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

March 14, 2018 FieldsColumn


Tony Pietrowski, shown coaching Corbin in 2018 Sweet 16 opener, played for the Redhounds in the 1991 state tournament.

BY MIKE FIELDS (March 14, 2018)

Steve Barker, shown playing for Apollo in the 1978 Sweet 16. (Courier-Journal photo)

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 ’78. (Apollo took a 35-0 record and No. 1 ranking into that ’78 Sweet 16.)

Tony Pietrowski: started for Corbin as a freshman in the 1991 state tournament and totaled 14 points & 8 rebounds in two games. The Redhounds beat Knott County Central in the first round, and lost to eventual champ Fairdale in the quarterfinals. Pietrowski is in his 17th season as Corbin coach, and this is the fourth time he’s brought the Redhounds to the Sweet 16.

Jon Bentley: started for Hazard in the 1998 state tournament. He had 12 points & 9 rebounds in a first-round loss to Boyd County. He’s in his eighth season as Estill County coach, and has the Engineers in the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history.

Coy Zerhusen: started for Scott County as a sophomore in the 2000 state tournament. He had 11 points, 14 rebounds & 4 assists in first-round win over Mercer County; 14 points & 9 rebounds in quarterfinal win over Iroquois, and 1 points and 3 rebounds in semifinal loss to Lexington Catholic. He’s in his 5th season head coach at Oldham County.

Elisha Justice: started for Shelby Valley in the 2009 and 2010 state tournaments. He totaled 47 points in 2 games in Rupp Arena in 2009, then led the Wildcats to the Sweet 16 championship the next year. He was named the tournament MVP after totaling 97 points, 15 rebounds & 15 assists in four games.


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