Elmore County focuses on progress despite early exits

File / The Observer

Elmore County’s CK Bolton was second on the team in points per game during her first season with the varsity team.

The Elmore County girls basketball entered the season on the back of two consecutive area championships and three consecutive 10-plus win seasons. After losing four seniors from last year’s team and facing a more difficult area with the new realignment, the Panthers never backed down.

Elmore County made it back to the Class 4A sub-regional round for the third straight season and finished the year with 16 wins. The Panthers won seven of their final 10 games, including a win over Booker T. Washington in the 4A Area 5 tournament to extend their season to the state tournament.

Senior Madison Traylor had the biggest season of her career, averaging 16.5 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. She recorded 17 double-doubles, leading the Panthers to victory in 11 of those games.

Traylor scored 20-plus points in nine games, including her season-high 27 points in the postseason win against BTW. The Panthers knew what they were going to get from Traylor in her final season but needed the supporting cast to step up in order to have success.

CK Bolton was the team’s second leading scorer in her first year with the varsity squad. She scored in double figures in six games with Elmore County winning five of those.

Madison Britt averaged 6.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game and recorded her first four double-doubles of her career. She grabbed 10 or more rebounds in the final seven games of the season, including a 17-rebound performance at Dadeville.

The Elmore County boys team was knocked out of the area tournament in the first round against Handley and finished its season with a 5-20 record. Coach Rodney Taylor was still looking at the positives after his first year at the helm of the program.

“I think we improved and it showed in a lot of our games,” Taylor said. “We competed but sometimes that’s tough to understand when it’s not showing on the scoreboard. These guys never quit though so I still think it was a successful season.”

The Panthers capped off the regular season with their biggest win of the season, scoring a season-high 93 points in a 20-point victory against Beulah on Senior Night. Taylor said he saw his team come a long way in just a year but he wanted to make sure the program left a positive mark on the team’s nine seniors.

“We always preached it was more than just a game and they accepted that challenge,” Taylor said. “You look at that group of seniors and not one of them quit. They hung in there until the end and kept working hard. I think we reached them and I think we made a difference.”

Among the seniors were starters DJ Patrick, Austin Downey and Shakwan Bickley. Patrick finished the season as the team’s leading scorer, averaging 14.9 points per game.

“His athletic ability and talent are something that cannot be coached,” Taylor said. “That’s a God-given ability and you don’t see that very often. It was not just that for DJ though; he always kept battling and kept playing. He was a competitor right until the very end.”