Archive for March, 2010

Two Lincoln girls on all-star tryout list

Kendra Brown has joined Lincoln County teammate Jessica Upchurch on the list of players invited to try out for the Kentucky All-Stars next month.

Brown and Upchurch are among 43 players invited to the tryouts, which will be held April 16-17 at Campbellsville University.

Upchurch received an automatic invitation after being named the Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches’ 12th Region player of the year. Brown was among 28 additional invitees. Jackie Alexander of Rockcastle County was the only other 12th Region girl invited.

Eleven players will join Miss Basketball Sarah Beth Barnette of Lexington Christian on the team, which will play in the annual Kentucky-Indiana series June 11 in Louisville and June 12 in Indianapolis.

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All-star football game moved to December

The all-stars have been named for this year’s East vs. West All-Star Football Classic, but they’ll never take the field.

The Kentucky Football Coaches Association is moving the only statewide all-star football game from its traditional June date to December in an attempt to increase participation and attendance.

However, the game to be held this December will be for seniors from the coming season, and the June game scheduled for this year’s seniors has been canceled, meaning the all-stars selected for that game will have no game in which to play. That includes Grant Aumiller and Rees MacShara of Boyle County, the only two area players on the rosters released last month.

“Unfortunately, the graduating seniors in the class of 2010 will not have the opportunity to participate in Kentucky’s only statewide game. It was not financially feasible to put two games together in one year; therefore the December date was chosen,” game director Jimmie Reed wrote in an e-mail distributed to Kentucky coaches.

The next game will be held on Sunday, Dec. 12, eight days after the conclusion of the state finals. The location and starting time have not been finalized.

Reed said in his e-mail to the coaches that moving the game to December “will enhance the players chosen to participate. Players/coaches are still in football mode, and more scholarship opportunities will be available. We also feel that having this game after the state finals will increase not only player participation” but also attendance and sponsorship.

The East-West game was resurrected in 2008 after the Tennessee coaches’ association pulled out of the Kentucky-Tennessee game that was held from 1994-2007. Tennessee officials said they wanted to move the game to December, but Kentucky officials said no. Reed said at the time that it wouldn’t work because the all-stars would have to miss a week of school to practice for the game.

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Class AA track finals moved up one day

The KHSAA Track and Field Championships will again be held on consecutive days this year, but they won’t be on consecutive days.

KYTrackXC.com reports that the Class AA section of the state meet has been moved to Thursday, June 3, to avoid conflicts with a number of schools’ graduation ceremonies.

A statement from KHSAA assistant commissioner Mike Barren said the originally scheduled date, Friday, June 4, conflicts with a large number of schools’ graduation ceremonies that were pushed back due to snow days — never mind that the state meet was scheduled before the graduations — and that there are no apparent conflicts on June 3.

The Class A and AAA sections are unaffected, and they will be held as scheduled on Saturday, June 5. The state meet will be held at the University of Louisville.

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Spring sports in bloom

Saturday was the first day of spring, and today is the first day of the spring sports season. It’s opening day for several baseball, softball and tennis teams, with track and field soon to follow.

The Advocate-area schools that won last year’s 12th Region baseball and softball championships are in excellent position to defend as a new season begins. Danville’s baseball team lost only two starters to graduation, but the Admirals will be challenged locally by Boyle County and Mercer County and regionally by the likes of Somerset and West Jessamine.

The Garrard County softball team will field an experienced team in its bid for a third straight regional title, and the Lady Lions are led by a legitimate Miss Softball candidate in Jessica Speake. Among other local teams, Boyle County made great strides last year, and Mercer County is on the rise.

In tennis, defending boys singles champion Kyle Jeffries of Casey County and girls singles champion CeCe Witten of Boyle County and doubles champions Lee Baxter and Lauren Yates of Mercer return.

In track and field, these 2009 state champions return: Cheyenne Evans, Boyle County, Class AA girls 800-meter run; Diamond Pace, Danville, A girls 300 hurdles and triple jump; Candice Taylor, Danville, A girls long jump.

Here are this season’s new spring sports coaches at Advocate-area schools, a smaller list than in most recent years:

  • Burgin: Greg Harlow, baseball; Brian Jackson, softball.
  • Casey County: Todd Carman, baseball; Andy Stephens, softball.
  • Garrard County: Doug Simpson, baseball.
  • Lincoln County: Brian Leach, baseball; Lacey Ledford, girls track and field.
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West Jessamine falls in Sweet Sixteen quarterfinals

West Jessamine left Rupp Arena and the Boys Sweet Sixteen a few hours earlier than last year, but the Colts carried with them a fair amount of respect as a result of their body of work in the last two state tournaments.

The Colts’ season ended tonight with a 67-54 quarterfinal loss to Shelby Valley, but not before they gave one of the top teams in the field a run for its money. The 12th Region champions led 33-32 with 3:28 remaining in the third quarter before Shelby Valley took control of the game with a 9-0 run.

(Click here for the box score and play-by-play, and visit the Advocate’s sister paper, the Jessamine Journal, for its coverage of the Colts in Rupp Arena.)

West Jessamine (27-8) was led as usual by Jarrod Polson, who had 25 points, seven rebounds and five assists in his final high school game. Many fans in the so-called neutral sections of the arena rose to give Polson a standing ovation when he was taken out of the game in the final minute.

It’s hard to argue with West Jessamine coach Damon Kelly’s contention that Polson and Shelby Valley’s Elisha Justice are probably the two best point guards in the state. Justice had 28 points, five rebounds and two assists, and the two guards didn’t guard each other all that much as their respective coaches tried to keep them out of foul trouble.

This much I know: Polson is the best player to pass through the region in quite a few years, and he has earned a place on the list of the region’s all-time greats. His play over the course of the Colts’ two championship seasons left an impression that fans around the region and at the state tourney will long remember.

