Sacred Heart wins the 2021 KHSAA Girls Sweet Sixteen

By Clark Howell
For Bluegrass Basketball

Valkyries edge Marshall Co Marshall’s 49-47 for school’s 5th title.

Alexandra Wolff’s putback with 55 seconds left proved to be the difference in a battle of the two winningest schools in KHSAA history, but a no-call on a collision with less than a second left may be the most talked about moment of the tournament.  With 1.4 seconds left and down by two, Marshall County tried to inbound the ball to Cayson Conner and she appeared to be knocked to the ground, but no foul was called and the ball harmlessly fell out of bounds with 0.2 seconds left, not allowing the Marshall’s enough time to get a look to tie or win the game.



While Wolff’s bucket proved to be the game winner, it took a full team effort for the Valkyries to get to that point, and then to hold off the Marshalls.  Marshall County star Halle Langhi hit two free throws with just under three minutes left in the game to give the Marshalls a three-point lead, but that was the last time they would get the ball to the rim.  On the other end TrinitiRalston was fouled on a three and calmly sank all three free throws tie the game with 2:33 left in the game.  Tournament MVP Josie Gilvin, as she did all tournament long, made several key defensive plays down the stretch blocking two shots and forcing a turnover. Reagan Bender also had a key steal to deny another Marshall County scoring opportunity with 13 seconds left in the game.


Gilvin finished the game with only 4 points, but it was everything else she did that made the biggest impact, as she also finished with 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 blocks, and 5 steals. For the tournament Gilvin averaged 10.5 points, 10 rebounds, 7 steals 4 assists, and 1.75 blocks per game. While Gilvin did the dirty work, it was Triniti Ralston who put the points on the board, leading the state champions with 18 points while also adding four rebounds and four assists.  She finished with a four-game average of 15.75 points and 3.25 assists per game.  Alexandra Wolff was the only other Valkyrie in double figures finishing with 10 points.  All three individuals were honored as members of the All-Tournament team.  


With the win Sacred Heart, the second winningest program in KHSAA history, won their 5th state championship, and their first since winning three straight from 2002-2004.  The 5 titles tiethem with Laurel Co, Butler, and Ashland for the most of all time.  It was also a huge day for Coach Donna Moir as the semifinal win made her only the fourth in KHSAA girls basketball history with 700 wins, but she made it clear that number 701 was much sweeter.  Number 701 made her a state championship coach for the 4th time, matching Laurel Co’s Roy Bowling for the most all-time by any coach in the modern era. The Valkyries finish the season with a 25-7 record.

Marshall Co, the state’s all-time winningest program, fell just short of claiming their first state title since 1984.  They were ledHalle Langhi (19), and Cayson Conner (16) who provided most of the scoring punch for the game including all 22 of the Marshalls’ first half points.  Sophie Galloway added 6 points and 10 rebounds in their support.  Conner was the tournaments leading scorer averaging 19 points per game.  Conner and Langhi, along with Layne Pea made the all-tournament team for Marshall Co.

Aaron Beth fell just short of becoming the first child of a state championship coach to win a title of his own.  His dad Howard Beth led the Marshalls to state titles in 1982 and 1984.  The younger Beth was also a star on the Marshall County boys’ team that made the semifinals of the state tournament in 1989.  With the loss Marshall County finishes the season 25-3

Halle Langhi opened the scoring with a bucket inside to give Marshall County the early 2-0 lead, but the Valkyries countered with a bucket inside from Alexandra Wolff and three from Triniti Ralston which gave them a lead they would not relinquish for the rest of the half.  A Reagan Bender fast break bucket pushed the lead to 10-5 which would be the largest of the half.  A layup by Cayson Conner and bucket in the paint by Langhi brought the Marshall’s within one, and they had a chance to take the lead late in the period, but a steal by Josie Gilvin led to 2 free throws and a 12 to 9 Sacred Heart lead after the first quarter.  The do it all Gilvin had 3 assists, 3 rebounds, and 3 steals in the first frame, while Marshall County failed to capitalize on chances, hitting only 1 of 5 first quarter free throws.


