Ashland Blazer Coach Bill Bradley said he remembers seeing two, maybe three quadruple-doubles reported in Kentucky newspapers over his coaching career, which is in its 35th year. He got to witness one Monday.
Blazer’s Mykasa Robinson had 22 points, 11 rebounds, 10 steals and 10 assists in the Kittens’ 68-23 win over Bath County. It was the first such performance by any player, boy or girl, in school history.
Robinson had put together three triple-doubles this season before Monday’s performance, one of which was tantalizingly close to a quadruple-double: She recorded 11 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 steals to go with seven points in a win over Raceland on Jan. 4.
The sophomore, who’s rated the No. 1 point guard and seventh overall in the class of 2018 by ESPN, is being heavily recruited by the University of Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan State, Mississippi, Butler and Colorado, where her sister Alexis has carved out a starting role as a freshman. A UConn assistant watched Mykasa play in the LaRosa’s Holiday Classic at Conner in December.
Bradley, who’s coached boys’ basketball and softball in the past too, said he’s never coached athletes with better work ethic than the Robinson sisters.
“We’re talking about since they were 5 years old. Their dad, Matt, he was a big football star at Russell and has really instilled the work in them,” Bradley said. “Back when Alexis was an eighth-grader, everybody was telling me ‘she’ll get burnt out by the time she’s a sophomore, no girl can work that hard that many years,’ but the older she got the harder she wanted to work. Like putting gasoline on fire.”
Mykasa, pronounced “Muh-cawsa,” is the same way. “Never a day off,” Bradley said. “I gave ’em three days off for Christmas and her dad had her in the gym somewhere doing something.” She’s averaging 19.9 points, eight assists, 7.3 rebounds, 6.3 steals and 1.3 blocks a game.
Blazer reached the Sweet Sixteen the previous four seasons. A fifth straight trip would arguably be its most impressive; the Kittens are 7-8 entering Friday’s home game against Greenup County, which includes blowout losses to 16th Region favorites East Carter and Boyd County.
They’re still trying to adjust to the departures of seniors Robinson, Haley-Sue Foutch (now at Morehead State), Shelby Gransbery (now at Transylvania) and Kaitlin Hammond, as well as the loss of starting center Chloe Kouns to a knee injury about three weeks ago.
With a talent like Robinson setting the example, it’s hard not to see the Kittens returning to form sooner rather than later. One can expect her to keep stuffing the stat sheet along the way, perhaps putting up a few more quadruple-doubles while she’s at it.
“She’s come so close other times I know it’s going to happen again,” Bradley said. “She loves it. She loves the assists, the rebounds, all of it. She doesn’t just worry about scoring.”
Mason Blair’s hot start
Kobe Bryant once scored 81 points in a game, but even with 12-minute quarters he didn’t do what Johnson Central’s Mason Blair did at Belfry last Friday night.
Blair scored 30 points in the first quarter of the Golden Eagles’ 92-73 win over the Pirates. It was the third-highest output in a quarter by a player in state history, behind only a 32-point effort by David Hamilton (Kentucky School for the Deaf) in 1981 and a 50-point period by Billy Miller (Nancy) in 1976.
The Johnson Central junior ended with 43 points on 16-for-26 shooting — 5-for-12 from beyond the arc — after connecting on his first 10 shots from the floor, including the five three-pointers. He had two assists in the first period, making him responsible for 34 of the Golden Eagles’ first 39 points. At halftime it was Blair 36, Belfry 33.
“Mason’s never seen a shot he didn’t like,” Johnson Central Coach Tommy McKenzie said with a laugh. “ ... He walks into the gym and he’s open.”
From game one to recent weeks, though, Blair has improved his shot selection. “What he’s finding out is, as long as he’s patient enough to take good shots, he’s scoring points,” McKenzie said. He challenged Blair at the beginning of the season to become more of an all-around scorer as opposed to a three-point marksman, and that’s something the junior has embraced.
The secret to his big start Friday? It might have been the energy supplement an assistant put in his water prior to coax him out of sluggishness during warm-ups.
“After I hit my first shot I just started feeling it all of a sudden,” Blair said. “I just kept shooting and got in a rhythm.” Blair said he never shoots the ball the same way twice, which helps him out as defenders close in on him.
After starting 3-7, the Golden Eagles are in the midst of a five-game win streak entering Thursday. They’ve improved since football kicker Tyler Pack rejoined the squad following the school’s Class 4A title run. They also received good news this week, as Josh Hitchcock was cleared to play following a meniscus tear.
Lawrence County, whose five starters have all scored more than 1,000 points in their careers, is the favorite to win the 15th Region. Johnson Central, coming off four straight titles in the region, hopes to still have a say down the stretch.
“We’ve learned to play without those guys for a long part of the season,” McKenzie said. “And we took several lumps. Now that we’re getting our pieces back and getting acclimated to the season itself, we’re getting a lot better. Every time we take the floor I think we’ve got a chance to win.”
Kentucky tops Indiana again
The commonwealth came out on top for the third straight year in the Kentucky-Indiana Challenge Cup, its teams besting those from the Hoosier state 3-2 last Saturday in Frankfort. Owen County sealed the deal for Kentucky in the event’s final game, defeating Forest Park 72-55 behind 23 points from Vince Toftness. Northern Kentucky signee Carson Williams had 14 points and 15 rebounds for the Rebels, who are 14-2 with the only losses coming to Trinity and Ballard in the King of the Bluegrass.
Cooper (45-37 over Jay County) and Madison Southern (55-53 over Wood Memorial) also picked up wins for Kentucky. New Albany, led by 24 points from highly touted sophomore Romeo Langford, defeated Paul Laurence Dunbar 55-47. The Columbus North girls bested Franklin County 50-40 in the opener.
