Messenger-Inquirer High School Basketball Preview 2022-23

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2022-23 BASKETBALL PREVIEW

AREA SCHOOLS’ SCHEDULES & PRESEASON ANALYSIS

Consistent Winners

Owensboro Catholic High School senior basketball players are, from left, Lexie Keelin, Maddie Hayden, Katie Riney and Lauren Keelin. They are expected to be key contributors for the Lady Aces this season.

A Special Publication of the Messenger-Inquirer • Friday, November 25, 2022
Photo by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer

Consistency in Victory

Catholic High Lady Aces embrace high expectations

Some coaches and programs would prefer not to have a proverbial bull’s-eye on their collective back virtually each and every season, but Michael Robertson and the Owensboro Catholic Lady Aces have always been a little different in that regard.

They embrace it.

“We want the bull’s eye,” said Robertson, who begins his 11th season at the Catholic helm. “I’ve been in situations through the years where I was the hunter, but I would rather be the hunted, where, when the opposing team wins, it means so much to them that they take pictures in front of the scoreboard after t he game.

“I’d rather be the hunted because when you’re the hunted, it means that you’re doing something right.”

Robertson has done plenty of things right since inheriting the program from his coaching mentor, Ray Zuberer.

In 2012-13, the senior season for high school All-American Becca Greenwell, Robertson coached the Lady Aces to their second of three All ‘A’ Classic small-school state championships. Robertson was an assistant under Zuberer when Catholic won its first title in 2011, and Robertson led the Lady Aces to another championship in 2019.

“It’s never easy to win a state championship of any kind, it’s a very difficult thing to do, so we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished through the years in the All ‘A’ — it means a lot to everyone associated with our program, as it should,” Robertson said. “We’re expected to win, and we demand the best.

“Those championships put us on the high school basketball map in Kentucky, and, at the same time, tremendously increased the expectations of the program, which carry on to this day and hopefully will be in place for years to come.

“I’m extremely proud of the culture we’ve established here.”

Under Robertson, in addition to the All ‘A’ successes, the Lady Aces have fashioned a 236-88 record (.728), have won five KHSAA 3rd Region championships, eight 9th District championships and have never experienced a losing season.

“I’ve been blessed with loads of talent that’s gone through the school the past 20 years,” said

Robertson, who spent 10 seasons as an assistant u nder Zuberer. “Each year, Zube would give me more and more responsibilities, and I learned so much about coaching under him — he prepared me so well.

“I have a strong passion for basketball, a strong passion to coach, and I made a commitment to make this program as strong as it could possibly be. I’m just persistent that way. I believe in hard work, and I’ve been around the game long enough to know there are no shortcuts — you get out of it what you put into it.”

Through the years, Catholic has taken on all comers.

“We play a very tough schedule,” Robertson said, “and I believe that’s been very beneficial for us once we’ve reached tournament play, be it All ‘A’ or the postseason — it has prepared us to succeed at a very high level.”

The Owensboro Catholic culture includes an elementary league where girls begin to play organized basketball in third grade, which requires plenty of parental involvement.

“They start ‘em young here in basketball, and that’s one of the things that has helped

perpetuate the success of our program through the years,” Robertson said. “And this doesn’t happen without the involvement and the commitment of parents.

“We have a small-school environment, and so many of our players have grown up together and played basketball together since they were very young. This creates a bond that becomes very strong by the time they reach the high school level of competition.

“It has to be that ‘we over me’ mentality for us to succeed at the highest levels.”

Robertson said strong senior classes have helped make the Lady Aces’ program one of the most consistent in the commonwealth. This year’s senior group includes Katie Riney, Maddie Hayden, Lexie Keelin and Lauren Keelin.

“Our seniors have always been a tight-knit group,” Robertson said. “There have been times when I’ve wondered if we might be looking at a real rebuilding phase, but we’ve had strong senior groups cycle through here, and that’s allowed us to continue to have success at a pretty high level.

“This year’s group is no different, and I want to do everything I can to help them get to the top.”

S2 Messenger-Inqu I rer, Friday, November 25, 2022
Photo by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer | awarren@messenger-inquirer.com Owensboro Catholic’s Karmin Riley steals the ball from Muhlenberg County’s Brooklyn Stewart on March 28 during a game in the 3rd Region Basketball Tournament at the Sportscenter.

APOLLO HIGH SCHOOL BOYS

Apollo still seeking to turn the corner

Eagles are 15-89 in last four seasons

Third-year Apollo High School boys’ basketball coach Mark Starns doesn’t pull any punches when assessing his team’s outlook for 2022-23.

“There’s nowhere to go but up,” said Starns, whose second Eagles team struggled to a 2-26 record last season after going 5-13 in the COVID-riddled 2020-21 season. “Last season, we would be in a lot of games, be competitive for most of the game, but we lacked the maturity and experience to finish well.

“We’re working on being tougher, more intense and more competitive in our practices, and we’re hoping that will carry over to our games once the season starts — we don’t want a repeat of last season.”

Apollo will be led by junior forward Eli Masterson, who led the team in scoring (13.1 ppg) last season, and senior swingman Zjhan Tutt, who averaged 9.7 points and seven rebounds per contest.

“Eli is athletic and has a nose for the ball,” Starns said. “He’s a competitive kid who loves to play the game, and he has the ability to score the ball in multiple ways.

“Zjhan can be a dynamic player, one of the guys who really drives our team. He’s very athletic, and he hasn’t reached his potential — he can improve his production for us.”

Others expected to be in the mix for the Eagles include senior power forward Jayden Anderson, senior guard Jaren Stites, senior forward Michael Hein, senior forward Jackson Hardin and senior forward Morgan Eans.

“We need to discover who can score for us, and we need to have a lot of guys working hard on the glass, getting rebounds consistently, at both ends,” Starns said. “We have several players

with the potential to step up for us in a big way.”

Putting the ball in the basket is, of course, the name of the game.

“We had lulls in scoring last season that really hurt us,” Starns said. “We have to be better in this area, which goes hand-in-hand with finishing games well. We have to find ways to score late, when the game is on the line.

“Some of our opponents, we need to speed up and get some easy baskets, which was a struggle for us last season. Against others, we need to be efficient in running our half-court offense.

“From a defensive standpoint, we’re stressing being physical and aggressive, and I hope we press some of our opponents, which could also lead to

some easy baskets for us — we have to find ways to score quickly in transition.”

Improbably, Apollo, finishing 16-16, went to the state tournament under former Eagle star Steve Barker in 2017-18, but has since gone 15-89 (.114) — incredulous numbers for a program Parade High School All-American Rex Chapman and a host of other star players put on the map in the commonwealth a generation ago.

Starns has directed three teams to the KHSAA Sweet 16 — Fleming County (16th Region) in 2013 and 2014, and Johnson Central (15th Region) in 2006.

“We’re trying to establish a culture here, and it takes patience, it takes time,” Starns said. “I’m blessed with a tremendous staff that includes (former Apollo star) Tyler Brown, Buddy Hinton, Kris Crawford and Jacob Masterson. We’re all working hard to get this thing moving in the right direction.

“I hope we can get off to a good start, establish some early momentum and confidence and just take it from there.

“It all starts with having the right mindset each day, believing, as coaches and players, that we can turn the corner and be successful on the court.”

2022-23 SCHEDULE

11/29 at Evansville Christian School 7:30

12/2 at Webster County 7:30

12/9 at Owensboro Catholic 7

12/10 Bethlehem 6

12/16 Owensboro 7

12/17 Campbellsville 6

12/21 Walton-Verona at Capital

City Classic Holiday Tournament 5 12/28 Greenwood at Henderson

Chevrolet, Buick, GMC Classic 3

12/19 Allen County-Scottsville home 5:30

1/3 at Butler County 7:30

1/6 at Henderson County 7:30

1/7 at Garrard County Elleman

Contracting Classic 2:30

1/10 Hopkins County Central 7:30

1/13 Daviess County 7

1/14 at Edmonson County 7:30

1/17 at Breckinridge County 7

1/20 Owensboro Catholic 7

1/24 Grayson County 7:30

1/27 Trigg County 7:30

1/28 at Allen County-Scottsville 5

1/31 at Union County 6

2/3 Owensboro 6

2/4 at Logan County 4:30

2/7 Hancock County 7

2/10 at Daviess County 7

2/11 Whitesvsille Trinity 7

2/14 at Muhlenberg County 7:30

Friday, November 25, 2022, Messenger-Inqu I rer S3
Jayden Anderson Zjhan Tutt Jaren Stites Photo by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer | awarren@messenger-inquirer.com Apollo head coach Mark Starns goes over instructions during practice Nov. 4 at Apollo High School.

APOLLO HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS

E-Gals’ rebuilding process continues

Apollo reached regional semifinals last season

Two seasons ago, Apollo High School’s girls’ basketball program was the cream of the crop in the 3rd Region, with the E-Gals earning their first regional title and KHSAA state tournament appearance since 1997.

Last season, Apollo (15-17) began a rebuilding process that will continue this season, according to coach Natalie Payne.

“We’re still rebuilding, especially when you consider we lost Amaya Curry and Shelbie Beatty off last year’s team, two outstanding players who meant so much to the program for several years,” Payne said. “We worked through growing pains and wound up overachieving, reaching the regional semifinals. I was very proud of the strides we made last season.

“We’re still in that phase where we’re working on the basic fundamentals with a lot of young players, and we’re very young on the perimeter, so it’s going to take some time for this year’s team to reach its full potential.

“We’ll use the December portion of our schedule to find our identity and go from there. Hopefully, we’ll continue to get better as the season goes along.”

Among the top returnees for the E-Gals are senior guard Gracie Survant (2.2 ppg), sophomore point guard Gizelle Whitlock (2.3 ppg), junior center Jenna Dant (11.5 ppg), junior power forward Jennifer Lee (3.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg), freshman guard Kennedy Lane (5.8 ppg) and sophomore guard Heleina John (1.2 ppg).

“Gracie will provide much-needed vocal leadership, and Gizelle is a very athletic player with a quick first step who can cause a lot of havoc at the defensive end,” Payne said. “Jenna is a key presence for us on the inside, and she provides a lot of scoring, rebounding and experience

on the interior. She can average a double-double for us.

“Jennifer is very strong and not afraid of contact and will work well in a high-low post combination with Jenna. Kennedy is a pure scorer who can drive, pull up in the mid-range and shoot the 3, and Heleina is a versatile player who will create a mismatch for our opponents.”

