Archive for December, 2007

Familiar face at Boyle tourney

The Applebee’s Winter Classic at Boyle County is a homecoming of sorts for Frank Wright, the former Mercer County boys coach who is back in this area for the first time in a long time as coach of the South Oldham girls.
Wright, who coached the Mercer boys in the early 1990s, from is enjoying a successful run in his return to Kentucky basketball. He is in his fourth year at South Oldham, where he has compiled a 59-39 record. The Lady Dragons have won the last two 29th District titles, and they were runners-up in the 8th Region Tournament last season.
This year’s team is 8-3 and poised to win its second holiday tournament title in as many weeks with a win over Boyle tonight, having already beaten Fleming and Grayson counties in the Lady Rebels’ round-robin tournament.

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Aumiller's all-state honor

Jordan Aumiller of Boyle County has been named to The Courier-Journal all-state team as a defensive back. The newspaper said Aumiller received votes at several positions, and he is listed alongside Frankfort’s E.J. Fields and Lexington Catholic’s Winston Guy in the first team secondary.

Pearce Nesbitt of Danville was named a second-team defensive lineman, and Daniel Walls of Lincoln County is on the third-team offensive line. At least four other local players received honorable mention on the C-J’s team, which received votes from 116 coaches, just over half of the coaches statewide.

The Associated Press All-State Team, which receives votes from the Advocate and other newspapers and broadcast outlets across the state, has not yet been released. And while the delay is inexcusable, it should be forthcoming soon, along with the announcement of Mr. Football and the coach of the year.

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Aumiller’s all-state honor

Jordan Aumiller of Boyle County has been named to The Courier-Journal all-state team as a defensive back. The newspaper said Aumiller received votes at several positions, and he is listed alongside Frankfort’s E.J. Fields and Lexington Catholic’s Winston Guy in the first team secondary.

Pearce Nesbitt of Danville was named a second-team defensive lineman, and Daniel Walls of Lincoln County is on the third-team offensive line. At least four other local players received honorable mention on the C-J’s team, which received votes from 116 coaches, just over half of the coaches statewide.

The Associated Press All-State Team, which receives votes from the Advocate and other newspapers and broadcast outlets across the state, has not yet been released. And while the delay is inexcusable, it should be forthcoming soon, along with the announcement of Mr. Football and the coach of the year.

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A stocking full of tournaments

It’s tournament time for most of the area’s high school teams this week and next. Most Pre-Christmas tournaments begin today or tomorrow, and post-Christmas events typically begin Dec. 26 or 27.

The only one being played locally is the Applebee’s Winter Classic hosted by the Boyle County girls, and it’s a significantly smaller event than it was a year ago. Boyle will host Fleming County, Grayson County and South Oldham in a round-robin Dec. 27-29. For the past three years, the AWC was a 16-team event, and it was becoming a pretty good one.

Before his hasty exit just before the start of the season, former Boyle coach Roger Newton said his goal was to simply keep the tournament going this season and begin rebuilding it next year. Now we’ll have to wait and see what happens to this event.

* * *

The Kentucky School for the Deaf boys and girls have already played in their holiday tournament, hosting the inaugural KSD Small Schools Invitational last weekend. Congratulations are in order for both KSD teams on their success. The boys won the tournament, beating Covington Latin in the championship game, and the girls broke a 52-game losing streak with a victory over Piarist in the third-place game.

The latter victory will cost KSD coach Scott Johnson his hair, which he promised to have shaved when the Colonels’ losing streak ended. That happened yesterday, and video of the shaving will be available on amnews.com later today.

* * *

For the first time I can remember, the Berea Holiday Classic is being played without any area teams. One or two or sometimes three have almost always been booked in this large and competitive tournament, which began Tuesday.

* * *

There are no holiday tournaments for me until after Christmas, because I’m taking a break. So Merry Christmas to all.

Meanwhile, here’s where to find your favorite team during the holidays:

Boys

  • Boyle County: LCA Invitational at Lexington Christian, Thursday-Sunday; Fifth Third Bank Classic at Lexington Catholic, Dec. 26-30.
  • Burgin: Off until Jan. 2.
  • Casey County: Hoopin’ it Up Holiday Classic at North Laurel and South Laurel, today-Saturday; Monticello Bank Classic at Wayne County, Dec. 27-29.
  • Danville: Eagle Classic at Madison Southern, Thursday-Saturday.
  • Garrard County: Eagle Classic at Madison Southern, Thursday-Saturday; First Southern/Roy’s BBQ Classic at Russellville, Dec. 27-29.
  • KSD: Off until Jan. 8.
  • Lincoln County: Defenders of the Station Invitational at Henry Clay and Bryan Station, today-Saturday; Fifth Third Bank Classic at Lexington Catholic, Dec. 26-30.
  • Mercer County: LCA Invitational at Lexington Christian, Thursday-Sunday; Monticello Bank Classic at Wayne County, Dec. 27-29.

