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KIT CARSON GIRLS BASKETBALL TEAM 2023 - (back l to r) Braylin Jackson, Payge Booker-Rady, Nadaya Buttry, Lindsey Mayhan, Addy Ramirez (front l to r) Amethyst Sell, Avery Johnson, Shay Rady.

Sara Crawford Enters Her 20TH Year of Lady Wildcat Basketball

By Betsy Barnett

November 28, 2023

Sara Crawford is a well-known and highly successful coach in the 1A ranks of Colorado. Her Kit Carson Wildcats are always competitive, some years more so than others, as she has enjoyed many trips with her Wildcats to the state tournament where they’ve won a handful of titles.

This season marks the 20th year Sara will be guiding the Lady Wildcat program as she and her team are hoping to get back to the 1A state tournament where, according to her, they have some unfinished business.

“We should compete at a high level every game, and God willing, enjoy a repeat trip to the state tournament so we can finish what we started last season.”

Last season it took them a while to get started as they played a very difficult early schedule that proved very useful in the post season. Despite an okay 17-9 overall record, they advanced to the 1A state tournament where they lost in the opening round to eventual state runner-up Flatirons Academy (42-29) and then was eliminated in the second round losing to Fleming in a heartbreaker, 37-35.

To get back to the state tournament, however, Crawford is going to need to figure out what to do about the loss of 3 key seniors who led the team last year. Tess Johnson led the Wildcats in scoring and rebounds with 11.5 points per game and 8.8 rebounds. Kenzie Waggoner added 7.5 ppg/4.6 rpg; while Torrie Randel chipped in 3.1 ppg and 2.0 rpg. Those are some hard numbers to replace.

But the Cats will return 4 key players who Crawford believes will be in every game with their aggressive play and willingness to leave it all on the court.

“These four girls will be an asset on both sides of the ball. They all helped collect points in various ways and were key in stopping opponents last season. They also showed great leadership skills during volleyball, and I don’t expect anything less during basketball. Should be fun to watch!”

Crawford is referring to three seniors and a sophomore who spent many minutes on the floor a year ago.

Nadaya Buttry is a senior guard that averaged 4.8 ppg in her junior campaign. She also added 1.6 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. Buttry is very fast and a strong defensive player.

Lindsey Mayhan, a senior guard, will take on most of the duties of ball-handling. Mayhan has the quickest move to the basket in the league and if she can finish at the basket this year, she’s going to be very hard to stop. Last year she averaged 6.8 ppg, while adding 4.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 2.3 steals per contest.

Payge Rady has been a starter for most of her career and now as a senior forward/center she will be called upon to hold down the middle. She’s very athletic and strong enough to pound around with the big girls down low. Last year Payge put in 5.8 points per game and pulled down 4.4 boards.

Shay Rady is a sophomore guard and Crawford will need her to step up and know the system well this year. She can shoot well and has a good handle with the ball. As a freshman she chipped in 3.3 points per game, 2.7 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game.

Rounding out the team will be four underclassmen with freshman guard Avery Johnson showing promise thus far as taking a starting role.

Crawford will rely on this team’s quickness and defensive knowledge.

It may be a tough road for the Wildcats early as they get used to their roles and they get in enough shape to play the entire game, in some instances. Crawford also knows in order to compete they need to do a much better job of taking care of the ball.

“We need to cut WAY back on turnovers, become more consistent shooters, and become more disciplined defensively.”

In her 20 years in the Hi-Plains League Crawford knows it is consistently one of the toughest in the state. This year is no exception as McClave is currently ranked #2 on the CHSAA pre-season poll, while Eads is #6, and Kit Carson came in at #9.

The Wildcats take their show on the road for early season before Christmas as they will be in the Flagler Tournament on Dec. 8 and 9 playing Calhan first on that Friday. They then will join seven other girls’ teams from the area in the much-anticipated Lamar Holiday Basketball Tournament at the Community Building in Eads on December 14, 15, 16.

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