My Doozy-Doppler-The-Sky-Is-Falling Radar indicates that another """snow event""" may sweep across Kentucky early next week, which is not good news for high school basketball.
The miserable winter weather we've endured the past couple of months has been mostly an annoyance, creating scheduling inconveniences and causing teams to miss valuable practice time.
But things are about to get serious with the start of district play next week. Any significant snow from here on out can cause significant problems. If district tournaments are delayed, region tournaments could be affected, and more weather-related scheduling problems could push up against the start of the girls' Sweet Sixteen on March 10.
Never miss a local story.
Let's hope my Doozy-Doppler-The-Sky-Is-Falling Radar is wrong.
■ South Laurel boys' basketball coach Steve Wright had a difficult week early this month. During a game against Clay County on Feb. 5, he was ejected (the first time he's been tossed in his 24 years as a head coach) after picking up two technical fouls. That earned him a two-game suspension, which is why he was scouting North Laurel on Feb. 9, the night his son Eric, playing for South Laurel against Clinton County, suffered a separated shoulder.
The Wrights handled their situations with aplomb, however. After his ejection, Steve went to school the following Monday with a prepared statement in which he apologized for his bench behavior against Clay County. """Violation of the sportsmanship code is inappropriate and unacceptable ... I understand the importance of my example to our players, school and community,""" he said. """I crossed the line.""" After hurting his shoulder on Tuesday night, Eric came back and played in a win over North Laurel three nights later. """He's tougher than me, for sure,""" his dad said. But Steve Wright's teams are usually tough this time of the year. The Cardinals have made it to the Sweet Sixteen five times in the past nine years. Corbin is favored to repeat as 13th Region champ, but South Laurel, led by 6-foot-8 Matt St. John, can't be overlooked. """We seem to be playing well right now,""" Wright said.
■ If Toyota, besieged by bad publicity, is looking for somebody to speak about its vehicles' reliability, Christian County boys' coach Kerry Stovall could do it. He and his No. 7 Colonels might be the most well-traveled team in the state. They've criss-crossed Kentucky playing a difficult schedule, including trips to the Ashland Invitational Tournament, Shelby Valley and Perry County Central. """We've put a lot of miles on some Toyota vans,""" Stovall said with a laugh. His players have picked up valuable experience along the way while losing in overtime to defending state champ Holmes at Montgomery County, and beating No. 3 Shelby Valley on its home floor. """It's hard to drive six hours, pull up in the parking lot and play somebody as good as Shelby Valley,""" Stovall said. """Think of the toughness and confidence that instills in your players. That's why we always played as tough of a schedule as I can get my hands on. It gives our guys an idea what's out there and what we've got to do to be successful."""
Christian County, which is favored to repeat as 2nd Region champ, is 23-4 going into its regular-season finale against Marshall County Friday night. The Colonels' leading scorers are juniors — Anthony Hickey (16.5 ppg), Donovan Kates (15.6) and Veontae Lewis (13.5) — followed by senior standout Shaquille Wilson (11.5). Who's the best team the Colonels have played this season? Stovall said he doesn't care """what the records are or what the ratings say, Holmes is still state champ until somebody else wins it."""
■ Marion County's girls are rated No. 2 by Dave Cantrall, but they looked like the best in the state when they mashed No. 3 Mercy 69-53 this week. Marion County improved to 27-1. Its only loss was to Walnut Hills, Ohio. The Lady Knights have beaten No. 1 Manual, No. 10 Elizabethtown (twice), No. 20 Clay County (twice) and No. 22 Sacred Heart. Marion County is led by freshmen Makalya Epps and Kyvin Goodin-Rogers.
■ June Buchanan senior guard Clint Stepp has climbed to No. 3 in the boys' state record book for career three-pointers. With one regular-season game left, Stepp has made 359 threes. He trails only Lyon County's Ty Rogers (407) and St. Mary's Ryan Cochran (398) on the all-time list. Stepp has been firing them in since he was a seventh-grader. He had 90 threes as a sophomore and 89 as a junior. He has 67 this season, but his scoring average is up to 20 points per game. The Stepp name is dotted throughout the record book thanks to Clint's brother Clark (June Buchanan, Class of 2008) and his uncle Ervin (Phelps, Class of 1980).
■ Ballard's top-rated boys visit No. 8 Clark County on Friday. The Bruins (23-3) have won eight games in a row, including a 62-60 victory over No. 2 Eastern last weekend.
■ Louisville Trinity, No. 1 in the Associated Press poll and No. 4 in Cantrall's ratings, take a 22-game winning streak into Friday's game at DeSales. That's the last tune-up for Trinity before it faces No. 19 Seneca in the first round of the 27th District tournament on Wednesday.
■ No. 5 Shelby Valley has added an interesting game to its schedule. The Wildcats, big favorites to win the boys' 15th Region title, will finish the regular season at No. 10 Jeffersontown Saturday night. Shelby Valley plays at Perry Central Friday night. Coach Jason Booher likes tough back-to-back road games late in the season """because to win our region and to win in the Sweet Sixteen, you must win on back-to-back nights.""" Booher said Louisville Coach Rick Pitino will be at J-town to watch Justice, who will walk on at Louisville next season. J-town Coach Jeff Morrow was a manager for Pitino at UK.
■ Chane Behanan had 31 points and 18 rebounds to help Bowling Green beat Russellville 93-90 in double-overtime Tuesday night. Behanan, a 6-7 junior, had 13 of the Purples' last 18 points.
■ Warren Central's 6-6 junior George Fant had 31 points as the No. 11 Dragons beat Greenwood Friday night, and 32 points in a win over No. 7 Christian County Saturday night.
■ Scott County's No. 3-rated boys' team closes the regular season at home against Louisville Western Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
■ Christian County grad Arnika Brown, a 6-2 senior at Western Kentucky University, had a school record 25 rebounds against South Alabama Wednesday night, breaking the record of 24 she set the previous Wednesday against Arkansas State. Brown is averaging 11 points and 11 rebounds a game.
■ Montgomery County athletics director Phil Rison has been named to the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association's Board of Directors. He's the first Kentuckian on the board since Jim Watkins of Jefferson County in the early 1990s.
■ Ray Graham, assistant head coach and defensive coordinator for Lexington Christian Academy's Class A championship football team last fall, is leaving the Eagles to become head coach at Henry County. Before joining Paul Rains' staff at LCA in 2008, Graham was head coach at Harrison County for 25 years. He had an overall record of 196-122, including three seasons at Rowan County. Henry County went 10-3 last season under Chris Engstrand, who left for family reasons to become an assistant at North Hardin. Graham, 56, said he made the right choice when he came to LCA two years ago to coach football and teach the Bible. """It was just a rejuvenation to be here, doing what I knew I was supposed to be doing."""
■ Boyle County star Rees MacShara, who ran for 3,073 yards and 43 TDs in leading the Rebels to the Class 4A title, has committed to Morehead. Boyle County teammate Grant Aumiller, a lineman, is headed to Campbellsville.
■ Chris Jennings is the first Fairview football player to have his jersey retired by the school. A ceremony was held before the Fairview-East Carter basketball game. Jennings played college ball at Arizona and is now a running back with the Cleveland Browns.
■ Jackie Hafele, who helped Sacred Heart to a third state soccer title last fall, is Gatorade's girls' soccer player of the year in Kentucky. She signed with Butler University.