Memories go into overtime
When Bell County lost to Corbin 88-82 in four overtimes in the boys' 13th Region opener Wednesday night, it was like stepping back in time for Bobcats Coach Lewis Morris.
On March 6, 1984, Cumberland beat Corbin 63-58 in six overtimes in the 13th Region opener at Knox Central. Cumberland was led by junior star Lewis Morris' 22 points in the longest tournament game in Kentucky high school hoops history.
Morris mentioned that marathon to his assistants on the bus ride to The Arena in Corbin Wednesday night. Little did he know he would come so close to reliving it.
Bell County, led by Bryan Robbins' and Ben Madon's 22 points apiece, had its chances to upset region favorite Corbin. But Isaac Wilson's 43 points and some clutch free-throw shooting saved the Redhounds. "We had 'em where we wanted 'em, but just didn't finish it off," Morris said. "It still might be going if we hadn't had six players foul out. We got down to kids who hadn't been in a game all year."
■ Corbin Coach Tony Pietrowski watched the game film Thursday morning and "was amazed by how many players on both teams stepped up and made big plays. Both teams played unbelievable basketball. It's sad somebody had to lose."
Pietrowski, like Morris, has memories of a multiple-OT thriller from his playing days. "Unfortunately, it was the last game of my career (at Corbin) in 1994. We lost to Jackson County (102-99) in three overtimes in the regional tournament."
Morris said coaching in such a classic is more mentally draining than playing in one. "I might have felt a little fatigued physically after playing in a big game like that. But, dang, when you're coaching, it's one of the most mentally draining things you can do."
One thing that's more nerve-wracking for Morris is watching his seventh-grade daughter Maci play varsity ball for Bell County. "Oh, man, watching her and pulling for her is worse than coaching or playing," he said with a laugh.
■ Going into Thursday night's play, five defending boys' region champs have been eliminated from the race to Rupp Arena: Grayson County (3rd), Adair County (5th), Eastern (7th), Anderson County (8th) and Lexington Catholic (11th). Four defending girls' titlists are gone: state champ Iroquois (6th), along with Marshall County (1st), Casey County (12th) and Johnson Central (15th).
■ Shelby Valley star Elisha Justice is in this week's Sports Illustrated, featured in "Faces in the Crowd." Justice has set a state career record for steals (519 going into the 15th Region). He's also closing in on 2,000 points and 600 assists. Justice has been selected to play in the Midwest High School All Star Classic in St. Louis on March 27. Shelby Valley's Ashley Hatfield, meanwhile, has gotten offers from NCAA Division II schools Brevard College (N.C.) and King College (Tenn.). Hatfield, a 4.0 student, averages 15 points, nine rebounds and 3.5 assists.
■ Coaches will cast votes for Mr. and Miss Basketball over the next two weeks. The sponsoring Kentucky Lions Eye Foundation will announce Miss Basketball on March 23, and Mr. Basketball on March 26. Tryouts for the Kentucky all-stars will be held April 16-17 at Campbellsville University. The teams will be announced the following week. The Kentucky-Indiana games are June 11 at Bellarmine in Louisville, and June 12 at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
■ Did Louisville Trinity's loss to Male in the first round of the 7th Region tournament hurt Shamrocks star Josh Sewell's chances of being chosen Mr. Basketball? Sewell has a shot at being the first private school player to win the honor since Mike Silliman of St. Xavier was Mr. Basketball in 1962.
■ After making note last week of a game in which both teams scored at least 100 points, more examples of such shootouts were brought to my attention. One featured a 59-point performance by Chris Harrison, who led Tollesboro to a 110-107 victory over Maysville in the 1991 district finals. Breathitt County was involved in two of the double-100 games. Earlier this season, the Bobcats beat Letcher Central 107-100 in a holiday tournament at Harlan County. In 2001, Whitesburg's Brandon Brock hit a last-second shot for a 103-101 victory over Breathitt County. In 1982, Oneida Baptist outlasted Cawood 108-102. In 1995, South Hopkins beat Whitley County 104-101 in a Franklin-Simpson tournament. In the late 1960s, Russell beat McKell (and Don Gullett) 107-104 in overtime.
