George Clooney is still the most famous Augusta basketball player in school history, but Brent Bach is probably the Panthers' most revered player after what he and his teammates pulled off on Tuesday night.
Bach had 31 points to lead little ol' Augusta to a stunning 72-61 victory over host Mason County in the 39th District semifinals. It was Augusta's first win over Mason County in 29 tries, and kept the Royals out of the 10th Region Tournament for the first time in 16 years.
Augusta has only about 100 students in its high school compared to Mason County's 800. Augusta has been to the state tournament once, in 1926, and hasn't won a district title since 1981. Mason County has won 14 region titles and two Sweet Sixteen championships (2003 and 2008).
"That's what makes this kind of like Hoosiers," Augusta Coach Jason Hinson said. "It's unbelievable."
The Panthers played cross-town rival Bracken County, another Class A-size school, in the district finals on Thursday night.
Dave Cantrall rated Augusta a big underdog against Mason County, but the Panthers didn't buy it. They almost beat the Royals in last year's district finals, losing 72-71 when they missed three shots in the closing seconds.
"When we went to the draw this year, Brent Bach and Tanner Kelsch, our two leaders, said they wanted to play Mason County and keep them from going to the region. Now that's confidence," Hinson said.
Kelsch, a senior, had 13 points in the win over the Royals. Connor Maddox had 15. Maddox, Owens Crawford and Camryn Snapp are freshmen starters for Augusta. The Panthers' junior varsity includes Clooney's nephew, Nick Zeidler.
But Bach is Augusta's marquee star. The rail-thin 6-foot-1 junior is averaging 27 points, and had a career-high 49 against Pendleton County. Hinson said Bach is drawing attention from Eastern Kentucky, Northern Kentucky and Xavier because of his offensive skills. "He's pretty special. He's a lot like (former Tollesboro star and UK player) Chris Harrison. One step across half court and he's in range."
■ When Lexington Catholic's girls lost to Lafayette in the 43rd District semifinals this week, it brought an end to the "Wilson era" in Knights' basketball. Lexington Catholic has had at least one member of the Wilson family in its girls' or boys' basketball program for the past 25 years. Mary and Bob Wilson's eight children have hooped it up for the Knights, starting with Yvonne in 1988, followed by Danielle, Rita, Ben, Robbie (who played only as a freshman), P. J., Maggie and, last but not least, Octavia, a senior on this year's team. Yvonne scored more than 2,000 points in her career. Rita, Ben and Octavia each topped 1,000.
Among them, the Wilsons combined for about 8,000 points for the Knights under 14 different coaches. The highlights? "Geez, there's been a lot of different things," Mary Wilson said. "When Ben went to the state tournament (in 1998 and 2000). And the (All 'A' Classic) was always a lot of fun." Octavia's first recollection of Lexington Catholic basketball was watching Ben in the 2000 Sweet Sixteen when she was 4. "I was basically around basketball since I could walk," she said. "I remember when I was in first or second grade, my dad coached the freshman team and he'd make me go out and practice with them." Mary Wilson said she's been asked "a million times" what she'll do without basketball. "I don't know," she said. But the end of an era does have an up side: "The end of tuition payments coming up in May," mom said.
■ Lafayette's Jackson Davis hit two free throws with 1:31 left in the Generals' loss to Paul Laurence Dunbar in the 43rd District semifinals on Tuesday night, making the 6-foot-8 junior the leading scorer in the program's storied history. Jackson's last foul shot of the season gave him 1,619 career points, one more than Billy Ray Lickert. Davis, who has played on Lafayette's varsity since he was a seventh-grader, averaged 20 points and 11 rebounds this season. Lafayette's top 10 all-time scorers include three Mr. Basketball winners — Lickert (1,618), Dirk Minniefield (1,558) and Jeff Mullins (1,109). Davis said "It feels awesome" to eclipse such big names. "That was one of my goals at the beginning of the season, and I'm really glad I made it." Davis said he is getting looks from several major colleges, including Kansas State, UCLA, Florida, Florida State and Miami (Fla.). "I think I'll definitely have a couple (offers) by the end of the summer. I just plan on playing my hardest."
■ Lexington Christian's Tyler Harville made four three-pointers against Lexington Catholic on Wednesday night, giving him 226 for his career and tying Taylor Barnette's school record.
■ Kyle Brown has become the all-time leading scorer in West Carter boys' history with 1,886 points. The senior guard also holds records for most games played (125) and steals (226). Kyle is the son of the late John "Hop" Brown, who coached West Carter's girls to a state title in 2000. Kyle broke the scoring record on the court named in honor of his father.
■ Pikeville, which met East Ridge in the district finals on Thursday night, has won 20 games for the third season in a row for the first time since the legendary John Bill Trivette coached the Panthers in the late 1950s. Pikeville (20-10) is led by 15th Region player of the year Ethan Rowe, who is averaging 22 points and has 1,695 in his career. Ray Kasongo, a 6-foot-7 senior, has a school record 130 blocks this season for Coach Bart Williams' Panthers.
■ LaRue County's Ivy Brown has topped 2,000 points, only the second player in school history to reach that plateau. The 6-foot junior, who's averaging 22 points, 10 rebounds, five steals and four assists, should be in the Miss Basketball conversation next season. LaRue County sophomore Alexis Brewer, with almost 1,400 career points, could be on her way to 2,000 points, too.
