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CovCath celebrates another Sweet 16 title



A few years ago C.J. Fredrick couldn’t even start for Covington Catholic’s freshman basketball team because, in his own words, he was “a skinny little stand-still shooter.”

Sunday afternoon under the bright lights in Rupp Arena, Fredrick was the star of the show as CovCath claimed its second state championship in five years.

The 6-foot-4 senior poured in 32 points as the Colonels swamped Scott County 73-55 to win the 101st Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Sweet 16 in front of 12,637 fans.

CovCath, which also beat Scott County in the 2014 finals, is only the second private school to win more than one boys’ championship. St. Xavier is the other, having taken the title in 1926, ’35, ’58 and ’62.

“C.J.’s special; he’s got special talent,” Coach Scott Ruthsatz said. “If you want to write a book, C.J.’s the one to write about. He was the sixth or seventh man on our freshman team. He […]


CovCath vs. Scott County for Sweet 16 title again



For the second time in five years, Covington Catholic and Scott County will battle it out for the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Sweet 16 championship.

They’ll face off Sunday at 2 p.m. in Rupp Arena.

CovCath (34-4) is riding a 22 game winning streak.

Scott County (37-1) has won 29 in a row. Its only loss was to Cincinnati Moeller.

When they clashed in the 2014 finals, CovCath rallied to beat the Cardinals 59-51 in overtime. Nick Ruthsatz, son of Colonels Coach Scott Ruthsatz, was MVP of the tournament. He had 25 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals in the title game.

“They’re really good,” Hicks said of this year’s CovCath team. “I think they’re better than they were in ’14. And they’ve still got a dad-burned Ruthsatz.”

That would be senior point guard Aiden Ruthsatz, Nick’s brother.

Hicks said CovCath’s size and strength will also present problems. The Colonels’ lineup includes […]


It wasn’t a hero shot; it was a team being a team




Travis Henderson said no thanks to that label after he hit a three-pointer with :05 left to give Oldham County a 56-55 victory over Campbell County in the quarterfinals of the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Sweet 16 in Rupp Arena Friday night.

Asked about the game-winning three that sent the Colonels to the state semifinals, Henderson deflected all personal glory. Instead, he sounded as if he was just lucky to be in the right spot at the right time and his shot just happened to go in.

“The play wasn’t necessarily designed for me,” he said. “I knew they’d be helping in hard, and that (ballhandler) Jackson (Gibson) would make the right call.”

Oldham County Coach Coy Zerhusen said Gibson was supposed to “attack the paint” and look for a shot, or pass to Zach Larimore rolling free, or Henderson getting open in the left corner.

“They collapsed down on Jackson, and Travis […]


Fern Creek’s Lenora Roberts keeps the book & keeps quiet



As Fern Creek scrapped and clawed its way to a 69-67 overtime victory against Boyd County in the first round of the Sweet 16 Thursday afternoon in Rupp Arena, Lenora Roberts fidgeted in her seat, took a few deep breaths, but never made a peep.

She learned long ago to keep her emotions under wraps no matter what’s happening on the court. She’s been keeping the scorebook for Fern Creek basketball for 34 years, and no cheering is allowed in her job.

“I love it, but I have to keep quiet,” Lenora said with a laugh.

She has her daughter Kim to thank for that.

Kim was the eighth-grade basketball coach at Evangel Christian in Louisville when her younger sister Melissa was on the team. Lenora went to the opening game to root for her daughters, and, well, she must’ve made a little too much noise.

“After the very first game, Kim […]


Rex Chapman remembers his Apollo heroes, and heartbreak



When he was a basketball star at Apollo High School, UK and in the NBA, Rex Chapman was a hoops hero to thousands (millions?) of Kentucky kids.

But Rex remembers two of his own heroes when he was growing up, and one of them — Steve Barker — is coaching Apollo in the Sweet 16 this week.

Barker was an all-state player at Apollo 40 years ago when Wayne Chapman, Rex’s dad, was the Eagles’ coach.

Barker and Jeff Jones were four-year starters for Apollo, which reached the state tournament in 1976 and 1978.

“Steve and Jeff were two of my very first (heroes),” Rex said. “Steve could really shoot it, and Jeff was a really good player, too.”

The ’78 Apollo team took a 35-0 record and No. 1 ranking into the Sweet 16, but lost to Shelby County and its star Charles Hurt in the first round at Freedom Hall.



