Boys' 7th Region too close to call
We're exactly one month away from the start of district tournaments on Feb. 22, so it's time to start thinking about Sweet Sixteen picks.
Louisville Trinity is the hottest boys' team in the state. Winner of three prestigious regular-season tournaments — King of the Bluegrass, Republic Bank Holiday Classic and Louisville Invitational Tournament — the Shamrocks take a 15-game winning streak into Friday night's game against archrival St. Xavier in Freedom Hall.
But Trinity is anything but a lock to get to the Sweet Sixteen. Coach Mike Szabo's Rocks, led by Mr. Basketball candidate Josh Sewell, are one of eight teams from the 7th Region in Dave Cantrall's top 25. I'd feel much more confident picking three All "A" schools to get to Rupp Arena — Campbellsville (5th Region), Shelby Valley (15th) and Fairview (16th).
Trinity, No. 4 in Cantrall's ratings, is No. 1 in the Associated Press poll for the first time in five years. This week in 2005, the Rocks were 19-1, but they wound up not making the Sweet Sixteen.
■ Shelby Valley's boys, who'll try to defend their Touchstone Energy All "A" Classic title in Richmond next week, risk their 53-game home-court winning streak when they play Christian County on Friday night. Shelby Valley is No. 6 in the state; Christian County is No. 10. Elisha Justice had 31 points and 10 assists in Shelby Valley's victory over Pikeville in the All "A" 15th Region title game last week. Christian County, which lost to defending state champ and No. 8 Holmes in overtime last Saturday, bounced back to beat No. 15 Bowling Green on Tuesday night. Anthony Hickey, a 5-foot-10 senior guard, led the Colonels with 20 points and nine rebounds. Hickey told the Bowling Green Daily News he is expecting a scholarship offer from Western Kentucky.
■ Elizabethtown's 6-9 senior Curtis Washington, whom Rick Bolus rated the top college prospect in the state, has quit his high school team. Washington, little known as a junior, earned Bolus' attention last summer and wound up getting a scholarship offer from Southern California. After signing with the Trojans in November, he never met expectations this season. Plagued by knee problems, he played in only eight games and was averaging eight points and eight rebounds. After Coach James Haire pulled him out of Tuesday's game against John Hardin, Washington left the bench, went to the locker room and took off his uniform. On Wednesday, Haire said Washington wasn't in school, and that he hadn't heard from him. "As far as I'm concerned, he's done," Haire said. "I'm 99.9 percent sure he won't be back (on the team)." Haire had success with stars Steffphon Pettigrew, Mr. Basketball in 2007, and Antwain Barbour, who led E-town to the 2000 state title.
■ Knott County Central senior guard Stuart Stamper's 21 points in a win over Breathitt County pushed him past 2,000 career points. He's the school's all-time top scorer in boys' hoops.
■ Dan Manley didn't help Marconi invent the radio, but the Mount Sterling sportscaster has been calling high school games a long time. That was made clear last Saturday when Manley was chatting with Knott Central Coach Dave Fraley about the early 1970s when Fraley was a young coach at Powell County. Manley's station, WMST, used to do some Powell County games, including a memorable shootout against Breathitt County. Manley, a high school senior at the time, got to Powell County, set up his equipment and checked with the phone company to make sure he was connected back to his station. The pay phone at the school was out of order — this was long before cell phones — so Manley had no access to a trouble-shooting line. But he had no reason to think anything was amiss. It turned out to be a great game. Powell County won in double-overtime. Keyed up after an entertaining night of basketball, Manley drove back to Mount Sterling. When he arrived at the station after midnight, the guy who'd been running the board was locking up. Manley asked how everything had gone. "He told me, "We lost you during the pre-game.'" Manley's vivid descriptions of the game had never been heard. Almost 40 years later, he can laugh about it. "One of my finest moments lost forever," Manley said.
■ Greenwood senior guard Dee Anderson has moved past Jason Lathrem and is the No. 2 scorer in the program's history. Anderson has 1,638 points, and he trails only 1996 Mr. Basketball Daymeon Fishback's 2,214 career points. Anderson is averaging 21.5 points and 9.2 rebounds this season.
■ Scott County High School is collecting peanut butter to send to earthquake victims in Haiti. Part of the drive will be in conjunction with a boys' doubleheader on Tuesday. Highlands plays Menifee County at 6, followed by Scott County facing Franklin County. Admission for the two games will be $3 and a jar of peanut butter.
