A former Bullard Lady Panther basketball star is putting in the hard work and effort to make a lasting difference on her collegiate team this year, in hopes of making it all the way to the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s women’s tournament.
Lexi Kirgan, listed as a 6’-4” center for the Abilene Christian University Wildcats women’s basketball team, will enter her sophomore campaign in the 2017-2018 season.
“I am very excited for this upcoming season,” said Kirgan, in an exclusive interview with Bullard Banner News. “Going into my sophomore year, I am working out a ton and just constantly trying to improve more and more for my team.”
According to Kirgan, the opportunity to play the sport of basketball at the collegiate level has been a great experience, which began by playing with a mixture of talented players during her freshman season.
“My freshman year was so awesome,” said Kirgan. “It honestly couldn't have been any better. I had a great team and awesome coaches, and I played behind the best group of seniors in our conference, with the best group of seniors to come through ACU. It was an amazing experience for me.”
With the change in game play and pace from playing basketball in high school to claiming a roster spot on a collegiate team, Kirgan admitted the transition was something she had to overcome.
“The transition from high school basketball to college basketball was huge,” said Kirgan. “Not to mention everyone is just as good and even better than you are but everyone is just so much bigger and the game is way faster. There's never a time where you can just take your time and walk up the floor. It's a constant relay match.”
In the 2016-2017 season, the ACU Wildcats women’s basketball team compiled a record of 23-9 overall (13-2 home, 9-7 away, 1-0 neutral), 16-2 in conference play, allowing the team to claim a share of the Southland Conference title with the University of Central Arkansas Sugar Bears.
Kirgan played in a total of 25 games during her freshman season, collecting a total of 26 points, 17 rebounds, one steal, five blocks, and a field goal percentage of .333.
“It was so awesome being a part of a winning team last season,” said Kirgan. “We had a bunch of talent on and off the court and it was overall an awesome experience.”
Now, with the dawn of a new season ahead of her, Kirgan will look to put in the time, work, effort, and determination to capture more minutes on the court this year as she hopes to be an impactful player for the Wildcats.
“I am working super hard in this offseason and pre-season to try to earn my spot and get more playing time,” said Kirgan. “I'm constantly working out and trying to get better for my team, as well as for myself. It's a lot of work, but I'm having so much fun. With this year being the first year our team is eligible for the NCAA Women’s Tournament, one of the goals that we have set and established as a team is that we wanted to be the team to get there. We have made history the past two years, so I don't see why we can't do it again this year, too.”
Kirgan’s collegiate coach, Julie Goodenough, who began coaching the ACU Wildcats women’s basketball team in 2012, recently came to terms with the school on a contract extension through the 2021-2022 season.
As ACU’s coach, Goodenough has won three conference titles, including the last two regular-season Southland Conference championships, while posting three 20-win seasons and three trips to the postseason during her five seasons with the Wildcats.
“Coach Goodenough is so awesome,” said Kirgan. “She is so encouraging and her positivity fills the gym or wherever she goes. She shows her faith through everything she does. She's taken all of us in as her own. She is a great coach. There’s honestly no one else I would rather be playing for.”
While in high school, Kirgan was a leader for the Bullard Lady Panther varsity basketball team, leading the team to back-to-back 31-7 overall records during her junior and senior seasons, earning the team consecutive trips to the UIL Regional Basketball Tournament.
A 2016 graduate of BHS, Kirgan earned several recognitions during her high school career, which included 2016 ESPN HoopGurlz Basketball Prospect, McDonald's All-America nominee, Texas Association of Basketball Coaches All-State Team and All-Star Game participant, Honorable Mention East Texas, 2015-2016 Tyler Morning Telegraph and All-East Texas Player of the Year, named to ETFinalScore.com's All-East Texas First Team, and Most Valuable Player of Azalea Orthopedics’ All-Star game.
In District 16-4A, she was recognized as Most Improved Player, Newcomer of the Year, and MVP, as well as First Team All-District.
Kirgan credits her time as a member of the Lady Panther varsity basketball program for helping to build her into the basketball player she has become.
“The Lady Panther basketball team was a huge building block for me and has made me into the player and person I am now,” said Kirgan. “I think that if it weren't for my past coaches and teammates, I would not have the skills and assets that I have. Everyone I played with and played for has built me into the player that I am today.”