Brewers’ unbeaten Redmen have stood the test of time



Barney Thweatt, who will be 88 in a few weeks, is still feisty as all get-out when it comes to reveling in the fact that he played on the last undefeated boys’ basketball team in Kentucky.

That was 70 years ago.

Thweatt started for Brewers (in Marshall County) when Coach McCoy Tarry’s Redmen went 36-0 and won the Sweet 16 in 1948.

“When it happened, we didn’t think much about it,” said Thweatt, who was in Rupp Arena last night when his Brewers team was recognized. “We thought, well, it might happen pretty often. But it hasn’t.”

Brewers, in fact, is the only boys’ team to own a spotless record since Ashland went 37-0 in 1928.

That means the Redmen are the lone undefeated state champs in the last 90 years.

Thweatt said he’s had a few scares, including Apollo’s undefeated run to […]


Happy (or sad) Sweet 16 anniversary for Clem Haskins



Happy anniversary, Clem Haskins.

Or maybe a not so happy anniversary.

It was 55 years ago today (March 15, 1963) that Haskins played his last high school game for Taylor County. He and his Cardinals lost to Lexington Dunbar 65-64 in the Sweet 16 quarterfinals in front of 17,000 fans in Freedom Hall.

“It was one of the saddest days of my life because it was the last time I put on that uniform,” Haskins said Thursday afternoon in Rupp Arena while he and his wife Yevette took in this year’s state tournament.

Haskins scored 25 points for Taylor County against Dunbar, but S.T. Roach’s Bearcats pulled out the victory in the closing minute.

“It was a great basketball game,” Haskins said. “And it was a great tournament for pure talent, Division I talent, NBA talent.”

The 1963 Sweet 16 had remarkable star power. Besides Haskins the roll call included Wes Unseld […]


Pikeville’s never-say-die Panthers survive 3OT thriller



This is the 101st Boys’ Sweet 16, which means there have been close to 1,500 state tournament games played over the last century.

I’d argue that none have been any better than Pikeville’s first-round, triple-overtime, heart-stopping 72-69 victory over John Hardin in Rupp Arena Wednesday night.

Pity those fans among the 10,233 in attendance who trickled out of Rupp Arena before it was over.

“That’s one of the best games I’ve ever been a part of,” said Panthers Coach Elisha Justice, who was the star of Shelby Valley’s run to the state title in 2010.

“You go three overtimes . . . I mean the amazing plays these guys made, they fought and never gave up.”

The underdog Panthers — some people rated them last in the 16-team field — showed incredible resiliency by coming up with clutch play after clutch play to stay alive.

First, there was Wyatt Battaile nailing a […]


Travis Ford back in Rupp, scouting not shooting



Travis Ford has accomplished a lot in his basketball career, as a player and a coach.

He was a deadly three-pointer shooter for Kentucky in the early 1990s. He’s coached at EKU, Massachusetts, Oklahoma State and St. Louis, winning more than 300 games and taking 8 teams to the NCAA Tournament.

But Ford still considers his high school days at Madisonville, when he helped the Maroons reach the Sweet 16 three years in a row, as a career highlight.

“It’s still one of the biggest deals, one of the greatest things, be it coaching or playing, that I enjoyed in basketball,” Ford said Wednesday afternoon as he took in the 101st Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Sweet 16 in Rupp Arena.

Ford, who just finished his second season at St. Louis, has a strong interest in this year’s state tournament. John Hardin star Mickey Pearson, who has signed with the Billikens, was playing against Pikeville […]


‘Cool Hand’ Cooper saves Scott County



Just call him “Cool Hand” Cooper.

Scott County senior guard Cooper Robb nailed a three-pointer from the left corner with :09 left to give his Cardinals a 54-53 lead over Trinity in the first round of the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Sweet 16 Wednesday afternoon in Rupp Arena.

Trinity called a timeout with :05.8, then got the ball to senior star Jay Scrubb, who made a a furious drive down the court, drew some contact, then missed an off-balance shove-shot from the left of the free-throw lane.

No whistle, and Scott County survived an epic opening-round game in this 101st state tournament in front of 15,271 fans.

Did Robb sweat those final few seconds as Scrubb scrambled down the floor?

“It seemed like a pretty long time,” he confessed.

Robb wasn’t supposed to get the ball for the decisive shot. It was supposed to go to teammate Michael Moreno, who had 24 points for […]


These 5 guys played in Sweet 16, now coaching in it



Steve Barker played for Apollo in the Sweet 16 in 1976 and 1978.

