BY MIKE FIELDS
D.G. Sherrill never got to attend the Sweet 16 when he was a kid growing up in Caldwell County in far western Kentucky.
“My daddy believed when my basketball season was over, it was time for me to go to work,” he said. “So I was in a welding shop when everybody else was coming to watch basketball.”
Sherrill’s first trip to watch the state tournament was in 1992 at Freedom Hall,...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDS
When the KHSAA celebrates its 125th Sweet 16 in 2042, you can bet there will be high school basketball fans reminiscing about how a kid named Jake Ohmer made a name for himself in the 100th state tournament.
They’ll talk about how he was a scoring machine, and a surprisingly strong rebounder; how he flew up and down the Rupp Arena court with controlled abandon, how he made Scott...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDS
Scott senior guard Jake Ohmer has put on a scoring show in his first two games in the 100th Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys' Sweet 16 this week.
Ohmer created a buzz in Rupp Arena by pouring in 41 points in Scott's first-round victory over Harlan County, and following it up with 32 in a quarterfinal win over Perry County Central.
That gives Ohmer 73 points in back-to-back games in the ...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDS
Bowling Green took out No. 1 Scott County 68-53 in the quarterfinals of the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys' Sweet 16 Friday afternoon.
"That was the best basketball team we've played all year, bar none," Purples Coach D.G. Sherrill said after his team posted its 27th consecutive victory.
Bowling Green played like Rupp Arena was its home floor, which is understandable.
For talented s...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDS
The 100th Sweet 16 celebration this week in Rupp Arena is missing one of the most important figures in Kentucky high school basketball history.
Legendary Clay County Coach Bobby Keith died last fall, leaving all those who knew him with heartache. He was a remarkable coach and remarkable man.
Keith is best known for guiding Clay County to the 1987 state championship, and runner-...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDS
Collins' basketball program's seven-year itch to win a game in the state tournament finally got scratched.
The Titans pulled away in overtime to beat Elliott County 65-57 in the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys' Sweet 16 in Rupp Arena Thursday night.
It was the first state tournament victory for Collins, which was created when Shelby County was split in two high schools in 2010. The Ti...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDS
Perry County Central's Damon Tobler had an impressive dunk during the Commodores' win over Pikeville in the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys' Sweet 16 on Wednesday. It was just for show, though, because the slam was erased when Tobler was whistled for a foul on the play.
Even if it had counted, however, it wouldn't have come close to matching the most dynamic and most important state to...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDS
Jake Ohmer was Mr. Low Key after going for 41 points, 17 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 assists in Scott's 77-65 victory over Harlan County in the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys’ Sweet 16 Tuesday night.
It was the highest scoring performance in the state tournament since Elizabethtown's Antwain Barbour had 42 against Russellville in 2000.
Asked how it felt to be Jake Ohmer after his star t...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDS
Luther Blanton had a front-row seat in Rupp Arena Wednesday night, right there on the sidelines at the end of the Harlan County bench for the Black Bears' game against Scott in the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys' Sweet 16.
"I've been waiting 60 years for this," Blanton said. "I didn't know if it'd ever come."
When he was a freshman at Wallins High School in Harlan County in 1957, Bla...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDS
When Kentucky plays Northern Kentucky University in the first round of the NCAA tournament Friday night, there'll be at least one TV viewer in Lexington rooting for the Norsemen to pull off an upset for the ages.
"I was a Kentucky fan growing up, but I've gotta cheer for NKU in this one," Chris Vogt said.
Vogt, a 6-foot-11 senior who led Graves County to the Sweet Sixteen, sign...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDS
It was great to see Bobby Flynn back in Rupp Arena on Wednesday for the 100th Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys' Sweet 16.
Flynn has been a fixture at state tournaments for more than 40 years as a volunteer, mostly working along press row.
He was noticeably absent last year, however, due to health issues. He suffered broken ribs and broken collarbone in a fall, and after recover...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDS
Before Phil Cox became Vanderbilt’s all-time leading scorer in 1985, before he starred at Cawood High School and became Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball in 1981, he first realized what the game might hold for him as an eighth-grader at Loyall Junior High in Harlan County.
And he credits his eighth-grade coach, Billy Hicks, for opening his eyes to the future.
Cox and Hicks, who hadn’t ...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDS
Richie Farmer clearly recalls how his record-setting Sweet Sixteen career began in Rupp Arena 33 years ago this week.
Clay County had a big lead on Owensboro in their first-round game when Farmer, an eighth-grader, took the floor with 1:08 remaining.
Then, with the clock ticking away, "I got the ball in the middle of the floor against their press, coming down on the break, and ...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDS
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS – When Chris Souder took over as Mercer County girls’ basketball coach 18 years ago, he allowed himself to imagine the Titans winning a state title someday.
“It’s always a dream, it's always a goal," he said. "But two years ago we talked about it actually being a realistic goal. If everybody would stay the course, buy into the way we wanted to play, we felt this...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDS
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS – For high school basketball players, the road to success and scholarships isn’t a direct route.
It’s not a dribble drive straight to the hoop for an easy score.
The destination isn’t always the big stage of the Sweet Sixteen to compete for a big trophy, and glory for your team, school and community.
It’s a long journey with detours and disappointments. Sacrif...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDS
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS – Travis Turner has been doing radio coverage of Murray High School girls’ basketball for a long time, but he had his first near-death experience Friday afternoon as he described the Tigers’ stunning 65-56 upset of defending champion and nationally ranked Butler in the quarterfinals of the St. Elizabeth Healthcare/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen in BB&T Arena.
“I though...Read more »
The St. Elizabeth Healthcare/KHSAA Girls’ Sweet Sixteen tips off today at NKU’s BB&T Arena. This is the 56th girls' state tournament, the 43nd since the KHSAA started sponsoring the event again in 1975. While everybody agrees that girls’ basketball has come a long way since then, it should be noted that the '75 Sweet Sixteen featured one of the state’s all-time greatest players.
