The two highest honors in Kentucky high school basketball went to players from schools that had never produced a Mr. or Miss Basketball winner, respectively.
Own County’s Carson Williams, a Northern Kentucky signee who averaged 26.3 points and 10.7 rebounds, was named Mr. Basketball by the Kentucky Lions Eye Foundation on Tuesday night. Elizabethtown’s Erin Boley won Miss Basketball.
It was the first time Owen County produced a Mr. Basketball or Miss Basketball winner. At E-town, Steffphon Pettigrew represented the school as Mr. Basketball in 2007 but Boley is its first Miss Basketball recipient.
Williams’ Rebels won a school-record 29 games but fell short of their first Sweet 16 appearance after falling to eventual 8th Region champion South Oldham in the first round.
Boley, who averaged 24.6 points and 10.8 rebounds to guide the Panthers to their third straight girls’ Sweet 16 appearance, is a Notre Dame signee. She was a finalist for the Naismith Trophy’s player of the year award and a first-team All-American. The Panthers reached the state semifinals but fell to Butler, who would go on to win the Sweet 16 this past weekend.
Williams is the first 8th Region player to win Mr. Basketball since Jimmy Dan Conner (Anderson County) in 1971. He was the first four-time recipient of the 8th Region’s All-Region award.
“I had a great team who helped me to get here,” Williams said. “I didn’t get it all myself. I’ve got great coaches around me.”
Boley is the third winner in four years to come from the 5th Region, joining Makayla Epps (Marion County, 2013) and Ivy Brown (LaRue County, 2014). Current University of Kentucky freshman Maci Morris won the award out of Bell County last season.
Boley called it “a great honor” to bring such a significant honor to Elizabethtown.
“Having lived there has made me into the person that I am and the coaches have made me into the player that I am today,” Boley said. “ ... It’s been a dream come true. It shows all the hard work has paid off.”
Calling Boley a good basketball player is an understatement, E-town Coach Tim Mudd said. Her work ethic is relentless; 5:30 a.m. workouts have been normal, followed by lifting sessions. After team practice was over, she’d go at it for another hour or more.
“And this wasn’t for a year or two years,” Mudd said. “This was for her whole career. ... At times I thought to myself, and I talked to her parents, ‘Hey, is this over the top?’ This wasn’t coming from her parents; this was coming from Erin. This is what she wanted to do.”
When asked whether she was the best player he’d ever coached, Mudd didn’t hold back.
“I think that she’s probably the best player that’s ever played girls’ basketball in the state of Kentucky,” Mudd said. “I know I’m biased.”
Owen County Devin Duvall knew early on that Williams had the potential to end his career as Mr. Basketball. He also said he’s thought plenty about life after the NKU-bound big man.
“You don’t replace a kid like that, obviously,” Duvall said. “He’s been a cornerstone for four years. ... He was able to do everything for us.”
It was a bittersweet win for Williams. The Owen County community was stricken by the loss of a female junior, Ellie Louise Stout, 16, who died in a car wreck Monday night.
“Our boys needed this today. Our principal needed this today,” Duvall said.
Landon Young of Lafayette and Ray Zuberer of Owensboro Catholic were presented with the Wah Wah Jones Award, given to outstanding multisport athletes. Emma Young of East Jessamine was named the Donna Murphy Award winner, given to a female senior who’s exemplified the meaning of being a student-athlete.