The 2019 Kentucky Mr. and Miss Basketball ballot is set.
A total of 18 boys and 17 girls are officially in the running for the state’s highest individual honors in boys’ and girls’ high school basketball. The Kentucky Lion’s Eye Foundation released the nominees Monday morning; ballots originally were scheduled to be released this Friday but the KLEF moved up the announcement to help accommodate schools and voters who otherwise would have had to deal with a tighter timetable, as the awards ceremony — scheduled for March 5 at the Lexington Convention Center — will be held a week earlier than usual.
Each of the 16 regions has at least one representative on the ballot. The boys’ 11th Region ended up with three nominees — Madison Central’s Isaiah Cozart, Scott County’s Michael Moreno and Lexington Christian Academy’s Kyle Rode — while the girls’ 9th Region has two candidates in Highlands’ Zoie Barth and Ryle’s Lauren Schwartz.
Scott County is one of two schools with a nominee in the running for both awards. Maaliya Owens, a Tennessee Tech signee who became the program’s fourth 2,000-point scorer earlier this season, was the girls’ 11th Region candidate; she last week was named this year’s recipient of the Donna L.J. Murphy Award. Breckinridge County — which had Kobe Poole and Kayla Young nominated out of the 3rd Region — was the other school with two nominees.
All three boys nominated from the 11th Region are “bigs.”
Cozart, a 6-foot-7 forward, became the state’s all-time career leader in blocked shots before the calendar turned over. The Western Kentucky signee is averaging 20.2 points on 60.5-percent shooting along with 12.5 boards a night.
Moreno, a 6-6 forward who led Scott County to the Sweet Sixteen each of the last two seasons, has missed the last six weeks of action due to a foot injury but is expected to return for the postseason; he averaged 17.2 points and 8.8 rebounds through the Cardinals’ first 12 games.
Rode, a 6-6 forward who’s signed with Liberty University, led LCA to the 2018 All “A” Classic state title, another appearance in this year’s small-school finals and is averaging 23.3 points and 9.4 rebounds this season for the Eagles, the two-time defending champs in the 43rd District.
The state’s two University of Kentucky signees were both nominated as well. Pendleton County star Dontaie Allen, who was putting up ridiculous numbers before his senior season was cut short due to a knee injury, represents the 10th Region boys while Lincoln County star Emma King — who’s averaging 18.1 points and 7.6 rebounds for the Patriots — was is in the 12th Region girls’ spot.
Mercer County — which last year became the first school to produce a Mr. and Miss Basketball winner in the same year — has another Mr. Basketball candidate this year in Carter Baughman, representing the 12th Region. Bullitt East, from which 2017 Miss Basketball winner Lindsey Duvall hailed, has a candidate again this year in 6th Region Player of the Year Emma Ralph.
Other frontrunners on the boys’ ballot were Trinity’s David Johnson — a Louisville signee who’s played in two Sweet Sixteen tournaments — and University Heights Academy’s KyKy Tandy, who led the Blazers to last year’s Sweet Sixteen and to an All “A” Classic state championship this season.
Boyd County’s Savannah Wheeler, a Marshall University signee who’s representing the 16th Region girls, leads the state in scoring (31.5 ppg) and took the Lions to their first Sweet Sixteen semifinals appearance last year.
Anderson County’s Jaclynn Ruble and Harrison County’s Madison Kellione — representing the 8th and 10th Region, respectively — rounded out central Kentucky players named to this year’s ballots.
Mr. Basketball nominees
1st Region: Conner Guthrie, Mayfield
2nd Region: KyKy Tandy, University Heights Academy
3rd Region: Kobe Poole, Breckinridge County
4th Region: Jackson Harlan, Clinton County
5th Region: Trevon Smith, Taylor County
6th Region: Blake Butler, Jeffersontown
7th Region: David Johnson, Trinity
8th Region: Dieonte Miles, Walton-Verona
9th Region: Tahj Harding, Newport
10th Region: Dontaie Allen, Pendleton County
11th Region: Isaiah Cozart, Madison Central; Michael Moreno, Scott County; Kyle Rode, Lexington Christian Academy
12th Region: Carter Baughman, Mercer County
13th Region: JJ Ramey, South Laurel
14th Region: Noah Back, Perry County Central
15th Region: Brady Whitaker, Magoffin County
16th Region: Korbin Spencer, Elliott County
Miss Basketball nominees
1st Region: Elizabeth Curtis, Murray
2nd Region: Karlie Keeney, Webster County
3rd Region: Kayla Young, Breckinridge County
4th Region: Sarah Sutton, Allen County-Scottsville
5th Region: Maddie Wood, Marion County
6th Region: Emma Ralph, Bullitt East
7th Region: Nila Blackford, Manual
8th Region: Jaclynn Ruble, Anderson County
9th Region: Zoie Barth, Highlands; Lauren Schwartz, Ryle
10th Region: Madison Kellione, Harrison County
11th Region: Maaliya Owen, Scott County
12th Region: Emma King, Lincoln County
13th Region: Raegan Hubbard, North Laurel
14th Region: Jada Higgins, Knott County Central
15th Region: Anna Keaton, Paintsville
16th Region: Savannah Wheeler, Boyd County