BY MIKE FIEL...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDS
Sixty years ago today, Henry Bell, John Burdette, Paul Price and their Douglass High School basketball teammates walked into UK's Memorial Coliseum and made history.
On Feb. 27, 1957, Coach Charles Livisay's Demons became the first black school to compete in Lexington's 43rd District tournament, capping the first season of integration when black schools were allowed to compete a...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDS
LOUISVILLE -- St. Xavier's swimming and diving program is the greatest dynasty in the history of Kentucky high school sports. Its state championship numbers are as overwhelming as a tsunami: 52 team, 146 individual and 75 relay titles.
The Tigers will be going for their 29th team title in a row when the KHSAA Swimming and Diving Championships are held at the University of Loui...Read more »
Mike Wainscott, who coached in Fayette County public schools for 38 years, passed away last Friday. He was 67. Here's what I wrote about him for the Lexington Herald-Leader upon his retirement in May, 2012.
BY MIKE FIELDS
Mike Wainscott has been a high school coach in Lexington for so long his career has spanned seven U.S. presidents. His longevity might be better appreciated by sports fans if i...Read more »
“It was such an amazing journey. The life lessons I learned from wrestling, I wish everybody could have those experiences. I mean, I filled up two passports traveling the world and having people cheer for me in languages I can’t even speak. That's a great thing. But that’s sports.” -- U.S. Army Major Dominic Black
BY MIKE FIELDS
FORT KNOX -- Dominic Black clearly remembers the first wrestling ma...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDS
When you’ve just put up a monster triple-double in a ridiculously high-scoring comeback victory, you have every right to request that people call you by any name you choose.
After Lawrence County basketball star Timmy Dalton poured in a school-record 60 points to go with 15 rebounds and 10 assists in a 106-103 victory at Greenup County Monday night, the 6-foot-3 senior asked the...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDS
Kentucky high school sports is losing a friend. Photographer Mark Cornelison is leaving the Herald-Leader for a job at the University of Kentucky.
"Corn" worked at the newspaper for more than 20 years, and he brought a sharp eye, imagination and enthusiasm to illustrating the games, players and coaches in high school sports.
He shot countless regular-season and playoff games, ...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDS
For all he's done for young people, Hall of Fame basketball coach Don Lane will receive the Jim Host Youth Sports Award at the Bluegrass Sports Commission's annual banquet tonight at the Lexington Convention Center.
Lane led Transylvania to 509 victories in his 26 years as coach. He retired after leading the Pioneers to a No. 1 national ranking in 2001. His son Brian succeeded h...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDS
The Everly Brothers had a top-40 hit in 1967 in which they sang about how "a man in Kentucky sure is lucky to live down in Bowling Green."
Fifty years later, Kevin Wallace and D.G. Sherrill admit they are lucky men as they oversee powerhouse sports programs at Bowling Green High School.
Wallace, the Purples football coach, has had the winningest program in the state over the l...Read more »
Sports Illustrated's Seth Davis wrote a column last week stating the case for high school (and prep school) basketball players getting the jump on their college careers by enrolling in college at midseason. It's hardly a new idea, as Cliff Hagan will attest.
BY MIKE FIELDS
Cliff Hagan made his debut as a University of Kentucky basketball player on this date 67 years ago. On Jan. 26, 1950, Haga...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDS
Forty-two years ago today -- Jan. 23, 1975 -- Buckhorn basketball star Peggy Gay had 74 points in a 136-20 victory over Oneida Baptist.
It was a historic performance for Gay – she set a state scoring record for girls that night, and her 74 points still rank No. 2 on the state’s all-time list for girls behind Geri Grigsby’s 81 points – but it was only a small sample of her basket...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSLONDON – The most influential coach in the history of girls’ high school basketball in Kentucky, whose early string of state championships prodded other schools to take the sport seriously, didn’t exactly jump at the chance to help usher the girls’ game into the modern era.Roy Bowling had coached boys’ basketball at Hazel Green, and boys’ basketball and baseball at London, and he was...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSSTANTON – A large black-and-white photograph hangs in Powell County's gym, forever preserving the Pirates in all their glory, moments after they won the 14th Region basketball title for the first time in 1974.Several players have arms raised in triumph, fingers jabbing No. 1 into the air. A few players look sweaty and exhausted, but delighted. The cheerleaders, sitting in front, are...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSWhen Transylvania men’s basketball coach Brian Lane gathered his team for their first preseason get-together last summer, there was really no need to introduce the new players to the holdovers.They were already pretty familiar with each because they are all graduates of Kentucky high school hoops.Two dozen colleges in Kentucky have men’s and women’s basketball programs – from big sch...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSLOUISVILLE – The King of the Bluegrass has reigned as the best high school holiday basketball tournament in Kentucky -- and one of the best in the nation -- for 36 years now.It was the brainchild of then-Fairdale Coach Stan Hardin and assistant Lloyd Gardner, who came up with the idea on the bus ride home after the Bulldogs played in a Christmastime tournament in Ocala, Fla., in 1980...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSBOWLING GREEN -- It ain't over till it's over, they say, but Johnson Central football coach Jim Matney seemed pretty sure his Golden Eagles were winging their way toward championship glory when he giddily jumped up and down along the sidelines after his team took a 36-0 lead over Franklin-Simpson late in the first half of Sunday's Russell Athletic/KHSAA Class 4A finals.That meant the...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSBOWLING GREEN -- When Belfry Coach Philip Haywood and Louisville Central Coach Ty Scroggins met at midfield before Saturday night's Russell Athletic/KHSAA Class 3A finals, they shook hands, exchanged warm smiles, and neither of them said, "We've got to stop meeting like this."On the contrary, this is why they and their players pour their hearts and souls into football.There are more ...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSFootball coaches Mark Brown of Elizabethtown and Larry French of Southwestern reached the 300-victory milestone this season, joining an exclusive club that isn't as exclusive as it once was.In 2005, when Bob Schneider of Newport Central Catholic became the first coach in the state to get to 300 wins, it seemed he had ascended into rarefied air.Flash ahead to today and Philip Haywood ...Read more »