The second period was a back-and-forth affair.  Wolff opened the half with a bucket to help match the largest Valkyrie 1st half lead at 5.  A Langhi bucket and Conner three-point play tied the game, but Wolff immediately responded with a bucket.  Thisestablished a second quarter trend that every time Marshall County evened the score, Sacred Heart immediately respondedto retake the lead. In total there were 4 ties in the quarter, but a late three by Ralston gave Sacred Heart a 26 to 22 lead going into halftime.  


Marshall County came out fired up to start the second half with Driver dropping in 2 quick baskets before a Langhi layup gave the Marshall’s their first lead since 2 to 0.  A Conner basket extended the Marshalls’ lead to four before Ralston finely stopped the run.  3 more points from Langhi gave Marshall Co their biggest lead at 33-28, but just that quickly Sacred Heart bounced back with 7 straight points on a Ralston 3 and baskets inside by Bender and Pelayo.  Marshall County went on the final run of the quarter scoring the final four points to take a 37-35 lead into the final frame.


While neither team shot well for the game, Marshall Co connected on a serviceable 18-38 from the field, but was hurt by a poor 1-8 showing from three-point range, as well as hitting only 10-17 free throws.  While Sacred Heart was a paltry 19-50, they were more successful hitting 5-15 3’s and an efficient 6-8 from the line.  Both teams grabbed 29 rebounds.


Sacred Heart will be an early favorite to defend their crown as the state champions next year as they return almost their entire roster including starters Gilvin, Ralston, Bender, and Wolff.

16 Things to Know About the Sweet Sixteen

By Troy Howell
For Bluegrass Basketball

1. One year later – Elizabethtown, Ashland, Knox Central, McCracken County, and George Rogers Clark are all back in the field after also winning the region last year. The 2020 tournament was cancelled so I am happy for all these teams now that they get to play in Rupp Arena after having it ripped away from them last year.

2. Football powerhouses – Bowling Green, Boyle County, Paintsville, and Ashland won football titles in the spring and are 4 games away from doing the same in basketball. The other two state champions (Beechwood and Trinity) both had good years on the hardwood as well. Elizabethtown, the top ranked basketball team going in to the Sweet 16, lost in the 3A finals to Ashland. Highlands, winners of the 9th region last week, are a traditional power on the gridiron.

3. Heavy favorites – Two of the first-round games are expected to be very lopsided. Elizabethtown comes in as the top ranked team in the field, while their opponent, Knott County Central is rated at the bottom of the sixteen teams. Another heavy favorite is Bowling Green over University Heights Academy. The Purples have been near the top of the rankings all year and defeated the Blazers by a score of 88-50 in a road win on February 1. Let’s hope the game is a little more competitive this time!

4. Missing Star Power – Sophomore Reed Sheppard (North Laurel), sophomore Kaleb Glenn (Male), freshman Travis Perry (Lyon County), senior Zion Harmon (Marshall County) and senior Ben Johnson (Lexington Catholic) all missed out on the state tournament. The tournament still features some of the top seniors in the state including Northern Kentucky University commits Sam Vinson (Highlands) and Isaiah Mason (Bowling Green).

5. 2013 Finals Rematch – The Madison Central vs Ballard first round game will bring back memories of the epic 2013 state finals. Madison Central defeated Ballard 65-64 on a last-second shot by Ken-Jah Bosley. The Madison Central team featured Dominique Hawkins (Kentucky) while Ballard was led by Quinten Snider (Louisville) and Kelan Martin (Butler).

6. Best Draw – Highlands is the only top 4 team in the bottom half of the draw. The Bluebirds got a good draw and will be favored to make the finals. Ashland may be their toughest competition to get there, but Highlands beat the Tomcats 84-75 in the opening game of the season.

7. Toughest Draw – After knocking off then #1 Lexington Catholic and then top #8 Frederick Douglass in the 11th region tournament, the path doesn’t get any easier for the Madison Central Indians. They may have to go through the gauntlet of Ballard, Bowling Green, and Elizabethtown just to make the finals.

