High School Sports

Mike Fields: Tough road ahead for unbeatens Ballard, J-town

Paducah Tilghman's Cody Schultz (12) had his shot blocked by Ballard's Kelan Martin (3) in the last minute of the Bruins' 86-77 win Dec. 27. At 15-0, Ballard is one of four remaining undefeated boys' teams in the state.
Paducah Tilghman's Cody Schultz (12) had his shot blocked by Ballard's Kelan Martin (3) in the last minute of the Bruins' 86-77 win Dec. 27. At 15-0, Ballard is one of four remaining undefeated boys' teams in the state.

No. 1 Ballard and No. 2 Jeffersontown still sport perfect records as we fast-break into 2011, but it's still too early to speculate about either team's chances of becoming the first undefeated boys' state basketball champion since Brewers in 1948.

Let's at least give Ballard (15-0) and J-town (13-0) a couple more weeks of tough competition before we start speculating about crowning an unbeaten hoops king for the first time in 63 years.

J-town plays No. 3 Eastern on Friday night at Bellarmine in a rematch of the King of the Bluegrass finals won by the Chargers. Next week Ballard and J-town must fight through the Louisville Invitational Tournament. They could meet up in the finals, but getting there won't be easy. The semifinals could feature Ballard vs. Trinity, and J-town vs. Eastern.

Ballard also has upcoming dates with J-town (Jan. 21) and Eastern (Feb. 11).

History tells us the greatest teams can fall at least once on the long trek to a state title. Ashland's 1961 Tomcats (36-1) lost to Lafayette midway through the season. Seneca's 1963 Redskins (31-1) were upset by Carr Creek in the LIT finals. Central's 1969 Yellowjackets (35-1) lost to Shawnee in early December. Lafayette's 1979 Generals (36-1) made it through the regular season unscathed, but fell to Tates Creek in the district finals.

Dixie Heights (11-0) and John Hardin (11-0) are also still unbeaten, but it's hard to imagine either of them staying perfect.

There are three girls' teams still unbeaten: Campbell County (12-0), Hopkinsville (9-0) and J-town (12-0). Kentucky hasn't had an undefeated girls' champ since Marshall County in 1984.

■ Owensboro Catholic sophomore Becca Greenwell leads the state in scoring with a 36-point average. She already has 2,147 career points and is closing in on the school scoring record of 2,254 points set by Kris Miller, Miss Basketball in 1986. Greenwell broke Miller's single-game record of 48 points when she had 49 points, 17 rebounds, 12 steals and six assists in a win over Dayton Dunbar in Lexington Catholic's holiday tournament. "Becca has played unbelievable so far this season, considering most teams usually guard her with two people," Lady Aces Coach Ray Zuberer said. Greenwell is also averaging 12.6 rebounds, 4.2 steals and 3.7 assists.

■ Wolfe County's Sawyer Denniston had 52 points in a 73-69 win over Menifee County on Tuesday night. The 6-3 junior guard was 20-for-26 from the field and 11-for-15 from the foul line. He also had 13 rebounds. "It was a fun performance to watch," Coach Robert Scott Creech said. Denniston is averaging 24.5 points and 7.7 rebounds.

■ Pike County Central senior guard Hobo McCoy — what a great name! — is averaging 30.4 points. He's hit 37 of 77 three-pointers (48 percent) and 81 of 99 free throws (82 percent). McCoy has signed with Pikeville College. He and freshman Dylan Meade, who's averaging 17 points, have helped the Hawks win five in a row after they started the season with five consecutive losses. "Great kids and excellent students," Pike Central first-year coach Kelly Carwile said of the duo.

■ Three days after helping Newport Central Catholic win the Class 2A football championship, Jake Giesler was practicing basketball with the Thoroughbreds. The 6-7, 245-pound senior all-state lineman could play college football, but NewCath hoops coach Grant Brannen said basketball is Giesler's "true passion." It's showing in Giesler's recent play. He's helped NewCath to five wins in a row by averaging 22 points, 15 rebounds, four blocks and three assists. "Not bad for a kid who just got back from football a month ago," Brannen said.

■ Scott County's Billy Hicks became the third winningest high school boys' basketball coach in state history last week. He tied former Clay County Coach Bobby Keith for third place on the all-time list with 767 victories when Scott County beat, yep, Clay County, in the semifinals of the Cumberland Falls Invitational. "That was an odd coincidence," Hicks said. The next night Hicks got No. 768 against host Corbin, where he used to coach. "Who would've ever thought it'd happen that way?" Hicks said. William Kean set the state record with 856 victories at Louisville Central. Russell Williamson of Inez won 793 games.