It was 50 years ago today -- Nov. 26, 1966 -- that Dayton High School stunned Russellville 6-2 to win the Class A football title at UK's Stoll Field.Dayton hadn't been to the state finals before, and it hasn't been there since.Russellville came into the championship game undefeated (11-0) and a solid favorite to handle the Greendevils (9-3). One big reason: Russellville's linemen outweighed Dayton...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSIn this day of specialization among high school athletes, who are prodded by their parents and coaches to devote all their time and energy to one sport lest a college scholarship (or possibly a pro contract) eludes them, let us remember Dennis Johnson.Johnson excelled in football, basketball and track & field at Harrodsburg High School from 1994-98 because, first and foremost, he...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSFormer Somerset football star John Cole was visiting family in his hometown last week when he heard the news that current Pulaski County star Jake Johnson had broken his state record for career receiving yards the previous Friday night.Was Cole, a Briar Jumper for life, OK with having an arch-rival Maroon eclipse his numbers?“Yes, 100 percent,” he said. “It’s exciting. It’s great to ...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSJimmie Reed attended a powder-puff football game in Louisville a couple weeks ago.He wasn’t on the sidelines coaching, or on the field afterward handing out awards. He was there to cheer on one of his granddaughters.It goes to show how Jimmie Reed’s life is still infused with football. It's part of his make-up, and has been since he first put on a helmet and pads in the early 1960s a...Read more »
Justin Thomas won the CIMB Classic in Malaysia last week, successfully defending his title in Kuala Lumpur.Thomas is showing lots of early promise on the PGA Tour. When the Louisvillian won the CIMB Classic last year he was only 22 -- the youngest Kentuckian ever to win on tour. J.B. Holmes was 23 when he won for the first time.Thomas is the seventh former KHSAA state champ to win on the PGA Tour,...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSIt's been more than 30 years since Beth Bates kicked her way into Kentucky high school football's history books, but she's still occasionally reminded of her headline-grabbing days at Williamsburg High School."People bring it up, so it comes back around every so often," Bates said recently. "And I have told my kids about it. They know the story."As a junior at Williamsburg in 1982, s...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSAsk Bennett West when he began keeping the scorebook and statistics for the Belfry boys’ basketball team and he answers without hesitation.“It was at Virgie, November 30, 1978. We lost 106-79,” he says, deftly pulling the place, date and score from his mental encyclopedia.In the 38 years since, West has expanded his role as Belfry’s “stat man.” He is now also involved in Pirate...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSTodd Bretz was only 24 when he signed on to coach boys' soccer at Paul Laurence Dunbar when it opened in 1990.Jon Akers, Dunbar's first principal, had to find more than a dozen head coaches to staff the sports programs at the new high school, and he remembers that Bretz was "by far" his youngest and most inexperienced hire.But Akers saw something in him."I could tell right away Todd ...Read more »
Bobby Keith, who guided Clay County to the 1987 Sweet Sixteen championship and was regarded as one of the greatest basketball coaches in state history, passed away Wednesday after suffering a heart attack. He was 75.Keith was an absolute basketball genius. He guided his beloved Clay County Tigers for 27 seasons, leading them to 18 (!) 13th Region titles. His 767 career victories are fifth on the s...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSBOWLING GREEN – An hour into a conversation with Jeff McGill about all things golf, including his views on the virtues the game teaches and his memories of winning the 1969 state title, he states the obvious: “I fall into the category of being a traditionalist.”McGill, the pro at Bowling Green County Club, has certainly done his part to nurture the tradition of the Leachman Buick-GMC...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSCharles Hurt, who died last week at age 55 after a long battle with leukemia, is being remembered for his basketball playing days at Kentucky.But Hurt played his best basketball at Shelby County, where he was a two-time all-stater and helped the Rockets win the 1978 state title. He hit one of the most memorable shots in Sweet Sixteen history in the championship game against Holmes."Y...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSLOUISVILLE -- Rachel Sanford was never chasing glory or records or celebrity when she was winning an unprecedented five consecutive KHSAA state cross country titles, a remarkable streak of success that began in 1993 when she was only 10 years old.“I was just out there having fun, enjoying running and being with my family,” she said recently. “It was never really about the winning. It...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSLYNCH – Dig into the history of Kentucky high school football and one shiny nugget you’ll uncover is that the first official state champion hailed from this tiny coal town deep in the hills of Harlan County.It was a cold, snowy afternoon on November 28, 1959, when Lynch East Main, led by Johnny Powell’s 225 rushing yards and Adam “Bull” Hoiska’s three touchdowns, throttled Henderson ...Read more »
When Lafayette plays host to Trinity in high school football tonight, the Generals will try to end Lexington’s 16-year streak of futility against Bob Beatty’s Shamrocks.The last time a Lexington team beat Trinity was in 1999 when Eric Shelton ran roughshod through the Rocks’ defense in leading Bryan Station to a 31-21 playoff victory in Louisville.That was Kevin Wright’s last year as Trinity’s coa...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSLOUISVILLE – When Ron Kordes was hired to coach volleyball at Assumption in 1989, then-principal Karen Russ asked how long he thought he might lead the Rockets’ program.“I told her, ‘Let’s do it a year at a time, and as long as I’m enjoying it, we’ll continue on,’” Kordes recently remembered.“Now here I am 28 years later and I’m still enjoying it.”Talk about a perfect match.Und...Read more »
