High School Basketball

Girls’ basketball preview: Paul Laurence Dunbar

Last season: 20-10 (lost to Lexington Catholic in the 43rd District semifinals)

Coach: Nick Runyon (first year)

Key contributors:

1. Autumn Herriford: 5-8, junior forward. Team’s second-leading rebounder last season at 5.2 boards a game. Drives to the basket well. “I’m not as good at shooting,” she said with a laugh. “I’m better at taking it to the rack. You can put that in the paper.”

2. Mashayla Cecil: 5-6, sophomore guard. Dunbar’s leading scorer a season ago at 10.5 points per game. She’s a good on-court leader and makes sure the Bulldogs are on the same page.

3. Peyton Humphreys: 5-8, sophomore forward. Played in all 30 games for Dunbar last season.

Others to watch: Nyla Blair, senior center who communicates well on the floor; Anaiyah Cotton, sophomore forward; Symone Franklin, junior forward.

Said Blair: “I think we’re very underestimated. I feel as if our team is very capable of not being the underdog anymore. I think we can come out and surprise.”

Games you gotta see: The Bulldogs will participate in the Traditional Bank Holiday Classic, always a fun event. They get LexCath, who ended their season last year, at home on Feb. 2. They’ll get Southwestern, a challenger for the 12th Region, as part of the Defender Classic at Bryan Station on Dec. 12.

Fast facts: Runyon, previously an assistant at Dunbar for five years, takes over for Sarah Bridenbaugh, who became assistant commissioner of the KHSAA. He played basketball for Dunbar as well. “It’s been a blessing to be here,” he said. “Dunbar’s home to me.”

View the Bulldogs’ schedule and roster.

Coach’s corner

Becoming head coach: "I’m excited about the opportunity to a be a head coach. This’ll be my sixth year with the team overall so I’m new but not new at the same time. It’s been a blessing to be here, Dunbar’s home to me. We’re young so there’s gonna be some mistakes made. I’ll make mistakes as well as my team so we’ll all learn together at the same time. I think we’re probably being a little undervalued because of our youth but at the same time, my goal — as it is with every team we’ve ever coached — has always been to get to the region. I’m excited about the outlook for the future.”

We graduate only one senior so we’ll be able to bring a lot of people back. We’re gonna go a lot of minutes spread out and we’ll be able to play multiple styles of basketball. We won’t be fast, we won’t be slow. We’ll press, we’ll play man, we’ll switch it up. “The transition’s been really smooth. There’s not been any attitude, no dissension, anything. The girls and I have a great relationship.”

Bench talk

Mashayla Cecil: On Dunbar’s goals ... “We as a team have high expectations for ourselves. A lot of people don’t think we’re going to do a lot but I hope we surprise them.”

Nyla Blair: On being the only senior ... “You know, it’s kind of fun. I get to to take on leadership.”

Autumn Herriford: On Bulldogs as underdogs ... “I think we can play the underdog role really well. We’re ranked like seventh in the region or something. No one’s expecting really much out of us cause we’re so young.”

Josh Moore: 859-231-1307, @HLpreps