■ Covington Scott junior center Lauren Tibbs had 35 points, 16 rebounds and nine blocked shots in a 10th Region win over Mason County, and followed up with 24 points, 20 rebounds and 11 blocks in a loss to Clark County in the semifinals.
■ Leslie County junior Hillary Moore had 25 points, including the 2,000th of her career, in a loss to Breathitt County in the first round of the 14th Region tournament. Moore finished the season averaging a state-best 30.0 points and 6.7 rebounds.
■ Mason County senior Keller Menke had 14 points and 19 rebounds in the district semifinals against St. Patrick, and 28 points, including the game-winning basket, and 16 rebounds in the finals against Bracken County. Keller, who has more than 1,600 points and 800 rebounds in her career, signed with St. Catharine.
■ Owensboro Catholic freshman Becca Greenwell had 38 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists in a regional upset of host Meade County.
■ Pendleton County's girls won the district title for the first time in 15 years, and for only the fourth time in the last 35 years. Scott Collins' Ladycats are led by seniors Gab Kirsch, Beth King and Brook Meadows.
■ Condolences to Mason County boys' coach Chris O'Hearn, whose mother Dorothy died last week.
■ Covington Catholic grad Danny Noll, a 6-6 senior at Centre College, is a finalist for Division III player of the year. Noll is averaging 14 points and eight rebounds for Centre, which takes an 18-8 record into Friday's NCAA Division III tournament game against Eastern Mennonite in Harrisonburg, Va.
■ Bellevue High and Berea College grad Steve Ridder, in his 21st season as coach at Embry-Riddle, has the Eagles (28-5) rated No. 8 heading into next week's NAIA national tournament. Ridder, who won his 500th game last month, has a couple Kentuckians on his roster -- 6-3 junior Glenn Dalcourt (Franklin-Simpson) and 6-5 freshman Josh Seidel (North Laurel).
■ In something of a surprise, Franklin County senior Vance Hall was voted 11th Region player of the year by the region coaches. Lexington Christian's Will Evans was second, followed by Tates Creek's Ryan Fucci and Lafayette's Mike Walker. Rounding out the top 12, in order: Scott County's Chad Jackson and Dakotah Euton, Lexington Catholic's Jaylen Beckham, Tates Creek's Marcellus Barksdale, Madison Southern's Carrington Roberts, Scott County's Ge-Lawn Guyn, Lafayette's Domonique Hagans and Western Hills' J.T. Riddle.
■ Franklin County grad Barrett Meyer was named freshman of the year in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference. He led Transylvania in scoring (12.5 ppg) in conference play, and hit 49.5 percent of his three-pointers.
■ Jock Sutherland, one of the most colorful characters in Kentucky sports history, is the subject of a new book written by former Herald-Leader sports editor Stuart Warner. It details the life of Charles "Jock" Sutherland, his love for basketball, and his dream-come-true of coaching Lafayette to the Sweet Sixteen title in 1979. The book also tells about Jock's first coaching job at Gallatin County, which he led to its first (and only) state tournament; his days as an assistant at Alabama under C.M. Newton, and his stint as radio color man for University of Louisville basketball. Jock will be making the rounds at several book signings, including Saturday at Christian Book Store in Cynthiana, (2 p.m.); Sunday at Carmichael's Book Store in Louisville (4 p.m.); Tuesday at Joseph-Beth in Lexington (7 p.m.), and Thursday at the Gallatin County Library in Warsaw (7 p.m.).
■ Jeff James, who was part of two Bellevue state football title teams and four state runners-up, died last week, and was honored as a Tigers icon. James, 54, served as team manager for 37 years under eight coaches. "He was on the sidelines longer than anybody," said Ryan Recton. James had Down syndrome, but that didn't keep him from doing what he loved. "He was there through thick and thin, and inspired so many kids," said Recton, who thinks the sidelines at Bellevue's Gilligan Stadium should be named after James. A scholarship has been established in his name. Donations can be sent to the Jeff James Scholarship Fund, Bellevue High School, 201 Center St., Bellevue, KY. 41073.
■ Longtime Fleming County football assistant Bill Spencer is the Panthers' new head coach. He replaces Gene Peterson, who stepped down after 10 seasons.
■ Tates Creek football players Tyler Love (fullback) and Deontae Brank (athlete) have committed to Campbellsville University.