Kentucky improved to 10-5 all-time in the event, which began in 2014.
▪ Miss out on last weekend’s games in the capital city? You’re in luck, because five 11th Region boys’ teams, including two in the state top 10, will be playing at Frankfort High as part of the DMD Classic on Saturday.
No. 5 Lafayette and Campbell County, which features Army commitment Matt Wilson, tips things off at 5 p.m. No. 4 Paul Laurence Dunbar meets Franklin County, whose Diablo Stewart, in addition to boasting the coolest name in the 11th Region, averages a team-high 16.7 points. Malik Frank is averaging 15.9 points for host Frankfort, which meets Bryan Station at 8 p.m.
Anthony Robinson, the Panthers’ football star who suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the first game last season, has bounced back and played the entire basketball season. He’s averaging 13.3 points and 11.8 rebounds, putting him among the state leaders on the glass.
Awards, milestones, signings
▪ Lexington Catholic’s star sophomore Michaela Reinhart was named Kentucky’s Gatorade Girls’ Cross Country Runner of the Year on Thursday. She was the program’s first selection for the award. She won the Class 2A individual state championship this season with a time of 18:03.6, besting the field by nearly 26 seconds.
▪ Sinclar Community College sophomore Marcellous Washington, who played at Bryan Station, was named the National Junior College Athletic Association’s Division II Player of the Week. He averaged 20.5 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and four steals in two wins. Sinclair, located in Dayton, Ohio, is 17-0 and ranked second in the latest NJCAA poll.
▪ University of Pikeville sophomore Aundrea Matchen, who starred at Ballard, earned her second Mid-South Conference player of the week honor after leading the Bears to wins over then-No. 25 Lindsey Wilson and No. 18 Cumberland.
UPike, up to No. 17 in the latest poll, was 16-0 entering Thursday’s game at St. Catharine.
Matchen is averaging 17.8 points a game, 10th most in NAIA Division I. The Bears’ next five leading scorers are all from Kentucky, including Boyle County product Devin Conley, who’s second on the team at 14.1 ppg.
▪ Caroline Mefford, a Fern Creek senior who’s committed to Rollins College in Florida, had 18 points and eight rebounds in the Tigers’ loss at Bullitt East on Friday. The scoring pushed her past 1,000 points for her career.
▪ Murray sophomore Macey Turley scored her 1,000th point in the Tigers’ 84-33 win over Ballard Memorial on Jan. 7.
▪ Male, ranked No. 17 in the boys’ Cantrall Ratings, picked up its first win over Ballard since 2008 in a 69-55 victory Friday.
▪ Boone County retired the jersey of Sydney Moss, the reigning NCAA Division III women’s player of the year at Thomas More, in a ceremony during the Rebels’ game against Ryle on Monday. “It’s awesome,” Moss told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “It’s great to get your jersey retired at your high school. It was great that everybody came out and supported me.”
Baseball HOF inductees
The Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association will induct five new members into its Hall of Fame during its convention in Louisville this weekend. They are:
▪ Rick Dotson, who went 304-96 in 13 seasons at Butler. The Bears won a region championship and were regional runner-up five times under him.
▪ Nelson Faris, entering his 38th year of coaching and 14th at Bourbon County. His record entering the 2016 season is 342-127.
▪ Mike Martino, who coached for 23 years, 15 as a head coach at Ashland Blazer (four years) then Russell (11 years), before retiring. He coached three regional runner-ups. He won 234 games.
▪ Steven Tompkins, the former head baseball coach at Trinity for 12 seasons following one year at Waggener. He went 303-153, coached three 7th Region champions and reached the state semifinals in 2004 and 2005.
▪ Danny Wood, who was head coach at Estill County from 1995 until retiring in 2009. He won 260 games — a school record — and guided the Engineers to their only 14th Region titles in 2008 and 2009.
▪ Lawrence County softball star Ciana Bowen competed in the the Queen of Diamonds Showcase North at Kent State last weekend. The sophomore was named MVP of the tournament after pitching seven scoreless innings over three games, giving up only one hit to 22 batters she faced. Bowen struck out 14 batters and also went 5-for-6 at the plate with three doubles.
Bowen pitched nine shutouts as a freshman, including three no-hitters and one perfect game. She ended the year with an 0.75 ERA and 167 strikeouts, was selected to the 15th Region all-tournament team and named KHSAA All-State honorable mention.
▪ Shelby Valley’s Hunter Swindall scored 26 points in the first half en route to a 32-point effort in the Wildcats’ 63-50 win over East Ridge for its second straight 15th Region All “A” Classic title. Swindall is averaging 27.8 points, sixth most in the state.
The Wildcats (12-4), who won the small-school tournament in 2009 and 2010 and the Sweet Sixteen in 2010, will open statewide tournament play against the 3rd Region champion on Jan. 28.
▪ Madison Faulkner nearly recorded a triple-double in Caverna’s 78-56 win over LaRue County on Tuesday. She scored 20 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and dished out nine assists for the Colonels.
▪ Lawrence County football coach Joe Cecil resigned after five seasons in charge on Monday. He is the school’s assistant principal. “The Lord’s not given me the energy to do both jobs right now, and that’s the best way I can put it,” Cecil told the Daily Independent in Ashland.
▪ PrepSpin will broadcast two games that are part of Semper Fi Slam Jam, an extension of the Great American Rivalry Series, next week. Fern Creek at Jeffersontown (7:30 p.m. on Tuesday) and Lexington Catholic at Dunbar (8 p.m. on Thursday) will be among the first basketball broadcasts presented by GARS, which traditionally specializes in football events.