"What I like about golf, and the reason I think kids should play golf, is because it’s an individual sport that requires you to gain control over your emotions, develops your critical thinking skills, your conceptual thinking skills, and your discipline."Golf is never the same. There’s no way ever to get bored with it, ever. It’s an elusive challenge you’re always chasing. To be able to gain contr...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSMAYFIELD – The first family of Mayfield High School football includes the most successful father-son coaching duo in the history of Kentucky high school football.Between them, Jack and Joe Morris have been part of the Cardinals’ program for almost six decades – including a combined 42 years as head coach, during which time they’ve accumulated 454 victories, 18 trips to the state fina...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSThe headline above tells you the result of the first Recreation Bowl played in Mount Sterling on Nov. 11, 1948. It was a Thursday night, and after Somerset, led by running backs Dickie Holmes and Dick Mitchell, thumped previously unbeaten Evarts 27-0 in front of 4,000 spectators, University of Kentucky football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant awarded Bill Clark’s Briar Jumpers the winners’ ...Read more »
McCracken County will continue its quest to end a 56-year title drought for the 1st Region when the Rawlings/KHSAA State Baseball Tournament resumes tonight with the final four at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.The semifinal matchups have McCracken County (37-5) taking on St. Xavier (27-12) at 6 p.m., followed by Bullitt East (28-10) playing Campbell County (28-10).The last 1st Region team to win a state ...Read more »
Between them, Scott Downs and Brad Wilkerson played major league baseball for more than 20 years, which tells you something about the star power they brought to the high school baseball final four in 1994.Downs was an undefeated senior lefthanded pitcher for Pleasure Ridge Park. Wilkerson was an undefeated junior lefthanded pitcher and standout center fielder for Apollo.Before the semifinals, PRP ...Read more »
Yogi Berra's quip that "It ain't over till it's over" resonated 20 years ago when Pleasure Ridge Park rallied to beat Harrison County in the state baseball semifinals, and went on to win its third consecutive state championship.PRP was on the brink of defeat when it trailed 5-2 in the top of the seventh with two outs and nobody. Then everything went haywire for Harrison County.PRP's Brad Williams ...Read more »
When Paintsville won the Sweet Sixteen championship in 1996, the Tigers showed that a Class A-size school could compete with the big boys in basketball and come out on top.Big deal.Paintsville had already proved that point in baseball six years earlier when it won the state title, knocking off big-city schools Pleasure Ridge Park and Tates Creek in the final four at UK's Shively Field.Coach Charli...Read more »
Lexington Catholic, led by the standout pitching of Mark Michael, beat Pleasure Ridge Park 4-2 in nine innings to win its first state baseball championship in 1999.Michael had a sensational senior season, going 14-0 with a 1.30 ERA and exhibiting remarkable control -- he had 98 strikeouts and only 9 walks in 77 innings.In the title game against PRP, he surrendered two runs in the first but blanked...Read more »
Bryan Station baseball coach Eddie Brooks was a star in his playing days at Lafayette. He was a slick-fielding sophomore infielder who batted ninth on the Generals' 1989 state championship team.But Brooks wielded a dangerous bat at the bottom of the order, and he showed plenty of power at the plate in the playoffs that year. He smacked three home runs -- two in one inning! -- in Lafayette's 22-0 r...Read more »
When Harrison County and Pleasure Ridge Park met in the 1993 baseball finals, both programs were looking for their first state championship after twice being bridesmaids.Harrison County was runner-up in 1984 and 1987; PRP was runner-up in 1982 and 1985.The 1993 championship game would mark the beginning of state domination by the two schools. They would combine to win the next 6 state titles -- Ha...Read more »
I've witnessed a lot of upsets over the last 40+ years, and my memory of most of them is blurry. One upset that is still clear -- and still shocking -- came in baseball 23 years ago this week.On May 25, 1993, defending state champion and No. 1-ranked Lafayette, boasting a star-studded lineup and a 33-5 record, lost to unranked Franklin County, sporting a 14-21 record, in the first round of the 11t...Read more »
They aren't remembered as baseball players, but John Pelphrey, Jared Lorenzen and Derek Smith were talented multi-sport athletes in high school.In his junior year at Paintsville, Pelphrey was a star pitcher who helped the Tigers reach the 1986 state baseball final four in Elizabethtown. The 6-foot-7 righthander had an 11-1 record before losing a 3-1 decision to eventual champion Tates Creek in the...Read more »
Larry Poynter, in his first year as head baseball coach at Tates Creek, leads his alma mater into post-season play in the 43rd District tournament Tuesday night.In getting his players ready for the playoffs, Poynter can tell them about how he stepped up in the 1990 post-season and was a key factor in helping the Commodores reach the state finals. (They lost to Paintsville in the championship game...Read more »