8. Buzzer Beaters – George Rogers Clark and Paintsville both won their region tournament at the buzzer on Saturday. Jerone Morton’s layup gave GRC and 60-59 win over Campbell County in the 10th region finals. Jaxon Watt’s put back at the buzzer gave Paintsville a wild 48-46 overtime win over bitter rival Johnson Central in the 15th region finals.

9. Chaos in the 6th – Bullitt East won the 6th region despite being left out of the top 10 of the region’s preseason coaches’ poll. After knocking off region favorite DeSales 62-58 in the region semis, the Charges got by Western 69-49 in a surprise finals matchup. Western stunned Fern Creek in the other semifinal.

10. Individual Stats – Jevonte Turner (Knox Central) averages 26.3 points. Turner Buttry (Bowling Green) is shooting 94.8% from the charity stripe, while Luke Imfeld (Boyle County) is shooting 87.5% from the line. Luke Muller (Highlands) makes 3.6 treys a game (45%). Maker Bar (Ballard) is pulling down 10.8 rebounds per game.

11. Team Stats – Highlands (83.5 points per game), George Rogers Clark (78.6), Elizabethtown (76.9), and Ballard (76) are all top 10 in the state in scoring. Muhlenberg County (44.1) and Bowling Green (47.2) are top 10 in scoring defense. Highlands (54.5%) leads the Sweet 16 field in field goal shooting percentage. Highlands (75.9%) and Oldham County (75.5%) are top 10 in free throw percentage. George Rogers Clark (38.7 rebounds) is first in the state in rebounding.

12. Margin of Victory – Half of the top 10 in margin of victory are in the Sweet 16 field: Bowling Green (20.6 points), GRC (19.9), Highlands 19.5), Elizabethtown (18.7) and Knox Central 17.9).

13. My Rankings: 1. Elizabethtown 2. Ballard 3. Highlands 4. Bowling Green 5. Ashland 6. Muhlenberg County, 7. Oldham County 8. Madison Central 9. George Rogers Clark 10. Boyle County 11. McCracken County 12. Knox Central 13. Bullitt East 14. University Heights 15. Paintsville 16. Knott County Central

14. Return to old Format – In order to not conflict with Easter, the KHSAA is going back to the Wednesday – Saturday format for this year. I personally prefer ending on Saturday, but it does mean a team like Ashland would need to win 4 games in 48 hours in order to take home the trophy. The 2 P.M. start time for the second semifinal seems a bit late for a short turnaround before the 8 o’clock finals.

15. Purples Rematches: If Bowling Green is to win the state title, they may have to go through University Heights, Ballard, Elizabethtown, and Ashland, four teams that they have already played this year. Here were the regular season results.

Bowling Green 88 University Heights 50

Ballard 61 Bowling Green 45

Elizabethtown 64 Bowling Green 36

Bowling Green 83 Ashland 57

16. Bruins just Getting Started: Not only is Ballard one of the favorites this year, they will likely be the preseason favorite next season as well. They are led by juniors Maker Bar and Kennedy Hayden, and sophomore Gabe Sisk. Sophomore point guard Jack Edelen, who was lost for the year due to injury, will return next year to make the Bruins even deeper and stronger.

Franklin County Lady Flyers Are Back in the Sweet 16 

By Greg Lawson
For Bluegrass Basketball

In a season, and a regional championship, that was completely unconventional – the outcome was completely conventional. The Franklin County Lady Flyers won their fifth 11th region title in the last seven years, and their sixth in school history. Their latest title came at the expense of the Lafayette Lady Generals who raised some eyebrows by posting on social media, “#notdoneyette as we EARN our way to the region championship this Saturday!” Most readers saw this as a reference to the fact that Franklin County and Tates Creek were unable to play their semi-final matchup due to a positive case of COVID-19 in the Lady Commodore program, forcing them to withdraw from the 11th region tournament.   

