High School Basketball

Kelley says he's out as Lafayette coach

Damon Kelley won't be back as boys' basketball coach at Lafayette next season, despite the Generals' strong tournament finish this year.

Kelley said Monday that the school told him Friday he would not be rehired because the program needed to go in a different direction.

In an e-mail message to his players' parents and to the media, Kelly said he was "shocked and disappointed," but that he was "even more bothered that (my) 14 years of service to the basketball program at Lafayette was ended in a two-minute conversation without any explanation or reasoning as to why a change will be made."

In seven years as the Generals' head coach, Kelley had a record of 90-108, highlighted by an 11th Region title in 2004. Only three other active coaches have won the 11th Region — Brandon Salsman of Lexington Catholic, Billy Hicks of Scott County and Allen Feldhaus Jr. of Madison Central.

"This hurts so bad because there was nobody more proud to be the Lafayette coach than I was," Kelley said. "I want to stay in coaching because it's my passion; it's in my blood."

Before Kelley took over as the Generals' head coach, he was an assistant to Don Adkins for seven years, including Lafayette's run to the 2001 state championship.

Lafayette lost its top player before the season began the last two years.

Vee Sanford transferred to Lexington Catholic before his junior season, and last fall senior star Deron Linton was diagnosed with a suspected heart ailment that sidelined him for the regular season.

Linton was cleared to play at tournament time. Lafayette upset Franklin County in the first round of the region and came close to knocking off No. 1 Scott County in the semifinals.

"This group of players, from January to March, improved more than any team I've ever been a part of," Kelley said. "They overcame so much and persevered, and we came pretty darn close to playing for the region championship."