I came across my old baseball scorebooks recently, some more than 30 years old, and flipping through the pages was like stepping back in time.Over the next few weeks I'll share some of the most memorable individual and team post-season performances.For example, I found the scorebook that documented Lafayette's post-season run to the 1992 state championship. I had forgotten just how dominant Genera...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSGreenup County’s hopes of becoming Kentucky’s first undefeated state baseball champion in 34 years are dead, but the Musketeers’ hopes of winning the state title are still very much alive.Greenup County suffered its first loss of the season Saturday, falling to East Jessamine 2-1 in the Fayette County Invitational Tournament. Coach Greg Logan said his players were “heartbroken” and “...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSAustin Kearns was throwing batting practice in one of the cages at the South Lexington baseball complex in Shillito Park on a rainy evening last week, and nobody took a second glance at the former major league outfielder working with a group of 9- to 12-year-olds.Kearns was just another South Lexington alum back home again.Shillito Park was where Kearns’ baseball talent first took ro...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSLOUISVILLE -- The feel-good story of this high school baseball season is that legendary Pleasure Ridge Park Coach Bill Miller feels good.Upgrade that: "I feel great!" Miller said before a Panthers' practice this week.That's a remarkable statement coming from a guy who, even though he has never smoked, was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer six months ago.Miller, 66, knows how lucky ...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSSteve Wright marked his 59th birthday Monday by resigning as boys' basketball coach at Pulaski Southwestern. "I'm at a point in my life where I want to move on to other possibilities and opportunities," said Wright, who has an overall record of 697-247 in 30 years. "Each year I reevaluate if I want to continue in the same position . . . I'm 100% convinced that at this stage in my lif...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSTradition is getting thumped by reality when it comes to the Kentucky-Indiana All-Stars basketball series, so maybe it’s time to invoke a mercy rule and pull the plug on the games.It’s sad to say goodbye to what was once a vital, rousing event, but it’s even sadder to watch it slowly wither away.My suggestion is to keep naming Mr. and Miss Basketball, keep naming boys’ and girls’ all...Read more »
When Kris Jenkins hit his buzzer-beating three-pointer to give Villanova the NCAA title late Monday night in Houston, it was a shot heard 'round the nation.And Lexington Catholic alum Cory Heitz's reaction to Jenkins' heroics was probably heard 'round Kendallville, Ind.Heitz coached Jenkins at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C., so he was pulling for his former player in the champion...Read more »
GLENDALE, AZ -- Even though he was in spring training in Arizona, 1,800 miles from Rupp Arena, Los Angeles Dodgers catcher (and former Paul Laurence Dunbar basketball player) A.J. Ellis followed Dunbar's march to the Sweet Sixteen championship."I had friends on Facebook who kept me up on how Dunbar was doing," Ellis said. "I was following them closely. I had a game (the Sunday of the state finals)...Read more »
Paul Laurence Dunbar hoisted the big trophy and cut down the nets after winning the 99th Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys' Sweet Sixteen championship in Rupp Arena Sunday afternoon, and its celebration echoed through history.Dunbar was battle-scarred as it survived a brutal post-season schedule. It beat Henry Clay in the 11th Region semifinals and Scott County in the finals to get to Rupp. Then it had to ...Read more »
For the seventh time in state tournament history, a Lexington team will play a Louisville team in the title game.Paul Laurence Dunbar (32-6) will go against Doss (30-5) in the finals of the 99th Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen in Rupp Arena Sunday at 2 p.m.Louisville holds the upper hand in the big-city championship rivalry. It has won 4 of the previous 6 showdowns.1957: Lafayette beat Eastern 5...Read more »
When Doss and Paul Laurence Dunbar got together for a pre-season scrimmage at Taylor County last fall, a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, little did they know they would end the season in Rupp Arena playing for the state championship."Funny how things happen," Doss Coach Tony Williams said.To get to Sunday afternoon's title game, Doss and Dunbar had to survive tough semifinal tests Saturday ni...Read more »
The final four of the 99th Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen is all set. Saturday night's semifinal matchups in Rupp Arena look like this:Newport Central Catholic (30-4) vs. Paul Laurence Dunbar (31-6), 6:30Doss (29-5) vs. South Laurel (29-6), 8:15.NewCath is in the semifinals for the first time since 1953 when it lost to eventual champ Lafayette. Coach Ron Dawn's Thoroughbreds have been led by 6-...Read more »
Newport Central Catholic star Ben Weyer is making more noise in Rupp Arena this week than the Monster Jam trucks did when they rolled in here for a show last month.In two games in the 99th Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen, the 6-foot-6 senior has put up staggering numbers -- 46 points, 25 rebounds, 7 assists and 7 blocked shots -- while leading NewCath to the state semifinals for the first time s...Read more »
The 99th Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen was hyped as a wide-open shootout with any number of title contenders. Friday's quarterfinal matchups seem to bear that out. It's hard to pick any sure-fire winners coming out of the elite eight.Murray (30-5) vs. Newport Central Catholic (29-4), noonDunbar (30-6) vs. Bowling Green (31-2), 1:30Doss (28-5) vs. Taylor County (25-8), 6:30South Laurel (28-6) v...Read more »
Quentin Goodin didn't win Mr. Basketball honors Tuesday night, but the Taylor County senior wanted to show that he deserved the award with his play in the Cardinals' 94-65 victory over Mason County Thursday night in the 99th Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen in Rupp Arena.Goodin, a 6-foot-2 guard who has signed with Xavier, had 28 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals as he led Taylor County...Read more »
When South Laurel's Braden Miller hit a three-pointer midway through the first quarter of the Cardinals' game against Christian County Thursday afternoon, he glanced into the Rupp Arena stands and spotted his family celebrating."It was a surreal feeling when I hit that shot," Braden said. "To hear the noise of the crowd and to look up and see my family. My (older) brother Brennan told me after the...Read more »
Today is the 25th anniversary of Fairdale's completing its back-to-back Sweet Sixteen championships.
Stan Hardin's Bulldogs beat Tates Creek 67-63 in the finals of the 74th Boys' State Tournament in Rupp Arena on March 16, 1991 to become the first team to win consecutive state titles since Male did it in 1970 and '71.
Fairdale's terrific trio of Jermaine Brown, Maurice Morris and Carlos Turner...Read more »
Reginald Rice saw his first Sweet Sixteen 70 years ago at the Louisville Armory when he was a student at Garrett High School in Floyd County. Since 1946, Rice has missed only a handful of state tournaments -- usually when flooding causes havoc back home. The 87-year-old basketball fan was in his customary lower-arena, front-row seat Wednesday for the 99th renewal of the Greatest Show in Hoops. He ...Read more »
Cool, calm and clutch.
