Archive for January, 2008

30 (but not for me)

In journalism, reporters for many years typed “30″ to denote the end of stories they filed for newspapers and wire services (and some still do). So it struck me as interesting that 30 also marked the end for four local girls basketball teams last weekend.

In the span of two days, four teams lost with a final score of 30. On Friday, Boyle County lost 60-30 to Lincoln County and Mercer County lost 88-30 to Elizabethtown on Friday. And on Saturday, Garrard County lost to Casey County 67-30 and Burgin fell to Sayre 49-30.

Doesn’t mean a thing; it’s just an interesting coincidence. At least to me.

The trend was reversed on Tuesday, by the way, when the Kentucky School for the Deaf girls gave up only 30 points but still lost 30-25 to Collegiate.

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Bracket busted

It’s one step forward and two steps back for the 12th Region All “A” Classic, which begins Monday night for both the boys and girls.

The good news is that the boys and girls tournaments have been combined and will be played over three nights this week (Monday, Tuesday and Friday) as a series of boys-girls doubleheaders.  That much makes sense.

But it gets screwy when you try to figure out where the championship games might be played. The tournaments — at least the first two nights of them — are scheduled to be played at Monticello, but the host school loses the title games if both its boys and girls teams lose in the semifinals.

In this year’s case, Somerset has the chance to take the title games away from Monticello, and the Briar Jumpers can do just that if their boys and girls win Tuesday. That’s a strange setup, but it’s at least a little bit logical.

What isn’t logical at all is that while Somerset’s teams have a chance to play at home, the Burgin and Danville boys and girls must drive all the way to Monticello to play their doubleheader Monday night.

And they surely won’t have as many fans following them as would be in attendance if the games were played in one of their buildings, which means less enthusiasm about the games — and of course less money in the tournament kitty.

The host could have been decided with a simple coin toss, and the team that lost that flip surely would still have been happier about traveling 8 miles rather than 75.

In any case, here’s this week’s All “A” schedule (the winners advance to the statewide All “A” Classic Jan. 30-Feb. 3 in Richmond):

BOYS

Monday at Monticello: Burgin vs. Danville, 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday at Monticello: Somerset vs. Monticello, 6:30 p.m.

Friday at Monticello or Somerset: Championship, 6:30 p.m.

GIRLS

Monday at Monticello: Burgin vs. Danville, 8 p.m.

Tuesday at Monticello: Somerset vs. Monticello, 8 p.m.

Friday at Monticello or Somerset: Championship, 8 p.m.

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Who needs two box seats?

Just in time for Lincoln County’s big doubleheader Friday against Boyle County — and the bulk of the Patriots’ home schedule — the school has opened a new section of reserved seats in its recently renovated gym.

There are 84 of the padded chairback seats in the new section located on the stage in the north end zone, where they replace wooden bleachers that were almost never used. And the school is selling the seats on a season-ticket basis for the rest of the current season for an introductory price of $25.

The Lincoln boys still have seven games remaining on their 10-game home schedule, and the Lincoln girls have six of 11 home games remaining. If you attend every game, that comes to $1.92 per seat; if you attend eight of the 13 games, it’s $3.13 per game.

The seats were installed at the same time that Lincoln replaced the wooden bleachers on its upper level with plastic bleachers. And unlike most such projects, including the one in which Lincoln replaced its lower bleachers a few years ago, there weren’t all that many seats lost in the switch. There appears to be about the same number of rows in the upper level as before, which is good given Lincoln’s current status as one of the 12th Region Tournament host schools.

Meanwhile, Lincoln has hung the photo of last year’s boys regional championship team on the gym wall but hasn’t yet added to its collection of championship banners. Athletic director Steve Ralston said the banner arrived but was sent back to the manufacturer in need of a correction, and he said the schools should get it back within 10 days or so.

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Milby reaches 2K milestone

Danville senior Tasha Milby became the latest local basketball player to pass the 2,000-point milestone when she scored 36 points in a win over Western Hills on Tuesday.

Milby has obviously been the biggest part of the Lady Admirals’ offense for some time now, but longevity should not diminish this achievement. Getting to 2,000 points, particularly while playing for a team that has lost more than it has won, isn’t easy no matter how long you play.

And she probably never would have gotten there had it not been for Judie Mason. Milby reiterated last week after Danville’s win over Boyle County what she said a few weeks earlier, which is that she would be sitting out her senior season if Danville’s first-year coach hadn’t convinced her to return.

Something clicked with Milby in her meeting with Mason just a couple of weeks before opening night, and now she’s soaking up everything she can from her new coach in the short time she has left.

“I’m so close to coach. She’s one of my best friends, she’s not only the reason I’m playing,” Milby said last week. “She brought back the love for me, and a lot of it still (that) I want to do good for her.”

Milby might be as hot right now as she has ever been. She hit 17 of 23 3-point shots in Danville’s wins Monday over Madison Southern and Tuesday over Western Hills, scoring 36 points in each game to raise her career total to 2,014.

I can’t recall the most recent area player before Milby to score 2,000-plus points, but it might have been Joe White, who passed that mark in the 2002-03 season.

* * *

Both Mason and Boyle coach David Christopher are glad that first Danville-Boyle game is behind them. The drama surrounding their first meeting since Mason was fired by Boyle and hired by Danville and former Mason assistant Christopher took over the Boyle program has subsided.

And even though the energy level will be high when they meet again Feb. 9 at Boyle — and in every other meeting for at least the next couple of years — it won’t ever be as high as it was Friday.

“I think any time we play them, until those kids that I’ve coached have moved on, it’s going to be intense,” Mason said. “But it won’t be as intense.”