Also in the mix is freshman guard Abby Sapp.

“Abby is a very capable player who is going to help us,” Payne said. “She’s going to get better and better as she gains more experience at the varsity level.”

Payne believes Apollo will ultimately be a versatile team capable of playing at

2022-23 SCHEDULE

11/28 at Union County 7:30

12/2 at South Warren 7:30

12/3 Louisville Butler, Independence Bank Tip-Off Classic, Owensboro Catholic, 1:30 12/6 at Webster County 7

12/9 at Owensboro Catholic 6

12/13 Meade County 7

12/16 Owensboro 5:30

12/20 Breckinridge County, Ohio County/Beaver Dam Tourism Hall of Fame Classic 3

12/21 Webster County, Ohio County/ Beaver Dam Tourism Hall of Fame Classic noon

12/22 Butler County, Ohio County/ Beaver Dam Tourism Hall of Fame Classic noon

12/28 Menifee County, South Warren FirstBank Holiday Bash 7

12/29 Taylor County, South

varying speeds.

“I think we have the personnel to push the ball up the court, but we’re also capable of being strong in the half-court game because we have two 6-footers

Warren FirstBank Holiday Bash 3

12/29 South Oldham, South Warren FirstBank Holiday Bash 7

1/3 at Henderson County 7

1/7 at McLean County 5:30

1/9 Barren County 7:30

1/13 Daviess County 5:30

1/17 at Evansville (Ind.) Bosse 7

1/20 Owensboro Catholic 5:30

1/21 Graves County 4:30

1/24 at Ohio County 7

1/31 Hancock County 7

2/3 at Owensboro 5:30

2/7 at Muhlenberg County 7

2/10 at Daviess County 5:30

2/11 at Hopkins County Central 4:30

2/13 at Breckinridge County 7

2/16 Madisonville-North Hopkins TBD

down low (Dant and Lee). As always, pace of play will be determined by the opponent — we want to set ourselves up in a way that will maximize our talent

S4 Messenger-Inqu I rer, Friday, November 25, 2022
Photo by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer | awarren@messenger-inquirer.com Apollo’s girls basketball players run sprints during practice Nov. 4 at Eagle Arena. Gizelle Whitlock Gracie Survant Jennifer Lee
SEE APOLLO/PAGE S20

DAVIESS COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL BOYS

DC will be looking to pound the paint

Hayden believes Panthers can contend

Coach Neil Hayden felt his Daviess County High School boys’ basketball team was about to turn the corner last season when, in January, leading scorer and rebounder Cole Burch broke his foot.

The Panthers never quite recovered, finishing 11-17 and falling to Owensboro Catholic in the first round of the 9th District Tournament.

Now, the Panthers are trying to recover again after Burch, a 6-foot-3 senior center who averaged 13.9 points and 7.9 rebounds in 18 games, re-injured his foot on the football field this fall.

Nonetheless, Hayden feels optimistic that the Panthers can make some noise in the 9th District and 3rd Region in 2022-23.

“I like who we are as a team,” Hayden said. “I think there’s a lot of balance in the region, and we can be in the mix if we can disrupt our opponents enough on defense to come away with some easy baskets. We need to improve our shot selection, make more 3-point baskets and continue to step it up a notch at the defensive end.

“We need to handle the ball well and score at a faster clip, and we need to shoot the ball better than we have the past couple of years. We have some athleticism and versatility that should help us improve in these areas.”

In addition to Burch, the Panthers will return senior point guard Jack Payne (6.5 ppg, 3 rpg) and junior swingman Gage Phelps (9.5 ppg, 3 rpg).

“Jack is probably our most experienced player, other than Cole, and his on-court leadership is invaluable,” Hayden said. “He was our leader in assists and our top 3-point shooter the past two years. He’s a coach’s son, so he knows how to play the game the right way.

“Gage will be one of our top scorers. He has a great mid-range game, and he just has a knack for scoring the basketball around the rim.”

Daviess County will also feature senior guard Denver Dickens, a transfer from Whitesville Trinity whose junior season was short-circuited by injury. In five games for the Raiders, though, he averaged 16.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.

“The thing about Denver is that he’s so versatile,” Hayden said. “He’s a great defender, he can handle the ball, and he can score. He’s also a very capable 3-point shooter.”

Others in the mix for DC include senior center-forward Evan Hillard, senior guard JR McCain, junior guard Houston Oberst and highly-touted sophomore guard Jaxon Brown.

“Evan is a big-body type who will help us on the inside, and JR is a team guy and a great defender,” Hayden said. “Houston is a great shooter.

“Jaxon is probably the best athlete we’ve had in the program since I’ve been here, and he’s going to be able to help us a lot as the season goes along.

“We have some pieces that can make us a quality basketball team, it’s just a matter of putting them together, playing as a unit

and committing to getting the job done at both ends of the court.”

So far, so good, according to Hayden.

“I’ve been very pleased with our work in the preseason — this seems to be a very focused group, a hard-working group that understands what it takes to succeed at a high level,” Hayden said. “I think we’ll more fully develop our identity as the season goes along, but I feel like we’ve made a lot of progress since the end of last season.”

In the always-tough 9th District, Hayden knows the Panthers must be at their best to contend.

“We need to rebound, take care of the ball and figure out ways to get some easy baskets during the course of the game,”

2022-23 SCHEDULE

11/28 at Edmonson County 7:30

12/2 Whitesville Trinity 7:30

2/6 at Butler County 7:30 12/9 at Owensboro 7

12/10 Warren East, at South Warren Sparty Classic 2:30

12/13 at Hancock County 7:30

12/16 at Owensboro Catholic 7

12/21 Taylor County, at Edmonson County Rafferty’s Caveland Classic 3:45

12/22 Metcalfe County, at Edmonson County Rafferty’s Caveland Classic 3:45

12/23 Southwestern, at Edmonson County Rafferty’s Caveland Classic 12:30

12/28 South Warren, at Grayson County Owensboro Health Holiday Classic 1

1/6 Ohio County 7:30

1/10 Breckinridge County 7:30

1/13 at Apollo 7

1./17 at Meade County 5:30

1/19 Henderson County 7:30

1/21 at Warren East 3:30

1/24 Bluegrass Blazers 7:30

1/27 Owensboro 7

1/28 Webster County 4:30

1/31 Muhlenberg County 7:30

2/3 Owensboro Catholic 7

2/4 Evansville (Ind.) Day School, Ruoff Mortgage Classic, Sportscenter 12:15

2/7 at McLean County 7

2/10 Apollo 7

2/14 at Grayson County 7

2/16 Union County 7:30

he said. “We’ve got to pound the offensive glass and get second-chance points against the better teams, there’s no doubt about it.

“At the end of the day, it’s going to come down to this question, ‘Did we win in the paint?’ When we win the paint, the stats show that we win 75% of our games — so, for us, this is what makes the difference.”

Friday, November 25, 2022, Messenger-Inqu I rer S5
Photo by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer | awarren@messenger-inquirer.com Daviess County’s Jack Payne heads up court after a rebound during practice Nov. 3 at Daviess County High School. Evan Hillard Gage Phelps JR McCain

DAVIESS COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS

Daviess girls eager to take next step

Lady Panthers won 18 games in Haile’s debut

Daviess County High School’s girls’ basketball program went 18-12 in the first season of the Stephen Haile era in 2021-22, but the Lady Panthers left some meat on the bone when they were eliminated by Apollo in the first round of the 9th District Tournament.

A year older, wiser and more familiar with Haile’s philosophy, DC will look to take a step up in Year Two.

“We got better toward the end of the season, by which time I understood our players better and they understood me better,” Haile said. “We were young in some spots, playing three freshmen quite a few minutes, but I thought we grew as a team as the season progressed.

“We have more overall athleticism in the program this season, and we’re going to need it because our schedule is going to be much, much tougher this time around.”

Leading the way for Daviess County will be longtime standout Adylan Ayer, a senior guard who led the squad in scoring (12.2 ppg) and rebounding (5.6 rpg) last season.

“Adylan continues to get better for us,” Haile said. “Not only is she a very good player, she’s turned into the leader we need her to be. She’s working hard every day, leading by example and holding her teammates accountable.”

Another key player will be 5-11 sophomore forward Zoey Beehn (7 ppg, 4.3 rpg).

“Zoey is a strong inside player who has learned to finish better at the rim,” Haile said. “She has the ability to score inside and out, and she’s capable of being a very good rebounder for us — something we need her to be.”

A big loss is sophomore guard Lily Hoagland, who is likely out for the season following ankle surgery. Last season, as a freshman, Hoagland was the team’s second-leading scorer at 10 points per game.

Other key returnees include senior

forward Madison Spurrier (5.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg), senior forward Maggie Hancock, sophomore point guard Emme Roberts and freshman guard Briley Henry (3.0 ppg).

“Madison has improved her outside shooting and is improved overall with a summer of AAU ball,” Haile said. “Maggie hustles and rebounds and plays her role well.

“Emme has improved her shot and just needs more varsity experience to be a key factor, and Briley shoots the ball very well — she could emerge as a starter for us.”

Freshman guard Molly Hancock also figures to challenge for playing time.

“We’ll be young on the bench,” Haile said,

2022-23 SCHEDULE

11/29 South Warren 7:30

12/3 Bullitt East, at Owensboro Catholic Independence Bank Tip-OFF Classic 3 12/6 Hancock County 7 12/9 at Owensboro 5:30 12/10 at Logan County, 3:30 12/13 McCracken County 7:30 12/16 at Owensboro Catholic 6 12/21 Castle (Ind.), Independence Bank Kentucky-Indiana Classic, Sportscenter 3 12/22 Evansviille (Ind) Reitz, Independence Bank Kentucky-IndianaClassic Sportscenter 5:15

12/27 Westmoreland (Tenn.), Allen-County Scottsville Lady Invitational of the South 12:45

1/3 Muhlenberg County 7:30

1/6 at Henderson County 5:30

1/7 Lyon County 5

1/9 Hopkinsville 7:30

1/13 at Apollo 5:30

1/14 Pulaski County, Hancock County House Insurance Coaches Cancer Shootout 2

1/17 Christian County 7:30

1/19 at Breckinridge County 7:30

1/21 Marshall County, Muhlenberg County Farmers Bank & Trust Lady Mustang Classic 3

1/23 at Webster County 7:30

1/27 Owensboro 5:30

1/30 McLean County 7:30

2/3 Owensboro Catholic 5:30

2/7 Madisonville-North Hopkins 7:30

2/10 Apollo 5:30

2/11 Elizabethtown, Breckinridge County Kentucky Vintage Tees Classic 4:30

2/13 at Whitesville Trinity 7:30

2/17 at Meade County 6:30

S6 Messenger-Inqu I rer, Friday, November 25, 2022
Photo by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer | awarren@messenger-inquirer.com Daviess County’s Maggie Hancock goes up for a layup during practice Nov. 3 at Daviess County High School.
SEE STEP/PAGE S20
Adylan Ayer Madison Spurrier Zoey Beehn

OWENSBORO HIGH SCHOOL BOYS

Owensboro’s goals remain lofty

Red Devils tallied 22 victories last season

Owensboro High School’s boys’ basketball team experienced a solid season in 2021-22, leading the 3rd Region in victories (22) against only eight defeats, but McLean County stunned Owensboro by 16 points in the regional tournament semifinals.

