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Lizi Arbogast / The Outlook Central Coosa's Edlena Gibbs (4) drives to the basket against Thorsby's Emily Jones (2) and Lindsey Wood.

Nothing about Central Coosa’s girls basketball season went the way coach Syreeta McKinney hoped. 

Although she knew the Cougars were young and would struggle after graduating their top scorer in Shae Suttles, McKinney felt like they could’ve made more progress. And she was certainly disappointed after a 55-21 loss at the hands of Thorsby in the Class 2A Area 8 semifinals which ended the Cougars’ season on Monday night.

“It was a season of growing pains,” McKinney said. “We have a lot of work to do and it starts after the season for us. That’s what we need to focus on because the maturity level is just what it needs to be. But we’re going to get there. 

“I see some growth and I see some girls who have a lot of potential so what we gotta do is we gotta get in the gym and work. (Other teams in our area) are working all the time, so we gotta do the same thing.”

Things actually didn’t start so badly for the Cougars (2-14) on Monday night. After Thorsby jumped out to a 12-1 lead, Central Coosa responded by scoring the last four points of the period to cut the Rebel advantage to just seven points. Aliona McKenzie then laid in a quick basket to start the second quarter, but from there, it was all downhill.

After scoring seven points in the first 10 minutes of the game, the Cougars were held without a field goal for the rest of the second quarter. Central Coosa made up some ground by scoring seven points in the fourth quarter alone, but by that time, Thorsby had its starters pulled.

McKenzie led the Cougars with 13 points but the rest of the team combined for just eight.

“She had the most experience for us and she played with some great players (in previous years),” McKinney said. “I think she stood out for us and she hustled out there on the floor. That’s the most positive thing I can say. Ali is going to give you her all.”

As for the rest of the squad, it’s going to have to find an offensive threat of some sort with McKenzie’s graduation looming. That’s been the biggest struggle for the Cougars all season. While their defense has been up to par in most games — although still not where McKinney would like it — their offense has been less than stellar. 

Central Coosa averaged just 26.4 points per game this season and was held under 25 points on 10 occasions. The only time it scored more than 40 were in its pair of wins, both of which were against Fayetteville. 

“We gotta get back in there and work on the basic fundamentals; that’s what we’re lacking,” McKinney said. “And we lack confidence. With them being so young, the basketball IQ is not up to par. I want them to understand that anybody can play this game, but only some can be successful at this game and that’s the teams that work. We obviously got a lot of work to do.” 

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.