High school notebook: Caverna twins among state's top scorers

Herald-Leader Staff writerJanuary 16, 2014 

There's a heated scoring race in high school basketball this season, and it's a sibling rivalry, too.

Mason Faulkner, a 6-foot-2 sophomore at Caverna, is among the state's top boys' scorers with an average of 25.2 points. His twin sister, Madison, a 5-9 sophomore at Caverna, is among the state's top girls' scorers with a 24.2 average.

"It's funny sometimes," said their dad, Cornelius Faulkner, who doubles as assistant superintendent and girls' basketball coach. "They'll come home and Mason will ask Madison, 'How many did you have?' She might have had 25, and he had 30. She doesn't care, but Mason does. It's a pride thing for boys, you know."

Madison has started for Caverna's varsity since she was an eighth-grader. Dad/coach describes her as a physical player who likes the rough inside game. She's also among the state's leading rebounders, pulling in 10.3 a game.

Mason, a point guard, is more of a perimeter player, but like his sister, he's not shy about attacking the rim.

The twins, who played on the same youth league team growing up, come by their basketball ability naturally. Their dad started on Hart County's 1989 Sweet Sixteen team. Tick Rogers, Cornelius' cousin, was Mr. Basketball from Hart County in 1992.

Cornelius coached Caverna's boys in the late 1990s. He's in his seventh season as girls' coach. Since the Colonels play a lot of girls-boys doubleheaders, he gets to see both his kids play. And there's always the sibling rivalry at home. Madison, who's one minute older than Mason, isn't the weaker sex, either. "She's the boss," Cornelius said.

■ Scott County's Billy Hicks could become the winningest boys' basketball coach in state history this weekend. Or he might have already broken the record last month. What do the cold, hard numbers say? It's hard to say. KHSAA communications director Joe Angolia is trying to sort it all out. Hicks, according to his own tally, started this season with 839 career victories. The Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches had him with 817. Hicks has been trying to clear up the discrepancy with the KABC for years. Angolia is in the process of verifying Hicks' record. The KABC has William Kean of Louisville Central as the winningest coach. His victory total at Central (from the 1920s to the 1950s) has long been reported as 856, but Angolia said the KABC recently adjusted it down to 847. If the lower number is correct, Hicks might have eclipsed the record last month when Scott County was playing in the Republic Bank Holiday Classic at Lexington Catholic. If Kean had 856 wins, Hicks (whose Cardinals were 15-2 going into Thursday night's game with Sayre) could tie or break the record with wins over Bryan Station on Friday and Bell County on Saturday.

Hicks said he's not losing any sleep over the math. "I'm still going hot and heavy in the middle of the season. Besides, it kind of embarrasses me to think of it as 'my' wins. I'm just part of something that's involved hundreds of other people — players, coaches, families, fans, school administrators."

Hicks, 61, started his coaching career at Evarts in the late 1970s. He also coached at Harlan and Corbin before settling in at Scott County. He's in his 20th season with the Cardinals, who are considered contenders for a third state title under Hicks.

■ Knott Central and Perry Central are rated among Dave Cantrall's top 25 boys' basketball teams, but unranked 14th Region rival Hazard beat them both on its way to the WYMT Mountain Classic title last week. Hazard edged Knott Central 48-46 in the semifinals, and clipped Perry Central 54-52 in overtime in the finals thanks to Josh Hollan's pull-up jumper with nine seconds left. Bulldogs Coach Al Holland credited five seniors for doing their jobs: Hollan and Christopher Hudson, who lead the team in scoring, along with Matt Thompson, Collier Mobelin and reserve Mack Hall. Holland also praised the defensive job sophomore Griffin Wells did on Knott Central star Camron Justice, who was limited to nine points. Cordia, which played Hazard in the All "A" region Thursday night, is also a region contender.

■ Jenkins sophomore Whitney Creech had 49 points and 23 rebounds in a win over Wolfe County as she broke the school scoring record of 2,294 points set by Kristi Sexton in the early 1990s. Creech now has 2,377 points. Creech, who led the state last season with a 30.2 average, has boosted that to 34.2 points and 11.3 rebounds this year. "One of the most improved aspects of her game has been rebounding," Coach Ashley Addington said. "Also, her transition defense has elevated her game by being effective on both sides of the ball."

