High School Basketball

Mountain hoops team lost its coach to a rival. It found a new one in Lexington.

Lexington Christian head coach Nate Valentine cheered during the boys’ 43rd District semifinals against Lexington Catholic in February.
Lexington Christian head coach Nate Valentine cheered during the boys’ 43rd District semifinals against Lexington Catholic in February. aslitz@herald-leader.com

After losing one up-and-coming boys’ basketball coach, North Laurel High School came to Lexington and found another.

Nate Valentine, the head coach at Lexington Christian Academy since 2014, was formally introduced as the new coach at North Laurel on Tuesday evening.

Valentine succeeds Brad Sizemore, who about a month ago was named boys’ basketball coach at Bell County. Sizemore led North Laurel to its first (and so far, only) 13th Region championship in 2012 and went 160-95 in eight seasons, setting the program record for coaching wins during that stretch.

LCA under Valentine won the last three 43rd District tournament titles; the Eagles had never won a district title before his tenure. LCA also won its first All “A” Classic state title in 2018 and played in the 11th Region championship game that same year, coming just a bucket short of reaching its first KHSAA Sweet Sixteen.

He also coached Kyle Rode, a 2019 Mr. Basketball finalist who last season set Lexington’s record for most points scored by a boys’ basketball player. Valentine’s teams finished with a winning record in all five seasons he coached at LCA. He was 109-51 at the school.

Before moving to the prep ranks, Valentine was an assistant coach under Brian Lane for nine seasons with the Transylvania University men’s basketball program. Valentine, a London native who played at South Laurel, played his final three college seasons at Transylvania after transferring from Tusculum College.

In a message posted on Twitter, Valentine wrote that the days since his move was made public “have been bittersweet.”

“I’ll never forget LCA for giving (me) my first shot at a head coaching job and embracing my family as one of their own,” Valentine wrote. “I am forever grateful. I want to say thanks to all the families, assistant coaches, trainers, supporters, fans, students and administrators that supported our journey. Most of all, I would like to thank all of my current and former players for your trust, your friendship and for being role models to (my children) Cate and Nate. You all did more for me than I could ever do for you!”

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