Archive for March, 2011

Rockcastle’s Hammond named Miss Basketball

Multiple outlets are reporting today that Sara Hammond of Rockcastle County has been named Kentucky’s Miss Basketball by the Kentucky Lions Eye Foundation, which oversees the selection process for Mr. and Miss Basketball and the Kentucky All-Stars.

Hammond was named a McDonald’s All=American last month and led Rockcastle to the state championship two weeks ago. She is only the second Miss Basketball from a 12th Region school, and the first since Lisa Collins of Laurel County won the award in 1980.

Hammond will wear the No. 1 jersey in the Kentucky All-Stars’ games against their Indiana counterparts June 10 in Louisville and June 11 in Indianapolis.

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Opening day for spring sports

The spring sports season begins today, the first day that Kentucky’s baseball, softball, tennis and track and field teams are allowed to compete. It’s the earliest starting date I can remember, pushed up because the KHSAA’s master calendar calls for the season to begin on the Monday following the second state basketball tournament and because those tourneys are running a week earlier than they used to.

Area baseball, softball and tennis teams will get going this week, while track usually starts a bit slower. There will be a full two weeks of competition before spring break week for most schools, April 3-9.

There are relatively few new spring sports coaches at area schools this season. Here’s the list:

  • Boyle County: Billy Goldsmith, boys and girls tennis; Brent Wagner, boys and girls track.
  • Danville: Ryan Adams, boys tennis.
  • Lincoln County: Brad McNew, baseball; Kevin Bandura, softball; Tim Estes, boys track.
  • Mercer County: Mark Dunn, girls track.
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Warren wraps up 35-year career with Advocate

A tip of the cap to Marty Warren, whose 35-year association with The Advocate-Messenger concluded Saturday. Warren is putting down his pencil and unplugging his laptop after covering hundreds of games as a part-time sports writer for the Advocate, all while working “regular” jobs as well.

Warren, who played on Boyle County’s 1974 regional champion baseball team, was able to parlay his passion for sports into a writing gig at the Advocate a couple of years later thanks to Bill and Larry Vaught, the father and son who were the only full-time employees in the newspaper’s sports department for many years. He helped extend the reach of what the paper could cover and helped give its high school sports coverage a depth that remains second to none among Kentucky newspapers.

Sports editors have long relied on part-timers or stringers to help their papers cover more games, but there can’t be many who have been fortunate enough to find one like Warren who performed so well for so many years and who has developed a tremendous base of knowledge of Advocate-area sports over the last 40 years. He has interviewed generations of coaches and players, watched programs rise and fall and seen dozens of exciting finishes — and dozens of blowouts, too — and has made countless friends and precious few enemies along the way.

Fittingly, he wrapped up his Advocate career last week at his favorite event, the Boys Sweet Sixteen, where he helped our sister newspaper, the Winchester Sun, with its coverage of George Rogers Clark. He said he still plans to go to the state tournament each March and to get to some other games, too, but he’ll set his own schedule, and the best part might be that he’ll get to leave early if he wants to. After 35 years, he’s earned that.


Wayne boys fall in Sweet Sixteen quarterfinals

Poor shooting doomed Wayne County tonight as the Cardinals bowed out of the Boys Sweet Sixteen with a 64-47 loss to Rowan County in the quarterfinals.

(Click here for the box score and play-by-play.)

Wayne, the 12th Region champion, shot just 28 percent from the field and was unable to make a run at Rowan after the Vikings scored 12 straight points late in the first quarter and early in the second. The Cardinals missed seven straight shots from the field during that run, which gave Rowan a 21-8 lead, and were 2 for 14 midway through the second quarter. The Vikings then used a 15-2 run that lasted only 2:05 to take a 45-22 lead in the third quarter and essentially finish Wayne off.

The Cardinals were actually better from 3-point range (8 for 26) than inside the line (7 for 28). They were also outrebounded 40-30.

