The Lady Tigers have won 14 consecutive district titles dating back to 1991 and have won 65 straight district games going back to a 1997 loss to Livingston Central.
However, new realignment announced by the KHSAA last month has Caldwell County moving into the Seventh District with Hopkins Central, Madisonville, and Dawson Springs, marking this season as the last for the Lady Tigers in the district.
Even without the move, the Lady Tigers may find it tough to defend their district title, even though the district coaches give Caldwell the preseason nod.
Three of the four coaches who returned preseason surveys to The Cadiz Record listed Caldwell County as the favorite, with the other picking Lyon County.
"I think that Caldwell County will still be the strongest team with their winning tradition, even though Lyon County will fight them for it this year," Trigg County head coach Amy Breckel said.
Trigg County was picked to finish fifth in the district.
"We can be competitive. I really believe that. Caldwell and Lyon are at the top, but the next three teams are pretty even," the Lady Wildcat coach said.
The Lady Tigers return two starters from last year’s 21-10 team that advanced to the Second Region championship game. However, they lost their six-foot bookends, Jayme Davis and Leah Martin to graduation.
No longer does Caldwell County possess the dominant front court that has fueled their recent success.
The Lady Tigers do return the top point guard in the district in 5-4 senior Bristyn Prowell. Also returning for her senior season is 5-4 senior guard Tiffany Rozwalka, who quit the team last year, and 5-5 sophomore Melly Heaton who moved into the starter’s role late in the season.
5-8 senior Amanda Cortner and 5-10 junior Rachel Morris will try and recoup the 30 points a game lost to graduation.
Andrea Forrester, who enters her seventh season (112-55) as head coach of the Lady Tigers, will likely use her smaller team to press more and create an up-tempo style of play.
Expected to challenge the Lady Tigers for the district crown is Lyon County (13-11), who welcome new head coach Malissa Bush Thomas to the sidelines.
Thomas, who began her playing career at Trigg County, led Caldwell County to district titles her final two seasons before playing in college at Memphis University.
She has been an assistant coach at Caldwell County the past couple of seasons and took over the Lyon top spot when Michael Fraliex left for the boys’ job at Caldwell County.
"I think Caldwell is still the team to beat. They have won 14 straight district championships, and the target will be on their backs until someone gets them. However, I expect to challenge them this year," said Thomas, who has four starters returning from last year.
Tiffany McGregor, a 5-9 junior, was Lyon County’s leading scorer and outside shooter last year, while 6-1 sophomore Allison Mussato should develop into one of the best centers in the district.
"Tiffany is capable of putting up some big numbers on the offensive end, while Allison gives us a strong inside presence and can take over a game," Thomas said.
Carrie Havercamp, a 5-7 senior, will mirror McGregor on the opposite wing and can move down low if need be.
5-6 sophomore Olivia Akridge will assume the point guard position from the graduated Courtney Pancake.
"Olivia is probably one of our best defenders," Thomas said.
Heather Norman, a 5-9 sophomore who was one of the first players off the bench last year, will be out until Christmas with a broken foot.
If Caldwell County’s district title streak is going to end this year, Lyon County is likely to be the one to play spoiler, which gives Thomas another reason to motivate her team.
"Our team goals are to win the Fifth District and the Class A Region. We have to get better every time we step out on the court in order for that to happen. We also must continue with the same work ethic, and hopefully, we will be at peak performance by the end of the season," she said.
While the coaches agree that Caldwell and Lyon are the favorites to be at the top of the district, they also agree that the next three spots between Trigg County, Livingston Central, and Crittenden County are up for grabs.
Livingston Central returns three starters from last year’s 10-15 team that advanced to the district semifinals.
Head coach Kris Simmons (24-52 in three seasons at LCHS) has a good mix of experience and youth to try and make some noise in the district.
Seniors Keely Ramage (5-8) and Lagan Johnson (5-10) provide one of the more experienced frontcourts in the district, along with 5-11 sixth man Samantha Heneissen.
Ashton Cosby (5-7, Jr.) and Ashlee Davidson (5-3, Soph.) both started in the Lady Cardinal backcourt most of last season and will be joined by 5-5 senior Mandi Lee, who played as a freshman and sophomore but was injured last year.
"I feel we have a very good chance to have our first winning season since the 1997-98 season (14-13)," Simmons said. "We have to be able to beat the teams that are at our level. We can't let any of those games slip through our hands like some did last year."
With the experience he has returning, Simmons feels the Lady Cardinals can be competitive in both the district and All-A Region races.
Crittenden County (12-13) owns the longest district title drought in the district, now at 20 years.
Head coach Shannon Hodge (120-163 in 11 seasons) must find a way to replace Morgan Dooms, the leading scorer in the district last year who graduated and took her 21 points a game with her.
That’s not good for a team that only averaged 48 points a game, but Hodge does have three starters returning including point guard Jessica Mathieu.
The 5-3 junior averaged 9.0 points a game and 2.2 assists.
5-7 senior Alexis Graves (3.3 ppg.) and 5-9 junior Kaylyn Herrin (4.1 ppg.) also return for the Lady Rockets.
"I feel very confident that we can equal or surpass our record from last year," Hodge said. "We have the potential to win games, and our players have worked really hard to improve individually and as a team. We are looking to play a very exciting style of ball, getting up and down the floor very quickly."