Whether the forfeit gave Franklin County any real advantage was unclear. What was clear in this championship game was that Lafayette had Franklin County’s full attention, especially on the defensive end. FCHS shut out the Lady Generals in the first quarter, ending the frame ahead 13-0. They methodically stretched their lead in second and third quarters, at one point pushing the margin to over 20. Lafayette was able to cut into the lead as the fourth quarter progressed and using a full court press with their starters against the Lady Flyer third-stringers, Lafayette was able to push the final score to 53-38.

And, with that, Joey Thacker leads the Lady Flyer program back to the Sweet 16. The 11th region champion faces a tough road to the championship. Franklin County will face the 13th region champion in the first round of the Sweet 16 held at Rupp Arena on Wednesday, April 7th at 5:00 pm. The 13th region will crown their champion Monday, March 29. If the Lady Flyers get through the first round, most likely will have a rematch with the number one team in the state, Anderson County. The Lady Bearcats defeated Franklin County 64-32 on January 12. It should be a great week of basketball at Rupp Arena for the Girls’ Sweet 16. Watch out for the 11th region champs, the Wizard and his lady birds might have a few tricks left up their sleeve after they EARNED their way back to the state tournament.

Final score

Franklin County 53

Lafayette 38

Frederick Douglass edges Dunbar for first ever region final

By Troy Howell
For Bluegrass Basketball

Frederick Douglass edges Dunbar to advance to first ever region FinalThe Frederick Douglass Broncos are in the 11th region finals for the first time in the school’s young history after defeating Dunbar 56-55 at EKU. They withstood a furious Bulldog rally in order to do so.


The Broncos were able to build an 32-24 halftime lead with Dunbar’s star player on the bench in the first half with two fouls. Dashawn Jackson, an EKU commit, caught fire for Douglass in the 3rd quarter to help them build a double-digit lead. He looked right at home playing in his future gym, posting 24 points, 4 assists and 2 steals. But Dunbar got back in the game thanks to forcing several turnovers. A Max VanDyke 3-pointer, Tim Hall dunk, Nick Spalding bucket, and Hall layup helped them get back in striking distance.

Dunbar, who trailed most of the game, had a chance to take the lead with but lost the ball with 52 seconds left after the Broncos forced a jump ball and claimed the possession arrow. Jackson cashed in a layup a few seconds later to push the lead to 56-53.  

After a pair of Hall free throws cut the Broncos’ lead to 1 with 35 seconds remaining, Frederick Douglass played keep away until Dunbar fouled them with 16 seconds remaining, but the Bulldogs still had a foul to give. They were finally able to put Douglass on the line with only six tickets remaining.  


The Broncos missed the front end of the bonus, but were able to contest the rebound and burned off valuable time until Dunbar was finally able to call a timeout with only 2.7 seconds remaining. It was too little, too late. Having to go the length of the court, the Bulldogs desperation heave from beyond half court fell harmlessly to the ground.


For Douglass, Kai Simpson finished with 13 points while Tyson Barrett added 11 points including a highlight slam. He was 5-of-8 from the field. Tim Hall lead Dunbar with 15 points and 12 boards. Nick Spalding added 11.

The future is bright for the #10 ranked Bulldogs. They lose no seniors from a team that defeated Lexington Catholic twice. The Knights held the top state ranking for most of the season. Hall and Spalding will be two of the top ranked players in the 11th region next season.

It was an exciting night for Douglass, who avenged their only loss of the season, a 75-68 loss to Dunbar on January 12. The Broncos, currently ranked #8 in the state, have now won 17 straight games. They play in the region finals on Saturday at 5:30 at EKU. They will face Madison Central, who defeated Franklin County 67-51.



St. Henry Knocks Out #1 Covington Catholic in Instant Classic

  By: Troy Howell
For Bluegrass Basketball

 “Where is St. Henry?”  
That’s a question I got a lot this year on twitter when people saw the Crusaders were ranked so high. Even though they won the All “A” State Championship in 2020 and 2021, many people didn’t seem to know much about the school.

I’ll tell you where St. Henry is.

They are in the 9th region semifinals.  

Wyatt Vieth saw to that.

