High School Sports

Mike Fields' notebook: LCA boys finally shake Lexington Catholic's rule

Lexington Christian Academy made history this week. The Eagles beat Lexington Catholic in boys' basketball for the first time in school history, ending a 20-year losing streak to the Knights.

Lexington Catholic had won 36 in a row against LCA. Only three of those victories were by fewer than 10 points; 26 were by more than 20 points. (The KHSAA made the Knights forfeit two wins over LCA from the 2002-03 season, but that didn't erase the reality of those 91-52 and 82-47 losses.)

The most low-key guy in LCA's gym after the Eagles' 61-57 victory Tuesday was Coach Tommy Huston. He was thrilled for his undermanned underdogs, who played without injured senior star Taylor Barnette. Huston was an assistant at Lexington Catholic for more than 30 years, and current Knights Coach Brandon Salsman was one of his players. After the game, Huston and assistant Brad Carter, a former Knights player, reminded their team to be gracious in victory. Huston said when he shook hands with Salsman, he told him the win meant a lot because LCA beat "a really good team and really good program."

Salsman, whose Knights were without injured senior starter Craig Floyd, was happy for his former mentor. "Tommy always watched out for me here and taught me everything I know about defense in basketball."

Carter said he was "super excited for our kids and program." Having been involved on both sides of LCA's losing streak, Carter noted that "any thought of 'bittersweet' (feelings) had passed."

LCA got a monster game from Patrick Nicodem, who hit five three-pointers and had 25 points in the first half. He finished with 27. Tyler Harville had 17 points, and Jon Lannertone added 11. Freshman Matt Rose hit two clinching free throws in the closing seconds. Huston said Barnette "was a big part of the win even though he wasn't on the court. The example he's set in practice and in the weight room . . . the other boys have seen it and fed off it. We wouldn't be here without Taylor."

LCA doesn't have statistics from the first 15 years of its program. If anyone has stats or records on former players and teams, contact Carter at bcarter@lexca.org or (859) 422-5781.

■ No statewide stats are kept on taking charges, but Adam Coffey of Monticello probably ranks No. 1. The 6-1 senior has taken more than 80 charges in his career, including six in one game this season. "He's the best I've ever seen" at it, Coach Trevis Upchurch said. "His best asset is being in good off-the-ball defensive position and seeing what's taking place on the court." Upchurch likened Coffey's knack for taking charges "to having a good shot blocker."

■ Sheldon Clark's boys (14-2) are looking like a strong contender in the 15th Region with the return of B.J. Moore, who quit the team this time last season. Coach Kevin Spurlock said Moore, a 6-3 senior, needed a break to take care of some off-the-court issues. "He's not a happy-go-lucky kid. He takes everything seriously. But I think he realized he missed basketball." Moore, closing in on 2,000 points for his career, is averaging 18 this season. He and 6-7 sophomore Justin Johnson are a strong 1-2 punch. Spurlock described Johnson, averaging 15 points and 14 rebounds, as a "man-child, the real deal" who's drawing interest from Indiana, Purdue and Butler.

■ North Oldham's David Levitch had a school-record 37 points (all coming in three quarters) in a rout of Spencer County. The 6-2 junior was 7-for-7 on three-pointers, and also had four assists, three rebounds and three steals.

■ Manual's top-rated girls suffered their first loss of the season, falling to Mercy 67-65 Tuesday night. Next up for the Crimsons is a visit to No. 2 Marion County on Saturday. Manual beat Marion County 56-54 in last year's state semifinals.

■ Boone County senior and Florida signee Sydney Moss broke the school scoring record held by Michelle Cottrell. Moss has 1,843 points. She's averaging 25 points and 11 rebounds this season for the Rebels, who are 14-1. Their only loss was to Princeton (Ohio).

■ Paul Laurence Dunbar junior Mike Smith got his 1,500th career point in Tuesday's win over Tates Creek. Smith is in first season at Dunbar after transferring from Sayre.