Gavin Dunagan closed his stellar career at Wayne with only six points, while Austin Shearer, who also had an outstanding career, scored only nine. Both were 2 for 13 from the field. Reserve Kyle Gehring led the Cardinals with 11 points in 16 minutes.

Former Somerset coach Shawn Thacker led Rowan to its first Sweet Sixteen win in the first round Thursday, and now the Vikings are in the final four. They’ll play Bullitt East on Saturday for a spot in the title game against the Eastern-Christian County winner.

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Wayne boys advance at Sweet Sixteen

Wayne County isn’t accustomed to winning at the Boys Sweet Sixteen, but the Cardinals got their first state tournament win in 22 years when they defeated Perry County Central 68-58 in their first-round game Thursday.

(Click here for the box score and play-by-play.)

It was only the second time in eight state trips that Wayne has won, and all of its only previous wins came in 1989, when coach Rodney Woods’ first regional championship team won three games before losing to Pleasure Ridge Park in the finals. The Cardinals went out in the first round in their next five appearances, often as victims of a tough draw.

“It feels good to win,” Woods said after Thursday’s game. “For the coaching staff, it’s been a long dry spell.”

This is the first Sweet Sixteen for the current players — Wayne’s last trip was in 2004 — and they handled themselves well on the Rupp Arena stage, hitting nine of 20 3-point shots and outrebounding a larger Perry team 31-29. The game was close throughout, with Wayne leading for most of the way but never by more than seven points until it scored five straight points to take a 60-50 lead with 2:44 remaining.

The Cardinals shot 43 percent from the field, while Perry shot 51 percent and scored 36 of its 58 points in the paint.

Gavin Dunagan led Wayne with 22 points and 12 rebounds, Ryan Hopper went 5 for 6 from 3-point range and scored 21 points, and Austin Shearer had five assists. The game’s leading scorer was Perry’s Braxton Beverly, a 5-8 seventh-grader who scored 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting and who will be a player to watch in the mountains for years to come.

Wayne moves on to a 7:30 p.m. Friday quarterfinal against Rowan County, which defeated Daviess County 45-32. Rowan is coached by former Somerset coach Shawn Thacker, who has reached the Sweet Sixteen for the first time and who went head to head with Woods countless times during his years in the 12th Region.

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Former Lincoln assistant reaches Sweet Sixteen

Jason Holland, a former Lincoln County assistant now coaching at Oldham County, saw the Boys Sweet Sixteen for the first time as anything other than a spectator when his Oldham team took the Rupp Arena floor Wednesday in the tournament’s opening game.

The Colonels were the first team to be eliminated from the tournament, losing 56-39 to George Rogers Clark, but simply getting to Lexington was an accomplishment for Holland, who is in his second year at Oldham, and for his team, which had a losing record last year.

As he sat in the media room with the team’s four seniors following the game, he said they are the ones who engineered the turnaround at Oldham, which missed the 8th Region Tournament in the two years before he was hired.

“Last year we won 12 games, and to go from 12 to 25 is pretty special,” Holland said. “I’m the same guy I was two years ago. These guys came in, and they went to work to get our program back where it belongs.”

Still, some of the credit has to go to Holland, a Red Bird graduate who spent a couple of seasons at Lincoln before leaving in 2003 for a job at Wildwood (Fla.). He returned to Kentucky a year later as head coach at Henry County, spent five years there, then moved to neighboring Oldham in 2009. The Colonels, who have long been among the powerbrokers in the 8th Region, were in decline when Holland arrived and went just 12-16 in his first season before returning to the top of the region this winter.

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Dunagan, Woods win boys regional awards

Gavin Dunagan and Rodney Woods of Wayne County have been voted the 12th Region boys player and coach of the year by the Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches.

Dunagan was an easy choice, as he is Wayne’s all-time leader in points and rebounds after six years on the Cardinals’ varsity squad. The 6-4 forward, who is unsigned, enters the state tournament averaging 18.1 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.

Woods, who has been the dean of 12th Region coaches for some time now, won his seventh regional title and Wayne’s eighth overall. His Cardinals will make their first Boys Sweet Sixteen appearance since 2004 when they play Perry County Central on Thursday.