Barker, now 58, is in his fourth year coaching Apollo and has the Eagles in the state tournament for the first time since 2012.

Does it seem forever ago that he played in the Sweet 16?

“It was forever ago,” Barker said with a laugh. “It’s been 40 years . . . 40 years!”

Barker would be in my starting lineup among coaches in this 101st Sweet Sixteen who also played in the state tournament.

He’d be joined by Corbin Coach Tony Pietrowski, Estill County Coach Jon Bentley, Oldham County Coach Coy Zerhusen and Pikeville Coach Elisha Justice.

— Steve Barker: started for Apollo in the 1976 and 1978 state tournaments. He had 21 points, 8 rebounds in a first-round loss to Shelby County in ’76, and 23 points, 7 rebounds in a first-round loss to Shelby County in […]


Former Estill County star Brian Kiser revels in Engineers’ Sweet 16



As Estill County took the court for the school’s Sweet 16 debut today, one spectator in Section 217 in the upper deck of Rupp Arena was feeling especially proud of the Engineers.

Brian Kiser, an all-state player for Estill County in 1992, said he was ready to cheer on the Engineers and live vicariously through their special state tournament moment.

This was Estill County’s first trip to the state tournament since the school opened in 1940.

“Wow,” Kiser said. “We had on our practice jerseys ‘Road to Rupp’ back in ’92. That road’s been closed for 77 years for this school. But it’s open now.

“This is good for the community, just to see people rally around the team. There was a huge parade going through Irvine yesterday as the team was coming to Lexington to spend the night.

“For the community to have this experience . . . it’s been a […]


Scott County vs. Trinity reminiscent of past first-round showdowns



As the 101st Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Sweet 16 gets ready to tip off at high noon, much ado is being made of today’s first-round matchup between Scott County and Trinity.

The hype is justified.

Scott County (34-1) and Trinity (30-3) are two of tournament favorites. They’re both loaded with talent, both are led by coaches who’ve won state championships. 

Billy Hicks led Scott County to titles in 1998 and 2007, and Mike Szabo guided the Shamrocks to the top on St. Patrick’s Day in 2012. (They beat Scott County in the finals.)

But this isn’t the first time the Sweet 16 has featured such a tantalizing first-round showdown.

Two of the best I remember:

— In 1978, No. 1 Apollo, sporting a 35-0 record, faced No. 2 Shelby County in front of 17,000 fans in Freedom Hall. Apollo, coached by Wayne Chapman, had a pair of four-year starters and Division I players in […]


Mercer County celebrates back-to-back state titles



HIGHLAND HEIGHTS — Oh, to have been in the Mercer County locker room at halftime of the girls’ state basketball finals at NKU’s BB&T Arena on Sunday afternoon when the defending champion Titans led Mercy by the unfathomable score of 52-14.

Instead of getting a lecture and X’s and O’s strategy from Coach Chris Souder, the Titans were surely high-fiving, giggling and figuring out who would get to kiss the championship trophy first.

“We were laughing,” Souder admitted.

“It was crazy,” said senior leader Seygan Robins. “We were celebrating a lot at halftime.”

With a mercy-rule running clock in effect the rest of the way, Mercer County wound up winning 74-34 and putting an exclamation point on its back-to-back championships.

The Titans claimed this St. Elizabeth Healthcare/KHSAA Sweet 16 title in record-setting style, too, by hitting 16 three-pointers, breaking their own state tournament mark of 14 that they made against Boyd County […]


Mercer County must hurdle Mercy to repeat as state champ



Mercer County’s girls have played 144 basketball games over the last four seasons and won 125 of them, including four consecutive region titles and a state championship.

And yet the Titans can still impress their coach by raising their game to another level.

That was the case in the St. Elizabeth Healthcare/KHSAA Sweet 16 semifinals Saturday night in NKU’s BB&T Arena.

Mercer County, which rarely plays a zone, used one to completely stifle Clark County on its way to a 44-27 victory.

The Cardinals managed just 2 points in the first 10 minutes, and they trailed 22-9 at halftime. They finished the night shooting 28.6%, including 1-for-12 from three-point range.

“I told the girls that probably since they’ve been in high school that’s the best defensive performance we’ve had,” Mercer County Coach Chris Souder said.

