During the 2011-12 season, the Lady Tigers went 3-12 in Region 7-AA; In 2012-13, they went 5-10 in region 5-AAA; and in the 2013-14 season, they went 10-4 in region.
It is not just happenstance that the improvement of the Adairsville program coincided with the development of Stephanie Kuhrt, who will look to continue her development as she has signed to play at Reinhardt University next season.
“Stephanie left some very big shoes to fill. Her scoring improved. She became somebody that defenses had to key in on, so even when she wasn’t scoring, she took some of the defensive pressure off of her teammates because defenses really did have to pay attention to her,” Adairsville head coach Meredith Barnhill said. “She was a leader in the locker room. She’s got a little spunk, she’s got a little fire. She was able to get them fired up when she needed to. It’s going to be a big job for someone to try and replace what she gave us.”
Kuhrt’s role increased each year and she eventually became Adairsville’s top scorer, averaging 14 points per game after averaging 7.9 points her junior season.
“This was probably my best year scoring-wise and all-around,” Kuhrt said. “I played AAU this summer, which helped me out a lot with my skills.”
The Lady Tigers had one of their best seasons in recent history, finishing with a 13-11 overall record and third in Region 5-AAA.
Kuhrt was named to the Region 5-AAA team and to The Daily Tribune News’ All-County team for the second consecutive season.
Kuhrt also averaged four rebounds per game, but it was her development as a scorer that was one of the primary reasons for Adairsville’s improved play.
“[Kuhrt] grew into that role [as a scorer]. She didn’t start that way. She got better and her confidence grew a little bit each year,” Barnhill said. “Her greatest improvement was from February after her junior year to October of her senior year. She played AAU and she really worked hard in the summer. It really clicked for her about halfway through her junior season, how much she can contribute to our program, and she really worked hard to get in a position to be able to do it. I look forward to what she can do at the next level now that she knows the work will pay off.”
Reinhardt, located in Waleska, is an NAIA program in the Appalachian Athletic Conference. The Lady Eagles went 14-16 last season.
“I visited and I really liked the campus. I can just see myself playing there because it’s a small community, kind of like Adairsville,” Kuhrt said of why she chose Reinhardt. “I liked it and I ended up liking the teammates, and I just really wanted to go there. I was considering junior college schools because I was maybe thinking about transferring to a bigger school. Truett-McConnell offered me, but I just liked Reinhardt.”
Barnhill believes Kuhrt will be a good fit at Reinhardt and could be a valuable member of the program.
“I see her as a wing, as a two or a three. She can step out and take the shot, but if she gets a mismatch height-wise, she can step on the block and take advantage of it,” Barnhill said of Kuhrt’s potential role in college. “I look forward to seeing what she can do at the next level. I think her height and the fact thats she can play a little inside, a little outside, her shot has gotten better, people will have difficulty guarding her. I think she’ll be able to contribute at the Reinhardt program.”
Regardless of Kuhrt’s performance on the court, Barnhill believes she can contribute as a teammate.
“She was a good kid, not only in the locker room, but on campus,” Barnhill said of Kuhrt. “She’s a likeable kid. She’s a leader and kids will do as she does, so we’re going to miss that in the hallways and in the locker room. She could get kids fired up in practice and let them know she didn’t think they were giving 100 percent.”