The best news in high school sports this week: Roscoe Denney was released from Cardinal Hill Hospital in Lexington, ending more than two months of concern among his countless basketball colleagues and friends.
Denney suffered a stroke in late February in his London apartment, and was air-lifted to the University of Kentucky Hospital. The news spread quickly on social media. Denney subsequently had serious respiratory problems and was in a coma for a while during 35 days at UK. By late March, his condition improved enough that he was transferred to Cardinal Hill, where he spent 38 more days. Finally, on Tuesday, Denney got to go home, in this case, a niece's home in Northern Kentucky where his sister Shirley is also helping him get back on his feet.
"I want to put it all behind me," Denney said, "and look to keep getting better."
Denney has coached basketball for more than 40 years. He's been at 12 high schools and two colleges, and has enjoyed a lot of success. He made it to the Sweet Sixteen twice as a head coach (Danville, 1990 and Breathitt County, 1996) and nine times as an assistant. He was on Dave Fraley's staff at Pulaski County when it won the 1986 state title, and on Steve Wright's staff at South Laurel when it won it all in 2005. Denney's most recent state tournament appearance was in 2012 as an assistant at North Laurel.
Denney said part of his health problems, including high blood pressure, were because he was not taking care of himself. He cut back on Diet Mountain Dew, pretzels and coffee, but he used a torn meniscus as an excuse not to exercise. He lost 48 pounds in 73 days in the hospital, and he hopes to lose 50 more.
"I'm going to be fine," he said. "I'm so grateful for what everybody did for me. And I truly believe everybody's prayers are what carried me through."
Denney, 64, has heard people say he should give up basketball because of the stress involved, but that's not likely to happen. "I'll probably be back at North Laurel next season," he said.
■ Scott County baseball coach Scott Willard never worries about senior catcher Matt Malesick or senior designated hitter/first baseman Will Pitts suffering brain-lock on the diamond.
"They always seem to make the right decisions because of their intelligence," Willard said. "It's like they're always thinking two or three plays ahead." Malesick and Pitts both take honors classes, both sport GPAs more than 4.0, and both will be valedictorians come graduation day.
Willard asks a lot of Malesick, who's started behind the plate the last two years. "I call our catcher the quarterback of the baseball team," Willard said. "He keeps everybody in the game because he can see them all. When somebody bunts and there's a first-or-third situation, he makes all those calls." Malesick leads Scott County with a .443 batting average. He has 25 runs batted in, 22 runs and three homers. Pitts is hitting .290 with 15 runs and 13 RBI.
■ Covington Catholic's 10-0 rout of Covington Holy Cross this week improved the Colonels' record to 20-5. This is the 28th year in a row they've won at least 20 games under Coach Bill Krumpelbeck.
■ Alan Stein says he can be "blamed or credited for being one of the early and loud advocates" for a 16-team state baseball tournament. More than a decade ago, when he was president and CEO of the Lexington Legends, he talked about making Applebee's Park (now Whitaker Bank Ballpark) the home of a baseball Sweet Sixteen. In 2010, the idea became a reality. Last September, Lawrence County Coach Travis Feltner submitted a proposal to the KHSAA to divide baseball into four classes. Feltner thinks the current one-class, 16-team tournament gives big schools too much of an advantage, especially with pitching depth. But Stein thinks it would be a mistake to dismantle the current format. "This one-class deal is the beauty of what we have in Kentucky. When you have a destination point like Rupp Arena or Whitaker Bank Ballpark, and kids point to it all year long, it's a fantasy for them, their families and their communities. The experiences of those kids far outweigh the few coaches who worry about whether they can win it all or not. I've been directly told by grandparents with tears in their eyes how much they appreciated this moment."
■ The All "A" Classic baseball tournament had perfect weather at Whitaker Bank Ballpark last weekend. Mike Reeves, who coordinates the event, said it was only the second time in its 12-year history that rain didn't cause some kind of disruption or postponement.
■ Zyler Cosby (Tates Creek) wrapped up his senior season of baseball at Northwestern Ohio by earning first team all-Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference honors. Cosby led the WHAC in runs (58) and was fourth in batting average (.411).
■ Eric Baugh of Villa Madonna won the Dream Mile at St. Xavier in a time of 4:11.89, edging Paul Laurence Dunbar's Kendall Muhammad (4:11.91) and Tates Creek's Ben Young (4:14.71). LCA's Aaron Wier finished 10th (4:22.42). Alena Sapienza-Wright of Manual won the girls' race in 5:01.95. Lexington Catholic's Michaela Reinhart was third (5:03.16); Sayre's Maddox Patterson was eighth (5:12.49), and Dunbar's Annie Vandenberg was ninth (5:13.29).
■ When Nathan Novosel, Jordan Smart and Taylor Stewart were seniors at Lexington Catholic and leading the Knights to the semifinals of the 2008 state basketball tournament, it was easy to figure they were going to be successful in life. Where are they now? Novosel, who played college hoops at Rochester and graduated in 2012, works in Washington D.C., for Teach for America's National Veterans Initiative, recruiting military veterans to become teachers. Smart, who played at Vanderbilt and graduated in 2012, will graduate from UK College of Law on Friday. Stewart, who played at the Air Force Academy and graduated in 2012, is flying C-21 jets for military brass in Qatar.
■ Condolences to the family of Logan Bailey, who died last week. He was 75. Bailey was a longtime supporter of South Lexington Youth Baseball, and served two terms as its president, and two years ago one of its fields was named for him. Bailey also had a newspaper background. He covered high school sports for the Lexington Herald in the late 1960s and early '70s.
■ Willie Feldhaus is the new boys' basketball coach at Male. The brother of Madison Central Coach Allen Feldhaus Jr., Willie was at Russell County nine years before getting out of coaching after the 2014 season. Before that he was an assistant at Madison Central for 11 years.
■ Elizabethtown junior Erin Boley, the leading vote-getter on the Herald-Leader's all-state basketball team, played well in the USA 3-on-3 national tournament at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., last weekend. Boley's Southern Starz were runners-up in the team competition, and then she won MVP honors. "It is a really special thing. I didn't see it coming at all," she said. "It means a lot, especially since there is really good competition here." She will play at Notre Dame.
■ The Indiana High School Athletic Association has adopted a rule intended to curb transfers in basketball. A transfer student who received instruction from a coach, manager or trainer at the receiving school in the 12 months prior to the transfer, or 90 days after the transfer, will be ineligible. According to the Indianapolis Star, the rule could limit the practice of schools hiring assistant coaches affiliated with summer travel teams.
■ Katie Moore, Leslie County's all-time leading scorer (almost 3,400 points), signed with Centre College.
■ Piper Lindsey won't be rehired as girls' basketball coach at Mason County after leading the Royals to the Sweet Sixteen semifinals this year. Lindsey went 75-53 in four seasons, 23-12 this year.
■ Lexington schools dominate the Class 3A boys' track and field rankings: No. 1 Henry Clay, No. 2 Paul Laurence Dunbar; No. 3 Tates Creek, No. 4 North Hardin, No. 5 Bryan Station. In 2A boys, Lexington Catholic is No. 3. In 3A girls, Bryan Station is No. 3. In 2A girls, Lexington Catholic is No. 2.
■ Brandon Smoot (Paul Dunbar), a freshman at Asbury, earned third-team all-Southeastern Lacrosse Conference honors. Asbury twin brothers Didier and Gabriel Fardin (Tates Creek), also freshmen, were honorable mention. This was Asbury's first season of lacrosse.