“For some reason we haven’t been able to guard a trash can here lately, so we thought […]


RIP, Gene Rhodes, who won state titles as player and coach


Gene Rhodes, who coached Louisville St. Xavier to the Sweet 16 title 60 years ago, died early Friday morning. He was 90. This is the story of his 1958 champs.


They were a team without a home because the old gym at St. Xavier High School, then located at 118 West Broadway, had a running track above the court, making shots from the corner impossible. So Gene Rhodes, the driven young coach with the perpetual 5 o’clock shadow, scheduled “home” games at Male, Central, Gottschalk Junior, and other schools that had normal gyms.

Rhodes wasn’t about to have his team practice at home, either, but since the other schools in Louisville were practicing in their home gyms, he decreed that the Tigers would practice at night, in a gym that wasn’t being used, sometimes as late as 7 to 9 p.m. The only starter who had a car was forward Jim McDonald, […]


Nicholas County’s run to glory 25 years ago



Kim Denkins is a social worker at a nursing home in Nicholas County, and more than occasionally she’ll be reminded of her basketball celebrity.

“It’s funny. Like when I’m doing orientation, somebody will say, ‘Are you Kim Denkins?’ And I’ll say, ‘Yes, I used to play ball.’”

Denkins’ modesty keeps her from telling folks she did much more than just “play ball.”

Twenty-five years ago she was the shining star on a high school basketball team that brought unprecedented glory to Nicholas County, and a sense of community pride that endures to this day.

Barbara Kenney, who guided the Bluejackets to the All “A” state title and the Sweet Sixteen championship in 1993, still cherishes the memories of those girls who proved that a small school could make big dreams come true.

 “It was quite a feat,” she said, “but we knew we had something special.”

Kenney and several players from that […]


Girls’ Sweet 16 champs by regions since 1975



1st Region:  Marshall County (1982, 1984)

2nd Region: Union County (1996)

3rd Region:  None

4th Region:  Warren Central (1983)

5th Region:  Elizabethtown (1998); Marion County (2013)

6th Region:  Butler (1975, 1980, 2008, 2014, 2016); Southern (1988); Iroquois (2009)

7th Region:  Sacred Heart (1976, 2002, 2003, 2004); Mercy* (1992, 2010); Manual (2012)

8th Region:  Oldham County (1986); Scott County* (1995)

9th Region:  Covington Holy Cross (2015)

10th Region: Nicholas County (1993)

11th Region: Lexington Catholic (1999, 2001, 2005, 2006); Henry Clay (1990); Lexington Christian (2007)

12th Region: Laurel County (1977, 1978, 1979, 1987, 1991); Pulaski County (1981); Rockcastle County (2011); Mercer County (2017)

13th Region: Whitley County (1985); Clay County (1989)

14th Region: M.C. Napier (1994); Hazard (1997)

15th Region: None

16th Region: West Carter (2000)

*Mercy moved to the 6th Region before the 2011-12 season 

*Scott County moved to […]


Bunny Daugherty, Donna Moir & the spirit of Sacred Heart



LOUISVILLE – A trailblazer and advocate for girls’ high school sports. Decades of dedication as an athletic director and coach. More than a dozen state championships to her credit. KHSAA Hall of Famer.

Bunny Daugherty’s legacy at Sacred Heart Academy endures strongly to this day, 20 years after she passed away on February 26, 1998.

“With her love of sports, she made a connection with everybody,” said Donna Moir, the Valkyries’ current basketball coach and AD.

Daugherty, whose motto was “Kids + Sports = Fun”, coached just about everything at Sacred Heart and she guided teams to 13 state titles — golf (5), tennis (5), field hockey (2), basketball (1).

Intent on creating opportunities for young female athletes, Daugherty was instrumental in starting the girls’ Louisville Invitational Tournament in basketball and the Apple Invitational Tournament in field hockey almost 50 years ago.

The Courier-Journal called her the Susan B. Anthony of girls’ high school […]


As coach or mayor, Bill Mike Runyon has Paintsville at heart



PAINTSVILLE — Paintsville Mayor Bill Mike Runyon was sitting behind his desk at city hall — which is across the corner from where as a kid he’d set up his shoe-shine kit on Saturdays, and just down the street from Paintsville High School where he played, coached and taught for four decades — and he was talking about what his hometown means to him.

“Paintsville is Bill Mike Runyon’s life,” he said, his eyes lighting up. “I don’t think people realize that no matter what small community you’re from, it’s the people within that community when you were growing up — your parents, your uncles, your aunts, your teachers, your coaches, your friends — those are the people that kicked you in the butt and got you going in the right direction.

