. “I think she is overlooked because of her size and that bothers me. She is the one who is going after every loose ball and getting steals.
“She is a tough person.”
Henderson said Payne really came along this season.
“She was a totally different player senior year,” Henderson said. “She just seemed to come on and come on. Her senior year was her best year.”
Henderson credited her team’s experience to the great season.
“We probably had the oldest team in the conference,” Henderson said. “There were several teams that were loaded with sophomores and juniors and I think maybe that experience probably gave us the edge.”
Payne and Bozeman have been playing together since seventh grade. Senior Jasmine Bell had been with the team since seventh grade as well, but did not play for almost two years.
Hart and senior Chapel Jones joined the team in the eighth grade.
“They’ve played together for a while now and they were the bulk of the team the year before,” Henderson said.
Junior Kierra Cox is the only starter that will return for next year. Sophomore Megan Moore, who had some playing time off the bench this season, will also return.
“We were decent enough, fast enough but we weren’t the best at anything we did,” Henderson said.