The most prolific scorer in Kentucky high school basketball this season is a 5-foot-8 freshman girl playing in relative anonymity for a tiny school in Letcher County.
Whitney Creech, who has played for Jenkins' varsity since she was a sixth-grader, is averaging 31.4 points and already has 2,000 career points in sight.
"I was expecting great things from Whitney this season, but what she's doing is beyond that," Cavaliers Coach Ashley Addington said.
Creech's offensive ability was on full display against Hazard. She didn't score in the first quarter, but she finished with 52 points as Jenkins rallied from 20 points down to win 72-67.
"She's as smooth a ballplayer as I've ever seen," Addington said. "It's weird to say, but she plays like a boy."
Creech scored a few dozen points as a sixth-grader. She averaged 10 as a seventh-grader, and 21 as a starter last season.
"At first she just wanted to shoot from outside, but we kept encouraging her to drive," Addington said. "She's really developed that part of her game. She's got great moves now."
Creech's attack-the-rim mentality gets her to the free-throw line a lot. She's attempted more than 200 foul shots this season and has hit 66 percent of them.
Knott County Central Coach Jeff Honeycutt is a believer in Creech's talent. "Whitney is a natural scorer," he said. "She can handle the ball with either hand which makes her very hard to guard. I like her in-between game. Most girls don't have a mid-range game. I think she will have a shot at breaking the state's all-time scoring record."
Creech, who already has 1,770 points, is on pace to break the school scoring record (2,300 set by Kristy Sexton in 1991) next season. If Creech keeps up her offensive onslaught the next three years, she would become the fourth player in state history to reach 4,000 points, joining Highlands' Jaime Walz (4,948), McDowell's Geri Grigsby (4,385) and Wayland's King Kelly Coleman (4,337).
■ Grant County's boys are 20-4, the best record in the 8th Region. It's the first time in 10 years the Braves have had a 20-win season. Jim Hicks, in his third year as coach, said his team earned the No. 1 seed in the 32nd District for the first time in more than 30 years. Grant County is led by Tyler Carr (20 ppg, 6 rpg), who had 41 points against district rival Simon Kenton. Logan Cummins, Austin Anglin and Aaron Hicks also are averaging double figures, while sophomore Austin Johnson runs the point. Hicks is proudest of his team's defense, which is allowing 47 points a game, fifth fewest in the state.
■ East Jessamine's 74-68 victory over West Jessamine last week represented a 41-point turnaround from the last time the cross-town rivals met. West won the first game 98-63 in early January, thanks to 63 percent shooting and a 35-25 edge in rebounding. East shot 36 percent and missed 21 of 26 three-pointers. In the rematch, East made 13 of 26 threes, won the battle of the boards 34-31, and got 15 assists from Ronnie Carson.
■ Paul Laurence Dunbar senior guard Will Gary has eclipsed 1,400 points, and will finish his career with more than 500 rebounds.
■ Bardstown, which won the boys' All "A" title in 2006 and has been runner-up four times since (including the last two years), won't be eligible for the small-school state tournament next season. The All "A" invites the smallest 120 basketball schools, and Bardstown's increased enrollment pushes it off that list. Knott County Central and Russell, which played in the boys' All "A" last month, will also be ineligible next year. On the girls' side, Webster County and Magoffin County, state tournament participants this year, won't be eligible next season.
■ Paris junior Taylor Enlow had a school-record 32 rebounds in a win over Riverside Christian. She broke the old mark of 26 set by Yolanda Brown in 1990. Enlow's total is the fourth most in girls' state history. Amanda Collins of Pike Central tops the list with 36 in a game against Feds Creek in 1997.
■ Holmes' boys are unbeaten (25-0), but Dave Cantrall has the Bulldogs the underdogs when they play host to Newport Central Catholic (24-2) on Friday. No. 10 NewCath, winner of the All "A" Classic, is riding a 12-game winning streak. The Thoroughbreds will have a size advantage in 6-8 Jake Schulte, 6-6 Drew McDonald and 6-5 Nick Seibert. No. 13 Holmes will counter with superior quickness, led by James "Beetle" Bolden.