Mason said the friendship between her and Christopher made things hard for both of them Friday but also eased some of the tension surrounding the game.

“Me and David’s really good friends. David had my back last year when everything happened,” Mason said. “If we weren’t such good friends, I think it might have been a little more intense.

“David’s a great guy and I think he’s doing a good job with them, and I hope they’ll give him a chance.”

* * *

Danville had more than enough weapons in its arsenal to beat Boyle 69-50, but Milby said it also didn’t hurt that the Lady Admirals had a better scouting report for this game than for any she’s ever played thanks to Mason’s familiarity with the Boyle personnel.

“She knows the players well,” Milby said. “She gave us an intense scouting report, every little detail on every player.”

Mason said that scouting report wouldn’t have made much difference if her players hadn’t been so focused.

“I did know a little bit about them, and that’s an advantage,” she said. “But they listed to me, and that’s the big thing.”

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Danville, Boyle girls play main event

Amid the ’round-the-clock Guy Morriss watch and will-he-or-won’t-he speculation, two pretty interesting basketball games have been pushed to the back burner.

The first Danville-Boyle County doubleheader of the season is tonight at Danville, and that means it’s time for Danville girls coach Judie Mason’s first game against her former team.

Mason has done this before, playing Somerset on a regular basis after she left that school for Boyle in 2003, but this is a much different set of circumstances. For one thing, Mason is coaching against the school that fired her after last season. And it also just happens to be the archrival of the school where she’s working now.

Think that’s motivation enough? You betcha. And it’s enough to get students and fans on both sides of the rivalry interested in what would otherwise be a run-of-the-mill game.

But this game isn’t all about pink slips and bad blood. Any ill will Mason might harbor toward Boyle doesn’t carry over to its current basketball team. She’s still friends with Boyle coach David Christopher, who was on her staff there, and she is still close to several of her former players as well. “I still love the kids at Boyle County,” she said.

However, Mason understands that there’s a buzz in the community about this game, which will appropriately be the second game of tonight’s twinbill. And she says that’s a good thing. “Girls basketball is being talked about, and hopefully the place will be filled up Friday night,” she said.

One of these teams will end a long losing streak tonight. Danville has lost five straight games after a 6-1 start, and Boyle has lost seven straight since its last win. The Lady Rebels have won eight straight games against Danville over the last three seasons since being swept in three games in 2003-04.

The boys game is usually the main event in a Boyle-Danville doubleheader, but that won’t be the case tonight. Still, it will be worth watching to see if Matthew Yates’ Danville team can fare better against Boyle than last year’s Admirals.

Ronnie Bottoms and the Rebels dominated last season’s three meetings, winning by 29, 22 and 29 points. Boyle has won the last five meetings since Danville’s win in the 2005 45th District Tournament final, and 20 of 27 games over the last 10 seasons.

The current Boyle and Danville teams have each lost four of their last five games, and both are looking for their first win of the season in a 45th District game. Danville is 0-3 in district games; Boyle is 0-1.

The rematch for both the boys and girls teams will also be in a doubleheader — this time with the girls playing first and the boys second — on Feb. 9 at Boyle.

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At long last, the football awards

One month and one day after the end of the high school football season, The Associated Press is finally ready to announce Mr. Football and its coach of the year and all-state teams today.

This won’t have a lot of impact locally because there isn’t a viable Mr. Football candidate in the Advocate’s coverage area this year and there will be few if any local players on the all-state roster, but it’s still worth noting.

Lone Oak quarterback Corey Robinson will be named Mr. Football. WPSD-TV of Paducah reported last week that the AP had called Robinson’s coach, Jack Haskins, with the news.

Robinson may or may not be the best senior in the state, but it’s hard to ignore his gaudy statistics, including a national-record 91 touchdowns. Jeremy Simpson of Lincoln County and Scott Russell of Evarts earned Mr. Football awards in the 1990s on the basis of statistically impressive senior seasons, so why not Robinson?

Incidentally, Robinson’s scholarship offers include one from Troy, where Boyle County graduate Neal Brown was named offensive coordinator last week. Until his promotion, Brown worked under Tony Franklin, whose offensive system was used by Robinson at Lone Oak.

Back to the delay in getting this information out: It’s inexcusable. The AP’s all-state team used to be released the week of the state finals, and the Mr. Football announcement was made by Christmas. This year the nominations stretched into December, and voting didn’t even begin until around Christmas. And that’s despite the fact that an Internet-based voting system is supposed to make the voting and counting easier.

This isn’t the fault of the AP members who vote, including the Advocate. But it makes us all look a little silly.

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Big game at Boyle

If you’re interested in seeing what might be the biggest local game of the high school basketball season so far, be sure to look in the right place. Tonight’s Lincoln County-Boyle County boys game, which is the second half of a girls-boys doubleheader, has been moved to Boyle.

Lincoln is installing new bleachers in the upper level of its gym, a process that should have begun in April but apparently didn’t start until shortly before the season. Athletic director Steve Ralston told The Interior Journal that the project was expected to be done by now but isn’t.

So tonight’s doubleheader will be played at Boyle, and another doubleheader between the two schools scheduled for Jan. 18 has been moved from Boyle to Lincoln.

Tonight’s boys game pairs the last two 12th Region champions and is a rematch of last year’s regional final, which Lincoln won 64-51. Boyle won the 45th District final, and the teams split the two regular-season meetings as well.

The Rebels and Patriots were very close to crossing paths last week in a Fifth Third Bank Classic quarterfinal at Lexington Catholic, but Boyle’s loss to Paintsville derailed that. Boyle went 3-3 in two holiday tournaments and is 6-4 overall; Lincoln is 7-3 overall and was 4-2 in its holiday tourneys.

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