Kentucky is home to more than a dozen teams ranked in some kind of top 25 poll. And the coverage area is home to one of them.
There's something happening at the University of the Cumberlands. In the past five seasons, The Lady Patriots have won 115 games. Prior to last year, they made it to the NAIA National Tournament four straight times, winning the Mid-South Conference. So success is expected.
“We look around all the time at ourselves and we’re like ‘How did we get this far?” Senior Haley Ratliff says. “We’ve put in a lot of hard work and coach (Melissa) Irvin wants the best out of us day in and day out.”
After last season's loss in the Mid-South Conference Tournament, the Lady Patriots came up with a new motto called "Work for Tuesday", the day of the women's NAIA National Championship is played. UC has responded by going 20-1 and ranks sixth in the country. But they know there is plenty of work to be done.
“This year, we came in with the mindset that we wanted to get back on top of the Mid-South Conference,” Senior Lauren Wombles says. “So that’s been the driving force of it all. Just that we want to get back to the top.”
UC's veterans are a big reason for their ranking. Wombles is averaging 20-points and 9-Rebounds. And Senior Transfer Jade Howard chips in with 11 points and almost 5 assists per game. Howard says this team has yet to play their best basketball.
“Before we were gelling and had chemistry and grew as a team, we lost by two to Union University, which was a game we could have won,” Howard says. “But now the sky is the limit for us.”
Coach Irvin knows the spotlight is shining on the Lady Patriots but like any coach, she is not satisfied unless her team comes home with the National Championship.
“Everyone is kind of focused that we're 20-1and our ranking which is great, it really is but day in and day out, every practice, every game we're really working to be in that game on Tuesday night,” Irvin says.
With just one more month remaining in the regular season, The Lady Pats say they will continue to work hard and let their play speak for itself.