Vieth, the team’s senior leader came out of nowhere to block Evan Ipsaro’s shot at the buzzer to give St. Henry a 61-60 over #1 Covington Catholic in the first round of the 9th region tournament. Everyone in the gym knew the ball was going to Ipsaro. The Covington Catholic sophomore had scored 32 points and was red hot in the 2nd half.


“We knew it was coming to (Ipsaro) and I just saw him coming across the lane and I knew he was going to pull up, so I just tried to make a good contest and I ended up tipping the ball,” Vieth said. “It ended up being good for us.”

It certainly was.

Despite having beaten Covington Catholic by one point earlier this year and breaking the Colonels’ 27-game win streak against 9th region teams, only 30% of people on a recent twitter poll picked the #4 ranked Crusaders to knock off #1 Covington Catholic. The Colonels had won 3 straight 9th region tournaments and most people expected them to do it again.  

The game was exciting from start to finish. St. Henry raced out to a 16-8 lead behind a great start from big man Cody Teten. Teten scored six early points and helped negate Covington Catholic’s height and muscle advantage inside. The Colonels rallied behind the shooting of Ipsaro and the inside play of Mitchell Rylee to pull within one point at halftime.

St. Henry opened up an eight point third quarter lead before Ipsaro heated up to put the Colonels up by five.

The fourth quarter saw Ipsaro and St. Henry point guard Cory Shea put on a brilliant shooting display in a back-and-forth contest. Shea made three clutch 3-pointers down the stretch, including a 4-point play. Ipsaro’s driving, contested layup gave Covington Catholic a 60-59 lead with 14 seconds left.  

 St. Henry responded with a Cody Teten layup to go up 61-60 with five seconds left.  


After a couple of timeouts, Ipsaro raced down the court but found himself surrounded by Crusaders. That’s when Vieth made the block at the buzzer to preserve the victory. Vieth was down on the court for about a minute before getting up and walking to the crowd to celebrate.

“I hit my knee,” Vieth said. “I think I hyperextended my knee, but it should be good by tomorrow. Just ice and ibuprofen and it should be good.”

Covington Catholic’s loud and well-known student section, the Colonel Crazies, were out in full force, and both teams had good, loud crowds. Vieth said the Crusaders fed off the great atmosphere.

“It’s incredible having all those fans there,” Vieth said. “I love the Colonel Crazies; I know they are a big thing in Kentucky basketball. I love the atmosphere. It was awesome. When they are barking at us, I eat it up. We all love it. It just makes us play better, honestly. We came together and got the win.”

Teten finished with 16 points and eight rebounds. He was 8-for-13 from the field. Vieth added 15 points, four rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two blocks in the full 32 minutes. Ipsaro led all scorers with 32 points on 12-of-18 shooting.  

The Colonels season ends at 24-4. They have a very bright future, losing only 1 senior starter. Ipsaro, a sophomore, will return along with Mitchell Rylee, Chandler Starks and several other key players. Two of their three in-state losses were to St. Henry, both by identical 61-60 scores and both decided on the last play. Vieth’s old fashioned 3-point play with one second left was the difference in the first game.

For St. Henry, it doesn’t get any easier. They play #6 Highlands on Wednesday at 6:00 P.M. at Covington Holmes. Highlands knocked off Ryle 104-62 in the first round. #18 Dixie Heights and #25 Conner will meet in the other semifinal.

St. Henry, who was not ranked in most major preseason rankings (except KSR, where they were #9 in the preseason rankings), has put themselves on the map this year. Their seniors saw to that.


Something in the Water: Bulldogs ‘Tapped’ Out by Cardinals

Martin County has had its share of negative press over the last decade, namely their clean water woes that have not only been a major concern by legislators, but have became the brunt of jokes across the state — including opposing fan sections.

But in 2019 — the ship began to right. A brand new, state-of-the-art school opened its doors and the name Sheldon Clark High School was abandoned for a new beginning: Martin County High School, they would be, and remain the Cardinals (#CardsForLife)

Their programs seemed to flourish; Thanks to Coach Josh Muncy, football was competitive again. Under Coaches Harless and Hinkle, Volleyball had its winningest season in history. Boys Soccer had its first collegiate signee… and the list goes on.

