Region: 9th Record: 29-5 Enrollment: 511
Aric Russell is in his ninth season coaching Newport's boys' team. Before that he coached the girls for three years. He has an overall record of 188-145. He played high school ball at Campbell County.
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DaMarkco Foster6-3 sr. 14.1 ppg
Casey McDaniel 6-5 sr. 14.9 ppg
Anthony Luther 6-3 sr. 11.7 ppg
Cody Collins 6-4 sr. 7.9 ppg
Brandon Sizemore 5-10 sr. 5.7 ppg
The regional final that created the most buzz across the state was Newport's 60-34 victory over defending state champ Holmes. That the Wildcats won was a surprise. That they routed Holmes was a shock. Newport's school-record 29 victories took on a new light. "For us to be that successful against Holmes was a big confidence boost for our kids," Russell said, "and I think it'll carry over" into the Sweet Sixteen. Newport has a winning mix. McDaniel and Collins provide an inside presence. Foster and Luther can create on offense and disrupt on defense. Sizemore is a reliable three-point shooter. Brandon Tucker is a solid sixth man. Russell said the challenge against Christian County will be coping with the Colonels' quickness and athleticism on both ends of the court.
Player to watch
When school began last fall, Russell heard a player (Foster) had transferred in. "I knew nothing about him, so we made a call to where he had been (Cincinnati Woodward). When we found out they were upset he had left, we knew he must be pretty good." Russell was apprehensive at first because Newport already had a very good team coming back. "I was worried a transfer could mess things up, or we could have jealousy issues," Russell said. "But DaMarkco came in with such an unselfish attitude that it really helped ease the transition." Foster is averaging 14 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists.
Talk of the town
Newport's first region title in 48 years has created a lot of excitement in the school and community. "It's been unbelievable," Russell said. "This town has been very hungry for something like this for a long time. It's good to see people taking pride in Newport again."
Newport is in the state tournament for the first time since 1962. This is the Wildcats' 13th appearance overall. They were state runners-up in 1935 and '48.
Christian County Colonels
Region: 2nd Record: 29-4 Enrollment: 1,400
Kerry Stovall (176-89 in seven years at Christian County) has his team in the state tournament for the fourth time in five years. He previously coached at West Hopkins, Dawson Springs and Muhlenberg South.
Anthony Hickey 5-10 jr. 15.3 ppg
Tre Gayle 5-10 sr. 7.8 ppg
Donovan Kates 6-5 jr. 15.0 ppg
Shaquille Wilson 6-4 sr. 11.6 ppg
Marcoreyon Tandy 6-2 jr. 5.4 ppg
Christian County has all the makings of a title contender: state tournament experience, athleticism, a great point guard, good shooters and a deep bench. They've tested themselves against tough competition this season. "The best way to describe this team is that we had one game where we scored 101 points, and we had eight guys in double figures," Stovall said. "That's got nothing to do with coaching. That's a group of kids who play well together and share the ball." Four guys (including super sixth man Veontae Lewis) average in double figures. Christian County does a good job forcing a fast tempo with pressure defense, and it has an offense that doesn't hesitate to fire and fall back.
Player to watch
Hickey is fun to watch — if you can see him. He's usually just a blur. "I don't think anybody in the state is as quick as Anthony," Stovall said. "He's got another gear, and he's under control in it and can get things done in it." Hickey, a junior point guard, not only leads Christian County in scoring, he also averages more than five assists, five rebounds and four steals. He's shooting 42 percent from three-point range. "He's really matured throughout the year," Stovall said. "He does a great job of creating his own shot and finding the open man."
Christian County is in the Sweet Sixteen for the fourth time in five years and for the 16th time overall. The Colonels were runners-up in 1976 and '79.