That upset notwithstanding, veteran OHS coach Rod Drake — who directed the Devils to the 2015 KHSAA state cham pionship — felt good about the season overall and feels better about the one to come.

“I thought we had a great season, but at the end of it we kind of hit the the wall, and we weren’t able to accomplish what we wanted to — the standards are high here,” said Drake, also a key player on Owensboro’s 1980 state championship squad.

“We played a lot of guys at a lot of posi tions last season, and we’re really excited about the players we have coming back. We’re really excited abut the possibilities this season.”

Leading the way will be battle-tested senior guard Kenyata Carbon, who aver aged team-highs of 20.3 points and 7.8 rebounds as a junior, shooting better than 49% from the floor and a team-best 74% from the foul stripe.

“Kenyata has been our leader the past couple of years,” Drake said. “He’s a tough, hard-nosed player who isn’t afraid of the big moment.”

The likely point guard will be freshman Jonathan Moss.

“He’s a natural point guard, a heady player who knows how to play the game,” Drake said. “He wants the basketball in his hands, makes good decisions, and he’s one of those guys who makes everyone else better.”

Others in the mix include senior guard Cayman Powell (5.9 ppg), sophomore swingman Will Hume (3.2 ppg), senior swingman Jalen Rogers (4.6 ppg), senior

swingman Talas Taylor (6.2 ppg) and sophomore forward-center Keaton Hughes (2 ppg)

“Cayman is a great defender who will play off the ball this year, and his confi dence level has really gone up,” Drake said. “Talas and Will are very good perim eter shooters.

“Jaylen is a strong kid who can shoot and has a very consistent game. Keaton came on late for us last season and should be ready to step up and play a bigger role for us.”

The Red Devils lost a key player to graduation in veteran swingman Amari Robinson Wales (19.6 ppg), but that could be offset if Owensboro Catholic transfer Ji Webb, a 6-6 senior post player, is deemed eligible to play by the KHSAA. Last sea son, Webb averaged team-highs of 18.6

points and nine rebounds per game for the Aces.

No matter the personnel OHS puts on the floor, the team’s style of play will remain the same — fast.

“We never change that — it’s a fun way to play, getting up and down the court like we do,” Drake said. “We’ll press on defense and force the pace when we have the ball. We’re always looking to turn the opposition over and get easy baskets. That has been, and will remain, a huge part of our identity.”

Drake said the Red Devils need to sharpen the saw in a few areas.

“We want to play even better defense than we’ve played in the past, and we want to make rebounding a primary focus on both ends of the court,” Drake said. “Other than that, we want to take care of the basketball and limit careless mis takes.”

“We have several key players who gained a valuable year of varsity experi ence last season, so I look for us to show improvements in all these areas.”

The goals, of course, remain lofty at Owensboro.

“We want to improve our team as the year goes along,” Drake said. “We face a very competitive schedule once again, and

I think that will prepare us for tournament time when we want to be in position to win championships.”

2022-23 SCHEDULE

11/29 Hancock County 7

12/2 at Evansville Christian School 7

2/5 Warren Central 7:15

12/9 Daviess County 7

12/10 at Heritage Hills (Ind.) 7

12/13 Evansville (Ind,) Central 7

12/14 Evansvile (Ind.) Harrison 7

12/16 at Apollo 7

12/28 Whitesville Trinity, Independence Bank Classic, Sportscenter TBD

12/29 McLean County, Independence Bank Classic, Sportscenter 3:45

1/3 at Breckinridge County 7

1/7 at McCracken County

Mustang Madness, 3:30

1/13 Owensboro Catholic 7:30

1/20 Evansville (Ind.) Bosse 7

1/24 at Madisonville-North Hopkins 7:30

1/27 at Daviess County 7

1/28 at Hopkinsvsille 3:30

2/3 at Apollo 7

2/7 at Bowling Green 7:30

2/10 at Owensboro Catholic 7:15

2/14 Ohio County 7

2/17 Henderson County 7

Friday, November 25, 2022, Messenger-Inqu I rer S7
Photo by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer | awarren@messenger-inquirer.com Owensboro head coach Rod Drake gives his players instructions during a drill at practice Nov. 7 at Owensboro High School.

OWENSBORO HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS

Lady Devils eager for turnaround

Depth-laden OHS ready to contend

Look out for the Lady Devils. The Owensboro High School girls’ basketball team appears poised to take a significant step in the right direction in 2022-23, with the return of every key player from last year’s squad and the addition of two first-rate transfers.

“We’re very excited about what we’re putting together here,” said OHS coach Jansen Locher, whose team went 13-16 last season, falling to Owensboro Catholic in the first round of the 9th District Tournament. “We feel like we have all the pieces to the puzzle that we need, and it’s just going to be a matter of putting everything together and discovering where all the pieces fit.

“Our players love playing the game with each other, and we’re all determined to have a very successful sea son — our goals include making strong challeng es for 9th District and 3rd Region champion ships.”

Leading the way will be junior guard A’Lyr ica Hughes, who led Owensboro in scoring (15.1 ppg) and rebounding (8.6 rpg) last season.

“A’Lyrica does it all for us,” Locher said of the longtime Lady Devils stand out. “She’s had to bear so much of the load before, but now we have more pieces around her, which will allow her

to be more of a playmaker and distribu tor of the basketball.

“We’ll still count on A’Lyrica to score and rebound, but there will be others on the court with her who can help in both areas.”

Other returnees include freshman guard Unique Carter-Swanigan (6.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg), senior guard-forward Chan dler Worth (7.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg), senior guard-forward Lindsey Gibson (5.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg), junior center Lizy Phillips (6.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg), junior center Trinity Hogg (2 ppg, 2.7 rpg), junior guard Emma Wilkins (2 ppg) and senior guard Melia Moorman, who has been plagued by knee injuries throughout her career.

“Unique is one of the top on-ball defenders in the region, and she’s becoming a more effective scorer,” Locher said. “Chandler is a natural ath lete who helps us in a lot of ways, Lind sey made the most 3-pointers for us last year, and both Lizy Phillips and Trinity

Hogg have a strong inside presence.

“Emma and Melia will add to our depth, which is going to be consider able.”

The addition of two transfers, senior guard CJ Paige from Daviess County (2.5 ppg, 2.1 rpg) and senior forward K’Asia Palmer from Apollo (1.5 ppg, 6 rpg), should also provide a significant impact.

“Their transition into our program has been great,” Locher said of Paige and Palmer. “K’Asia’s a smart player who makes good decisions, and she really gets on the boards. CJ is a good shooter and ball-handler who is improving every day at the defensive end.”

With such a deep roster. Locher said his team plans to run, run and run some more this season.

“We want to make it an up-and-down full-court game throughout the game — speed the opposition up, force them into mistakes and get some easy baskets

2022-23 SCHEDULE

11/2 Evansville (Ind.) Bosse 7 11/29 at Ohio County 7

12/2 Christian County, Owensboro Catholic Independence Bank Tip-Off Classic 7

12/6 Muhlenberg County 7:30

12/9 Daviess County 5:30 12/10 at Evansville (Ind.) Reitz 12:30 12/16 at Apollo 5:30

12/19 Grayson County 7:30

12/21 Scott, Independence Bank Kentucky-Indiana Classic Sportscenter 12:30

12/22 Evansville (Ind.) Memorial Independence Bank Kentucky-Indiana Classic, Sportscenter 2:15

12/27 Springfield (Tenn.), Allen County-Scottsville Lady Invitational of the South 7:15

1/6 Owensboro Catholic 7

1/7 at Caldwell County 2:30

1/9 at Whitesville Trinity 6

1/10 at Union County 7:30

1/12 Hancock County 7

1/17 at Meade County 7

1/21 at Central Hardin 1:30

1/27 at Daviess County 5:30

1/30 Webster County 7:30

2/3 Apollo 5:30

2/4 at Henderson County 1:30

2/6 Breckinridge County 7

2/10 at Owensboro Catholic 6

2/13 Madisonville-North Hopkins 7 2/16 at South Warren 7:30

out of it,” he said. “When you have the type of depth we have, every girl can go full speed the entire time they’re on the court, and we will still have fresh players out there at the end of games.

“We’ll force the pace at both ends, we’ll press, and we’ll take advantage of our overall athleticism as much as we can.

“This is the most complete team I’ve had here, and once we learn how to play together, get some wins under our belt and gain some confidence, we’re going to be a tough out. We want to become the type of team that is competitive, night in and night out, and I believe we’re going to get there.”

S8 Messenger-Inqu I rer, Friday, November 25, 2022
Photo by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer | Owensboro’s A’Lyrica Hughes tries to steal the ball from Tavyonna Greer during prac tice Nov. 7 at Owensboro High School. Chandler Worth Lindsey Gibson Unique CarterSwanagan

OWENSBORO CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL BOYS

Aces are planning to push the pace

Catholic will be led by veteran PG Griffith

Owensboro Catholic has become a consistent 3rd Region Tournament contender under veteran head coach Tim Riley, and, despite the departure of one of the area’s most talented players, the Aces figure to be in the hunt again in 2022-23.

“The last two seasons we’ve had a legit imate shot at the regional championship,” said Riley, who led Catholic to 3rd Region Tournament titles in 2016 and 2020. “Last year, we won 17 games and were playing decent at the end of the year, but Brian Griffith got hurt in the first round of the (9th) district tournament.”

The Aces lost to Owensboro in the 9th District Tournament championship game and were eliminated by eventual cham pion Muhlenberg County in the opening round of the 3rd Region Tournament.