“Well, that’s what Paintsville did for me. And now that I’m sitting in this chair, I want to do everything […]


‘Moose’ Moore’s memories of the first All ‘A’ Classic



When Stan Steidel pushed to expand the All “A” Classic into a state-wide basketball tournament almost 30 years ago, Owsley County and Jeff “Moose” Moore were just the kind of small-school team and player Steidel had in mind.

“That was the purpose,” Steidel said this week when the 2018 All “A” tipped off in EKU’s McBrayer Arena in Richmond. “It never was for any other reason but to let small schools play in a state-wide tournament.”

Owsley County had never made it to the KHSAA Sweet Sixteen, and Moore had never had the chance to show off his considerable hoops skills under the bright lights on a big stage.

Steidel’s vision became a reality in February, 1990, when the first All “A” state tournament was played in UK’s Memorial Coliseum, and Owsley County, led by Moore, reaped memories for a lifetime.

Coach Larry Sparks’ Owls became the crowd favorite as they advanced […]


Billy Miller’s strange 90-point night in Nancy



Forty-two years ago this week, Billy Miller had 90 points in a high school basketball game, a scoring performance that still ranks second in the KHSAA record book, a scoring performance that, to some extent, he still regrets.

“If I had it to do over again,” Miller said last week, “I probably would’ve went and sat down and finished with around 70 points. That’s what I would’ve preferred to do, because the way things turned out, a lot of people thought the game was a farce.”

January 16, 1976, was, by all accounts, a strange night of hoops in Nancy, Ky.

Miller, a 6-foot-5 senior, led Nancy to a 145-70 rout of Pine Knot in a game that didn’t really go completely sideways until the closing minutes.

According to accounts in the Lexington Herald and Louisville Courier-Journal, Nancy Coach Avery Hatfield (now deceased) let Miller stay on the court so he could […]


High school hoops’ love affair with 3-pointer celebrates 30th anniversary



The big news broke the fourth week of March, 1987, during the 70th Boys’ Sweet Sixteen in Rupp Arena:

The National Federation of State High School Associations announced that the three-point shot part would be part of high school basketball for the 1987-88 season.

College basketball had already adopted the three-pointer for the 1986-87 season, and underdog Providence, coached by Rick Pitino and led by sharpshooter Billy Donovan, weaponized it so well it reached the NCAA Final Four.

It was no surprise that the high school game wanted to share in the “bombs away” excitement generated by the 19-foot, 9-inch stripe.

Thirty years later, it’s hard to imagine high school hoops without the three-pointer.

Just about everybody agrees it’s been a positive change for the game by giving outside shooters as much influence as inside dominators.

“Before we had the three, the game was usually a slugfest, and the team that was […]


Remembering Joey Couch, the basketball player



Joey Couch, who passed away at home Friday night at the age of 49, was known to most people for his football playing days at the University of Kentucky, where he earned All-SEC honors.

But I remember Joey Couch better for his basketball playing days at Paintsville High School.

He did help Paintsville football, coached by Walter Brugh, to a Class A runner-up finish to Crittenden County in 1985.

But Couch got more state-wide exposure in hoops as a major contributor for the basketball Tigers, who played in the Sweet Sixteen in 1985, ’86 and ’87.

Over those three years, Couch averaged a double-double — 13.2 points and 10.2 rebounds — in Paintsville’s six state tournament games in Rupp Arena. 

John Pelphrey got most of the headlines for those Bill Mike Runyon Tigers. Pelphrey was named Mr. Basketball after his senior season and went on to be part of the Unforgettables at […]


Christmas will have a championship ring to it for the Hellyers



The Brothers Hellyer of Boyle County will have a big time talking smack and patting each other on the back when their family gathers for Christmas in a couple weeks.

And the youngest of the Hellyer boys, Clete, will no doubt be in the middle of it all now that he’s joined his brothers’ championship club.

When Boyle County beat Corbin in the Class 3A football finals last week, it capped an incredible run of eight (!) state titles for the Hellyer family.

Clay Hellyer, a wide receiver/defensive back, was part of Chuck Smith’s championship teams in 2001, 2002 and 2003.

Cole Hellyer, an offensive lineman, helped Larry French’s Rebels win titles as a junior and senior in 2009 and 2010.  

