Ryleigh Sholler and Adelaide Thomas were decidedly dejected.
Thomas, a 2020 Cooper alumna and University of Kentucky junior, and Sholler, a freshman at Cooper, were among the Jaguar fans who watched the Lady Jaguars’ 70-64 loss to Louisville Mercy in Thursday’s first round of the Mingua Beef Jerky Sweet 16® at Rupp Arena.
“It’s kind of upsetting,” Sholler said.
While Cooper’s fans and parents sat opposite the benches, mostly in Section 15 on the south side of the arena’s lower level, one Jaguar supporter sat alone, in Section 23, Row V, Seat 3 – the top of Rupp’s lower level.
That would be Greg Curry, whose son, Cooper senior Austin Curry, hung out with the Jaguar band and his friends.
“This is the first game I’ve been to all year,” Greg Curry said. “I won’t allow (Austin) to drive this far. I’m the chauffeur.”
When the younger Curry found out what his dad said, he mildly disputed his dad’s judgement.
“I think I’m responsible enough,” he said. “We went all the way through regionals without him.”
Cooper senior Drew Johnson would’ve liked a few more fans to show up.
“The last Sweet 16 (last year), we had a lot more people,” Johnson said. “I can understand why; we had school (Thursday), and the game was at 6. I’m still having a good time.”
Ashley Noel, a 2003 Ryle graduate, played volleyball and basketball. She left Union around noon Thursday to check into her hotel and later watched her daughter, eighth-grader Haylee Noel.
“No construction, no traffic,” the elder Noel said.
The elder Noel also talked about the differences between her high school days and today’s players.
“I love the toughness, the competitiveness, and the way girls basketball has advanced since I played,” she said. “Unbelievable, their skills and their knowledge.”
A couple noteworthy Boone County alumni wore Cooper’s maroon and gold.
Durran Alexander, whose brother, 1994 Mr. Football Shaun Alexander, who later starred at Alabama and the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks, watched his daughter Maleah score 10 points. Next to him was his cousin, former Rebel lineman Ben Brown.
Alexander the father knew at least one thing: Maleah likely would not hear him cheer.
“And she would be absolutely mortified if she could,” he said. “She’s locked in, and I don’t say much to her.”
When Cooper’s Logan Palmer put the Jaguars ahead, 14-12, Terri Hilton, of Independence, didn’t seem nervous.
“Not at all,” Hilton said. “I’ve got confidence in the team.”
As Lady Jaguars coach Justin Holthaus hugged Whitney Lind near game’s end, Sholler possibly thought of Cooper’s three seniors, Lind – who finished her career with 2,267 points, which is second in school history to 2018 graduate Lexi Held’s 2,430 – Kay Freihofer and Yamilet Rondon-Rivera.
“They’ve been around since seventh grade,” Sholler said.