Girls

  • Boyle County: Country Music Highway Holiday Classic at Johnson Central, today-Saturday; Applebee’s Winter Classic at Boyle County, Dec. 27-29.
  • Burgin: Off until Jan. 4.
  • Casey County: Shively Sporting Goods Invitational at Central Hardin, Thursday-Saturday; Campbellsville University/Coca-Cola Holiday Classic, Dec. 26-28.
  • Danville: Commanderette Holiday Classic at Washington County, today-Saturday.
  • Garrard County: Country Music Highway Holiday Classic at Johnson Central, today-Saturday.
  • KSD: Off until Jan. 11.
  • Lincoln County: Lexington Catholic Holiday Classic, Thursday-Sunday; Lady Dragon Invitational at Doss, Dec. 27-29.
  • Mercer County: Commanderette Holiday Classic at Washington County, today-Saturday; Greenwood Holiday Classic, Dec. 26-29.
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Danville basketball and other hot topics

There’s no hotter topic in the early days of this basketball season than Danville hoops, whether you’re talking about boys or girls. With new coaches, new players and new styles of play, both the Admirals and Lady Admirals are turning heads as they try to turn their fortunes around.

Let’s start with the boys, who opened their season with a surprising victory over defending 8th Region champion Oldham County in their first game under Matthew Yates.
Players who weren’t with the program last year have come into the fold — seven of them on the varsity roster, not counting freshmen — and they have taken to Yates’ style, in which he has put a premium on playing in a hurry.

The Admirals haven’t played enough games to get a good read on what they’re capable of, and an overtime loss to Berea in their only other game was an obvious setback after their win over Oldham. But we’ve seen enough already to realize that this is going to be a much different season for a Danville team that won only five times last year.

The girls have submitted a slightly larger body of work, and the conclusion is pretty much the same there as well.

The arrival of Judie Mason is a shot in the arm for a program that has gone through coaches at an alarming rate in recent years, and the arrival of a new point guard makes this a stronger team.

The Lady Admirals also have Mason to thank for keeping their leading scorer on the floor. Tasha Milby, who has scored 128 points in their first four games, was planning to skip her senior season before Mason convinced her to return only a couple of weeks before the opener.

Danville has three wins in four games, offset only by a loss to a Casey County team that is one of the area’s best, so there’s every reason to believe that the Lady Admirals will also enjoy a revival this winter.

Both Danville teams face their first 45th District games of the season tonight at Garrard.

* * *

Entering tonight’s games, which will end the third week of the 13-week regular season, only two of the 16 area teams remain undefeated, and both are girls teams.

Casey County improved to 6-0 with a win Friday at Whitley County to add to its victories over Southwestern, South Laurel, Pulaski County, Danville and Somerset. Lincoln County defeated Corbin on Friday to go to 5-0, including wins over Pulaski, Rockcastle County, East Jessamine and Garrard County.

Here are some other success stories from the first three weeks:

  • On the girls side, Burgin has bounced back to win four straight games after losing its first two, Mercer County’s 2-1 record is blemished only by a loss to regional power Wayne County and Boyle County is 2-2 as brand-new coach David Christopher tries to stabilize the program after a coaching change just days before the season began.
  • Among boys teams, Casey County lost its first three games under new coach Todd Carman but bounced back to win its next four, including district games against Pulaski and Somerset. Boyle is 3-1 with its only loss to Franklin County, Lincoln is 2-1 with its only loss to Bryan Station, and Burgin and Kentucky School for the Deaf are off to their best starts in years at 4-2 and 5-2, respectively.
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The new Coach Johnson

More than a decade after his playing days ended, Derrick Johnson was back in the state finals.

This time, the former Harrodsburg lineman could only watch from the sideline in his role as an assistant coach for Lexington Christian. Johnson was relaying the defensive signals to the field for the Eagles, who lost to Beechwood 38-35 in the Class 1A championship Friday in Louisville.

Johnson is in his second year on the LCA staff, following in the footsteps of his father, longtime Harrodsburg coach Alvis Johnson. “The coaching bug bit me. Dad tried to talk me out of it, but it’s in my life,” he said.