Now, the Aces seek to step up, but they must do it without 6-foot-6 forward Ji Webb, the team’s leading scorer (18.6 ppg) and rebounder (9 rpg) last season. Webb is enrolled at Owensboro and is seeking clearance from the Kentucky High School Athletic Association to com pete for the rival Red Devils.

The cupboard, however, is hardly bare for Catholic.

Griffith, one of the most potent point guards in western Kentucky, returns for his final season after averaging 18.4 points per game last season. He has scored 1,567 career points and is within striking dis tance of James ‘Pootney’ McNary’s school record (1,937).

“Griff is a great all-around player, a true force on the court,” Riley said. “I’m so proud of his development as both a player and a person. He’ll lead the way for us out there.”

Also back are seniors Parker Gray (13 ppg, 2.7 rpg) and Tutt Carrico (7.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg).

“We have to have scoring from Park

er, who is a consistent playmaker and ball-handler,” Riley said. “And, Tutt should average double-figure points for us this season — he’s just a strong, com petitive kid who is pretty versatile in the front court.”

A large junior class includes guard Reid Clark (2.7 ppg), forward Deuce Sims (2.3 ppg), forward Noah Johnson, guard Kaiser Frick, swingman Henry Moore and center Jody Hobgood.

“Reid is tough and hard-nosed, a team guy, and Deuce is a very active player who flies around and plays with a lot of effort,” Riley said. “Noah has a high basketball IQ and is probably our best shooter when he’s set.”

Sophomores expected to make signif icant impacts include Luke Beickman,

Vince Carrico, Waryn Ebelhar and Brady Atwell.

“Atwell has great size and ability,” Riley said.

The Aces appear to be more athletic, overall, according to Riley.

“We’ve got more players than we’ve had in the past who can put the ball on the floor and drive to the basket,” Riley said. “This has been encouraging to see.”

Concerns include rebounding.

“This is our big concern — we have to find a way to rebound the basketball at both ends, get multiple shot attempts on possessions,” Riley said. “To start the sea son, we’ll be inexperienced along the front line, and it’s just going to take some time for our young, talented players to gain var sity experience.”

2022-23 SCHEDULE

11/29 Greenwood 5:30

12/3 Butler County 7:30

12/6 at Hancock County 7

12/9 Apollo 7

12/13 Whitesville Trinity, All ‘A’ 3rd Region Tournament 7:30

12/16 Daviess County 7

12/19 vs. Webster County, at Madisonville-North Hopkins First United Bank Holiday Classic 1 12/28 Fleming County, Independence Bank Classic, Sportscenter 7:15 12/29 Edmonson County, Independence Bank Classic, Sportscente 7:15

1/7 at Meade County 7

1/10 at Evansville (Ind.) Memorial 7:30

1/13 at Owensboro 7

1/17 Ohio County 7:30

1/20 at Apollo 7

1/23 Grayson County 7

1/31 Madisonville-North Hopkins 7:30

2/3 at Daviess County 7

2/7 Muhlenberg County 7:30

2/10 Owensboro 7:15

2/11 at Warren East 7:30

2/14 at Breckinridge County 7 2/16 at Evansville (Ind.) Reitz 7:15

Despite the loss of Webb and Kajarius Barber (5.6 ppg, 4.6 rpg), who transferred back to Warren East, Riley believes his team’s roster is deep enough to push the pace.

“We want to play faster than we have played the past couple of years, and I think we’re going to be able to do this,” Riley said. “We want to turn teams over and get some easy baskets — this is a definite goal, something we really need to do to be the best team we can be.

“We have a challenging schedule, and we have to, as group, be ready to play every time we step on that floor.”

Friday, November 25, 2022, Messenger-Inqu I rer S9
Photo by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer | geans@messenger-inquirer.com Owensboro Catholic’s Luke Beickman runs through drills during a team practice Nov. 4 at the high school. Brian Griffith Parker Gray Tutt Carrico

OWENSBORO CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS

Lady Aces are talented — and deep

Catholic won 26 of 36 games last season

Owensboro Catholic’s girls’ basketball program is coming off another banner season under Michael Robertson, and the veteran coach believes the Lady Aces have a chance to shine again in 2022-23.

Last season, Catholic was runner-up to Owen County in the All ‘A’ Classic small-school state tournament, won the 9th District Tournament and advanced to the semifinals of the 3rd Region Tournament.

“We’re coming off a good year, and I feel we’ll battle for district and regional championships again, make another strong run in the All ‘A’ Classic,” said Robertson, whose team finished 26-10 last season. “This is one of the more athletic teams I’ve had, and this senior group wants to go out with a bang, so there’s a lot of incentive to go out and play hard and play well.”

Leading the way will be senior Katie Riney, a steady senior point guard who has been part of the OCHS varsity program since 8th grade. Last season, Riney averaged 5.6 points and a team-best 5.1 rebounds per game.

“She’s the brains, the quarterback on the court for us,” Robertson said of Riney. “Katie is invaluable because she does so much on the court.”

Other seniors include forward Maddie Hayden and the guard-forward tandem of twin sisters Lexie Keelin and Lauren Keelin.

“Maddie has a big motor, and she’s pretty versatile for us,” Robertson said. “Lexie is a good 3-point shooter, and Lauren does a good job driving to the basket — all of these players are very good defensively.”

Also back is junior guard Hailee Johnson, the team’s leading scorer at 12.4 points per game, and junior forward Jenna Krampe.

“Hailee’s the one player on our team who can break teams down off the dribble,” Robertson said. “She’s also a solid rebounder, and she’s improved her perimeter shooting.

“Jenna is a lot like Maddie (Hayden). She plays hard all over the court.”

Also returning are sophomore guard and second-leading scorer Karmin Riley (12.2 ppg) and sophomore forward Aubrey Randolph.

“Karmin is an excellent 3-point shooter and free-throw shooter, and I look for her to expand her game this season,” Robertson said. “Aubrey has unbelievable athleticism, and we’ll utilize her a lot when we press.”

Two others who will battle for playing time include sophomore center Jaiden Grant and Allie Marston, an eighth-grade guard.

The Lady Aces will be relatively small, but plenty deep.

“We have no true size, so we’re going to have to go up and down the court, maximize our depth and play a lot of girls in the process,” Robertson said. “I think we’re going to be effective with our press, and our half-court defense should be solid because of our versatility.

“We’ve got to utilize our depth to the fullest and wear down our opponents.”

Robertson believes the Lady Aces’ collective mindset will go a long way toward determining the team’s fate.

“We need to play together, play as a team and not focus on individual accolades,” Robertson said. “We need to be tough and unselfish, and we need to react the right way to adversity. When things go bad in games, we have to keep our heads high and move on to the next play.

“It all comes down to maturity. We have several players who have been through the battles — we have players who are

2022-23 SCHEDULE

11/28 Castle (Ind.) 7

12/1 at Webster County 7

12/3 Silver Creek (Ind.), Independence Bank Tip-Off Classic 9 12/3 Elizabethtown, Independence Bank Tip-Off Classic 6 12/09 Apollo 6 12/10 Benton (Ill.) US Bank Shootout 5 10/13 at Whitesville Trinity, All ‘A’ 3rd Region Tournament 6

12/16 Daviess County 6

12/19 Corbin, Queen of the Commonwealth 2 12/29 Webster County 5:45

1/6 at Owensboro 7

1/10 at Muhlenberg County 7:30

1/14 at McCracken County 12:30

1/17 Madisonville-North Hopkins 7 1/20 at Apollo 5:30

1/21 Southwestern, Mercy Academy Raatz Fench/O’Sheas Classic 11:15

2/3 at Daviess County 5:30

2/7 Meade County 7

2/10 Owensboro 6

2/11 Bowling Green, Breckinridge County Kentucky Vintage Tees Classic 1:30

2/13 Henderson County 7

2/17 Breckinridge County 7

ready to step up and be leaders.”

Robertson knows, however, that nothing will come easy tor his team.

“We probably have four of the top five or six teams right here in the 9th District, so we’re going to be challenged every time we step on the court against a district opponent — plus, our overall schedule is such that we’ve got to be ready to play every night.

“But the potential is there for our team — we can be as good as we want to be.”

S10 Messenger-Inqu I rer, Friday, November 25, 2022
Photo by Alan Warren, Messenger-Inquirer | awarren@messenger-inquirer.com Owensboro Catholic’s Karmin Riley dribbles to start a drill with Hailee Johnson next in line during practice at Owensboro Catholic High School. Katie Riney Lauren Keelin Lexie Keelin

10TH DISTRICT BOYS

Mustangs eye third straight region title

continue working just like we have the past two years.

“The goal this season is the same that it has been before. We expect to compete for the regional title in March, and I think we have a great shot at winning it again.”

hands. He is a tough matchup in the post, but he can also step outside and shoot at a high percentage,” Morris said. “Madox has improved his offensive game this summer, along with his ball-handling.

MCLeAn COunTY

Muhlenberg County has won back-to-back 3rd Region championships, and, despite a coaching change at the top, the Mustangs have designs on making a third consecutive trip to Rupp Arena for the Sweet Sixteen in March.

“Obviously, winning the region in back-to-back years is great, but now that is over and it is time to focus on this season,” said first-year head coach Aaron Morris, who takes over for Kyle Eades. “Our players have been able to see that what we do works for us, and we will

Among Muhlenberg’s top returnees is senior forward Kadin Ray (5 ppg, 4 rpg last season).

“Kadin is a player that any coach would love to have on their roster,” Morris said. “Nobody plays the game harder than Kadin. He is a leader on and off the floor, and he is our most experienced varsity player this year. He can score the ball from many spots on the floor, and he is an excellent rebounder.”

Also back are senior forward Chandler Moore, junior guard Madox Jernigan and sophomore forward Kanyon Johnson.

“Chandler has great size but is also very good with the basketball in his

“Kanyon is a versatile player who will be a tough matchup for other teams. He is very athletic, has improved his outside shooting and can play many different spots on the floor.”

Morris believes the Mustangs will evolve into a title contender.

“Our team is going to be inexperienced early on in the year,” he said. “Our main focus so far in practice has been building chemistry among players on the floor.

“We will play a difficult schedule that will provide us with plenty of opportunities to grow and develop into a regional title contender at the end of the season.”

The Cougars came close to making their first KHSAA state tournament appearance last season, dropping a 13-point decision to 10th District rival Muhlenberg County in the 3rd Region Tournament championship game.

Now, McLean wants it all.