That's Taveion Hollingsworth, a 6-foot-2 junior who plays basketball for Paul Laurence Dunbar with such remarkable ease and efficiency that it makes you wonder if he's immune to pressure.
Hollingsworth was at this best in the biggest game of his life Wednesday night. He led Dunbar to a heart-racing (although his own heart apparently never races) 58-55 victory over Mercer...Read more »
The last time Paul Laurence Dunbar played in the Sweet Sixteen, in 1997, Frank Watson was the Bulldogs' coach, having guided the Bulldogs to three state tournaments in five years.When Dunbar took the Rupp Arena court Wednesday night, Watson was sitting in Section 42, among the Bulldogs' red-shirted fans, remembering those glory days two decades ago."Walking in here, it seems like yesterday," he sa...Read more »
The 99th Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys' Sweet Sixteen opened Wednesday, and bricks were the topic du jour in the first session as Murray blasted Buckhorn 62-35, and Newport Central Catholic whipped Trinity 48-33 in front of 9,733 fans in Rupp Arena.It was a good-brick kind of day for Murray, a bad-brick kind of day for Trinity.The Shamrocks suffered through a nightmarish shooting performance -- brick a...Read more »
Newport Central Catholic sophomore guard Stephen Pangallo will carry on a family tradition by playing in the Sweet Sixteen today.
Pangallo is the grandson of NewCath Coach Ron Dawn, who played in the state tournament for the Thoroughbreds in 1973 and 1974.
Ron coached his son Ronny, who was an all-state guard for NewCath's 2000 Sweet Sixteen team.
"It's neat," Ron Dawn said of the family's st...Read more »
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS -- Butler cemented its place as one of the preeminent girls' basketball programs in Kentucky history by blasting Franklin County 62-36 to win the St. Elizabeth Healthcare/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen championship Sunday afternoon.The Bearettes claimed their fifth state title (2016, 2014, 2008, 1980, 1975) to join Laurel County as the only 5-time champ in the modern era. (Ashland won 5 titl...Read more »
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS -- Butler will be chasing history when it goes up against a once-upon-a-time opponent in the girls' state basketball finals Sunday night.Butler outlasted All "A" champion Murray 68-58 in the semifinals of the St. Elizabeth HealthCare/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen Saturday night in BB&T Arena.The victory earned the Bearettes a chance to tie Laurel County as the only 5-time state titlist ...Read more »
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS -- It took 36 years, but Franklin County has made it back to the state championship game in girls' basketball.The Flyers held on to beat Mercer County 55-51 in the semifinals of the St. Elizabeth HealthCare/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen Saturday night at BB&T Arena.The victory puts Franklin County (31-4) in Sunday afternoon's title game against Butler, which beat the Flyers 36-30 in the...Read more »
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS -- Janna Lewis wasn't supposed to take the last shot for Butler, but she did, and her buzzer-beater gave the Bearettes a dramatic 61-59 victory over Elizabethtown in the quarterfinals of the St. Elizabeth HealthCare/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen Friday night.Butler (29-5), a four-time state champion, will play All "A" state titlist Murray (35-1) in Saturday night's semifinals in BB&T Ar...Read more »
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS -- The dynamic duo of Macey Turley and Maddie Waldrop led Murray past Owensboro Catholic 60-43 in the quarterfinals of the St. Elizabeth HealthCare/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen Friday night in BB&T Arena.It was Murray's third win over the Aces this season, including a victory in the championship game of the All "A" Classic.Murray will take a 29-game winning streak into Saturday night's...Read more »
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS -- When the heat was on, Mercer County kept its cool and played its way into the final four of the St. Elizabeth HealthCare/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen. The Titans withstood a pressure-packed fourth quarter to beat Holmes 59-55 in Friday afternoon's quarterfinals at BB&T Arena.Mercer County (31-5) will play Franklin County (30-4) in Saturday night's semifinals. (The Titans beat Frankl...Read more »
Scott Hundley is stepping down as boys' basketball coach at Woodford County to pursue a job in school administration, or maybe something in the private sector."It was a tough decision because I'll miss the bonds and relationships you develop with the young men you coach," said Hundley, who was at the St. Elizabeth HealthCare/KHSAA Girls' Sweet Sixteen on Friday to present KABC awards to coaches an...Read more »
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS -- It wasn't anything like early December when Franklin County crushed Campbell County 68-47 in the season opener.In a rematch in the quarterfinals of the St. Elizabeth HealthCare/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen Friday afternoon, Franklin County narrowly escaped with a 41-38 victory over the Camels in BB&T Arena."I don’t care if we win 3-2, as long as we get the last stop," Franklin Count...Read more »
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS -- Forty days after Owensboro Catholic beat Harlan by 30 points in the All "A" semifinals, the Aces won their rematch 69-49 in the first round of the St. Elizabeth HealthCare/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen at BB&T Arena Thursday night.Owensboro Catholic (31-5) has another rematch in Friday night's quarterfinals when it faces Murray (34-1), which dealt the Aces a 45-28 defeat in the All "...Read more »
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS -- Elizabethtown, rated the tournament favorite, looked the part in rolling by Henderson County 63-36 in the first round of the St. Elizabeth HealthCare/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen Thursday night in BB&T Arena.Erin Boley, a Notre Dame signee and finalist for Naismith's national player of the year, led the Panthers. The 6-foot-2 senior had 27 points and 7 rebounds as E-town notched its...Read more »
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS -- Four-time state champion Butler, which seems to always look comfortable on the big stage, turned in another winning performance in the first round of the St. Elizabeth HealthCare/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen Thursday afternoon.The Bearettes, getting a big boost from their bench, notched their 11th victory in a row by beating Bowling Green 64-52 in BB&T Arena.Butler, whose state titl...Read more »
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS -- Murray, trying to duplicate Covington Holy Cross's grand achievement as a small school last year, beat Manual 58-41 in the first round of the St. Elizabeth HealthCare/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen Thursday afternoon in BB&T Arena.It was Murray's 28th consecutive victory, a streak that includes the All "A" Classic title. Covington Holy Cross swept the All "A" and the Sweet Sixteen las...Read more »
The first round of the St. Elizabeth HealthCare/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen continues Thursday at BB&T Arena:Murray (33-1) vs. Manual (21-7), noonButler (27-5) vs. Bowling Green (29-4), 1:30 p.m.Elizabethtown (29-4) vs. Henderson County (18-9), 6:30 p.m.Owensboro Catholic (30-5) vs. Harlan (27-4), 8 p.m.The Murray-Manual winner will face the Owensboro Catholic-Harlan winner in Friday night's quarterfi...Read more »
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS -- Holmes relied on unrelenting defense to get to the state tournament for the first time in 14 years, so it was no surprise that its defense was the difference in a 49-35 victory over Russell in the St. Elizabeth HealthCare/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen Wednesday night in BB&T Arena.The Bulldogs earned their 10th win in a row and a date with Mercer County in Friday's quarterfinals.Jyne...Read more »
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS -- It was Wednesday -- hump day -- and the Campbell County Camels got over the proverbial hump and won their first-ever Sweet Sixteen game.Campbell County beat Trimble County 48-33 in the St. Elizabeth HealthCare/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen at BB&T Arena Wednesday night.The Camels, who lost in the opening round in three previous state tournament appearances, were led by Taylor Jolly ...Read more »
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS -- Franklin County has four 1,000-point career scorers in its lineup, so it's rare when the Flyers go starving for offense.