■ Marion County's girls (27-0) have moved up one spot to No. 6 in USA Today's national ratings. The Knights have regular-season games left against three teams in Cantrall's top 25: No. 15 North Hardin, No. 3 Henderson County and No. 6 Mercy.
■ Defending 2nd Region boys' champ Hopkinsville has won 15 games in a row. The No. 15 Tigers are led by senior Jordan Majors (21 ppg) and sophomore Jaqualis Matlock (12 ppg, 8 rpg).
■ John Hardin has 11 consecutive victories since suffering back-to-back losses to Henry Clay (70-45) and Princeton, Ohio (52-51) in Lexington Catholic's Republic Bank Classic in late December. Point guard Brandon Price (17 ppg) and inside guy Daveon Greene (16 ppg, 6.5 rpg) have led the 5th Region's top team.
■ Nicholas County will mark the 20th anniversary of its girls' state basketball championship at halftime of Friday's game against Sayre. In 1993 Barbara Kenney coached Nicholas County and junior star Kim Denkins to the Sweet Sixteen title. The Bluejackets also won the All "A" that year.
Nicholas County is hosting the Shoot for the Cure (benefiting diabetes awareness) this weekend. Saturday's lineup of boys' games: Robertson County vs. St. Francis, noon; Tates Creek vs. Seneca, 1:45; East Jessamine vs. Nicholas County, 3:15; Henry Clay vs. Fleming County, 4:45.
■ Perry Central and Hazard, rated the second- and third-best boys' basketball teams in the 14th Region, drew each other in the 54th District. They will meet in an elimination semifinal game on Feb. 19 at Perry Central.
■ Defending champ Woodford County hosts the 7th Region wrestling tournament on Friday and Saturday. The Yellowjackets are led by Wyatt Courtney, who won the region at 160 pounds last year. Henry Clay, which beat the Yellowjackets in region duals, is led by Mike Whalen. He was unbeaten state champ at 106 last year but is competing at 120 this season. The top four finishers in each weight class qualify for the state tournament at the Kentucky Horse Park's Alltech Arena next weekend.
■ Former Morehead State defensive coordinator John Gilliam is the new football coach at Boyd County. Gilliam played high school ball at Prestonsburg under Philip Haywood, who has become the state's all-time winningest coach at Belfry.
■ Paul Dunbar's hiring of Paul Rains as its new football coach means that in Sam Simpson's 20 years at Henry Clay, Lexington's other four public schools have had 25 football coaches.
■ San Francisco 49ers kicker David Akers (Tates Creek) wasn't the only Kentucky high school alumnus in the Super Bowl. Bryan Hall (Paducah Tilghman) was a reserve defensive tackle for the Baltimore Ravens. Hall played college football at Arkansas State.
■ The KHSAA fined the Louisville Holy Cross football program $500 and put it on probation for violations relating to recruiting and enrollment. The Cougars' coaching staff had two non-enrolled students from a non-feeder school involved in Holy Cross activities. North Bullitt Coach Brett Newton said this was the third time he's lodged complaints about Holy Cross with the KHSAA. The Cougars were fined $1,000 and put on probation in 2003. In another instance Newton said the KHSAA didn't act on his complaints. "Taken individually, it's not a big deal," Newton told the Courier-Journal. "But when you have three by the same school in eight years, I think it should have been taken more seriously by the state. These penalties do nothing to prevent them from the same activities in the future."
■ Libby Leedom of St. Henry is the first girls' soccer player to be named Gatorade's Kentucky player of the year twice. She had 22 goals and 10 assists last fall, and 108 goals and 43 assists in her career. She has signed with Dayton.
■ Eight Kentucky coaches are finalists for National High School Athletic Coaches Association coach of the year honors: boys' assistant Roscoe Denney (North Laurel basketball); girls' assistant Ted Marlette (Franklin County softball); boys' basketball Mike Reitz (Harrison County); football Ivan McGlone (Russell); girls' soccer Lisa Correa (Bowling Green); girls' track Tony Harden (St. Henry); wrestling Mike Bankemper (Campbell County); swimming/diving Jerry Mohr (Scott). Also, Jimmie Reed, executive director of the KHSCA for 25 years, won a distinguished service award. Gary Kidwell of Lewis County will be inducted into the NHSACA Hall of Fame.
Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Email: mfields@herald-leader. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com