■ Lexington Christian Academy's Sarah Beth Barnette, a University of Kentucky signee, had a career-high 43 points and 14 rebounds against Doss last week. The 6-foot-2 senior is averaging 26 points and seven rebounds. LCA Coach Jason Seamands said Barnette has developed into a more complete player. Still deadly from long range, she can now put the ball on the floor and get to the rim, and that means more free throws. Barnette also leads the team in steals and blocked shots.
■ Seventeen days after Bracken County's girls lost to St. Patrick 70-38, they upset St. Pat 52-50 to win the 10th Region All "A" title. Senior point guard Katelyn Meyer had 11 points, five rebounds and two assists for the winners. She made the All-Tournament team along with teammates Hannah Haight and Brittany Burden. Bracken County's only other All "A" region title was in 1990.
■ Marion County freshman Makayla Epps, daughter of former UK player Anthony Epps, has already eclipsed 1,000 points in her career.
■ When Dixie Heights sophomore Matt Trammel, the team's leading returning scorer, was sidelined by back problems after Christmas, eighth-grader Brandon Hatton took over at point guard and flourished. The 5-foot-11 Hatton, who had been starting at off guard, has averaged almost 20 points over the last nine games. He had 34 in a win over Simon Kenton. Hatton's development hasn't surprised Dixie Heights Coach Ken Chevalier. "Brandon played in all our varsity games last year, so we knew then he was special. He's a sports savvy kid who understands the game and is naturally strong. He has unlimited range on his jump shot. That's unheard of for an eighth-grader."
■ Pairings for the state basketball tournaments will be drawn Jan. 29, with WKYT-27 airing it live at 1 p.m. The girls' Houchens Industries Sweet Sixteen is March 10-13 in Diddle Arena in Bowling Green. The boys' PNC Sweet Sixteen is March 17-20 in Rupp Arena.
■ LCA graduate Emily London is the most accurate three-point shooter in Division I basketball. London, a 5-7 sophomore guard at Samford (Birmingham, Ala.) has hit 46 of 87 three-point attempts for 53 percent. Kelvin Lewis of Houston, shooting 45 percent from long range, is the men's Division I leader. London had a school-record 35 points in a win over Davidson to boost her average to 16 points. She's shooting 90 percent (72-for-80) from the foul line.
■ Clark County will honor Yeremiah Bell at halftime of Friday's 6 p.m. home game against Montgomery County. Bell, who plays defensive back for the Miami Dolphins, played football for Don Danko and basketball for Guy Strong at Clark County in the mid-1990s. A copy of his No. 23 Cardinals football jersey will be put in the school's trophy case. Bell, who played college ball at Eastern Kentucky, was a sixth-round draft choice of the Dolphins in 2003. He's been Miami's leading tackler the last two years. Current Clark County Coach Paul Columbia, who was an assistant when Bell played for the Cards, organized Friday's ceremony.
■ Former Tates Creek football coach Roy Walton celebrated his 80th birthday in style, with 250 people, including family, former players and former assistants, toasting and roasting him at the Signature Club of Lansdowne on Monday night. Walton had the last word, speaking for more than an hour, telling stories that occasionally contained a few facts. But Walton's main theme was how much he appreciated the evening: "I'm here to honor you. I'm a lucky man. You made me what I am."
■ When Brian Kelly was the football coach at Cincinnati, he was unsuccessful in recruiting Austin Collinsworth of Highlands and Tate Nichols of Ryle. But Kelly's move to Notre Dame was enough to get both players. Collinsworth committed to the Irish a couple weeks ago. Nichols, who had earlier committed to Stanford, changed his mind and cast his lot with Notre Dame this week. The 6-7, 285-pound Nichols played tight end at Ryle but will be an offensive tackle in college.
■ Now that Newport Central Catholic Coach Bob Schneider has retired as the state's all-time winningest football coach (345 victories), how long will it take for somebody to tie or eclipse his record? It could happen as soon as next season. Bell County Coach Dudley Hilton is 13 wins behind Schneider, and his Bobcats figure to be a Class 4A title contender in 2010. Bell County has averaged 12 wins over the last five years, including a 15-0 state championship season in 2008. Belfry Coach Philip Haywood is 18 victories behind Schneider's total, but it looks as if he'll be chasing Hilton in the future.
■ Scott County catcher Luke Wright and outfielder Tyler Fendley signed to play college baseball at Pikeville.