High School Basketball

Boys’ basketball preview: Lexington Christian

LCA’s Kyle Rode shoots against Bullitt East during the Traditional Bank Holiday Classic in Bueter Gymnasium at Lexington Catholic High School in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, December 27, 2014.
LCA’s Kyle Rode shoots against Bullitt East during the Traditional Bank Holiday Classic in Bueter Gymnasium at Lexington Catholic High School in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, December 27, 2014. Herald-Leader

Last season: 19-10 (lost to Tates Creek in semifinals of 43rd District Tournament)

Coach: Nate Valentine (second year)

Key contributors:

1. Tre King: 6-6, 215 junior forward with strong ball-handling skills. Said Valentine: “He’s really changed his body a lot in the last year and gained a lot of athleticism. He’s going to develop into one of the better players in the state by the end of the year if he’s not already there.”

2. Kyle Rode: 6-6, 208 freshman guard/forward who averaged 8.1 points as an eighth-grader. Getting looks from Division I programs. “He’s a very mature kid,” Valentine said. “I coach him like I would a senior now. He’s going to be asked to a do a lot.”

3. Trevor Hill: 6-2, 180 senior guard coming off an ACL injury he suffered against Paul Laurence Dunbar last season. “He’s really worked on his shot since he got hurt,” Valentine said. “He can get to the rim and is one of our better defenders.”

Others to watch: Carter Hendrickson (6-6 guard with a good stroke) and Austin Hall (6-5, inside-out guy), sophomores whom Valentine said “are going to be asked to grow up very quickly” after playing for LCA’s freshman squad last season. Isaiah Hunt, a freshman transfer from Madisonville, is a left-handed point guard “who has a chance to be really special down the road.”

Games you gotta see: The Eagles go to Lexington Catholic on Jan. 5 and host the Knights on Feb. 11. Their 11th Region All “A” Classic opener is at Berea on Jan. 18.

Fast facts: Lexington Christian has won the 11th Region All “A” Classic 11 of the past 12 seasons but has never reached the All “A” state tournament championship game. The program earned its first No. 1 seed in 43rd District Tournament play last season.

View the Eagles’ schedule and roster.

Coach’s corner

Youth movement: “I only have three guys that played varsity minutes off last year’s team. I inherited a team that had really good players including Matt Rose (now playing at Samford). This year I’m probably gonna start two freshmen, a sophomore a junior and a senior.

“We may take our lumps early but from a coaching staff standpoint our standards are higher than they’ve ever been here. ... We wanna be in Rupp Arena and compete for a state title every year. Even though we lost seven guys we’re not going to accept anything less.”

Bench talk

Trevor Hill: On coming back from injury ... “It’s been the best that it could be for as bad as a situation it could be.”

On the 2015-16 season ... “We have a lot of talent. ... We’re young but we have good athletes and we’re fast. We’re playing a lot faster than we normally do.”

On making history ... “This school’s never made it out of the district and so that’s the No. 1 thing on our mind. Every day we think about ‘breaking down the door.’”

Tre King: On filling Matt Rose’s void ... “I think it’ll take more than just one person becaause Matt, he did a lot for us and that’s a big shoe to fill. I think it’ll take the whole team actually to fill his role.”

Kyle Rode: On playing last year as an eighth-grader ... “It really prepared me mentally and physically (for) what it takes every day in practice, what it takes every game, every rebound, every offensive set. Just being mentally engaged.”

Josh Moore: 859-231-1307, @HLpreps

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