So it didn't matter that Princess Stewart, Franklin County's top scorer this season, went 0-for-9 from the field and had only 2 points (on 2 free throws in the final minutes) in the first round of the St. Elizabeth HealthCare/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen Wednesday ...Read more »
Mercer County Coach Chris Souder is having a ball during March Madness, and it keeps getting better.Tuesday night, Souder watched Mercer County's boys beat Casey County to win the 12th Region title. His son Conner, a senior, plays for the Titans.Wednesday afternoon, Souder guided Mercer County's girls to a 68-39 victory over Leslie County in the opening game of the St. Elizabeth HealthCare/KHSAA S...Read more »
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS -- Mercer County began the St. Elizabeth HealthCare/KHSAA Girls' Sweet Sixteen by erasing all memory of last year's lopsided loss in the state tournament.The Titans, who were buried by Elizabethtown 79-38 in the first round in Bowling Green last year, leveled Leslie County 68-39 in Wednesday afternoon's opener at BB&T Arena."What a difference a year makes," Mercer County Coach...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDS
MOUNT STERLING – Everything that is good and clean and competitive and entertaining and heartening about Kentucky high school basketball played out in a rousing 10th Region championship game at Montgomery County Tuesday night.
In a classic big school vs. small school matchup, traditional power Mason County outlasted tiny Augusta 48-41 in front of a packed house of 4,200 fans to ...Read more »
The Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys' Sweet Sixteen is taking shape. Five region champions have been crowned, and 11 more will be determined tonight to complete the field.
Christian County (2nd Region), Doss (6th), Newport Central Catholic (9th), Paul Laurence Dunbar (11th) and South Laurel (13th) have locked up spots in the 99th state tournament, which will be played March 16-20 in Rupp Arena.
Here's a...Read more »
Condolences to the family of George Barber, who passed away last night after becoming ill on a trip to Florida. Barber was involved in Lexington high school football for more than four decades and was best known for coaching kickers, including his son Collin at Lexington Catholic. Here's a story I wrote about him for the Lexington Herald-Leader in November, 2010.
BY MIKE FIELDS
George Barber g...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDS
STANTON – Whitney Creech, whose prodigious scoring has raised the roofs of gyms throughout the mountains this basketball season, has lifted Jenkins’ girls into the 14th Region finals for the first time since 1997 and given them a shot at their first region title in 40 years.
Creech, a 5-foot-9 senior, poured in 48 points Friday night to lead Jenkins past host Powell County 67-58...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSTim Couch, arguably the most accomplished quarterback in the history of Kentucky high school football, grew up thinking of himself as a basketball player first.“I honestly didn’t like football at all until, I think, my sophomore year (at Leslie County),” he said. “I just played it because my older brother (Greg) did. My first love was basketball. I always considered myself a basketba...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSVanderbilt freshman Camron Justice was in the middle of the celebratory swarm on the Memorial Gym court after the Commodores beat Kentucky 74-62 in Nashville Saturday."I never was a huge fan of UK, but I was a Kentucky kid and I grew up watching their basketball team, so beating them was a big deal," Justice said. "A bunch of people back home called and texted me congratulations."It ...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSMadison and Mason Faulkner, the highest scoring twins in the history of Kentucky high school basketball, aren’t ready for their careers at Caverna to end just yet.Madison, a 5-foot-8 senior, poured in 42 points to lead Caverna’s girls to a 68-52 victory over LaRue County in the 18th District semifinals Tuesday night. They will play host Green County for the district title Friday nigh...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSA history of post-season success and a current top 25 ranking won’t get a basketball coach a cup of coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts, much less guarantee his team victory at tournament time.Just ask Lexington Catholic Coach Brandon Salsman.His Knights, rated No. 13 in Dave Cantrall’s Rating the State, lost to No. 18 Lafayette 55-48 in the boys’ 43rd District semifinals Tuesday night. That me...Read more »
Here are the matchups for tonight's title matches at the KHSAA State Wrestling Championships at the Kentucky Horse Park's Alltech Arena. Opening ceremonies for the finals are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.106: Cagen Wallace (Wayne Co.) vs. Chase Yost (Woodford Co.)113: Tanner Yenter (Campbell Co.) vs. Konner Kraeszig (St. Xavier)120: Saul Ervin (Union Co.) vs. Dallas Ochsenbein (North Oldham)126: Co...Read more »
The Kentucky Lions Eye Foundation and the Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches have released the lists of finalists for Mr. and Miss Basketball -- 18 boys and 17 girls, who earned Player of the Year honors in their respective regions.Voting by coaches and media will be conducted until Feb. 26. Mr. and Miss Basketball be announced March 15 in Lexington, the night before the Boys' Sweet Sixtee...Read more »