Dunagan and Woods will receive their awards Friday at the tournament, along with the other regional winners. Click here for the full list.

Dunagan and Clay Cinnamon of Mercer County, the runner-up for the regional player of the year award,  were also chosen as the 12th Region’s two representatives for the KABC East-West all-star game, which will be played at 3:15 p.m. Saturday at Transylvania University’s Beck Center. Of course, Dunagan won’t play in that game if Wayne makes a deep Sweet Sixteen run.

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Rockcastle girls win state championship

Rockcastle County won its first Girls Sweet Sixteen championship tonight, beating duPont Manual 62-60 in overtime in the championship game at Bowling Green.

(Click here for the box score and play-by-play.)

Angie Lawrence hit an off-balance leaner in the lane with just over 1 second left to give the Lady Rockets the win in only the third overtime game among 50 state finals. Manual called timeout with :00.5 seconds left but was unable to get off a shot.

Rockcastle finished 36-1 and went 33-0 against Kentucky schools to give the 12th Region its seventh state championship since the girls state tournament was revived in 1975 and its first 1991, when Laurel County won the last of its five titles. Rockcastle is also the first state champion in 10 years that isn’t from Lexington or Louisville.

Sara Hammond had 26 points and 11 rebounds in the title game and was named the tournament’s most valuable player. But the hero will forever be Lawrence, whom Hammond hoisted into the air as the celebration erupted after her winning shot. Lawrence hit two free throws with 28 seconds left in regulation to give the Lady Rockets a 55-53 lead before Manual’s Kayla Stiles hit a tying layup with 2 seconds left.

The Lady Crimsons led by nine points with 6:21 left in the third quarter, but it was a one-point game just 4 minutes later, and neither team led by more than four after that. Rockcastle shot 50 percent for the game, while Manual (33-5) shot 53 percent in the first half but 34 percent thereafter to finish at 43 percent

The largest crowd ever for a girls championship, 5,122 fans, watched the game at E.A. Diddle Arena. The total tournament attendance of 43,679 was also a record, surpassing the standard set in 2000 by more than 3,000 fans.

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Rockcastle girls to play for state championship

The Rockcastle County girls will play for a state championship after beating Calloway County 57-38 in a Girls Sweet Sixteen semifinal today in Bowling Green.

(Click here for the box score and play-by-play.)

The 12th Region champion Lady Rockets will play duPont Manual at 9 p.m., making for a title-game matchup of the teams ranked No. 1 (Manual) and No. 2 (Rockcastle) in virtually every poll and power rating at the end of the season and in this tournament.

(Click here, then scroll down on the new page for links to watch or listen to tonight’s game online.)

It’s the first time a 12th Region team has reached the finals since 1995, when Pulaski County won three Sweet Sixteen games before losing to Scott County. It’s also the deepest tournament run for Rockcastle in seven state trips.

Rockcastle began pulling away from Calloway late in the first half. The Lady Lakers cut a 12-point deficit to six just after the start of the fourth quarter, but the Lady Rockets then outscored them 16-1.

Rockcastle shot 55 percent from the field in the second half and 48 percent overall and outrebounded Calloway 39-25. Sara Hammond had 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Lady Rockets, and Angie Lawrence also had 15 points, all in the second half.

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Rockcastle returns to Sweet Sixteen semifinals

Rockcastle County had a much easier time in the second round of the Girls Sweet Sixteen than in the first, beating former 49th District rival Clay County 47-30 Friday night to advance to the semifinals for the second straight year.

(Click here for the box score and play by play.)

The 12th Region champion Lady Rockets outscored Clay 15-4 in the third quarter to take a 34-22 lead, and Clay couldn’t get any closer in the fourth quarter. The Lady Tigers didn’t score more than nine points in any of the four periods.

Sara Hammond had 15 points and 12 rebounds to lead Rockcastle, and Angie Lawrence added 13 points.

Rockcastle plays Calloway County in its semifinal at 12:30 p.m. today.

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