Story by Randy Whetstone Jr.
Photo by Hailey Johnson
The Butler girls’ basketball team has been one of the most prominent programs in the state the past few years. Each year, head coach Larry Just does not take for granted the privilege he has to coach and lead a group of talented young ladies. This season, he’s had the opportunity to witness the growth and emergence of one of his seniors, Molly Lockhart, who has committed to the University of Louisville.
“Molly is an outstanding young lady that has worked hard during the season and off season. She has trusted the coaches around her to help develop her skills. Watching her development from when she walked through our doors to now earning a Division I scholarship has been amazing,” says Just.
Standing at 6-foot-3, Lockhart will certainly have a presence and will use her height as an advantage in the college ranks as she has done throughout her high school career.
But her basketball journey has been unorthodox to say the least. She started playing at a later age than most, and when she came to the Butler program, she was an infant in understanding the various components of the game and was unsure if basketball would even be her niche.
“She literally started with the fundamentals of layups and footwork,” Just adds.
Lockhart reflects on how the journey from her freshman year to her senior year has equipped her to compete on the highest level in the state of Kentucky.
“I think as a player I have gotten smarter. Coming in freshman year, I had only been playing for a couple of years and didn’t know what to expect with high school basketball. Throughout the years I have really tried to learn the game and become a smarter player. Going up against the best players in Kentucky has really influenced me in becoming the player I am today,” says Lockhart.
As a sophomore, Lockhart won a state championship during the 2015/16 season. During that time she learned from upperclassmen that hard work goes a long way. She saw how they sacrificed their free time to stay after practice and perfect their craft in order to play at the collegiate level. She says, “I learned that if I want to be as good as they are and play in college, then I would have to work hard like they did.”
This year, she leads the team with 11.9 points a game and 7.9 rebounds, and has relished her moments as a Bearette while taking heed to the many lessons taught by Coach Just.
“He always teaches us that it is about more than just basketball, whether it is in the classroom or everyday life. He has expectations for all of us and teaches us that everything we do has consequences,” she adds.
Lockhart will finish her high school career with one of the top programs in the state and nation, so it’s safe to say she is used to high standards. As she transitions from high school to college, expectations will be high as a Lady Cardinal playing under Coach Jeff Walz.
“UofL has such a good athletics program that I just fell in love with it instantly, and it’s great playing for my hometown. I get to be close to my home, family and friends. Playing for Coach Walz will be a huge honor. He is such an amazing coach and to see what he has accomplished is amazing.”
As she watches the No. 2 Lady Cards have a remarkable season, Lockhart says she is inspired by the kinship the players share and will look to add to their unity once she arrives.
“Going to the games, I can see how close the girls are. They like each other and you can see there is no [other] place they would rather be. They are off to such a great start, and it’s really fun to watch. As a freshman, I will come in working hard and hope to better the team in any way I can.”
As Lockhart finishes her senior season, Coach Just believes she will make a positive impact at the next level. Through her hard work and competitive spirit, he knows she will remain comfortable in her hometown as a Lady Card.
“With Molly developing her game as an inside presence first and now showing the ability to step outside and make shots, I think that will allow her to be used in different ways at UofL. Her strengths that she started with in high school will only get better at the next level when she is challenged by quality players everyday. There will be some changes that she will need to make, but she will be up for the challenge.
“Depending on how the season finishes, Molly has a chance to be the best player in this region. She also has a chance to be an All-State player and play on all-star teams to represent Kentucky. Those types of players don’t come along every year. With the impact that she has on the floor and the way she goes about her business off the floor, she’s set an example that future Bearettes should strive to follow.” VT