High School Basketball

Sayre's new coach not that new

In one of the quietest coaching changes in the history of boys' basketball in Lexington, Ted Hall has succeeded Gene Kirk at Sayre.

Kirk, who won 557 games in 27 years at Woodford County and eight at Sayre, told school officials in early summer he was stepping down because of health reasons.

There was no press release or press conference to announce that Kirk was leaving, or that Hall, who had been a Spartans assistant, was taking the reins.

Hall, 38, played high school basketball at Ashland Blazer. He was an assistant at Lafayette before joining Sayre's staff in 2000-01, Kirk's first season with the Spartans.

"Working for Coach Kirk was unique," Hall said. "I respected him so much, and he gave me a lot of responsibility. I wanted to be a head coach when it was my time, but I was very satisfied to be his assistant for eight years."

Hall knows Sayre is often overmatched in one of the toughest basketball districts and regions in the state, but he won't lower the bar on expectations.

"We feel that if today's practice is as good as it can get, tomorrow's is as good as it can get, and we do our best in games, we'll give ourselves a chance to be successful," he said.

Hall says competing against district rivals Bryan Station, Henry Clay and Scott County is a reward in itself.

"When these kids leave Sayre, they'll know they've played against some of the best teams and players around," he said. "That will be memorable for them."

Kirk, 61, was diagnosed with systemic lupus a few years ago. He didn't want to risk having the long basketball season wear him down and make him more susceptible to illness, so he decided to leave the sidelines.

Kirk is staying on at Sayre as assistant athletic director and will be available as a sounding board for Hall.

"I have great confidence in Ted," Kirk said. "I think he'll do a great job for Sayre."