■ Murray Coach Mechelle Cadwell Turner won her 300th game when the Tigers beat Heath this week. In her 16 years as coach, Murray has won two 1st Region titles and been to seven All "A" Classic state tournaments.

■ Referees in the 12th Region Lake Cumberland Basketball Officials Association are wearing pink whistles this week in memory of Kelly Gentry, who died from cancer two months ago at age 36. Mr. Gentry, of Crab Orchard, refereed basketball for 13 years. He also officiated baseball for 17 years and football for 12 years. "He was a great friend and person to all who knew him," said Greg Price, president of the basketball officials association. Mr. Gentry, who graduated from Rockcastle County in 1994, will be honored Friday night between the Rockets' girls' and boys' games.

■ Henderson County tied a school record for fewest points in a 62-29 loss to Warren Central. The Colonels lost to Henderson City 41-29 during the 1956-57 season.

■ Note to basketball fans: leave the baby powder at home. Last March, the boys' 11th Region finals at EKU's McBrayer Arena was delayed after Madison Central students threw handfuls of baby powder into the air before tip-off. The white cloud wafted down to the court, making it slick and unplayable. It took about 30 minutes to mop the floor. The same thing happened at East Jessamine last week. West Jessamine students tossed baby powder and it settled onto the court, delaying the start of the cross-town rivalry by an hour while the floor was cleaned.

■ A familiar face is back refereeing boys' high school basketball. Rick Chasteen, who quit blowing the whistle in 2001 to assign and supervise officials for the Bluegrass Basketball Association, has returned to the court.

One of the most respected referees to work in Lexington in the 1980s and '90s, Chasteen said 25 years of experience, including several state tournaments, made his return to officiating easy. But his 61-year-old body can be contrary at times.

"Physically, some things that used to work don't work like they used to," he said with a smile. "But the relationships with the coaches are still there, and judgment-wise, the games are pretty easy."

■ North Hardin senior guard Jermaine Ruttley, who missed all of last season with a broken leg and 11 of the first 12 games this season with a stress fracture, returned to the lineup and had 21 points and nine rebounds in a rout of Fort Knox.

■ Northern Kentucky University's men's basketball team had a 12-0 record and No. 8 national ranking in Division II going into a game at Missouri S&T Thursday night. Three former Kentucky high school stars start for NKU: 6-5 senior Jon VanHoose (Russell), averaging 13.1 points; 6-4 sophomore Chad Jackson (Scott County), averaging 11.3 points and 5.8 rebounds, and 6-1 junior Ethan Faulkner (Elliott County), averaging 8.5 points and 4.2 assists. The Division II ratings also include unbeaten Kentucky Wesleyan (12-0) and defending national champ Bellarmine (11-1).

■ Lexington Christian will play host Corbin in the Cumberland Falls Pigskin Classic on Aug. 25. The first game of the football doubleheader will match Knox Central and Knoxville (Tenn.) Karns.

■ Former WKU head football coach David Elson, who served as defensive coordinator for Franklin-Simpson's Class 4A runner-up team this season, has been hired as defensive coordinator at New Mexico State.

■ Highlands receiver Austin Sheehan, who previously said he would walk on at UK, told the Cincinnati Enquirer he's looking at other college options. Sheehan is visiting EKU, where a scholarship might be available, and considering a walk-on offer from Cincinnati. He planned to talk to Indiana and some Mid-American Conference schools. "I love UK and always wanted to go there, and that's where my family's heart is," Sheehan said. "But I really don't know what I'm going to do."

■ Former Lexington Catholic football standout Will Whitman has been named to CBS Sports' freshman All-America team after starting at Harvard this season.

Whitman's fellow honorees on the offensive line are from Auburn, LSU, South Carolina and Southern Cal. Not bad company. Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater was the quarterback on the freshman All-America team.

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