Don’t be surprised if you see Bryan Station Coach Shawn Ransom, maybe the best-dressed coach in town, sporting a “Roll Tide” red tie from time to time next season.
LaKyesha Stennis, a two-time All-City honorable mention while at Bryan Station, committed last week to play for the University of Alabama. She will have two years of eligibility left following a two-year stint at Southwest Tennessee Community College.
“LaKyesha is a long, athletic guard that will provide a sharp shooter on the perimeter for us,” Alabama Coach Kristy Curry said in a news release. “She will be able to keep defenses honest and aware of where she is. She is also a great defender and rebounder at her position. She is coachable and humble, and truly loves the game.”
Stennis was named a third-team All-American by the National Junior College Athletic Association after averaging 20.3 points per game as a sophomore, tops in the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association. She was named conference player of the year and became the Saluqis’ sixth player in program history to reach the 1,000-point mark.
“It was a good experience,” Stennis said of her time at Southwest Tennessee. “I’ve been through some ups and downs, but I think I’ve grown as a person. It’s made me the person I am today. You take the good with the bad.”
She was a senior when Ransom, her third high school coach in four seasons, took over the program in 2014. Stennis said he understood her personality the best and gave her confidence that lifted her into the position she’s been afforded now.
Stennis, who wants to study sports marketing and would like to get into coaching when she’s done playing, said she and Ransom talk all the time.
“He’s very family-oriented,” Stennis said. “He’s a good person who you can talk to about anything, and he’s actually a good coach as well, so that’s a plus.”
The 5-foot-9 combo guard looks forward to playing in one of the best Division I conferences. In last season’s final Associated Press poll, five Southeastern Conference teams were ranked in the top 25.
“I’ve been watching the SEC since I was young and have always wanted to compete on the level,” Stennis said. “I’m going to be very excited but know I’ve got some hard work to be able to compete against them kind of girls.”
Dishman inks with EKU
DeAndre Dishman, who missed the bulk of his senior year at Bryan Station after suffering a high-ankle sprain in the first game of the season, signed with Eastern Kentucky University on Thursday. The All-City honorable mention player committed to the Colonels this week via an announcement on Twitter.
Being able to have his family and local coaches near where he’ll play college ball was important to Dishman, who chose EKU over St. Francis-Brooklyn and a couple of prep schools. He said Coach Dan McHale initially sees him getting minutes at the four — possibly starting if he puts in the work — and possibly moving to small forward over time.
Dishman returned late in the season for the Defenders but was at only about 85 percent, he said. Station Coach Tommy Johnson called the 6-foot-6 senior “a coachable kid” with a good work ethic. His athleticism and rebounding ability will put him in a position to contribute immediately at EKU, Johnson said.
“When he improves and really works on his game a little bit more, especially on his jump shot, I think the sky will be the limit,” Johnson said.
Dishman felt as if he let his teammates down because of the injury. The Defenders entered 2015-16 with big expectations after a run to the 11th Region finals in 2015 but finished 10-19. Dishman “came back probably a little sooner” than he should have because he was motivated to help his team finish the year strong, Johnson said.
“It kind of crushed me a little bit,” Dishman said. “But I just came back and wanted to get better to be the best that I can be.”
He’s excited to join a Colonels squad that recently added some other Lexington-grown talent by way of transfer: former Lexington Catholic sharpshooter Dillon Avare (Louisville) and Jackson Davis (Butler), who graduated from Lafayette as the school’s all-time leader in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots.
▪ Henry Clay senior Isaiah “Pun” Tisdale committed to Vincennes University, a junior college in Indiana. The program has won three NJCCA titles and more than 1,500 games.
Tisdale was a first-team All-State selection by the coaches this season after averaging 19 points for the Blue Devils, who were ranked in the top 10 for most of the season and fell to eventual state champion Paul Laurence Dunbar in the 11th Region semifinals.
Leander Ridgeway, one of Tisdale’s backcourt partners in crime and a second-team All-City selection, signed with Lee University, a Division II school in Cleveland, Tenn.
Henry Clay had three baseball players ink letters of intent Wednesday: outfielder Casey Womack signed with Bellarmine, third baseman Cam Dacci with Berea College and outfielder Jordan Browning with Union College. Lacrosse player Vincent Pisacano committed to play for Centre.
▪ Oldham County’s Jacob Bates signed to play basketball and baseball at Centre College on Wednesday.
It was a bit of a surprise when Bart Williams was let go as boys’ basketball coach at Pikeville after averaging nearly 20 wins a season during his 10-year tenure.
It was less of a surprise that Williams didn’t stay unemployed long; he was introduced as Bath County’s new head coach last week.
Williams and his family had wanted to get closer to Central Kentucky because his sister and his wife’s sister live in the region, plus his mom and dad own a home there.