Clint Hellyer, a wide receiver/defensive back, was a freshman and sophomore on those same championship teams.

Clete Hellyer, a defensive lineman/linebacker, finally got his turn to celebrate a state title […]


Winning football titles is a family tradition at Danville



Winning football is a family tradition spanning generations at Danville High School, and the Admirals’ family is celebrating another championship today.

Danville won its 11th state title by beating familiar foe Mayfield 35-21 in the Class 2A finals Saturday afternoon in front of 7,398 fans at Kroger Field.

Thirty years ago, the Admirals beat Mayfield 24-23 in overtime in the 2A title game. David Walker was one of Danville’s heroes, scoring a TD in the extra period, then blocking Mayfield’s extra-point kick to seal that victory. 

Saturday afternoon, David Walker’s son, also named David, helped the Admirals beat Mayfield in the finals again. He was Danville’s second-leading receiver and second-leading tackler in helping secure the school’s first state title since 2003.

“My dad just always believed in me, that I’d come to a state championship and win one,” Walker said. “It’s good to fulfill that legacy. He told me not to be […]


Boyle County & Chuck Smith a championship combo



Reese Smith, one of the brightest stars in Boyle County’s 40-21 victory over Corbin in the Class 3A football finals Friday night, is no relation to Rebels’ coach Chuck Smith.

But the sophomore wide receiver/free safety, who accounted for four touchdowns in Boyle County’s rousing win in front of 11,234 at UK’s Kroger Field, has known his coach for a long time.

“When I was a little kid, maybe when I was in the fourth grade, he was coaching here at UK and I’d come up here to (football) camps,” Reese said. “I’d wear a Boyle County shirt and he got to know who I was. So when he came back to Boyle County, it was kind of cool because he knew I was, and I knew that he’d won five state titles in a row there, and I knew he’d get us back on track.”

Reese Smith wasn’t alone in his […]


Reflections on Bourbon County’s championship season, 20 years later



When Bourbon County captured the Class 2A title in 1997, it was regarded as one of the most improbable football championships in state history. The Colonels hadn’t had a winning record in a decade, and had NEVER won a playoff game before Dudley Hilton took over as their coach in mid-summer 20 years ago.

Bourbon County posted a 7-3 record in the regular season before embarking on a remarkable run through the post-season. After slipping by Somerset 15-12 in the first round of the playoffs, the Colonels registered consecutive shutouts against Boyle County (24-0), Lexington Catholic (20-0) and Lawrence County (14-0). They capped things off by beating Owensboro Catholic 39-28 in the finals on a bitter-cold night at Louisville’s Cardinal Stadium.

Two decades later, I was curious to hear some of the key players on that Bourbon County team reminisce about their championship season.

They were teenagers then. They’re in their mid to […]


Record-setting QB Bill Allen ‘amazed’ at numbers that passed him by



When Bill Allen happened upon the lists of state football records on the KHSAA web site recently, he was stunned by some of the numbers he saw.

“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” he said. “Some of the stats were just amazing.”

Allen was particularly interested in the passing records.

After all, he was the Courier-Journal’s first-team All-State quarterback in 1983, and finished his career at Morgan County as the state’s all-time leader in passing yards (6,440). He also ranked near the top in completions (443), attempts (800) and touchdown passes (42).

But 34 years later, Allen’s numbers have been left in the dust.

Kentucky high school football became a high-flying passing game for a lot of teams in the 1990s, and it’s been airborne ever since.

Allen thinks the change happened in large part because UK coach Hal Mumme unleashed his Air Raid offense, and Leslie County QB Tim Couch […]


Allen Feldhaus Sr.’s wonderful basketball life




Allen Feldhaus Sr., who died Saturday at age 77, had a wonderful basketball life.

The Boone County native played for Adolph Rupp at Kentucky.

He coached the high school game at Russell County and Mason County, and guided the Royals to four 10th Region titles, and a Sweet Sixteen runner-up in 1981.

He coached his three sons – Allen Jr., Willie and Deron –  and all three got to play for Mason County in the state tournament under the bright lights in Rupp Arena.

Allen Jr. and Willie followed in their dad’s footsteps into coaching.

In his 20th season at Madison Central, Allen Jr. led the Indians to the state championship in 2013. (Allen Sr. and Allen Jr. are the only father and son to serve as head coach in the KHSAA state finals.)