It was only a few minutes after the Eagles lost a hard-fought game, but Johnson flashed his trademark smile as he talked about seeing the coach-player relationship from the opposite side.

“Their attitude is great, and we’ve got kids who work real hard. They do what we tell them to,” he said. “I can see now if you do what the coaches tell you to, it works. It’s different on the other side.”

But while Johnson relishes his role as a coach, he said it doesn’t quite equal the thrill he got from playing in a title game, as he did with Harrodsburg’s 1996 team. “I like being on the field,” he said. “I’m a player at heart.”

* * *

Levi Rogers of Lincoln County was recognized Friday as the Class 5A, District 7 player of the year. Sam Harp of Danville (Class 2A, District 4) and Larry French of Lincoln County (Class 5A, District 7) also received coach of the year awards for their respective districts from the Kentucky Football Coaches Association.

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They don't live here, not this year

Fifty-three weeks ago, on the eve of the 2006 state football finals, this blog was launched with a post titled “The State Finals Live Here” that detailed the frequency with which local teams made the finals.

By now you now that the finals have taken up residence elsewhere this year, meaning there’s no area team in Louisville for only the third time in the last 21 seasons, but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk a little football as the biggest games of the season approach.

First, it’s interesting to note that while the new six-class system will crown two more champions than in recent years (and remember, kids, that’s one for every 36 or so schools), most of the teams in the finals are schools that you’d consider traditional powers.
That means the rich will probably get richer this weekend, even without the presence of some of the other top-drawer programs (Danville, Boyle County, Covington Catholic and Male, to name a few).

From St. Xavier and Trinity to Belfry and Beechwood, eight of the 12 teams have been in the finals in recent years, and six of them have been there several times. Two of the other four teams, Fort Campbell and Central, bring a little bit of history to the party.

* * *

There was a time when The Associated Press All-State team and Coach of the Year were announced the week of the finals, but those announcements have been pushed back toward Christmas in recent years.

You shouldn’t expect to see an abundance of area players on the All-State team, but here’s hoping Larry French of Lincoln County gets some serious consideration for Coach of the Year. The work of French and his staff to turn what was expected to be a run-of-the-mill team into a state semifinalist should not go unnoticed.

* * *

If you’re interested in following the games in person or from afar, here’s the link to the KHSAA page that includes links to rosters, depth charts and stats for all 12 teams, as well as links to live audio and live stats.

As for the audio, local sportscaster Steve Bertram will be calling two or three of the games on the KHSAA network, which is also available over the air in the Lexington area and much of this area on WVLK-FM (101.5).

* * *

Even with local no teams playing, there will still be football coverage in the Advocate. Look for a story in Sunday’s paper in which the six area coaches answer questions about the 2007 season and look ahead to 2008.

* * *

I’m wrapping up a season of predictions by giving you the six picks for the title games, which call for three public schools and three private schools to take home the big trophies:

  • 1A: Beechwood over Lexington Christian.
  • 2A: Newport Central Catholic over Fort Campbell.
  • 3A: Belfry over Central.
  • 4A: Lexington Catholic over Lone Oak.
  • 5A: Highlands over Bowling Green.
  • 6A: Trinity over St. Xavier.

Last week: 1-0. For the season: 48-17 (.738).

Finally, thanks to all who have read and responded to this blog over the last one year and one week. Keep reading.

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They don’t live here, not this year

Fifty-three weeks ago, on the eve of the 2006 state football finals, this blog was launched with a post titled “The State Finals Live Here” that detailed the frequency with which local teams made the finals.

By now you now that the finals have taken up residence elsewhere this year, meaning there’s no area team in Louisville for only the third time in the last 21 seasons, but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk a little football as the biggest games of the season approach.

First, it’s interesting to note that while the new six-class system will crown two more champions than in recent years (and remember, kids, that’s one for every 36 or so schools), most of the teams in the finals are schools that you’d consider traditional powers.
That means the rich will probably get richer this weekend, even without the presence of some of the other top-drawer programs (Danville, Boyle County, Covington Catholic and Male, to name a few).

From St. Xavier and Trinity to Belfry and Beechwood, eight of the 12 teams have been in the finals in recent years, and six of them have been there several times. Two of the other four teams, Fort Campbell and Central, bring a little bit of history to the party.

* * *

There was a time when The Associated Press All-State team and Coach of the Year were announced the week of the finals, but those announcements have been pushed back toward Christmas in recent years.

You shouldn’t expect to see an abundance of area players on the All-State team, but here’s hoping Larry French of Lincoln County gets some serious consideration for Coach of the Year. The work of French and his staff to turn what was expected to be a run-of-the-mill team into a state semifinalist should not go unnoticed.