“We have a solid nUcleus back, with four of our top six players returning from our regional finalist team that finished 21-11,” Cougars head coach Darren Lynam said. “We are coming off our third winning season in a row and have won 60 games over the past three seasons. We are hoping to make this the fourth consecutive winning season for the program.”

Leading the way for McLean will be senior guard Jaxon Floyd, who averaged

Friday, November 25, 2022, Messenger-Inqu I rer S11
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10TH DISTRICT GIRLS

Lady Eagles want to build on success

Muhlenberg, McLean seek spot at the top

Ohio County High School’s girls’ basketball team got it done last season, winning the 10th District Tournament, and the Lady Eagles will be looking for more in 2022-23.

“The expectations will remain the same here at Ohio County,” veteran coach Ted Hill said. “We want to put a quality product on the floor every season. It was a way of life for many years with our athletes, and we are trying to establish that here again.”

The Lady Eagles will be led by senior Camryn Kennedy, who averaged 8.7 points and 3.5 rebounds per game last season

“She’s our top returning player,” Hill said of Kennedy. “She started all of last year and was our most consistent player, overall. She is a five-tool player and a good athlete.”

Others who figure to play key roles include senior Skylar Gray, along with juniors Corey Milam and Brooklyn Rhoades. All three have some varsity experience and will have to take their game to another level, according to Hill.

Ohio County features a large sophomore class, led by Ella Decker.

“She is a hard-working kid who should, over time, be one of the better players in the region,” Hill said of Decker.

Emerson Gray and newcomer Kaitlyn Wilson got off to fast starts in the preseason and will be major contributors this season.

Freshman Lily-Kate Hill and eighth-grader Celeste Jachimowicz will see action at point guard.

“Both are talented and have a bright future,” Hill said.

Hill believes quality leadership will be vital for this season’s team to succeed.

“We need our veteran players to stay healthy,” Hill said. “Being so young, we need their leadership on the floor.

“Winning the district championship last season was the first step in our process.

Though we are building off that, we lost six very talented seniors. We spent the summer getting our young kids experience at the varsity level and trying to get our kids to mesh together with all the newcomers.”

MuHLenBerg COunTY

The Lady Mustangs took a step in the right direction last season, going 10-17 and losing by a point to rival Ohio County in the 10th District Tournament championship game — this, after winning just two of 15 games in 2020-21.

Now, longtime coach Mike Harper will be hoping to put his team back at the top in a highly competitive district.

“We didn’t have any seniors on the team last season, so we have everyone back,” Harper said. “We feel like we have improved a great deal since this point last year and are in a better position to start the season. Our kids are more confident and have more experience as a unit at the varsity level.”

Seniors Sarah-Cate Boggess (10 ppg, 6.2 rpg), Macy Fields (6.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg), Aven Proffitt (7.3 ppg) and Rachael Joines (2.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg) provide ample experience.

“Sarah-Cate is a four-year starter and a steady presence on the floor for our team,” Harper said. “Macy is our primary ball-handler, and she played with much more confidence at the end of last season.

“Aven is a 3-point shooting threat, and Rachael really plays hard for us.”

Also back is leading scorer and rebounder Brooklyn Stewart, a junior who averaged 12.3 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.

“Brooklyn’s an aggressive player who competes on every possession,” Harper said.

Others in the mix include junior Makaya Duvall, junior Emma Cox, junior Olivia Cox, sophomore Taylor Wilkins and freshman Izzy Wilkins, who had some big games as an eighth-grader.

“I think it’s important to have some success early so our kids can maintain the confidence they’ve gained over the summer and in early practice,” Harper said. “As with any team, I believe we can

S12 Messenger-Inqu I rer, Friday, November 25, 2022
SEE SUCCESS/PAGE S17
2022 Expires12/31/2022 SERVICE PACKAGE $11995 PLUS TAX
Photo by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer | geans@messenger-inquirer.com Ohio County’s Skylar Gray during a team practice Nov. 9 at Ohio County High School.

Hancock County High School’s boys’ basketball program figures to make some serious noise in the 11th District and 3rd Region this season, as the Hornets return no less than 95% of the scoring and rebounding produced by last year’s team, which finished 15-17 and reached the semifinal round of the regional tournament.

“Getting to the semifinals of the region was good for us to build on,” Hancock County coach Mike Orr said. “The next step is try and get back and try and contend for the regional championship.

“With more depth we try and push the ball a little more. We can play a variety of ways because of our ability to score in a variety of ways. Defensively, we switched to man-to-man last year, and it really gave us a big push the last third of the season and in the postseason.”

Leading the way will be senior forward Kaleb Keown, who averaged 15 points and eight rebounds per game in 2021-22.

“Kaleb has the ability to score inside and out,” Orr said. “He can be a horse on the boards, and he’s much quicker than he was in past seasons.”

Also back are senior forward Ryan Ogle (14 ppg, 6 rpg), senior guard Devyn Powers (15 ppg), senior swingman Evan Ferry (10 ppg, 6 rpg), senior swingman Luke Brown (3 ppg) and football star Cole Dixon, a senior guard

“Ryan plays the post with a variety of inside moves and is also a threat from 3-point range,” Orr said. “Devyn has gotten better every year and is an excellent shooter, and Evan is a very heady point guard and floor leader who makes others better.

“Luke, our sixth man last season, is very aggressive, and Cole, who is an excellent athlete, has returned to the program and will make a huge impact.”

Now, Orr seeks to put it all together.

“How well we can consistently defend

11TH DISTRICT BOYS

will be key,” he said. “We need to be more consistent, overall, to be the best that we can be.”

BreCKInrIDge COunTY

The Fighting Tigers are looking to take a big step forward this season, according to head coach Jeff LaGrange.

“I think we are a wild card,” LaGrange said. “We no longer have the excuse of being young or inexperienced. We have some good returning pieces as well as some new pieces. Now we just have to figure out how to fit all of those pieces together to help us be successful.

“If we can play how we want to play and how we are capable of playing, we could surprise some people.”

Those who figure to make an impact include 6-foot-8 senior center Hunter Barr, sophomore point guard Mercer Rogers and senior swingman Lane Taul.

“Hunter has lots of skills inside and out, and we are trying to get him to sharpen those skills and be more physical and aggressive,” LaGrange said. “He has potential for a breakout year.

“Mercer was asked to do a lot as a freshman on an inexperienced team last

2022-23 SCHEDULE

HANCOCK COUNTY

11/29 at Owensboro 7

12/2 at Perry Central (Ind.) 7

12/6 Owensboro Catholic 7

12/12 Cloverport 7

12/13 Daviess County 7:30

12/16 Breckinridge County 7

12/17 South Warren 7

12/19 Graves County 5:30

12/20 Spring Hill (Tenn.) 11

12/20 Bluegrass Blazers 7

1/9 at Muhlenberg County 7:30

1/10 at Tell City (Ind.) 7

1/20 Meade County 8

1/27 at Ohio County 7

1/30 at Cloverport

2/3 at Meade County 7

2/4 Union County TBD

2/7 at Apollo 7

2/10 at Breckinridge County 7

2/13 at Henderson County 7:30

2/14 Whitesville Trinity 7:30

2/17 Grayson County 7:30

year, and Lane has added strength and improved his shooting and defense.”

LaGrange, whose team went 7-20 a year ago, believes his team’s depth is an asset.

“We want to play harder, be more aggressive and be tougher — physically and mentally,” he said. “We will play a lot of bodies and hope to wear people down on both ends of the floor.

“We feel like we have 10 different guys on this team that are capable of leading us in scoring on any given night and all add different things that can help us win.

“We’ve gotten complete buy-in from everyone now about our expectations for this program, and the next step is to get back to the top of the region and compete for region championships every year.”

MeADe COunTY

It’s rebuilding time for the Green Wave, who won the 11th District Tournament

championship despite an overall record of 11-17.

“We are a young and inexperienced team,” Meade County coach Jason Tripure said. “We have a couple of seniors with no varsity experience, a couple of juniors who had quality playing time last season and the other juniors and sophomores saw mostly JV time last year.”

Leading the way for the Green Wave will be juniors Garrett Hardesty (5 ppg) and Payton Johnson (7.1 ppg).

“Garrett is a kid who can score in multiple ways,” Tripure said, “and Peyton is another kid who scores for us — he had some big games for us last year as a sophomore.”

Tripure says Meade must be efficient to be effective.

“We need to take care of the ball and score with more consistency,” he said.

Friday, November 25, 2022, Messenger-Inqu I rer S13
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11TH DISTRICT GIRLS

Hancock County seeks fast start

be successful.”

Now, Husk believes, it’s time for his team to shine

Coming off a 10-19 season that included a 15-point loss to Breckinridge County in the first round of the 11th District Tournament, the Hancock County High School girls’ basketball team is seeking to step up.

“We need to find success as a team and not depend so much on one or two players,” Lady Hornets coach Kevin Husk said. “We need to play at a good pace, keep the game up and down.with good pace — keep the game up and down”

Hancock County will also be seeking a faster start to the new season.

“We started slow last year, going 2-8,” Husk said. “We did a lot of learning on the court — the girls really fought all season and grew so much on the court. We finished the second part of the season going 8-11 and played strong competition during that stretch.

“With everyone returning from last year’s team, we’re looking to take the next step and make it to the regional tournament and see if we can make some noise once we’re there.”

The Lady Hornets will be led by senior guard Bailey Poole, who averaged 14.6 points per game as a junior. Poole is a quality 3-point and free-throw shooter.

“Bailey looks focused starting her senior year,” Husk said, “and she is ready to help lead this team to the region tournament.”

Other key returnees include junior guard Ella House (10.5 ppg, 7 rpg), junior guard-forward Lily Roberts (12 ppg, 5 rpg) and senior Emma Morris.

“Ella is the heart and soul of our team,” Husk said. “The team feeds off of her energy. She’s the grittiest kid I’ve ever coached and continues to develop her game.

“Lily is a tough matchup with her guard and low-post skills. She’ll continue to improve and look even stronger this year on the court.

“And Emma is so selfless and is willing to do whatever she needs to do for this team to

“Teams that play the Lady Hornets will need to be ready from the start,” Husk said. “We’ll mix it up on defense and offense but will always play with pace — keep the game up and down the court, with all-out effort all the time.”

BreCKInrIDge COunTY

The Lady Tigers won 26 of 33 games and made it all the way to the 3rd Region championship game in 2021-22, but this will be a season to rebuild, according to coach Chad Moorman.

“We lost a key group of seniors and will be rebuilding,” Moorman said, “but we have a great core to build around to continue the program’s success.

