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Mercer County’s Chris Souder wins All-Area girls basketball coach of the year

Mercer County’s Chris Souder led his team to back-to-back state championships.

It doesn’t happen often, and it’s even rarer that it happens to a public school.

But the Titans had a special crop of home-grown players and a special coach to lead them to be one of the greatest teams Kentucky high school girls basketball has ever seen.

The Titans finished this season 36-3 and steamrolled every Kentucky team they played during the regular season, save one.

Come postseason, Souder and his coaching staff had to handle incredible expectations. He was the first to admit that the weight of those expectations probably played a role in some close region tournament games, as well as some high-quality basketball from Lincoln and Casey County.

But the Titans prevailed.

“I have also been very blessed to always have a great staff,” Souder said. “This is also another reason that we have been successful is the fact that we have been very consistent on who these girls see every day.  Coach Spivey has been with me for six seasons now and you just can’t put a price tag on what that means. Plus that fact that she played for me along with Coach Carey and Jennifer Merchant they know what these girls are going thru and can guide them some of what to expect and sometimes what I am actually talking about.

“I have had other assistants that have gone on to be head coaches and that is what you want from your assistants is loyalty and a desire to become a head coach. It was also really special to have my son on the bench with me the past two seasons — in fact he is taking credit for both state championships.”

In the state tournament, it was similar — those super-high expectations of a repeat title weren’t easy to overcome, but the Titans did just that.

“This has just been an amazing run that proves that hard work does trump talent but when they collide you have a special team,” Souder said. “People have no idea how hard we work not just when the season starts it is all the days when no one is watching that makes them special. Just super proud that I had the opportunity to coach these young ladies and even better that everything we preached to them they believed and bought into actually came true.”

Souder pushed his team to be the best. In back to back years, they were just that.

So what about his legacy?

“In terms of my legacy, I have not really thought about it much and to be honest I don’t really like to think about it because when you talk legacy that means I am getting old,” Souder laughed. “I think the biggest foundation of our program starts at King Middle School. I have been really blessed to always have good coaches that will teach what they will need to be successful at the next level. The administration at KMS have also been fantastic to me and allowing me input on how the program should be ran and you just don’t have that in many programs.”