■ Bryan Station's 51-49 victory over Henry Clay this week tied their 55-year-old boys' basketball rivalry 69-69. The Bryan Station-Lafayette series, which began in 1962, is also deadlocked, 58-58.

■ Wayne County's boys risk their perfect record at East Jessamine this weekend. The No. 16 Cardinals (16-0) visit East Jessamine on Friday night, and they're back at East Jessamine on Saturday afternoon to take on Bryan Station at 12:30 in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. Montgomery County's unbeaten boys are also in the Coaches vs. Cancer event. The No. 9 Indians (15-0) play West Jessamine on Saturday at 8 p.m. The rest of Saturday's schedule: Lexington Catholic girls vs. Mason County, 9:30 a.m.; Grant County girls vs. McCreary Central, 11 a.m.; East Jessamine boys vs. McCreary Central, 2 p.m.; Burgin girls vs. East Jessamine, 3:30 p.m.; Lafayette girls vs. Lincoln County, 5 p.m.; Fleming County boys vs. Lincoln County, 6:30 p.m.

■ Shelby Valley senior point guard Tyler Carr, who played the last few games with a torn meniscus, had knee surgery Thursday. Coach Jim Hicks said Carr, who is averaging 24 points, should be back in time for the district tournament. He has signed with Shawnee State in Portsmouth, Ohio.

■ Former Bryan Station girls' coach Karra Jackson is back in Kentucky. In her first season at Ryle, she got her 100th career victory when the Raiders beat Clay County last week. Jackson's first coaching job was at Bryan Station. She took the Defenders from an 8-22 record in 2008 to a region-best 24-7 in 2011. She coached two years at Oak Ridge, Tenn., before leaving for Ryle.

■ Randy Napier, the state's all-time winningest girls' basketball coach, got his 800th victory when Perry Central beat Powell County last weekend.

■ Estill County junior guard Kennedy Flynn reached 2,000 career points in a loss to Morgan County.

■ Paul Laurence Dunbar grads Ebony Rowe and Mike Smith continue to put up big numbers. Rowe, a senior at Middle Tennessee, is averaging 22.4 points and 11.5 rebounds, and has had 67 career double-doubles. Smith, a freshman at Pfeiffer University in North Carolina, is averaging 25.5 points and four rebounds. He's the No. 3 scorer in NCAA Division II.

■ Hayden Sphire, son of former Lexington Catholic football coach Bob Sphire, has committed to Murray State. Hayden played quarterback at North Gwinnett, which is coached by his dad, leading the team to a state runner-up finish in Georgia's Class 6A this past season. Sphire chose Murray State over Jacksonville State.

■ Ivan McGlone, who led Russell to state football titles in 1978 and 2005, is out as the Red Devils coach after 38 years. The news came in a four-sentence news release from superintendent Sean Horne. McGlone, 75, is the seventh-winningest coach in state history with a record of 316-151. McGlone told the Ashland Daily Independent he was given the option of coaching one more year, but turned it down. "It's not in my nature to have them parade me around for a year. Either you're the coach or you're not." McGlone told the paper he wasn't given a reason for his firing, "other than they wanted to change direction. I can speculate ... it's either my age, my health or my playbook."

■ South Warren football coach Mark Nelson is stepping down. He coached at Greenwood for nine seasons before leaving the Gators to start the South Warren program four years ago. Nelson led the Spartans to an 11-2 record last fall. Nelson's defensive coordinator was Brandon Smith, son of Chuck Smith, who was hired as Madison Central's coach this week. Brandon figures to be among the candidates to succeed Nelson.

■ Scott Daniel, a Mr. Football finalist who helped Scott County win the Class 6A title, was the MVP of the seventh annual National Guard Border Bowl last weekend. Daniel had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and caught a TD pass to lead the Kentucky all-stars past Tennessee 37-13. Elijah Bell of Henry Clay and Noah Mitchell of Lexington Catholic each ran for a TD. Wayne County's Tyler Guffey had 81 yards rushing and passing. Casey Dionne of Madison Southern had a 33-yard fumble return for a score. Bryan Station's Ora "Bo" Johnson and Lexington Catholic's Marty Brown were among the leading tacklers.

Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337.mfields@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com.

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