“We will be young in a lot of areas, but this group has had the opportunity to make their

2022-23 SCHEDULE

HANCOCK COUNTY

11/29 at Whitesville Trinity 6

12/1 South Spencer (Ind.) 7

12/3 Louisville Fairdale 11:30

12/5 Cannelton (Ind.) 6

12/6 at Daviess County 7

12/10 McLean County 2:30

12/12 Cloverport 6

12/16 Breckinridge County 5:30

12/20-22 at Bullitt Central Autokiniton Christmas Classic

12/29 at Springs Valley (Ind.) 1:30

1/7 at Evansville (Ind.) Harrison 1:30

1/9 at Tell City (Ind.) TBD

1/10 at Butler County 7:30

1/12 at Owensboro 7

1/14 Trigg County, House Insurance Coaches vs. Cancer Shootout 6

1/20 Meade County 5:30

1/24 at Muhlenberg County 7:30

1/27 at Ohio County 6

1/30 at Cloverport 6

1/31 at Apollo 7

2/3 at Meade County 4:30

2/6 Madisonville-North Hopkins 7:30

2/10 at Breckinridge County 5:30

2/11 at Whitefield Academy 6:30

2/14 Whitesville Trinity 6

2/17 Grayson County 6

impact in some big games the last few years, and it will be exciting to watch them grow.”

Key returnees include junior guard Caroline Lucas (7 ppg, 4 rpg, 4 spg), center Kayleigh Huffines (8 ppg, 8 rpg, 3 bpg) and freshman guard Elizabeth Grimes.

“Caroline is a very quick and athletic guard, and she’s one of the best defenders around,” Moorman said. “She has the ability to get to the rim as she pleases.

“Kayleigh is a long, athletic player who has improved enough to be considered one of the best post players in the region, and Elizabeth gave us some great minutes last year down the stretch. She is a floor general who can control the tempo.

“One of the keys for us is to gain experience and establish leadership. Caroline and Kayleigh must be consistent in the scoring column.

“The young girls coming back saw what

it took to be successful last season, and this group has continued the hard work in the offseason.”

MeADe COunTY

The Lady Waves are coming off a superb 2021-22 season, going 29-7, capturing the 3rd Region Tournament championship and winning a game in the Sweet 16.

“The coaching staff and players have high expectations this season,” Meade County coach Dina Hackert said. “With almost all starters returning and the experience of the state tournament, we are hoping, if we can stay healthy, to have an opportunity to repeat a deep tournament run.

“We have a tough schedule this season and hope to improve as we play some of the best teams in the state.”

S14 Messenger-Inqu I rer, Friday, November 25, 2022
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The Raiders of Whitesville Trinity figure to be a strong contender in the 12th District this season, and with good reason.

Coach Nathan West returns six seniors and a ton of production.

“Our biggest strength is our experience,” West said. “We only lost one player from last year’s 16-16 team, and our young guys have all improved — both skill wise, physically and from an IQ standpoint — over the summer. We will also have the size and strength to switch a lot of our positions.

“I have had eight players who have started at various points over the summer, and they all have shined in their respective roles.”

The best of the bunch is senior swingman Landon Huff, who led Trinity in scoring (14.7 ppg) and rebounding (8.3 rpg) last season.

“Landon is a matchup nightmare,” West said. “He is a tremendous athlete, particularly when slashing to the basket, and his length and athleticism make him a force defensively and when rebounding, especially on the offensive glass.”

Also back are senior point guard Nate Hernandez (10.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg), senior center Landon Smith (8.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg), senior shooting guard Gavin Howard (8.3 ppg, 2.1 rpg), senior guard Nick Goetz, a defensive stopper who also led the squad in 3-point accuracy (35%), and senior guard Nolan Mills.

Junior power forward Nolan Huff will provide size and strength off the bench.

The Raiders appear ready to roll.

“We made the 3rd Region tournament for the first time in roughly 15 years and lost the 12th District Tournament title (to Grayson County) on a heartbreaking buzzer-beater,” West said. “Getting there was something that we strived for, but the next step is to finish the job once we get there.”

BuTLer COunTY

The Bears started fast from the gate in 2021-22, winning their first five games, but the team was only so-so down the stretch — losing to Grayson County in the first round of the 12th District Tournament in Morgantown.

12TH DISTRICT BOYS

Now, Butler County hopes to turn the corner and make some noise in the postseason with the addition of one of the state’s top young prospects, 5-11 sophomore guard Ty Price, who has transferred in from South Warren.

Last season as a freshman, Price averaged 17.2 points per game for the Spartans, going 85-of-211 from 3-point range (40%). As an eighth-grader at Warren East in 2020-21, Price averaged 7.9 points per game.

The team’s top returning player is senior guard Brody Hunt, also a football star, who averaged 14 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as a junior. Hunt drilled 88% of his foul shots and hit 35% of his 3-pointers.

Also back is sophomore forward Lawson

2022-23 SCHEDULE

WHITESVILLE

Rice, who averaged 12 points and 6.1 rebounds per game as a freshman, when he shot 53% from the field and 78% from the foul stripe.

eDMOnsOn COunTY

The Wildcats finished 15-13 last season, falling to Whitesville Trinity in the opening round of he 12th District Tournament.

“We hope to be competitive in our district and have a winning record again,” ECHS coach Brad Johnson said. “We have three starters returning that were able to get some things done last year.”

Leading the way will be senior forward Braden Wall (12.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg), senior guard Braxton Highbaugh (7.5 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and senior forward Tyler Anderson (5.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg).

“Braden has worked hard, has a good basketball IQ and can play inside and outside,” Johnson said. “Braxton is a good

facilitator in the backcourt, and Tyler is a great athlete and a good defender.”

Johnson believes Edmonson is versatile enough to succeed at any pace.

“We hope to be able to play both slow and fast,” he said. “We think we can push the tempo a little bit. We hope we will be able to score in the post and shoot it well from the 3-point line. Our key will be maintaining good team chemistry and everyone working together.

“We worked hard last year and had some good wins — the next steps will be winning the district and winning games in the regional tournament.”

grAYsOn COunTY

The Cougars were 12th District champions last season and feel optimistic about another successful campaign.

TRINITY

12/2 at Daviess County 7:30

12/5 Breckinridge County 7

12/6 Todd County Central 7:30

12/9 at Butler County 7:30

12/13 at Owensboro Catholic, All ‘A’ 3rd Region Tournament 7:30

12/16 Webster County 7:30

12/20 Evansville (Ind.) Day School Independence Bank Classic Sportscenter 7

12/28 Owensboro, Independence Bank Classic, Sportscenter TBD

12/29 Cariisle County, Independence Bank Classic, Sportscenter 10

1/3 Muhlenberg County 7:30

1/7 at Breckinridge County 7

1/13 Edmonson County 7:30

1/14 Crittenden County 4:30

1/17 at Cloverport 7:30

1/20 at Grayson County 7:30

1/21 at Hopkins County Central 1:30

1/24 at Meade County 7

1/27 Butler County 7:30

1/31 Ohio County 7:30

2/3 at Edmonson County 7:30

2/4 McLean County, Ruoff Bank Mortgage Classic, Sportscenter 11:30

2/7 at Union County 7:30

2/10 Grayson County 7:30

2/11 at Apollo 7

2/14 at Hancock County 7:30

2/17 at Todd County Central 7

Friday, November 25, 2022, Messenger-Inqu I rer S15
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12TH DISTRICT GIRLS

Raiders in rebuilding mode

special player in senior guard Josie Aull, a five-year starter in the program who averaged 11.8 points and 2.9 rebounds per game last season.

WHITESVILLE TRINITY

Aveteran-laden Whitesville Trinity girls’ basketball team went 13-12 last season, but the Lady Raiders figure to be young and inexperienced on the hardwood at the outset of the 2022-23 season.

“We lost four seniors who were key players last year,” said Trinity coach Emily Hernandez, whose biggest loss was leading scorer and rebounder Cassidy Morris (17.8 ppg, 9.8 rpg). “So, we are a team that is rebuilding.”

Nonetheless, the Lady Raiders return a

“Josie is a great shooter and a key ball-handler for our team,” Hernandez said. “We know she will step up and lead this young team.”

Other returning players include sophomore forward Kenzie McDowell (4 ppg, 5 rpg) and a trio of sophomore guards — Sarah Payne (1.9 ppg, 2 rpg), Madison McDaniel and Emily McDaniel.

Newcomers include junior Kylie Hatfield, along with seventh-graders Sophie Hatfield, Ella Morris, Bella Miller and Nevaeh Mills.

“Keys for us will be that the young players learn the defenses and that we box out and rebound,” Hernandez said.

11/29 Hancock County 6

12/1 Muhlenberg County 7:30

12/3 at Thomas Nelson 1

12/5 Breckinridge County 6

12/9 at Butler County 6

12/10 at Ohio County 7

12/13 Owensboro Catholic, All ‘A’ 3rd Region Tournament 6

12/17 Oldham County noon

12/22 at Warren East 5:30

12/28 Webster County, Independence Bank Kentucky-Indiana Classic, Sportscenter 4:15

1/6 Marshall County 7:30

1/7 Todd County Central noon

1/9 Owensboro 6

1/10 at Evanvsille (Ind.) Christian 6

1/13 Edmonson County 6

1/16 Highlands Latin 5

1/17 at Cloverport 6

1/20 at Grayson County 6

1/23 McLean County 7:30

1/27 Butler County 6

1/28 at Henry County 1

1/31 Ohio County 6

2/3 at Edmonson County 6

2/4 Dawson Springs 6

2/10 Grayson County 6

2/13 Daviess County 7:30

2/14 at Hancock County 6

2/16 Caldwell County 7:30

S16 Messenger-Inqu I rer, Friday, November 25, 2022
Lady
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OHIO COUNTY

11/29 Owensboro 7

12/6 at Grayson County 6

12/9 McLean County 6

12/10 Whitesville Trinity 7

12/16 at Muhlenberg County 6

12/20 Webster County, Beaver Dam

Tourism Hall of Fame Classic 6

12/21 Butler County, Beaver Dam Tourism Hall of Fame Classic 6

12/22 Union County, Beaver Dam Tourism Hall of Fame Classic 6

12/27 Cumberland County, DQ Classic 6

12/28 Warren East, DQ Classic noon

12/28 Breckinridge County, DQ Classic 6

1/3 Lyon County 7:30

1/5 Butler County 7

1/7 at Christian County 3:30

1/9 Logan County 7:30

1/13 Muhlenberg County 6

1/14 Louisvsille Ballard, Hancock County House Insurance Coaches Cancer Shootout TBD

1/17 South Warren 7:30

1/20 at McLean County 6

1/21 Greenwood, Muhlenberg County

Farmers Bank & Trust Lady Mustang Classic 4:30

10TH DISTRICT GIRLS 2022-23 SCHEDULES

1/24 Apollo 7

1/27 Hancock County 6

1/30 at Breckinridge County 7

1/31 at Whitesville Trinity 6

2/7 at Butler County 6

2/9 at Warren Central 7:30

2/11 at Caldwell County 2:30

2/13 at Edmonson County 6

2/14 Allen County-Scottsville 7:30

MUHLENBERG COUNTY

11/29 at Christian County 7:30

12/1 at Whitesville Trinity 7:30

12/2 Meade County 7

12/6 at Owensboro 7:30

12/9 Calloway County 6

12/10 at Butler County 2:30

12/13 at McLean County 7:30

12/16 Ohio County 6

12/19 Trigg County 7:30

12/21 Evansville (Ind.) Bosse, Independence Bank KentuckyIndiana Classic, Sportscenter 2:15

12/22 Scott, Independence Bank Kentucky-Indiana Classic, Sportscenter 11

12/29 Livingston Central, Murray Bank Lady Tiger Classic 9:30 a.m.