When I saw Daymeon Fishback working as a college basketball analyst on the SEC Network the other night, I remembered him not from his playing days at Auburn, but as Kentucky's Mr. Basketball in 1996. Fishback's career totals at Greenwood High School: 2,214 points, 916 rebounds, 470 assists, 168 blocked shots and 163 steals.While looking up those numbers, I came across an interesting nugget. On thi...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSOwen Hauck, whose Boone County football Rebels were the scourge of Lexington teams from the late 1980s to the mid 1990s, died this morning. He was 88.Hauck coached Highlands to the state championship in 1964, and the Bluebirds were state runners-up under him in 1963 and 1966. He guided Boone County to state runner-up finishes in 1986, 1987, 1992 and 1994. The Rebels knocked off Lexin...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSGlen Drury is an Anderson County institution. Like those famous Lawrenceburg distilleries, Four Roses and Wild Turkey, Drury has been turning out a successful, Kentucky-specialty product for decades.The proof: Drury, in his 31st season as a head basketball coach in his home county, earned his 500th victory when Anderson County beat Simon Kenton last week.Drury, as expected, shrugged ...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSLife is good for Erin Boley.The Elizabethtown basketball star is the first 3,000-point scorer in school history, already a two-time Gatorade Player of the Year in Kentucky, a Notre Dame signee, a McDonald's All-American, one of 10 semifinalists for the Naismith Trophy that goes to the top girls' player in the nation, a straight-A student, and newly crowned homecoming queen.Life can g...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSJock Sutherland made a brief appearance at the event named his honor -- the Jock Sutherland Classic -- at Lafayette this past Saturday. He found time to shake hands, chat up a few fans and reminisce about his good ol’ days in basketball.Sutherland, who will turn 88 next month, was one of the most colorful coaches in the history of Kentucky high school hoops.He was also one of the mos...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSCarson Williams always puts his team first, so he’s not distracted by speculation about his Mr. Basketball candidacy. The Owen County senior’s single-minded purpose is to lead the Rebels to their first-ever Sweet Sixteen.“Mr. Basketball is a nice idea, but my ultimate goal is taking my team to Rupp Arena,” Williams said matter-of-factly.Williams was speaking moments after he led Owen...Read more »
No. 1 Mercer County will put its perfect record (24-0) on the line against host Lafayette in the Jock Sutherland Classic Saturday night. The Titans are the only unbeaten team in the state.
No. 3 Paul Laurence Dunbar plays Louisville Central in the event. And Owen County, led by senior star Carson Williams, faces North Laurel, led by junior standout Peyton Broughton.
Saturday's schedule at Lafaye...Read more »
Whitney Creech became Kentucky high school basketball's all-time leading scorer when she poured in 71 points to lead Jenkins past Paintsville 90-87 in overtime Tuesday night. Her career-high performance gave her 4,957 points, eclipsing Jaime Walz's 19-year-old record of 4,948.Creech is averaging 50.3 points this season, but she's been a scoring machine for years. She has averaged 35.0 points over ...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSNational signing day has arrived for high school football players across America. One of the highest rated recruits in Kentucky, however, will have to wait until next year to put his signature on a college letter of intent.Jedrick Wills, a 6-foot-5 1/2, 300-pound five-star offensive lineman at Lafayette, is just a junior. Rated the third best OL prospect in the nation in the class of...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSBROWNSVILLE – They're on the shady side of middle age now. Most of them have gray hair, or gray-flecked goatees or mustaches. Their knees don’t always treat them kindly. Some are retired. One has three grandsons.It's hard to believe that it's been 40 years since the Edmonson County Wildcats, coached by the feisty Bo Davenport, manufactured March magic, won the boys’ state basketball ...Read more »
BY MIKE FIELDSNICHOLASVILLE -- Mercer County isn’t trying to go undefeated in boys’ basketball this season, but the Titans are trying to win every game.There is a difference.No. 1 Mercer County ran its record to 22-0 with an 83-79 victory over host West Jessamine Thursday night. The Titans trailed 74-71 with 1:20 left, but led by Trevon Faulkner, they rallied to remain the only unbeaten team in K...Read more »
Ervin Stepp is ready to welcome Whitney Creech into his exclusive club.Stepp is the only player in the history of Kentucky high school basketball to average more than 50 points a game for an entire season. Thirty-six years ago as a senior at Phelps, Stepp averaged 53.7 points. (And that was before the three-point shot was introduced.)He topped 60 points six times that season, including 75 against ...Read more »
So, did I miss anything?It’s been eight months since I retired from the Herald-Leader after covering high school sports for 41 years.After giving up the gig cold turkey, I filled my time with travel (the British Open at St. Andrews was a bucket-list highlight), grandkids (Candy Land, anyone?), a long honey-do list (I racked up big numbers on my Fitbit while painting the basement), and an autumn we...Read more »
After working as a sports writer for 41 years, I needed a break from the daily demands and deadlines of the newspaper business. So last June I retired from the Lexington Herald-Leader after covering approximately 4,000 high school sports events in my career. Now, eight months later, I’m rested and ready for a part-time return to the game. To reintroduce myself: I was born in Pikeville, grew up in ...Read more »