Willie first coached at Pendleton County before assisting his brother at Madison Central for 11 years. From there he returned to his roots and […]


RIP, Daniel Webb — Heath baseball star; major leaguer



It was sad to hear that Daniel Webb, a star pitcher at Heath High School who went on to play in the major leagues, died over the weekend from injuries sustained in an ATV accident in Tennessee. He was 28.

Webb pitched in relief for the Chicago White Sox from 2013-16, registering a 7-5 record, appearing in 94 games and posting a 4.50 ERA in 110 innings. He had Tommy John surgery in 2016 and was released after the season.

I remember Webb for his gutsy performance for Heath in the 2007 KHSAA State Tournament at Applebee’s Park (now Whitaker Bank Ballpark) in Lexington.

A hard-throwing righthander, Webb injured his foot in the first inning of Heath’s quarterfinal game against Apollo. He played through the pain, however, and wound up pitching a complete game, racking up 10 strikeouts. He also drove in Heath’s only run with a sacrifice fly, but Apollo eked out a 2-1 victory.

“Looking back […]


So far, so good for CovCath football’s 50th anniversary



Covington Catholic’s 50th anniversary of its varsity football program is going quite nicely, thank you.

The Colonels kicked off the season by dedicating renovated Dennis Griffin Stadium, a $2.6 million project that included new stands, press box, artificial turf, and permanent lighting for the first time.

Since then CovCath has steamrolled its way to a 7-0 record (by an average score of 40-8) and earned the No. 1 perch in the Courier-Journal’s Litratings.

In A.J. Mayer, the Colonels may have the best quarterback in the state, a guy who could lead them to a seventh state championship, and the first undefeated season in school history. 

On Friday night, when CovCath plays host to northern Kentucky nemesis Highlands, it will continue to celebrate the program’s 50th anniversary. The Colonels’ six state title teams, as well as their 1967 team, will be honored during post-game festivities.

Former coach Lynn Ray, the man most responsible for building the Colonels into a state power, will […]


Justin Thomas’ elite company includes Hornung, Unseld, Cowens



Justin Thomas was the best golfer on the planet this past season. He won 5 times, including his first major title (PGA Championship), led the money list with nearly $10 million (not counting the $10 million bonus that came with winning the Fed Ex Cup), and the St. Xavier graduate was named PGA Tour Player of the Year.

Not many Kentucky high school athletes go on to be crowned the best in their sport on the professional level. Thomas is in pretty exclusive company that includes:

  • Paul Hornung, a multi-sport star at Flaget in the early 1950s, won NFL MVP honors in 1961 and led the Green Bay Packers to the NFL championship. (Hornung also won the Heisman Trophy as a college standout at Notre Dame.)
  • Wes Unseld, who led Seneca to the Sweet Sixteen title in 1963 and 1964, was named NBA MVP (and Rookie of the Year) for the […]


Bob White: A good guy gets a lift through a bad time



LOUISVILLE – Bob White, like any newspaper reporter worth his salt, loved covering events that had dramatic twists or heartwarming endings. He delighted in being surprised by what he was chronicling during his half-century career as a sportswriter for the Courier-Journal.

In the past year, White has experienced that emotional ebb-and-flow storyline himself.

The dramatic twist came when he was victimized by identity theft and left in financial ruin. “I lost everything. I had zero in the bank,” he said. “I didn’t know what I was going to do.”

But family, colleagues and friends came together to write a heartwarming ending to White’s story that left him overwhelmed with appreciation.

“It’s been unbelievable how people have helped me out,” White said.

Last winter, John Osborne, White’s brother-in-law, helped set up a GoFundMe account for him on the Internet. Contributions, ranging from a few bucks to hundreds of dollars, came in from across the state and totaled nearly $12,000.

Then in […]


Recalling the most remarkable comeback story in KHSAA history



Justin Thomas, a St. Xavier graduate and former KHSAA state titlist, has written quite a story on the PGA Tour this season. He’s won five tournaments, including the PGA Championship, earned nearly $9 million, and has a shot at the $10 million Fed Ex Cup this weekend.

But his story isn’t the best ever written over the course of a season by a St. Xavier grad/ KHSAA state titlist/PGA champ.

Bobby Nichols takes that honor. He authored perhaps the most remarkable comeback in the history of Kentucky high school sports.

That comeback began 65 years ago this month.