“It’s been a fun ride. It’s just unfortunate that it ended tonight,” he said.

It was also quite a ride for Kelly, who said he enjoyed every day of it.

“I couldn’t be prouder of my team. It’s a group of that I’ve been fortunate to be a part of for this past year, and I’m going to miss coming into the gym every day with them,” he said.

Kelly was fired by Lafayette just over a year ago and landed squarely on his feet in Nicholasville. He knew full well how lucky he was to inherit such a good team, and on several occasions he gave credit to his predecessor, Robert Hammonds, and said his “job was just to try not to screw it up.”

“I wish I could sit here and tell you that it was me, but I’m the same guy that got fired last year,” he said.

West Jessamine went just 9 for 28 from the field in the second half to finish at 39 percent, just below Shelby Valley’s mark of 43 percent. Worse than that was the fact that the Colts were outrebounded 39-22.

Gus Sherrow had nine points and Dylan Pohl had eight for the Colts. David Elliott had six rebounds.

West Jessamine, which reached the semifinals at last year’s state tourney, became the first 12th Region boys team to win at the Sweet Sixteen in consecutive years since Monticello went 6-4 in three straight appearances from 1958-60.

The Colts lose five of the seven players in their regular rotation to graduation, with only starting forward Pohl and reserve guard Bradley Strait returning next season. They won’t be expected to win a third straight regional title, but after what we’ve seen in the last two years, it will be hard to take them entirely out of the mix.

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Familiar faces on Sweet Sixteen benches

Two coaches who once prowled the sidelines at Advocate-area schools found their way to a courtside seat at the Boys Sweet Sixteen this week as assistant coaches with two of the participating teams.

Former Boyle County girls coach Jerry Hancock is now an assistant at Muhlenberg County, and former Garrard County boys coach Lee DeForest is an assistant at Christian County.

DeForest spent the last two seasons at Garrard, and his 2008-09 team tied a school record with 20 wins. He resigned last summer to go to Christian, which defeated Newport in its first-round game Wednesday and plays Scott County today.

Hancock coached at Boyle for two seasons from 1994-96, then left to return to his native Muhlenberg County. He coached girls basketball and cross country for a time at Muhlenberg South, one of the two schools that were consolidated into Muhlenberg County, which opened last summer.

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West Jessamine wins at Boys Sweet Sixteen

West Jessamine is off and running in the Boys Sweet Sixteen again, as the 12th Region champion defeated Muhlenberg County 73-63 in the first round today.

Jarrod Polson scored 32 points to lead West Jessamine (27-7), which reached the semifinals last year. The Colts led throughout the last three quarters, holding on after Muhlenberg cut their lead from 11 points to two with 2:17 remaining. (Click here for the box score and play-by-play.)

The Colts, who reached the semifinals last year in their first state tournament appearance, advanced to play Shelby Valley (29-4) in a Friday night quarterfinal. Shelby Valley rolled over Paducah Tilghman 68-45 in its first-round game.

West Jessamine hit just seven of 12 free throws in the last two minutes and was 23 for 40 overall at the foul line, which is unusual for a team that shoots 70 percent on the season. Polson, a 76 percent shooter, was 12 for 20, but he was also 10 for 13 from the field with five rebounds and four assists.

“We’ll step up and make them tomorrow. I’m not too concerned about that,” West Jessamine coach Damon Kelly said.

Polson scored more points than any other player in any of this year’s eight first-round games, and it was the third time in four state tournament games that he has scored at least 22 games.

David Elliott had 13 points and seven rebounds for West Jessamine, Gus Sherrow added 10 points and Dylan Pohl had seven rebounds.

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McCreary sweeps boys regional awards

Aaron Watts and Robert Jones of McCreary Central have been voted the 12th Region player and coach of the year by the Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches.

Watts and Jones led the Raiders to a 24-7 record and the 48th District championship. Watts’ award comes with an automatic invitation to the Kentucky all-star tryouts next month. Jones was named the regional coach of the year for the second time in three years.

The two will receive their awards Friday at the Boys Sweet Sixteen, along with the other regional winners. Click here for the full list.

Jones and Jarrod Polson of West Jessamine have been invited to represent the 12th Region in the KABC East-West all-star game Saturday in Bowling Green. The game is at 3:15 p.m. at Transylvania University.

In addition, Lincoln County coach Jeff Jackson will be inducted into the KABC Court of Honor on Friday. Jackson is this year’s honoree for the 2nd Region, where his University Heights team won a state championship in 1992. South Laurel coach Steve Wright, whose team won the state title in 2005, is this year’s Court of Honor honoree for the 12th Region.

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An All-Area rarity

Boyle County coach Steve Adams joined a very exclusive club when he was named the Advocate’s Area Boys Coach of the Year last week.

Adams is only the second person to be voted as both an area player of the year and an area coach of the year. He was voted the player of the year in 1979 after his senior season at Mercer County.

Just two years before that, Randy Salyers was the Advocate’s very first player of the year in 1977 from Casey County, where he now coaches the girls team. He was most recently voted the girls coach of the year in 2008.

Thanks to Adams’ brother Darrell, a Boyle assistant coach, for raising a question that I just had to track down the answer to.

And in case you missed them last week, here are the boys and girls All-Area stories.

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Upchurch shines in all-star game

Jessica Upchurch of Lincoln County scored 10 points Saturday in the Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches East-West all-star game in Bowling Green.

Upchurch was the second-leading scorer for the East, which lost 79-75 to the West, behind Ebony Rowe of Paul Dunbar, who scored 25 points.

She was the only 12th Region player in the game. Jackie Alexander of Rockcastle County was also invited, but her team was still playing in the Girls Sweet Sixteen on Saturday.

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