When Augusta stunned Mason County 72-61 in the boys' 39th District semifinals last year, it was a historic upset because it was Augusta's first victory in 29 tries against Mason County, and it kept the Royals out of the 10th Region Tournament for the first time in 16 years.
That was nothing compared to what happened Tuesday night, though. Augusta shocked Mason County in the district semifinals again, 61-60 in overtime. "This is way more crazy than last year," Panthers Coach Jason Hinson said. "I don't think anybody gave us a shot to win this game. This was a lot bigger upset."
Dave Cantrall would agree. Going into district play last year, Cantrall rated Mason County No. 59 in the state and a nine-point favorite over No. 125 Augusta. Going into district play this week, Cantrall had Mason County No. 1 in the region, No. 25 in the state and an 18-point favorite over Augusta. But led by Brent Bach, the Panthers prevailed.
Bach, who didn't score in the first quarter, couldn't be stopped after that as he poured in 48 points. "Brent was possessed. I don't know how else to put it," Hinson said. "He had 48 of our 61 points. It was the best offensive performance I've seen in this region since Chris Lofton."
Bach hit four three-pointers and 18 of 21 free throws. His driving layup with two seconds left forced overtime. He then won it with a free throw with eight-tenths of a second left.
"It was a great feeling beating Mason County last year," the 6-foot-2 senior said. "It was even better this year because they were a lot better team, ranked in the state, with some really good players. But I went into the game with the mindset I didn't want to go home anytime soon." Bach, closing in on 2,600 career points, is drawing attention from Bellarmine, NKU and EKU, among others.
Hinson said Augusta toughened itself up by playing seven top 25 teams this season, hoping to reach some lofty goals.
"Bigger dreams are still out there," he said. "We want to get to Rupp Arena. If we somehow could get to Lexington, holy cow ..."
■ Augusta has only about 100 students in its high school, but that's still twice as many as Piarist, a tiny private school in Floyd County.
Piarist had its own shining moment this week when its girls' team won the school's first-ever district tournament game. The Knights beat South Floyd 53-17 behind senior Cathryn Calhoun's 21 points and eighth-grader Lauren Wright's 16.
Piarist lost to Allen Central in the district finals the next night, but that didn't bother Knights Coach Kevin Tackett. "Knowing Cathryn Calhoun is going to UPike and has four more years of playing ball if she wants, that's my district championship," he said. "Knowing a kid is pursuing his or her dream, that's my deal right there."
Tackett isn't chasing wins. He's trying to influence young lives. That's why he coaches both the Piarist boys' and girls' basketball teams. They only practice about four hours a week because of the school's college-prep academic demands.
So with a tiny pool of student-athletes, and limited practice time, it's no wonder Tackett's seven-year record as girls' coach is 33-137, and his four-year record as boys' coach is 14-65.
Tackett wanted to reduce his workload to spend more time with his family by not coaching one of the teams this season, but the kids rebelled. They said if he quit, they would transfer or wouldn't play.
"I'll coach them both again next year, too," Tackett said. "I can't let a kid down."
■ Riverside Christian senior Sean Hughes hit a state-record 152 three-pointers this season, surpassing the 145 made by Tollesboro's Chris Harrison in 1991. Hughes averaged 32.2 points a game this season, and finished his career as Riverside's all-time top scorer with 2,399 points.
■ Clinton County senior Colby Langford and junior Keifer Dalton have each topped 1,500 career points in the past few weeks. Dalton is the program's fourth all-time leading scorer with 1,606 points. Langford is sixth with 1,501 points. Both are four-year starters and have led Clinton County to an overall record of 85-33.
■ East Jessamine's girls beat West Jessamine in the district semifinals for a school-record 18th victory, eclipsing the 17 they had last year. The Jaguars had only one winning season in the 12 years before last season. "It's a pretty remarkable story of resilience," Coach Jacqueline Coleman said. East Jessamine has just one senior — Maddison Stollings — on its roster. The Jags are led by junior guards Sarah Rainwater and Emma Young, and sophomore post player Bairesha Gill.
■ Pikeville senior Rachel Potter has become the program's all-time top scorer with 2,335 points. She also is the career assist leader with 604. Potter has had 26 double-doubles, and four triple-doubles for Pikeville, which is shooting for its first regional title since 1980.
■ Magoffin County sophomore Jassmine "Jassy" Howard had a quadruple-double (10 points, 11 assists, 11 rebounds, 10 steals) in a 63-38 district win over Sheldon Clark on Tuesday night.
■ Boyd County senior Taylor Wheeler became the program's all-time leading scorer with a 25-point game against Rowan County last week. Wheeler has 1,737 points, breaking the record of 1,727 set by Paula Hatten 37 years ago.
■ Bath County 6-2 sophomore Sarah Price, had her first triple-double — 18 points, 11 rebounds, 10 blocks — against East Carter. Price also topped 1,000 points in that game. Coaches from WKU and Butler were in attendance watching Price.
■ Greenwood boys' basketball coach Jason Stonebraker resigned Tuesday amid an investigation of allegations of inappropriate electronic communication with an 18-year-old Greenwood student, according to the Bowling Green Daily News. Greenwood opened district play against Bowling Green on Thursday night.
■ Sloan Cromwell is the first girl in Fayette County to make a high school baseball team. The Paul Laurence Dunbar sophomore survived the final cut for the Bulldogs' junior varsity. "We evaluated her just like we did every player — on hitting, arm strength, speed," first-year Coach Seth Knight said. "Based on tangible numbers from radar guns and stopwatches, she was good enough to make the team." Knight said Cromwell, a second baseman, has always played baseball and competed against boys, so this is nothing new. "She doesn't like softball. She wanted to keep playing baseball. It's a testament to her that she pushed through what everybody was saying." Cromwell, who didn't make the tryout cut last year, said she's excited about earning a uniform. "It's been a big dream of mine to play for Dunbar. I'm honored to make it."
■ The Kentucky Track and Cross Country Coaches Association will host the state indoor track and field championships the next two Saturdays at Mason County. More than 1,200 athletes are expected to compete. The Class 3A, middle school, masters and open divisions will be held this Saturday. Class A and 2A competition will be held on March 8. All proceeds from the meet will go toward bringing back the Charles M. Ruter Mason-Dixon Games that were canceled last fall.
■ T.J. Maynard is the new football coach at Russell. He replaces the legendary Ivan McGlone, whom he played for in the late 1980s. Maynard was previously head coach at Greenup County for seven years, and Raceland for four years. He led the Rams to the Class A semifinals last year. His overall record in 11 years as a head coach is 76-50.
■ Whitley County has hired Jason Chappell as its new football coach. Chappell, an assistant at Middlesboro the past couple of years, was previously head coach at Perry Central, South Laurel and Campbellsville.
■ Henry Clay twins David and John Hernandez, runners-up at 106 and 113 pounds in the state wrestling tournament last weekend, have signed with St. Catharine College. Award winners at state wrestling: Union County's Brock Ervin, Kentucky's first five-time champion (Orville Williams Outstanding Wrestler); Woodford County's David Carr, 126-pound champ (Forcht Uncommon Excellence); Conner's Trevor Thompson, fifth at 195 pounds (Kentucky Army National Guard Best & Brightest), and Dixie Heights' Branden Johnson, 285-pound champ (most pins in least total time: five in 2:51).
■ Paul Laurence Dunbar's Brandon Smoot is Asbury University's first in-state signee for its men's lacrosse program that will begin competition in the 2014-15 school year. Smoot is a defender for Dunbar.