1/3 at Daviess County 7:30

1/6 at Breckinridge County 7:30

1/10 Owensboro Catholic 7:30

1/13 at Ohio County 6

1/17 Hopkin County Central 7:30

1/20 Madisonville-North Hopkins, Farmers Bank & Trust

Lady Mustang Classi 6

1/21 Warren East, Farmers Bank & Trust Lady Mustang Classic 6

1/24 Hancock County 7:30

1/27 McLean County 6

1/30 at Henderson County 7:30

2/4 South Warren 4:30

2/7 Apollo 7

2/10 Paducah Tilghman 7:30

2/11 St. Mary 11

2/13 at Grayson County 7:30

2/16 at Graves County 7:30

MCLEAN COUNTY

11/29 at Greenwood 7:30

12/2 Todd County Central 7:30

12/3 Warren East 2:30 12/9 at Ohio County 6 12/10 at Hancock County

12/13 Muhlenberg County 7:30

12/17 Edmonson County, All ‘A’

3rd Region Tournament 3

12/21 Evansville (Ind.) Christian School, Independence Bank KentuckyIndiana Classic, Sportscenter 11 12/22 Crittenden County, Independence Bank Kentucky-Indiana Classic, Sportscenter 12:30

1/7 Apollo 5:30

1/12 Paducah Tilghman 7:30

1/14 at Grayson County 5:30

1/17 at Lyon County 7:30

1/20 Ohio County 6

1/21 Webster County, Muhlenberg Counry Farmers Bank & Trust Lady Mustang Classic 1 :30

1/23 at Whitesville Trinity 7:30

1/27 at Muhlenberg County 6

1/30 at Daviess County 7:30

2/3 Breckinridge County, Sportscenter 7:45

2/4 Grayson County 3:30

2/6 at Hopkins County Central 7:30

2/9 at Hopkinsville 7:30

2/11 University Heights 3

2/14 Henderson County 6 2/17 at Union County 7:30

have a really good season if everyone accepts their role and we find our identity.”

MCLeAn COunTY

Poor shooting sabotaged the Lady Cougars last season as they struggled to a 6-22 record, which included a first-round loss to Muhlenberg County in the 10th District Tournament.

“Our girls have put in a lot of fundamental work this offseason and summer,” McLean County coach Ryan Groves said. “We have stressed that our field goal percentage has to improve in order for us to compete with the teams in our region. We averaged around 27% from the floor last season, and we simply cannot afford to continue shooting the ball so poorly if we want to win games.

“Our goals remain the same as in years past. We want to win a 3rd Region All “A” Championship, earn the number one seed in our district and receive an automatic bid to the

regional tournament, and we want to be prepared to compete for a 3rd Region championship.”

Top returning players include senior forward Breanna Frailley (6 ppg, 6.1 rpg), senior guard Kashlynn Rice (6.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg), junior guard-forward Sarah Miller (5.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg) and sophomore guard Sarah Larkin.

“Breanna goes all-out on every play, and she has extended her game and can knock down the occasional

3-pointer,” Groves said..

“Kashlynn is the quickest player on our team and can be one of the best on-ball defenders in the region.”

Groves believes unity will be key.

“Our next step is to simply get better as a team,” he said. “This group is learning how to play with each other. We are trying to establish a positive and supportive culture within our program and also working on understanding that everyone can contribute.”

Friday, November 25, 2022, Messenger-Inqu I rer S17
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TRINITY

FROM

IN 2021-22, Trinity was knocked out of postseason play by Edmonson County (37-33) in the first round of the 12th District Tournament in Morgantown.

BuTLer COunTY

The Lady Bears put it all together last season, winning 25 of 29 games and capturing the 12th District Tournament championship before bowing out of the 3rd Region Tournament with a first-round loss to Breckinridge County.

Much of Butler County’s production was lost to graduation, however, and the team steps into a rebuilding phase.

Fifth-year BCHS coach Lexie Belcher will be looking for leadership from five seniors — forward/guard Jenna Phelps (7 ppg, 5.5 rpg), center-forward Kennedy Rice (1 ppg. 1.7 rpg), guard Carley Jones, guard MacKenzie Coleman and center Tobin Maxfield.

The Lady Bears also return a valuable junior in guard Taylor Leach, who averaged 6.6 points and 3.6 rebounds per game as a sophomore.

eDMOnsOn COunTY

Despite finishing just 11-21 last season, the Lady Cats managed to defeat Whitesville Trinity in the 12th District Tournament and reach the 3rd Region Tournament.

Now, coach Bart Weaver hopes the team can regain its status as a district and regional tournament contender.

“We have great chemistry on the team and good leadership with five seniors,” Weaver said. “We hope to contend for another district title and be competitive in the region.”

Edmonson County will be led by senior point guard Annie Kiper (8.2 ppg), the team’s assist leader.

Also back are forward Lily Jane Vincent (7.1 ppg, 7.1 rpg), who enters the

season with 498 career rebounds, and 6-1 freshman center Cariann Williams (7.5 ppg, 7 rpg), who blocked 102 shots as an eighth-grader.

“We will play an up-tempo style on defense and offense,” Weaver said “To be successful we must dominate the boards, play good D and score off turnovers.

“We have great kids that work extremely hard. The COVID year hit us hard, like a lot of teams, and last year was a rebuilding year. We feel we are now ready to contend again.”

grAYsOn COunTY

The Lady Cougars were an uncharac teristic 3-22 last season, falling to Butler County in the first round of the 12th District Tournament.

“I hope we can improve on that,” Grayson County coach Todd Johnston said. “We were very young last season, so having a year’s experience should help us.”

The top returning scorer is junior guard Sydney Perkins (13.4 ppg), who made 68 shots from beyond the 3-point arc last season. Also back are senior two-year starter Aryssa Riggs (8 ppg) and sophomore point guard Sutten Vanmeter (2 ppg).

“We will need Sydney to score for us again this season,” Johnston said. “We’re counting on Aryssa to lead us on the court, and Sutten will be counted on heavily this year.”

Johnston plans for his team to pick up the pace this time around.

“We have to increase the number of shots per game this year, so we will try to get out and run more this time,” Johnston said, “but that means we need to rebound much better this season. We will try to pressure more this year because our depth has improved, but will rely on man-to-man defense most of the time.

“We have to get out and make more shots. We turned it over a lot last year and struggled to get any second-chance opportunities. We averaged 33 points per game, so that needs to increase significantly if we want to get more wins.”

RAIDERS

FROM PAGE S15

“I think we have a chance to be a pretty good team,” Grayson County coach Travis Johnston said. “We have size, shooters and an all-region player in River Blanton. If we can play together, share the ball and get after it on the defensive end, I think we can have a good season.”

The 6-5 Blanton, a senior swingman, leads the way after averaging 14.9 points and 7.4 rebounds last season.

“River is capable of getting a double-double every night,” Johnston said. “He is big and strong enough to play inside, and he is fast and can pass well enough to play on the outside.

“We will ask River to do a lot for us this year, and he is more than capable of rising to that challenge. I think he’s going to have a fantastic year.”

Also back are senior guard Brayden Childress (3.3 ppg, 2.3 apg, 2.2 rpg), senior forward Dillon Horn (3.4 ppg, 4 rpg) and 6-5 eighth-grade guard Jack Logsdon (3.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg), who started seven games as a seventh-grader.

“We will be balanced on offense, and on defense we will play our usual man to man and try to keep people out of the lane,” Johnston said. “I think rebounding and playing together are our two biggest keys this season.”

HORNETS

FROM PAGE S13

“We’ll play a motion-style offense, and the defense will be man-to-man with some wrinkles thrown in.”

The Green Wave will be tested all season, Tripure said.

“We always play a very competitive schedule — there are no off nights for us,” he said. “We got better as the season progressed last season and won our second straight district title. We hope to compete every night this season and be the best we can be at tournament time.”

CLOVerPOrT

The Aces are looking to step up after going 4-21 and losing an 18-point decision to Meade County in the opening round of the 11th District Tournament last season.

Cloverport must replace Austin Hedges, who led the team in scoring (15.5 ppg) and also grabbed five rebounds per outing.

Top returnees for the Aces include junior guard Cole Weatherholt (10.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg), senior forward Nathan Poole (7.3 ppg, team-best 6.1 rpg), senior forward Conner Lagadinos (4.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg) and sophomore guard Dorcey Emery (3.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg).

Cloverport shot 34% from the field, 29% from 3-point range and 57% from the foul stripe while averaging a solid 30 rebounds per contest in 2021-22.

S18 Messenger-Inqu I rer, Friday, November 25, 2022
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MUSTANGS

FROM PAGE S11

14.1 points per game last season.

“He’s an outstanding all-around player for us,” Lynam said of Floyd. “He should be one of the top players in the 3rd Region this season.”

Also back are senior swingman Cruz Lee (8 ppg), senior forward Evan Ward (4 rpg) and junior guard Brodie Cline (5.3 ppg).

