A familiar name is now at the helm of the McLean County High School girls’ basketball program.

Ryan Groves, 38, a 2000 McLean County graduate, has been selected to replace Arlando Johnson, who recently accepted a position with Owensboro Middle School.

Groves served nine seasons as an assistant to Mike Harper at Muhlenberg County — a 10th District rival of the Lady Cougars.

“I’m excited about this opportunity, and I’m ready to get started,” Groves said. “This program has come a long way in recent years, and Arlando did a good job establishing this team as a consistent winner.

“I’m stepping into a good program, and I believe we have what it takes to be a regional contender for a long time to come. They’ve had great success here at the middle school level, and that’s where it begins.

“I’m blessed to be in this position and eager to get after it.”

Groves’ father, Andy, enjoyed many seasons of success as McLean County’s head coach and will return to the Lady Cougars’ bench as associate head coach, according to MCHS athletic director Marc Searcy.

“My dad had a lot of success here, and I always looked up to him,” Groves said. “He always gave his all, and that’s what I intend to do. Seeing his work ethic and mentality over the years has helped me tremendously.

“I also learned a whole lot from Mike Harper. To me, he’s one of the best basketball coaches in Kentucky, and I was fortunate to learn from him for many years — it was an honor to be on his staff.”

Johnson did not leave the cupboard bare at McLean County, which will return established standouts such as Makena Rush-Owen, Bailie Walker, Kamryn McMahon and Alyssa Burrough. This past season, the Lady Cougars went 16-12, dropping a 53-30 decision to Ohio County in the first round of the 10th District Tournament.

“We’ll have a pretty deep team this coming season,” Groves said. “We plan to play tough, in-your-face defense, we’ll press, and we’ll zone if we need to.

“Offensively, I want us to push the ball, move the ball around quickly in the halfcourt and get it to the open player.

“We just want to be fundamentally sound all the way around and make good decisions.”

Groves expects competition within the 10th District, meanwhile, to be tougher than ever.

“I think the 10th is consistently one of the toughest districts in the 3rd Region,” he said. “These are great rivalries we have over here, and we’re in a position right now where all the programs are pretty solid — these will be special games over the next few years, for sure.”

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