Bakersfield Lady Lions Coach Mahan named White River Conference Coach of the Year

Bakersfield Lady Lions Head Coach Micheal Mahan celebrates an exceptional play during the Lady Lions semi-final district game against the Hartville Eagles. Bakersfield was seeded fourth in the tournament and won the contest, 48-35, against first seeded Hartville. Photo by Karla Smith

Bakersfield Lady Lions Head Coach Micheal Mahan was recently named White River Conference Coach of the Year. He reflected on the girls’ season, saying he’s proud of the group this year for fighting hard when the going got tough. 

“We started off the season 5-0 and suffered our first loss to Norwood by five (49-54) at Bakersfield. We bounced back and went to the Weaubleau Shootout and played the state ranked Wheatland Lady Mules and beat them 52-36. We finished the first half of the season strong with a 9-2 record and a championship run in the GHS Holiday Tournament right after Christmas,” Mahan told the Times.

But the start of the 2024 year came with the loss of two of the team’s starting players due to serious injuries, including one injury that was season-ending. 

“We went through a struggle stretch of games, due to the two players being injured and normal sickness, which led to us dropping several games on the wrong side of the scoreboard. We fell to state ranked Cotter, Arkansas, who has 25 wins and is in the state playoffs, 49-32,” he said. 

They continued to get healthier and fight, and by the time the Seymour tournament rolled around at the end of January, the Lady Lions were back on their game, beating Seymour 51-45 and advancing to the semifinals against Willow Springs. 

“We fought hard and led them by three at the half but fell to Willow 52-43 in a hard-fought game. Then we drew Branson. We fought but fell 50-40.” 

Back to non-tournament play, the Lady Lions faced eighth state ranked Alton in an away game and put up a good fight, ending the game, 67-43. 

Then, things picked up for the Lady Lions.

“We continued to get better and faced Van Buren a few nights later at Summerville. We beat them 61-51. Three days later we went to Couch and beat them 60-25. The following week we beat Dora on our senior night 70-46,” Mahan said. “We were finally back and ready for a run in the district tournament! During the first round of districts we beat fifth-seeded Mansfield, 61-58. In the semifinals we beat number one Hartville, 48-35!” Mahan reflected. “We fought hard in the championship game verses Norwood Lady Pirates and had the lead at the end of the first quarter 16-12. We again had the lead at halftime, 26-24, but ultimately fell to the 22-6 record, second-seeded Lady Pirates, 49-62.”

Mahan says the team is losing two seniors next year, Jessie Keith and Rienna Velasquez, both of whom are great players and huge assets to their team. “They will be greatly missed,” he said, but he’s looking forward to another good season in 2024-25. “We are returning several starters and lettermen, along with several upcoming young players that are very talented. We should be looking at another competitive season for next year and several years to come.”

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