* * *

If you’re interested in following the games in person or from afar, here’s the link to the KHSAA page that includes links to rosters, depth charts and stats for all 12 teams, as well as links to live audio and live stats.

As for the audio, local sportscaster Steve Bertram will be calling two or three of the games on the KHSAA network, which is also available over the air in the Lexington area and much of this area on WVLK-FM (101.5).

* * *

Even with local no teams playing, there will still be football coverage in the Advocate. Look for a story in Sunday’s paper in which the six area coaches answer questions about the 2007 season and look ahead to 2008.

* * *

I’m wrapping up a season of predictions by giving you the six picks for the title games, which call for three public schools and three private schools to take home the big trophies:

  • 1A: Beechwood over Lexington Christian.
  • 2A: Newport Central Catholic over Fort Campbell.
  • 3A: Belfry over Central.
  • 4A: Lexington Catholic over Lone Oak.
  • 5A: Highlands over Bowling Green.
  • 6A: Trinity over St. Xavier.

Last week: 1-0. For the season: 48-17 (.738).

Finally, thanks to all who have read and responded to this blog over the last one year and one week. Keep reading.

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Off and running at KSD

Athletic achievements at Kentucky School for the Deaf sometimes slip by below the radar, but the good start by this year’s boys basketball team deserves some notice. The Colonels are 4-0 in the young season after their victory Tuesday night over St. Francis, and that ranks among the best starts in school history.

KSD defeated deaf schools from Virginia, South Carolina and Tennessee in a round-robin event last weekend in Knoxville, Tenn., then beat St. Francis in the first of seven or eight straight games against hearing schools. (The next one comes tonight at 0-2 Eminence.) (UPDATE: Eminence defeated KSD 55-49 Wednesday to hand the Colonels their first loss.)

Here are the hottest starts in KSD’s basketball history, courtesy of first-year coach Mike Yance:

  • 1931-32: 5-0 with wins over St. Joseph (46-10), Kavanaugh (20-10), Junction City (30-14), Frankfort (24-21) and Mount Vernon (36-21).
  • 1930-31: 4-0 with wins over Middleburg (24-17), Forkland (21-20), Brodhead (19-17) and Mount Vernon (33-27).
  • 2007-08: 4-0 with wins over Va. School for the Deaf (59-24), S.C. School for the Deaf (55-50), Tenn. School for the Deaf (44-21) and St. Francis (56-52).
  • 1951-52: 3-0 with wins over Camp Dick Robinson (52-36), St. Charles (39-36) and McKinney (42-34).
  • 1952-53: 3-0 with wins over Poplar Creek (56-52), Camp Dick Robinson (53-48) and St. Francis of Assisi (40-39).

In addition, the 1978-79 team started 6-1, losing its season opener to Western Anderson 66-64 before winning six straight.

Having won the Knoxville tourney, this year’s Colonels can aim for one more championship before competing in the most important tournament of their season, the Mason-Dixon Tournament for Southern deaf schools next month in St. Augustine, Fla. They’ll host the inaugural KSD Small School Invitational, an event created by recently retired athletic director Paul Smiley for some of the state’s very smallest schools. Covington Latin, Piarist and Riverside Christian — all of whom are currently 0-2 — will fill the field for the boys and girls event Dec. 14-15 at Thomas Hall.

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Patriot pride

It’s never easy to play out the second half when your team is on the wrong end of a continuous-clock game, especially in the playoffs. But give Lincoln credit for not heading toward the buses when the clock started running at the beginning of the second half.

I’ve seen more than my share of running-clock games since the mercy rule was installed in 2001, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a losing team score twice in such a game, let alone three times as the Patriots did on Friday in their Class 5A semifinal.

Yes, they scored against Highlands’ second-stringers, and it’s hard to imagine after watching the first half that they could have reached the end zone even once against the starters — at least not on that night. Highlands was the better team, and the difference really wasn’t close.

Three scores don’t add up to much when you’re losing by seven, but those second-half touchdowns showed that a proud team was still working hard. After the game, more than one player referred to “all those fans that drove all the way up here,” saying they were embarrassed after the first half and were determined to play for pride.

This Lincoln team will be remembered for exceeding almost everyone’s expectations, for its impressive defensive performances throughout the season and for reaching the state semifinals for the fourth time in 34 football seasons. But it should also be remembered for what happened in the second half Friday, which made no difference in the game but certainly made an impression.

* * *

Here are some Lincoln-related links:

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