In September, 1952, Nichols, then a junior at St. X, was critically injured in a car accident. He suffered a brain concussion, broken pelvis, collapsed lung, punctured spine, bruised kidney and other internal injuries. The 16-year-old was given last rites. He was unconscious for more than two weeks, and spent 3 ½ months in the hospital.



Tom Larkey ready to join football’s 300-victory club


“It’s a story most people couldn’t tell – my football, my family.”

— Tom Larkey


If Perry County Central beats Clay County Friday night, Tom Larkey will become the 10th high school football coach in Kentucky history to win 300 games.

One reason Larkey is on the cusp of that milestone is that he’s a tough ol’ cuss. He’s proven that time and again in his 37 years as a head coach:

  • In 2001, when he had Rockcastle County among the state’s elite, Larkey underwent prostate surgery early in the season. Less than a week later, when the Rockets played at Estill County, he couldn’t be on the sidelines, but he watched the game with his wife from their car on a nearby hill. That didn’t keep him from hollering suggestions to his son (and assistant coach) Chris, who was calling plays. “He’s nuts!” Chris said, laughing as he recalled that night in Irvine.
  • In […]


Sam Simpson’s 25-year staying power at Henry Clay



Henry Clay football coach Sam Simpson sat in his office in the Blue Devils’ fieldhouse one morning last week, mulling a reporter’s question: How does he still bring energy and enthusiasm to a job he’s held for 25 years now?

His longevity is remarkable considering how much turnover there has been in Lexington’s football coaching ranks. Since Henry Clay hired Simpson to succeed Jake Bell in 1993, the other six football teams in town (not counting new Frederick Douglass) have had 35 different coaches.

Another measure of his long tenure: Including the five years he coached at Marion County before coming to Henry Clay, Simpson has 220 career victories. The other current coaches in town have a combined 213 wins.

So what makes Simpson an outlier, a guy who has stayed put in a profession where moving on is a constant?

Much of it has to do with how Simpson has always approached […]


Haywood, Hilton faced off in their football coaching debuts


Philip Haywood and Dudley Hilton, the two winningest high school football coaches in Kentucky history, have 780 victories between them.

And to think that 42 years ago today, they squared off against each other in their head coaching debuts.

On August 29, 1975, Prestonsburg and its 24-year-old rookie coach, Philip Haywood, played host to Breathitt County and its 27-year-old rookie coach, Dudley Hilton, in the season opener.

Prestonsburg won the game 20-6, giving Haywood his first victory. He’s gone on to pile up 416 more wins, most of them at Belfry. He’s also led the Pirates to six state titles, including the last four years in a row.

“I just vaguely remember that first game,” Haywood said. “I don’t know if Dudley and I even knew each other back then. I doubt if either of us had a clue what we were doing. We probably were just glad to get a team out on the field for the first time.”

Hilton had to […]


PRP reigns again as king of Kentucky baseball under Bill Miller



Thirty-five years ago Bill Miller coached Pleasure Ridge Park to a runner-up finish in the state baseball tournament. The Panthers lost to unbeaten Madison Central in the finals.

In 1985 PRP made it back to the title game but lost to Owensboro Catholic.

In 1993 the Panthers were one win away from a state championship again before falling to Harrison County.

That may have been three strikes against PRP, but Miller never lost faith that his program would someday break through and hit it big. In fact, he remembers telling people, “Once we win one, we’ll win a bunch.”

Miller’s not only a great coach, he’s a great prophet.

PRP won three consecutive state championships starting in 1994; the Panthers took home the big trophy again in 2008 and 2013; and on Saturday they claimed yet another state title by beating Simon Kenton 6-5 at Whitaker Bank Ballpark […]


High school baseball has changed a lot in 50 years. Just ask Bobby Lynch



Ashland’s 1967 state baseball champions were recognized during Saturday’s state finals at Whitaker Bank Ballpark to mark the 50th anniversary of their title.

Bobby Lynch, who was a standout pitcher on the Tomcat teams that won three consecutive championships (1966, ’67, ’68), was there with a few of his former teammates.

High school baseball is a whole ‘nother sport now than it was when Ashland beat Fort Knox 7-2 to win the state title at UK’s Shively Field 50 years ago this week.

The bases are still 90 feet apart; the pitching rubber is still 60 feet, 6 inches from home plate; it’s still three strikes and you’re out; but some of the rules and trappings of the high school game have changed considerably.

Well aware that we sounded like a couple of curmudgeons, Lynch and I discussed some of the differences between the game played in the ’60s and the one played […]


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