■ After playing fourth fiddle to Scott County all-staters Chad Jackson, Ge-Lawn Guyn and Dakotah Euton the last couple years, Tamron Manning is getting his chance to shine. Manning had 202 points in 36 games last season. The 6-4 junior already has 205 points in 12 games this season. His scoring average has jumped from 5.6 to 17.1. After taking (and missing) only two three-pointers as a sophomore, he's 18-for-52 from long range this season. "It's weird," Manning said. "It seems like just yesterday I was an eighth-grader learning from everybody. Now I'm the older guy, teaching and showing everybody where they need to be."

■ Henry Clay's boys play host to Lexington Catholic in the Dunkin' Donuts National Shootout on Saturday. It will be their first regular-season meeting since the Knights beat Henry Clay on Nov. 30, 1993. They've played only twice since, both times in the region tournament. The Devils beat Lexington Catholic in the 2003 region semifinals. The Knights beat Henry Clay in the first round of the 2009 region. Saturday's schedule has Lincoln County playing Wolfe County at 5, followed by Henry Clay and Lexington Catholic at 6:30. The nightcap has Jeffersontown, No. 19 in USA Today's national ratings, taking on Cincinnati Roger Bacon at 8.

■ Kentucky high school basketball lost one of its most accomplished — and one of its nicest — people when Warren Cooper died last month. He was 90. Mr. Cooper, who described himself as an "old farm boy" from Bracken County, played, coached and refereed in the Sweet Sixteen. He starred on Brooksville's 1939 state title team and went on to have an All-America career at Morehead State. He coached Dilce Combs to the 1954 state tournament, and coached Morehead High for 14 years. Mr. Cooper refereed in the Sweet Sixteen four times. After retiring, Mr. Cooper was a fixture at high school games and attended more than 50 consecutive state tournaments. Donations can be made to the Warren H. Cooper Basketball Scholarship Fund, Rowan County Superintendent's Office, 121 E. Second St., Morehead, KY., 40351.

■ Hillary Moore of Leslie County, who averaged 30 points last year, isn't far off that number this season. The 5-7 senior is averaging 26.4 points and 8.0 rebounds, and has hit 110 of 124 free throws (89 percent).

■ Clinton County's Stevi Morgan, a 5-10 senior, averaged 27 points and 13 rebounds in the girls' Caveland Classic at Edmonson County. "She has the heart of a lion," Coach Carter Adams said of Morgan, who's averaging 15.5 points and 12.6 rebounds. "I feel she's one of the best players in the state that doesn't get the hype she deserves," Adams said.

■ West Carter's Kristen Perry got her 1,000th career point over the holidays. The daughter of former Lady Comets coach Von Perry, Kristen joined her sister, Leigh Audra Perry, and her aunt, Annette Messer, in the 1,000-point club.

■ Bowling Green star Chane Behanan had a triple-double (21 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds) in a rout of Barren County this week.

■ Fleming County freshman Darion Burns made the all-tournament team after scoring 106 points in four games in the Sandestin Hilton Blowout in Freeport, Fla.

■ Lafayette's All-City kicker Matt Green has committed to play college football at Oklahoma State. Green had eight field goals and converted 65 of 79 extra points in his career with the Generals.

■ Highlands junior QB Patrick Towles, who has led the Bluebirds to Class 5A state titles the last two years, has a scholarship offer from Louisville, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

■ Former Male star Michael Bush enhanced his status as an NFL free agent last Sunday by rushing 25 times for 137 yards and the go-ahead TD, and catching four passes for 34 yards in the Oakland Raiders' win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

■ Boyle County star linebacker Lamar Dawson, Mr. Football, will play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio on Saturday. It will be televised by NBC at 1 p.m.

■ Paris High School lost a longtime supporter when W.B. Stiles died a few weeks ago. Mr. Stiles was a scorekeeper for the Greyhounds football and basketball programs for three decades. His daughters Cathy and Dee Dee were part of the Lady Greyhounds' powerhouse basketball teams in the late 1970s and early '80s, and his son Kevin was part of Paris state title teams in football and track in the 1980s. Mr. Stiles' wife Audrey was a teacher at Paris.

■ Lafayette's wrestling team had a successful Christmas break. The Generals won the Region 7 super-duals with an 11-0 record, and were runners-up in the Giant 16 tournament in Indianapolis. Luke Rearic (103 pounds), Will Bryant (119), Jimmy Lacy (125) and Sam Bryant (189) each has lost only one match this season. Camden Hanley (112), Shamon Brown (215) and Bruce Robinson (285) have also wrestled well for Lafayette.