Leading the Pack: Sutton and Towery primed for breakout senior seasons
Editors Note: This story is featured in the recent basketball previews edition of the Sporting Times Magazine, which is currently on newsstands throughout the area.
“Great things come in pairs.”
Whoever first spoke that phrase must have been talking about Sarah Sutton and Mason Towery.
The pair started playing together in sixth grade and have been absolutely unstoppable on the court since. Over the last three years at Allen County-Scottsville, the pair have averaged 27.2 points and 13.4 rebounds per game and combined to average over 31 points per game in their sophomore and junior seasons.
Combine that with an unbreakable bond off the court and you have two friends who push each other to their limits on the basketball court.
“They’re the best of friends,” former ACS coach Brad Bonds said. “They kind of have this internal challenge amongst themselves about being able to compete; ‘who’s going to get the one-up on a daily basis.’ I think it’s a very healthy competition between the two of them and it really does spark their ability to go play.”
Sutton has played on the varsity team since the seventh grade and has been a starter for the Lady Patriots since she was an eighth-grader in the 2014-15 season. That season, she averaged 4.7 points and 4.7 rebounds per game for a Lady Patriots team that won the 4th Region title and lost the state championship game to Covington Holy Cross by three points, 35-32.
“Going to the state tournament is something that you can’t even begin to describe. The adrenaline level is through the roof,” Sutton said. “I just want my other teammates to be able to experience that, because they weren’t with me when all of that happened.”
If the Lady Patriots are going to experience that again, they will have their work cut out for them. All of the teams in the 15th District are primed to have breakout seasons in 2018-19, which will pin the Lady Patriots in a high-powered race with their other friends from 15th District schools.
It will be a heck of a challenge, but it is one that Towery embraces.
“I wouldn’t want to play in any other district. The 15th is always super competitive,” she said. “I remember coming to watch basketball games in my seventh and eighth-grade years and you would have players like [Glasgow’s] Bree Glover, [ACS’s] Morgan Rich and [Monroe County’s] Reagan Turner. It was a loaded district, and it has stayed that way ever since. There’s not one team this season that you can stop and say ‘oh, that’s an easy win.’”
Regardless of how good all of the other teams are, all three of the Lady Patriots’ seniors – including Jaylee Woods – have embraced the challenge of getting a chance to go back to the state tournament.
Woods returns to a starting guard role for the Lady Patriots in the 2018-19 season after missing the majority of last season with a torn ACL.
“Since day one of your freshman year, you work your butt off to get to get to this point. You know that senior season is going to be the best one,” Woods said. “Coming off of the injury, it’s like I’m starting from square one again, but I really feel like we’re going to make things happen this year.”
Over the summer, Sutton, Towery and Woods were forced to step into even more of a leadership role when Coach Bonds decided to step aside and take over the boys’ basketball program at ACS in May after 11 successful seasons at the helm of the girls’ program.
The Lady Patriots didn’t skip a beat even as the three-month head coaching search led to the hiring of former Greenwood head coach Greg Dunn to take over the program in late September.
“[The Lady Patriots] were going through a time where they were waiting and wondering what was going to happen, and that can be hard on the kids, especially when you’re supposed to have a talented team,” Dunn said. “Mason and Sarah lead by example vocally. I think the team looks up to them and expects them to be the leaders, and they’re doing a really good job of leading things in practice. I go to them and expect them to take care of stretching and other things. I see them helping the younger kids in practice; encouraging and motivating them.”
Despite leaving behind the duo for their senior season after coaching Towery for three and Sutton for five years, Bonds is quick to admit that they will always hold a special place within his heart, both from a basketball and a personal standpoint.
“As a coach, it’s amazing to watch student athletes grow and mature right before your eyes, but these two are very special to me,” Bonds said. “They’re tremendous young ladies on and off the floor. I wish nothing but the best for them moving forward.”
On May 15, 2018, Sutton announced via Twitter that she had committed to Murray State to continue her basketball career. A second-year head coach and a beautiful campus were said to be the deciding factors in Sutton’s decision to become a Racer.
“I’ve talked to [Murray State head coach Rechelle] Turner for a while now, and they won me over when I got that first phone call. There was just something about her that I knew was going to be special,” Sutton said. “We just have a really good connection and everything about the campus passed my checklist. The campus was beautiful.”
In the last season as Lady Patriots, the trio of seniors will focus on helping to grow a younger roster into multiple roles throughout the starting lineup. “We have a lot of eager underclassmen that are ready to get out there and play and are ready to get the big varsity minutes that they’ve been working toward for years,” Towery said.
The talent on the team may be mostly young, but if anything is certain, it is that nothing will break the team chemistry that has been built up over time between the Lady Patriots.
“It’s been a different feeling this season because we’re all so close. We would do anything for each other,” Sutton said. “It’s just an exciting feeling to know that you’re so close with someone and that they have your back out there on the court.
In due time, no matter the outcome, the Lady Patriots are going to miss what Sutton and Towery have brought to the floor over the last few seasons, whether it’s production in numbers, leadership or just an overall sense of friendship.
“They both are elite players that have played a lot of basketball, and not just at the high school level, but also in the AAU circuits,” Bonds said. “Both of them are going to have the opportunity to play at the next level. They bring that intensity every day and are more than capable of doing what is asked of them.”
“Being able to play with Sarah and Mason is awesome,” Woods said. “I’ve known Mason since kindergarten. When Sarah moved in, we all just clicked. Our passion for basketball has brought us closer, and the leadership and energy they bring on the floor will make it great for our senior year.”
The Lady Patriots have raced out to a 10-3 record through 13 games of the season.
Sutton is averaging a double-double with 23.1 points per game and 10.7 rebounds per game. The senior scored a career-high 37 points in a 64-38 win over Warren Central on Dec. 1 and matched that high with 37 points in a 76-59 win over Nelson County on Dec. 27.
- VIDEO: Sarah Sutton and head coach Greg Dunn talk after defeating Warren Central, 64-38, in the 14th/15th District Challenge on Dec. 1. Sutton scored a career-high 37 points in the win. (Part 1)(Part 2)
- VIDEO: Sarah Sutton talks about ACS’s 76-59 win over Nelson County in the South Central Bank-Halton Classic on Dec. 27. Sutton matched her career high of 37 points in the win.
Towery is averaging 14.3 points per game while also pulling down seven rebounds per contest.
In an unfortunate turn of events, senior Jaylee Woods suffered a season-ending ACL injury early in the season. However, the senior has been on the bench in support of her team throughout the season.
- VIDEO: Jaylee Woods takes her final shot as a Lady Patriot. Greenwood allowed Woods to take the shot to begin Dec. 6’s game, which ACS won 58-41.
Clay Manlove; @ctmanlove58