High School Basketball

Boys’ basketball preview: Lexington Catholic

Lexington Catholic's Joseph Ogbogu scored in front of Bryan Station's Tim Dunn as Lexington Catholic defeated Bryan Station 56-53 in the 11th Region championship on Tuesday March 10, 2015 in Richmond, Ky.
Lexington Catholic's Joseph Ogbogu scored in front of Bryan Station's Tim Dunn as Lexington Catholic defeated Bryan Station 56-53 in the 11th Region championship on Tuesday March 10, 2015 in Richmond, Ky. mcornelison@herald-leader.com

Last season: 24-9 (lost to Boyle County in the first round of the Sweet Sixteen)

Coach: Brandon Salsman (11th year)

Key contributors:

1. J.J. Ogbogu: 5-11, 165 senior guard also plays wide receiver for the Knights’ football team. Salsman called him the team’s best defender, said he’s “tough as nails.”

2. Donnie Morris: 5-11, 165 senior guard who will also join the basketball team after completing his duties as a wide receiver on the football field. Salsman said he’s an “excellent player that will shine in his role this year.”

3. Luke Johnson: 6-4, 165 junior guard who Salsman said will be a “top player” in the region. In a November scrimmage against Pleasure Ridge Park, Johnson had 46 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and seven steals. “He’s gonna have a big year,” Salsman said. “He’s kind of a stat-sheet stuffer.”

Others to watch: Peter Whitman (6-7, 225), a junior forward who relishes the dirty work of scrapping for rebounds and getting after it on defense. Also, Zan Payne (6-5, 180), sophomore forward and son of Kentucky assistant basketball coach Kenny Payne whom Salsman expects to have a “breakout year.”

Games you gotta see: The Knights host the Traditonal Bank Holiday Classic starting Dec. 26. They also host Lexington Christian on Jan. 5 and visit the Eagles on Feb. 11. The teams split the season series last year, with each winning on the road.

Fast facts: Of the previous 10 champions crowned in the 11th Region, LexCath is the only one to come from Lexington. The Knights have claimed four in that span, tied with Scott County for the most (Madison Central has the other two). ... Ogbogu and Morris were two of the leading receivers on LexCath’s football team this season.

View the Knights’ schedule and roster.

Coach’s corner

Replacing talent: “I think anybody who would tell you anything different, that when you lose five starters off a team that you’re not having to rebuild, would be lying to you.”

“There’s nothing that replaces experience and that’s the number one thing we have to focus on. We’ve always played big schedules with all of our teams and taken these guys all over the place to play the biggest names we could possibly find and this year’s no exception.”

Bench talk

Luke Johnson: On team strengths ... “We have some really good shooters. We’re still learning to play right now but I feel like we have some really good raw talent.”

On what team needs to work on ... “We still need to work on making the extra pass to the open man. Some of us try to get our own shot too much, so I think we need to kick it and move the ball a little bit more.”

Peter Whitman: On what team needs to do to return to Sweet Sixteen ... “We need to learn to play smart ... and we need to fix our defense up some. Our defense isn’t the greatest right now but we just have to learn it, we’re really young.”

On being an underdog ... “I think everyone’s underestimating us this year and how good we’re gonna be. I think we can be a sleeper and get back.”

Josh Sullivan: 859-231-3225, @sullyjosh

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