ELNORA — So many sports teams say they are a family, but the North Daviess Lady Cougars take that to a whole new level.
The Class A No. 12 Cougars (16-3) face the winner of Tuesday’s Barr-Reeve-Loogootee game in Friday night’s sectional semifinals at Jack Butcher Arena. It could be the final weekend of their high school basketball careers for four seniors — Meghan Knepp, Sabra Smith, Abby Hollis and Maggie Swartzentruber. Whenever the Cougars season ends, it will be the end of an era for four seniors who are as close as sisters and a coach who just feels blessed to be a part of the family.
Ron Knepp has been involved with North Daviess basketball for parts of three decades. If you believe the legend around Southwestern Indiana, he’s the first player to ever dunk at the Cougar Den. Knepp, a humble basketball junkie, just laughs and cautions anyone talking about the so-called dunk, “Don’t believe everything you hear.” This in essence is everything Knepp is about. He’s having the time of his life coaching a team he’s been around for much longer than the seniors’ four-year high school careers.
Knepp graduated from North Daviess in 1987 and quickly earned an Accounting degree from Oakland City University in 1990. He began to help out with the North Daviess boys basketball program but, Ron and his wife, Jennifer, started a family with two daughters and he took a step back from coaching the freshman team. Knepp joined the staff of Roger Carrithers and in his first season as an assistant the Cougars defeated Barr-Reeve to win the sectional championship. After the 2009 season, Knepp took over as head coach and began the slow climb back to respectability.
In Carrithers’ last three years with the Cougars, North Daviess complied a record of 32-33, but Knepp would have no such luck. In his first two seasons leading the program, the Cougars won just nine games, while losing 33. At that time, North Daviess didn’t have many seniors. It showed on the court and Knepp wasn’t expecting the beginning of his head coaching career to be quite that tough. North Daviess was so young and had only two seniors at their disposal, one of which battled knee troubles.