He had previously interviewed at Russell Independent in Greenup County. Williams enjoyed the small-school vibe; it reminded him of Pikeville in a lot of respects.
In fact, the night before his interview at Bath County, Williams almost backed out. His wife convinced him that it’d probably be a good experience, if nothing else. He called her afterward the next day and said, “Wow, I just really like this place.”
One of the most appealing aspects of the Bath County job was the relative lack of pressure compared to that at Pikeville. The regional alignment intrigued Williams, too. Bath County High, in Owingsville, is as close to 11th Region powers in Lexington, Scott County and Madison County as it is to many of its 16th Region compatriots. Schools in the 10th and 14th Region also are also in Bath’s backyard.
“They’re right in the middle of a bunch of regions, so there’s a lot of different avenues where we can schedule,” Williams said.
Much like the 15th Region in which he coached for the past decade, the 16th title is winnable for every team almost every season, he said.
“If you can put some players together and have some shooters, I really think every year that those regions are wide open for the most part,” he said. “ ... I think if we can go down there, take the two or three returning guys we have and get some of those freshmen to grow up a little faster than they originally thought, then we can compete maybe sooner rather than later.”
▪ Williams’ successor at Pikeville? Elisha Justice, the Mr. Basketball who led Shelby Valley to a state title in 2010 before playing at the University of Louisville and Pikeville. Justice was 32-10 in two seasons at June Buchanan and this season guided the Crusaders to their first 20-win season since 2007. It was also June Buchanan’s first trip to the 14th Region semifinals since that same year, when the Crusaders reached their only state tournament.
▪ The same week Paducah Tilghman alumnus Josh Forrest was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams, Kurt Barber — previously the Tigers’ most recent NFL draftee — was introduced as the head coach at their alma mater. Barber was selected in the second round by the New York Jets in 1992 after an All-Pac-10 career at linebacker for Southern California. The 1988 Mr. Football winner has been an assistant at various colleges, including Western Kentucky, Utah and Kent State.
▪ Allison Parks has been named cross country coach at Tates Creek. She was an assistant to previous coach Chris Hawboldt for the past three seasons.
Bats before betting
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▪ The All “A” Classic state tournament begins Saturday at Whitaker Bank Ballpark. Beechwood and West Carter kick things off at 10 a.m. Saturday’s other first-round games are: Carroll County vs. Owensboro Catholic, noon; Somerset vs. University Heights, 2:30 p.m.; and Campbellsville vs. Hazard, 4:30 p.m.
The semifinals are set for 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. Sunday, with the All “A” state championship to be played at 1 p.m.
▪ Scott County hosts the Frank Shoop Invitational Slugfest on Friday and Saturday. Here’s the schedule for Friday: Madison Central vs. Ryle, 5:30 p.m.; Scott County vs. Madison Central, 8 p.m. Saturday’s schedule: Scott County vs. Ryle, 10 a.m.; North Laurel vs. Ryle, 12:30 p.m.; Scott County vs. North Laurel, 3 p.m. The participants were a combined 70-18 entering Thursday.
▪ Trinity, which has not lost in 13 outings (12 wins, one draw), comes to town for a Saturday round-robin at Lexington Catholic. The Knights, the preseason favorite in the 11th Region, and Shamrocks, ranked in the top 10, will face off at 4 p.m. Other games: Lexington Catholic vs. Highlands, 11 a.m.; Trinity vs. Highlands, 1:30 p.m.
▪ Paul Laurence Dunbar will host a round-robin with North Oldham and Bryan Station on Saturday. The schedule: Dunbar vs. North Oldham, 10 a.m.; Bryan Station vs. North Oldham, 12:30 p.m.; Dunbar vs. Bryan Station, 4 p.m.
▪ Lafayette hosts Cooper at 1 p.m. Saturday. It will be the Generals’ fifth game in as many days, and the streak doesn’t stop there; Lafayette goes to Tates Creek for a rare 43rd District Sunday game (3 p.m.) before hosting Madison Central at 6 p.m. Monday. The Generals will have a three-day break after that.
▪ Henry Clay plays in a round-robin at Boone County on Saturday. The slate there: Boone County vs. Henry Clay, 10:30 a.m.; Henry Clay vs. Covington Catholic, 1 p.m.; Boone County vs. Covington Catholic, 4 p.m.
▪ East Carter softball remained unbeaten Thursday, defeating seven-time defending 16th Region champs Ashland Blazer 2-1. The Raiders, Kentucky’s only team without a loss, are now 22-0 and have allowed just eight runs all season.
▪ Ale Walker, a University of Kentucky junior who golfed in five state tournaments when she was at Paintsville, was named Tuesday to the SEC Women’s Golf Community Service Team. Walker, who sat out the 2015-16 season with an injury, has documented more than 100 hours of community service since July 1.