The school’s girls basketball program suffered great loss in the death of both Head Basketball Coach Tim Rice and assistant Pam Maynard — but a familiar face came along to pick up those pieces bit by bit; Hall of Fame legend Robin (Harmon) Newsome took the helm and led her team to a District Title — for Pammy, she says, and in honor of her friend Coach Rice.

The Coup de Grâce this season was the utter dominance Martin County showed over the ever-tough 57th District. In the 15th Region tournament their goal was to handle it game by game and simply win the day. After a hard fought final victory, tonight they bring home the community’s first region basketball championship since 1983. 

Box Score:

Martin County 16 16 16 17 – 65
Lawrence County 11 12 14 24 – 61

Martin County:
Trey James 17 points 8 rebounds 3 blocks
Brady Dingess 14 points, Braxton Maynard 14 points, Jordan Dalton 10 points 7 rebounds

Brady Dingess: 15th Region Tournament MVP  

Lawrence County:
Cody Maynard 18 points, Trenton Adkins 16 points, Tyler Maynard 13 points

Photos courtesy of Stephanie Stiles-May

Sweet 16 Round 1 Recap


Round 1 of the KHSAA/Whitaker Bank Sweet 16 is complete and we have had a great first two days of the tournament.

Wednesday, March 6th 

Game 1 was the first game of the Sweet 16, tipping off Wednesday at 12pm. It featured Walton-Verona, who hadn’t made an appearance in the Sweet 16 since the 1940s. Walton-Verona brought quite the crowd… and energy. The Bearcats capitalized on Knox Central’s game plan of shutting down Xavier commit Dionte Miles — and had everyone else scoring. The threes were falling rapidly for Walton-Verona in the 3rd Quarter, sealing the blowout over Knox with a final score of 76-54.

Game 2 was your largest loss in the tournament thus far — with 7th Region Goliath Trinity facing the mountain boys of the 15th Region — Johnson Central. Trinity came out strong, holding Johnson Central to only 2 points in the first quarter. While Coach Tommy McKenzie seemed to steady the Golden Eagles’ ship in the second quarter, Louisville commit David Johnson was just too much for Johnson Central to handle, with a final score of 70-28.

Game 3 matched undefeated John Hardin High School with Campbell County. A lot of folks were pulling for JHHS to continue their streak but Campbell County’s Reid Jolly lead the Camels to victory with his 3 point performance. Final score: Campbell County 61, John Hardin 60

Game 4 brought two teams together with the richest Sweet 16 heritage — both Owensboro and Ashland have had more success in the tournament than any school, with Ashland having 6 titles under its belt. Both teams had struggled to get to Rupp in recent years but made for one of the most well-matched games of the day. Ashland bested Owensboro in the end, winning its first Sweet 16 game since 2001. Final score Ashland 58, Owensboro 50.

Thursday, March 7th

Game 5 pitted another Mountain team against a Louisville squad as Perry County Central tried to advance to the Elite Eight against Butler. The game was tight with several lead changes and an Overtime but two last second threes by Butler’s Maurice Tolley sealed the win for the Bears outside of regulation, defeating the Commodores 65-62.

Game 6 brought us a rematch of last year’s Sweet 16 finals, Scott County vs. Covington Catholic. The game seemed to be all Scott County’s, with a lead as large as 19 late in the 4th Quarter. CovCath mounted the largest comeback I have personally witnessed by going on an 18-0 run in the final two minutes. Scott County squeaked by with a late layup to live another day, final score 64-61.

Game 7 Madisonville North-Hopkins topped Lincoln County in their first Sweet 16 victory since 1989 under the stellar performance of Junior Kenny White, who had 21 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 blocks. Madisonville fans brought the best energy to Rupp I saw all day, helping their squad win 57-49.

Game 8 brought Mayfield up against Warren Central in Mayfield’s first Sweet 16 berth since 1992. Coach Chris Guhy was hoping to extend his final season as a head coach, however, Warren Central had three players in double digit scoring, with Tre Boyd charting a double-double. Final score: 73-55.

