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Monday, January 30, 2012

Epps and Goodin-Rogers impress in the LIT

I found myself at Bellarmine University this past weekend to check out the girls LIT. I had yet to see our young Marion County High School recruits (2013) in action and thought it would be a great way to spend the evening. Turns out I was not the only fan of Louisville Women’s Basketball who had that idea. I saw a handful of the team there to check out their future teammates as well as Coach Walz.

I won’t bore you with the minutia of all the games I watched as I watched a lot of basketball over the course of last weekend! I saw Marion Co. match up twice. Friday night they were in the quarterfinals matched up against Christian Academy of Louisville (CAL). Upon winning that game, rather handily, their next matchup was against Mercy Academy the following morning, prior to the Louisville vs. Villanova game. I opted to skip that game, and focus my afternoon energies on the Lady Cards. Turns out the Lady Cards needed my support, and that of about 10, 679 others, to bring home the win. Of those 10,000 + fans, you could also find the Marion County team there, after their win against Mercy Academy. I digress. Having beaten Mercy, Marion County was on to the LIT Championship game against none other than Manual High School.

You may remember several weeks ago I mentioned the two teams were the topped ranked teams in the state. Manual was to travel to Marion County for an in-state match up that went down to the wire but Marion County came out on top by two.

The LIT finale was never really that close. Having watched the team on the previous night, I could tell at the start of Manual game, the Marion County kids were in trouble. They looked fatigued. What looked like a well-oiled machine the night before, clunked along, with the team hanging close to Manual most of the way, yet not able to pull ahead. Gone were the crisp passes and spot on shooting. It was not the same team from the night before. Marion County ended up losing 47-40.

I was successful in watching our two future Cardinals and getting a look at what they offer their current team, and what we might have to look forward to in the near future. I was not disappointed.

Let’s start with Kyvin Goodin-Rogers. She is listed as a 6’1” forward. She has a lean, long frame, with broad shoulders. Watching her, I found myself thinking a lot about one of my favorite Lady Cards of past, Candyce Bingham. Her shot seemed to be off on Friday night. That being said, she scored 13 on Friday, 12 Saturday morning, and 2 Saturday night. She totaled 27 points in 3 matches. But that is not what impressed me. Goodin-Rogers was all over the floor. She was at the high post assisting baskets on the perimeter and down low, screening the shooters, interrupting passes in the lane, pulling down rebounds and finding her way to the free throw line. She took long ball shots, but for the most part, they did not seem to be falling this weekend. She also had a couple of really nice moves under and around the basket. She found ways to score. More importantly, she ran the court and kept her head in the game even when her shots were not falling, contributing in a multitude of other ways on the defensive end. The athleticism and speed are apparent. Honing those moves in and around the basket will make her a threat inside and out. She was a lot of fun to watch.

Makayla Epps is listed as a 5’10” guard. She mostly ran the point, but moved in and out of the shooting guard position. First and foremost this kid can tickle the net. She can flat out shoot. Anywhere on the court, she has the confidence to put up the shot, and it often goes in. Over the course of the 3 games she scored a total of 63 points (23, 20, 20). Did I mention the kid can shoot? She has a strong, sturdy frame and was deceptively fast in the open court. What struck me most was her solid passing. On Friday night, as I mentioned above, Marion County looked like a well-oiled machine. It started with the passing. Epps’ passing was crisp and on target. There was not much time wasted on dribbling. Her ball handling was purposeful and deliberate. She moved the ball up the court and got the offense moving with perimeter, cross-court and inside passing. She can penetrate off the dribble and driving down the lane you can see the athleticism as she makes her way to the bucket. On the court, she was always talking and directing traffic. In huddles during pre and post game, Epps was always in the center squatting, with her teammates arm-in-arm in circle surrounding her. From what I could tell, she seemed to be a vocal leader, and her team appeared to look to her for that.

It was a fun couple of games to watch. I look forward to catching a few games perhaps this summer, or again next year, to look for the growth these two players make. My guess is these two will be making noise come state tournament time. I look forward to following these youngsters and their team as the season begins to slowly wind down.

While I have spent my time talking about just two of the players, there was plenty of talent all over the court throughout the weekend. I mean no disrespect to the talent of countless players that was on display throughout the weekend. My goal was to watch the future Lady Cards.


  1. Can't wait to see Epps and Goodin Rogers in Cardinal uniforms. There is another budding star on that team in Bre Elder. Hadn't heard on a college chocie for this senior yet?

  2. Yes, Bre Elder was a solid contributor as well. As noted above, I stayed true to my observations of future Cards, but she was impressive as well. Bre is a senior and a Dayton commit.

  3. Pretty sure I read that Elder was headed to Dayton. I'll defer to Jenny, our recruiting expert, for the final say on this one.

    The Marion County girls are wildly popular in the Lebanon, KY area. They average more for home games than 2/3 of the BIG EAST teams. (Maybe we could make them part of the BIG EAST expansion plans...)


  4. Paul, you are right about the team being wildly popular. The championship game was essentially a home game for Manual and the crowd, by my estimation, was 2/3's Marion County.

    It will be interesting to see if fans can/will put old allegiances aside and continue to follow these youngsters as they start their college careers at Louisville. I had what I will describe as a colorful conversation with a woman sitting behind me on Friday night. By colorful I do not mean talking shades of reds and blues. She hails from Marion Co., has lived in Louisville for many, many years, and is a die-hard UK fan. Upon speaking about the kids committing to Louisville, she asked if "if there was still time for them to get out of it?" I asked if she would be following them as they move in to their college careers, and she stated something to the effect of not being caught dead rooting for Louisville, let alone going to a game. I still chuckle, thinking back to that conversation.

  5. It is pretty amazing how the Cardinals in general are viewed out of Louisville. I recently spent time in Owensboro and received several "interesting" comments down there. I was told I might want to turn my jacket "inside out" (it's a UofL windbreaker...)and one waitress at a local restaurant expressed sympathy that I wore those "loser" colors. (Didn't affect her tip, though.) My favorite was from a little boy who encountered me in the aisle of one of those "big box stores"...He just gazed up at me and told me.."them Cardinals stink!"

    Maybe that's why Janae Howard left after one year at Louisville...



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