“We are looking for these four to lead the way for us,” Lynam said. “We also are looking to get significant minutes out of senior Declan Scott, Will Taykor and Noah Patrick. Sophomore Gunnar Revelett will also be looking to get significant playing time. Other possibilities include junior newcomers Elijah Baldwin and Isaiah Algood, as well as sophomores Zane Decker and Jax Lee.”

McLean must replace graduated Brady Dame, one of the region’s best players in 2021-22.

“We need to try to replace Dame’s inside presence the best way we can,” Lynam said. “We need to play good defense, and we need

MUHLENBERG COUNTY

11/29 Christian County 7:30

12/1 at Caldwell County 7

12/6 Edmonson County 7:30

12/9 Murray (Farmer’s Bank% Trust Tip-Off Classic) 7:45

12/10 Evansville (Ind.) Bosse (Farmer’s Bank Tip-Off Classic) 7

12/13 at McLean County 6

12/16 Ohio County 7:45

12/21-23 at Montgomery County Getaway Holiday Classic TBD

12/28 Union County, Henderson Chevrolet, Buick, GMC Classic 7:30

12/29 Greenwood, Henderson Chevrolet, Buick, GMC Classic 3

12/30 University Heights, Henderson Chevrolet, Buick, GMC Classic 7:30

1/3 at Whitesville Trinity 7:30

1/5 Grayson County 7:30

1/7 Barren County, Bowling Green German American Bank Classic 1

1/9 Hancock County 7:30

1/13 at Ohio County 7:45

1/17 at Bowling Green 7:30

1/20 Mayfield (Farmer’s Bank & Trust Mustang Classic) 7:30

1/24 at Butler County 7:30

1/27 McLean County 7:45

1/28 Breckinridge County 6:30

1/31 at Daviess County 7:30

to rebound the ball to be successful this season.”

OHIO COunTY

Competing in one of the state’s toughest three-team districts, the Eagles won 18 of 28 games last season but dropped a nine-point decision to eventual regional runner-up McLean County in the first round of the 10th District Tournament at Muhlenberg County.

That’s incentive enough for veteran coach Paul Decker and Co. in 2022-23.

“We expect to contend for district and region championships,” Decker said “We have some long, athletic, high basketball IQ kids that work hard and want to play for someone other than themselves. As long as we stay together and play for each other we will have a great year.”

Leading the way will be the coach’s son, 6-5 junior Elijah Decker, who averaged 14 points and nine rebounds per game before an injury short-circuited his sophomore campaign.

“(Elijah) has worked to get back healthy after his season was cut short from knee surgery in January,” Decker said. “He can play the position of 1 through 5 for us and

can be a tough matchup for teams. He has been in the weight room and has gotten stronger and more athletic.”

Also back is 6-2 senior Parker Culbertson, who averaged 12 points per game and shot 40% from 3-point range last season.

“Parker is one of our leaders and is truly a gym rat,” Decker said. “He is always in the gym getting extra shots up, and it shows in his ability to shoot the ball from anywhere. He is a great teammate that communicates well and just wants to win.”

Also in the mix for the Eagles will be 6-4 sophomore Carson Kennedy, 6-5 senior Bo Morse, 6-4 junior Carter Young, 6-2 senior Walker Lindsey and 5-10 senior Cooper Allen.

“We had a good season last year,” Decker said. “Our kids had to learn a different system and they responded well.

“I feel like we really got better this offseason, and we can see that our weight program is starting to show in our kids.

“Our kids are highly motivated after being defeated in the first round of the district tourney. Our next step is to get to the regional tourney and make a run to win it and play at Rupp.”

10TH DISTRICT BOYS 2022-23 SCHEDULES

2/3 Henderson County 7:30

2/7 at Owensboro Catholic 7:30

2/10 at Madisonville-North Hopkins 7:30

2/11 St. Mary, Murray State University US Bank Shootout 6

2/14 Apollo 7:30

2/17 Hopkinsvsille 7:30

MCLEAN COUNTY

11/29 at Cloverport TBD

12/2 at Meade County 7

12/3 WEB DuBois, Iroquois South End Shootout 2:45

12/5 Crittenden County 7

12/9 at Ohio County 7:30

12/10 Heritage Christian, Madisonville Maroons Shootout 2

12/13 Muhlenberg County 6

12/17 at Edmonson County 4:30

12/19 Hopkins County Central, Whittaker Country Christmas Tournament 12:30

12/19 Union County, Whittaker Country Christmas Tournament 7

12/28 Choals (Ind.), Independence Bank Shootout, Sportscenter 2:15

12/19 Owensboro, Independence Bank Shootout, Sportscenter 3:45

12/30 Dawson Springs, Henderson Chevrolet, Buick, GMC Classic 3

1/7 Oldham County 2

1/14 at Grayson County 2:30

1/17 Edmonson County 7

1/20 Ohio County 7:30

1/24 Dawson Springs 7

1/27 at Muhlenberg County 7:45

2/3 Breckinridge County, Ruoff Mortgage Classic, Sportscenter 6

2/4 Whitesville Trinity, Ruoff Mortgage Classic, Sportscenter 11:30

2/4 Foundation Christian Academy, Ruoff Mortgage Classic, Sportscenter 1:30

2/7 Daviess County 7

2/9 Trigg County 7:30

2/11 at Logan County 3:30

2/14 Hopkins County Central 7:30

2/16 Butler County 7:30

OHIO COUNTY

11/29 at Lyon County 7

12/1 Breckinridge County 7

12/3 Thomas Nelson, Campbellsville Domino’s Tip-Off Classic 1:30

12/6 at Grayson County 7

12/9 McLean County 7:30

12/10 Hopkinsville, Muhlenberg County Farmer’s Bank & Trust Tip-OFF Classic 5 12/13 at Greenwood 7:30

12/16 at Muhlenberg County 7:45

12/20 North Hardin, Beaver Dam

McLean County’s Jaxon Floyd calls a play during a practice Nov. 10 at the school in Calhoun.

Tourism Hall of Fame Classic 7:30

12/21 Chattanooga (Tenn.) School for Arts & Science, Beaver Dame Tourism Hall of Fame Classic 7:30

12/22 Warren East, Beaver Dam Tourism Hall of Fame Classic 7:30

12/28 University Heights, Henderson Chevrolet, Buick, GMC Classic 4:30

12/29 at Henderson County, Henderson Chevrolet, Buick, GMC Classic 6

12/30 Union County, Henderson Chevrolet, Buick, GMC Classic 4:30

1/3 at Franklin-Simpson 7

1/6 at Daviess County 7:30

1/7 Clarksville (Tenn.) West Creek, Bowling Green German American Bank Classic 4

1/10 John Hardin 7

1/13 Muhlenberg County 7:45

1/17 at Owensboro Catholic 7:30

1/20 at McLean County 7:30

1/23 Bowling Green 7:30

1/27 Hancock County 7

1/28 Calloway County 4

1/31 at Whitesville Trinity 7:30

2/4 Webster County, Independence Bank Classic, Sportscenter 3:15

2/7 at Butler County 2:30

2/10 at Meade County 7

2/14 at Owensboro 7

2/16 South Warren 7:30

Friday, November 25, 2022, Messenger-Inqu I rer S19
Photo by Greg Eans, Messenger-Inquirer geans@messenger-inquirer.com

and lead to success.

“Ball-handling will be a real key for us, and we need to find ways to break pressure and feed the ball to our big players in the paint — we have to be able to take advantage of our size and strength on the inside to become the best team we can be.”

At the defensive end, the E-Gals will seek to be disruptive and turn the opposition over with regularity.

“We really want to get after it defensively, force turnovers and come away with some easy baskets at the other end,” Payne said. “It’s going to be real beneficial to our team if we’re able to create defensive havoc and set the tone of he game in our favor that way.

“We’ll press some, for sure, but we also need to be a lock-down defensive team in the half-court — again, utilizing the size we have to the fullest advantage.”

As with all Payne-coached teams, there will be no shortcuts to success.

“We have to work hard every day and develop the right mindset to compete against our schedule,” Payne said. “We worked hard and achieved some good things last season, and it’s going to take that same kind of work to do it again this season.”

HANCOCK

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Top returnees include sophomore guard Peyton Bradley, who led the state in 3-point shooting last season (44.4%) while averaging 19.3 points, five rebounds and three assists per game.

“Peyton has become a much more versatile player in the offseason,” Hackert said. “She’s getting to the rack and has developed her mid-range jumper. She’s a tremendous competitor and leader on our team.

“Even though she’s ranked in the top 5 in the state of her class, it’s never about Peyton in her mind. It’s about winning and making the Lady Waves successful.”

Other key returnees include senior forward Katie Durbin (7.4 ppg), junior guard Paige Medley (7.4 ppg) and senior guard

STEP

FROM PAGE S6

“so we’ll need some youngsters to step up and contribute to the cause.”

Haile said the preseason has been full of positive vibes.

“The players have come in here and worked very hard, and they’ve bought into what we’re trying to teach them,” he said. “It’s a little bit easier, a little more fluid the second time around, and I think we’re seeing the results of that. Players know what to expect of our coaching staff, and we know what to expect of them. In the preseason, we’re definitely ahead of where we were last season.”

Haile also believes the Lady Panthers can evolve into a tournament contender by the end of the season.

“The 9th District is one of the toughest around, year in and year out, and we have to be prepared and ready to go every time we step on the court in a district game,” Haile said. “And, there are obviously some other very good teams in the region.

Owensboro Catholic won the district, and they’re always tough to beat. Meade County is the defending 3rd Region champion, and they’re certainly one of the teams to beat in the region.

“We’re going to have to stay healthy, and we’re going to have to find ways to win close games. We did this better at the end of last season than at the beginning, so I hope there’s some carry-over in this area — we need to make smart decisions when it matters most, and this is going to be the key to being successful at tournament time.”

Mattie Clanton (4.4 apg). Also in the mix are junior guard AnnaBelle Babb and senior center Sage Crawley.

“If we can stay healthy, we can compete with most teams on our schedule,” Hackert said. “Success for us will be to compete and get better.”

CLOVerPOrT

The Lady Aces went 5-19 last season, losing a lopsided decision to eventual regional champion Meade County in the opening round of the 11th District Tournament.

Cloverport lost much of its scoring and rebounding to graduation, but the team does return sophomore guard Alexis Hurst (1.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg).

The Lady Aces will also be counting on junior guard Cascy Burden, freshman forward Lilah More, sophomore guard Caleigh Roach and sophomore forward Johnnie Taul.

S20 Messenger-Inqu I rer, Friday, November 25, 2022
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