Updated Bracket courtesy of the KHSAA Scoreboard:

Follow @BluegrassBball on Twitter for Live Sweet 16 updates.

#S16: Wednesday March 6, 2019

Redd Hutchinson has written up a short and Sweet preview of Wednesday’s games. We will post updated brackets for you as the week progresses. Follow @BluegrassBball on Twitter for live game recaps!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019 Afternoon Session 


Knox Central (30-4) 13th Region Champions

Beat North Laurel in regional championship game 80 – 53.


Walton Verona (27 – 6) 8th Region Champions

Beat Oldham County in regional championship game 60 – 51. _______________________________


Trinity (Louisville) (26 – 8) 7th Region Champions

Beat Louisville Ballard in regional championship game 59 – 37.


Johnson Central (27 – 7) 15th Region Champions

Beat Pikeville in regional championship game 66 – 61.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019 Evening Session


John Hardin (35 – 0) 5th Region Champions

Beat Taylor County in regional championship 62 – 51.


Campbell County (29 – 4) 10th Region Champions

Beat George Rogers Clark in regional championship 61 – 49.


Owensboro (23 – 7) 3rd Region Champions

Beat Breckinridge County in regional championship game 63 – 57.


Ashland Blazer (17 – 16) 16th Region Champions

Beat Boyd County in regional championship game 59 – 43.

Mr. and Miss Basketball: The Process


After some constructive dialogue, it occurred to me today that most people do not understand the process of how the Mr. and Miss Basketball award is nominated for/voted on/announced.

If you care to go further, you’ll gain an insight into the system and probably think “hey, I like the way they do this.”

First — there are two parties that contribute to the Mr. and Miss Basketball selection. The Kentucky Lions Eye Foundation (KLEF) and the Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches (KABC).

KLEF is a non-profit organization that works to provide financial help to families who cannot afford vision screenings, treatment, etc. In short: they work miracles. KLEF has named Mr. and Miss Basketball since it became a voted-on award and because most of us are proud of holding on to Kentucky’s high school basketball heritage — they have an important role in the voting process.

KLEF gives a voice to media, former Mr. and Miss Basketball Recipients, and also does something unique that most are overlooking — they provide Head Coaches with a chance to nominate a Mr. or Miss Basketball outside of their Region. Their nomination form goes out first and runs for 1 week.

The KABC is our state’s coaches association. I don’t say this only because I am employed by the KABC — you’ll not find an entity that advocates for players and coaches across the state the way they do. They host a yearly Coaches Clinic and conduct regular Board meetings to hear voices of Coaches all over. Since the KABC has a close, working relationship with high school coaches — they have a key role in the voting process as well.

The KABC has an end of season award — Region Player of the Year. Only their members — which consist of Head and Assistant Coaches alike — have a vote on this award. This vote is made by all member coaches and they may only vote for players within their Region — but cannot vote for their own players.

The two parties doing their separate processes brings us the most accurate, non-biased selection of what players should be on the final ballot for the big ticket. KLEF gives us a statewide picture of whose name should be out there and KABC gives us the name of the best player in every single region. If we eliminated the KLEF nomination, you would only get the opinions of coaches in each Region. If we eliminated the KABC ballot, you would only have a list of 3-4 kids consistently nominated and likely all from the same area. The two systems balance one another out.

Once the KABC Player of the Year voting and the KLEF Mr./Miss Basketball nomination is complete — both parties get together and compare their data — which is why you end up with Co-Player of the Year in some Regions. Once names from all Regions are collected — The Kentucky Lions Eye Foundation puts out a final ballot — and a mix of Media, Past Recipients, and Coaches place their vote to crown the next winner.

Hopefully this lays it out for a better understanding from all. And remember, we are all working together each season to make the process better.

I hope to see all of you at the Mr. and Miss Basketball Banquet, it’s a wonderful evening celebrating our State’s most talented athletes, the money raised goes to a fantastic cause, and it is a wonderful excuse to dress up and spend an evening in Downtown Lexington.