■ Warren Central has honored former boys' coach Tim Riley by naming its court after him. Riley won more than 300 games in 14 seasons with the Dragons. He led them to eight region titles, the 2004 state championship, and a state runner-up finish in 2005. Riley left Warren Central after the 2011 season to join the women's staff at Western Kentucky. He did not coach this season.
■ East Jessamine's girls lost to Burgin in the 46th District semifinals, but that didn't diminish the Jaguars' accomplishment this winter. They had a school-record 17 victories after going 3-26 last season. Coach Jacqueline Coleman said the key was "resilience. It's very difficult to have a three-win season and convince players to keep working hard in the off-season, but this is a special group. Their work ethic in the face of adversity is inspirational." Sophomore Sarah Rainwater and freshman Emma Young led East Jessamine's turnaround. Seniors Maddie Haney, Heather Welch and Carlie Harrison were also key contributors.
■ Tryouts for the Kentucky All-Stars who will take on Indiana in the annual basketball series will be held at Georgetown College on March 23 (boys) and 24 (girls). Kentucky will play Indiana on June 14 at Freedom Hall in Louisville and on June 15 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Allen Feldhaus Jr. of Madison Central will coach the Kentucky boys. Chris Souder of Mercer County will coach the girls.
■ Charles Hurt, who led Shelby County to the 1978 Sweet Sixteen title, finally got his championship ring. Hurt was serving with the U.S. Army in Kuwait in 1998 when his former teammates received rings at a 20th anniversary celebration. According to the Shelbyville News-Sentinel, Hurt was surprised when he was presented his ring before Shelby County's game against Gallatin County last Friday. "It was a surprise to say the least. It was great," Hurt told the newspaper.
■ Union County junior Brock Ervin won his fourth state wrestling title last Saturday. He could become Kentucky's first five-time champion if he wins again next year. Ervin won at 103 pounds as an eighth-grader, 112 as a freshman and 126 the past two years.
■ Tony Mack, who pitched Tates Creek to a state baseball title in 1978 and eventually pitched in the majors for the California Angels, wanted to express his appreciation for what Harold Denniston did for him as a young baseball player in town. "Mr. D" coached and taught baseball in Lexington for 50 years. He died last week at age 84. "I can't say enough about Mr. D," Mack said. "He was a great man. His passing really hurts me."
■ The Pannell/KHSAA swimming and diving championships are at the University of Louisville's Ralph Wright Natatorium this weekend. They began on Thursday and continue through Saturday.
■ The inaugural KHSAA cheerleading championships, which were postponed by bad weather last month, are Saturday at WKU's Diddle Arena in Bowling Green.
KY. ALL-STARS TRYOUTS
Players invited to Kentucky All-Stars tryouts on March 23 at Georgetown College:
Ken-Jah Bosley (Madison Central), Marcus Burnett (Carlisle Co.), Antonio Campbell (Cov. Holy Cross), Dalton Cornett (Perry Central), Emmanuel Ewootoah (Cordia), Kelton Ford (LaRue Co.), William Gary (Paul Dunbar), Taylor Gover (Pulaski Co.), Devonte Grundy (Bardstown), Dominique Hawkins (Madison Central), Darryl Hicks (Trinity), Lavonne Holland (Ballard), Stuart Jackson (Central), Ray Kasongo (Pikeville), Brock Kiesler (St. Xavier), David Levitch (North Oldham), Jordan Majors (Hopkinsville), Dez Marshall (Collins), Mason Monroe (Pendleton Co.), Demetrius McReynolds (Butler), Larry Morton (Bryan Station), Logan O'Bryan (Daviess Co.), Omar Prewitt (Montgomery Co.), Brandon Price (John Hardin), James Quick (Trinity), Quin Richardson (Scott Co.), Tyler Robertson (Russell Co.), Ethan Rowe (Pikeville), Kyle Skaggs (Russell), Mike Smith (Paul Dunbar), Quan Taylor (Madison Central), Nick Trisko (Lafayette), Rusty Troutman (Bullitt East), Jack Whitman (Lexington Catholic), Derek Willis (Bullitt East).
Kelsey Adwell (PRP), Tearra Banks (Ballard), Larryn Brooks (Madison Central), Madison Clements (Monroe Co.), Mercedes Cox (Adair Co.), Destony Curry (Manual), China Dow (Lou. Christian), Cierra Drake (Nelson Co.), Kelah Eldridge (Letcher Central), Makayla Epps (Marion Co.), Ashton Feldhaus (Madison Central), Jordin Fender (Paul Dunbar), Emily Fox (Lincoln Co.), Ellie Fruit (Henderson Co.), Kyvin Goodin-Rogers (Marion Co.), Becca Greenwell (Owensboro Catholic), Jessica Hardin (Wayne Co.), Whitney Hartlage (Mercy), Billie Hearn (Grant Co.), Jessica Jones (Boone Co.), Cheyenne Madden (Clay Co.), Cassidy Martin (Mercer Co.), Kierra Muhammad (Paul Dunbar), Katie Pippen (Tates Creek), Taylor Porter (Lawrence Co.), Logan Powell (Marion Co.), Beth Rates (Hancock Co.), Chanel Roberts (North Hardin), Serena Sandusky (Bryan Station), Leah Schaefer (Highlands), Chelsey Shumpert (Paducah Tilghman), Aereon Smith (Butler), Jansen Starks (Murray), Kayla Styles (Manual), Brittany Vaughn (Bowling Green), Olivia Voskul (Notre Dame), Brittany Warren (Pulaski Co.), Kasey Young (Danville).