A Celebration of Owensboro’s Sportscenter


Owensboro is the host city for this year’s inaugural 2 A Championships. The city of Owensboro has been a spectacular host for the tournament and the historic Sportscenter is a great venue for most any event. The Sportscenter is celebrating its 70th year drawing fans of all types to western Kentucky. The venue seats 5,500, many of them chair back. Even these seats give a visual representation of the history that is a part of the Sportscenter. There is the modern blue, plastic seats that surround the lower sections of the arena. As you move up to the mezzanine, there are wooden chair back seats with metal frames harken to the first days of the Sportscenter. They are the original 1949 chairs. The top section features wood bleacher seating. Well over 75% of the seating is original to the building.

The nostalgia of the Sportscenter permeates the air. The smell of popcorn wafting through the building while imagining in years gone by all of the fans that had the same sensation when they were watch Adolf Rupp’s University of Kentucky Wildcats or E.A. Diddle’s WKU Hilltoppers host opponents at the Sportscenter. “Did Rupp sit here?” “Did Diddle use this sink or give a pre-game speech in this locker room?” These are real possibilities at the Sportscenter. UK and WKU both hosted home games in the 1950’s at the Sportscenter.

The Sportscenter was the home of the Owensboro Senior High Red Devils boys and girls’ basketball until the 2010-11 season. It continues to be the home of both the Aces and Lady Aces of Owensboro Catholic. In addition, Kentucky Wesleyan College plays their men’s and women’s home at the Sportscenter, where the Panther Men’s teams have eight national championships (1966, 68, 69, 73, 87, 90, 99, and 2001). There is also a semi-pro team, the Owensboro Thoroughbreds (of the TBL) that call the Sportscenter home. The 10th District Tournament (Owensboro, Daviess Co, Apollo, Owensboro Catholic) and the 3rd region tournament are annual staples here.

As I compose these words, I sit on a stage that countless graduates have walked across. Over the decades, area high schools and colleges have used this venue to recognize the outstanding leaders and learners that have matriculated through their institutions. Countless comedians, musical artists, and others continue to perform at the Sportscenter. Nationally-known comedian Bill Engvall will be saying, “Here’s your sign.” On this stage February 15. Comedians have been bringing laughs to Owensboro since the early days of the Sportscenter. Bob Hope performed here in the 1950’s. Country-Western stars Gene Autry (who would later own MLB’s California Angels) and Roy Rogers have made appearances at the Sportscenter. Musical artists from Louis Armstrong to KISS have graced the Sportscenter stage (and yes, the building did catch on fire the night KISS performed). Aaron Lewis, former front man for the band “Staind”, will be giving a concert at the Sportscenter March 15.

Jessica Wilson Beckmann, Director of the Sportscenter, was brought on six months ago to oversee the Sportscenter’s operations. She shared that there are typically 90-100 events a year at the Sportscenter. Many that often last over multiple days. “We see a lot of potential for what we can bring into the facility, renovate it, but keep the historic aspect.” Jared Bratcher of “Visit Owensboro” shared that the economic impact of the Sportscenter for Owensboro and the region easily reaches into the millions of dollars per year. It is estimated that the 2 A Championships alone will bring in around $600,000.00 to the local economy. Mrs. Beckmann also has a lot of personal history with the Sportscenter. She was born and raised in Owensboro and played basketball for Kentucky Wesleyan in the Sportscenter, “My grandfather was the coach at KY Wesleyan (Robert R. Wilson) when they started playing here and he is a

Kentucky Wesleyan Hall of Famer. And when Ray Harper was at (KY) Wesleyan and Bruce Pearl at USI (Southern Indiana) there were 5,000 people here and it was rocking.”

Mr. Bratcher added at the end of our discussion, “This place is a historic landmark in Owensboro. It’s an old venue but it a great venue for basketball. About 10 years ago there was talk about getting rid of the Sportscenter and building a new facility. At the end of the day, we did not want to get away from the history of the place.” It’s good to know that Owensboro knows how important it is to smell the popcorn, see the original seats, and feel the history of the Sportscenter.