Fifth Third Bank Holiday Classic
©2003 by Ron Harrison
Anderson County – The Bearcats are coached by Glen Drury, finished 19-9 last season and should be one of the better teams in the 8th Region this season. Anderson County returns four starters and should be led by 6-3 Sr. guard Eric McKee, who averaged 19.2 ppg and 8.1 rpg last season. 6-1 Sr. PG Derek Craft will provide leadership, outside scoring, and led the team in assists last season. 6-7 Sr. center guard Eric Priest will be counted on to make his presence known at both ends of the floor. 6-1 Jr. forward Phillip Lloyd is expected to be a defensive stopper and adds aggressiveness in the paint. 6-3 So. Dustin Aldridge and 5-7 Sr. Brandon Phillips are also expected to contribute this season.
Apollo – The Eagles are coached by Greg Baughn and finished 27-4 last season. Apollo is not only expected to be one of the favorites to capture the 3rd Region title, but are expected to be one of the best teams in the state. 5-9 Sr. Michael James is a true point guard who utilizes his explosiveness and court awareness to take the Eagles to another level. James averaged 11.2 ppg and 6 apg last season. 5-11 Sr. Richard Long averaged 18.4 ppg, 5 rpg, 4.3 apg last season and is an excellent defensive player. 6-4 Sr. Travis Johnson averaged 11.8 ppg and 7 rpg and is an excellent leaper. 6-5 Sr. Ryne Mantooth averaged 11.8 ppg and shot 47% from the three point line. Other players expected to contribute include 6-0 Sr. Aaron Whitmer, 5-11 So. Doug Denton, and 6-2 So. David Howard. (Note: Michael James is reportedly no longer a member of the team.)
Christian County – The Colonels are coached by Kerry Stovall and finished 17-10 last season in the tough 2nd Region. 6-4 Sr. Brandon Bailey averaged 15 ppg and 7 rpg last season and is a good leaper who scores well in the paint. 6-4 Sr. DeCoreo Edwards and 6-1 Sr. Mike Whitlock are also expected to be key contributors this season.
Clark County – The Cardinals finished 22-11 last season and start the season with a new coach, Scott Humphrey, who must replace four starters. The lone returning starter is 6-0 Jr. sharpshooter Matthew Martin. The Cardinals have some size inside in 6-6 Sr. Bo Harris and 6-5 Sr. Jared Strode. Other players expected to contribute include 6-1 Jr. Josh Barnes, 6-3 Jr. Keifer Clark, 6-0 Sr. Ryan Snowden, and 5-8 Sr. Jason Aaron.
Daviess County – The defending 3rd Region champions are coached by Curtis Turley and finished 27-7 last season. Coach Turley graduated five seniors including three starters but the Panthers still have some returning talent. 6-4 Sr. forward Johnny Worth averaged 15.2 ppg and 8.1 rpg last season. 6-4 Sr. Seth Oldham averaged 10.7 ppg and shot 65.4% from the field. 6-5 Sr. Cody Barr had a good summer and is expected to be a key contributor this season. 6-2 Sr. Kyle Alvey and 6-1 Sr. Jon Flaspoehler are expected to add depth inside. Twins 6-3 Jr. Joe and John Janes are expected to man the guard positions. 6-3 Jr. forward Austin Byars is also expected to add depth inside. 6-0 Jr. Jamie Yeckering, 5-8 Jr. Patrick Zambrano, and 5-10 So. Michael Lane are expected to round out the varsity roster.
DeSales – The Colts are coached by Tom Crews and finished 16-13 last season, playing in the 6th Region. The Colts graduated five players from last year’s squad but Coach Crews is optimistic about this team. 6-0 Sr. Thomas Britt (8.0 ppg) is expected to have a breakout year. 6-4 Sr. Kyle Reed moved here from Australia and is an excellent passer who could be among the region’s best performers. 6-0 Sr. Keith Belt (9.0 ppg) and 6-2 Jr. Beau Braden (4.0 ppg) are expected to have good seasons. Other players expected to contribute include 5-10 Fr. Aaron Tandy, 6-3 Jr. Joe Mattingly, 6-2 Sr. Patrick Booth, 6-0 Sr. Brandon Hibbs, 6-2 Sr. Adam Smith, 6-4 Jr. Brandon James, and 6-0 Jr. Ryan Crowdis. DeSales is expected to be able to get to the basket this year and will no longer live or die on the three point shot.
Eastern – The Eastern Eagles finished 23-9 last year and Jason Couch takes over as head coach this season. The Eagles might have been picked to win the always tough 7th Region but star guard Rajon Rondo transferred to Oak Hill Academy. However, the cupboard is not bare as Eastern has talent returning for this season. 6-2 Sr. Jermaine Bentley averaged in double figures last season and 6-4 Jr. Rick Bodiford could have a big junior campaign. Other players expected to contribute include 6-0 So. Robert Buckner, 6-1 Sr. Robert Porterfield, 6-4 Sr. Ricky Elliott, 5-10 Jr. Keith Nash, and 5-10 Sr. Rusty Farris.
Elizabethtown – The Panthers are coached by James Haire and finished 28-3 last season. Elizabethtown lost three key performers off last year’s team but still has the talent returning to challenge for the 5th Region crown. 5-10 Sr. PG Jerry Turner is an excellent floor leader who should increase his scoring this season. Turner averaged 11.1 ppg and 4.6 apg last season. 6-8 Sr. Kyle Martin (10.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg) can either score in the paint or shoot from outside. 6-5 Sr. Robert Broughton transferred from Ft. Knox and sat out last season but brings athleticism and talent to the Panthers. 6-2 Sr. Zack Pitts was a key contributor off the bench last season. Other players expected to contribute this season include 6-2 Sr. Zack Estes, 6-1 Jr. Chris Todd, 6-4 Jr. Zipp Duncan, 5-10 So. Todd Atcher, 6-0 Warren Lively, and 6-2 So. Charlie Baldwin.
Fern Creek – Coach Gary Shourds led the Tigers to a 17-12 record last season but the Tigers could claim the 7th Region crown this season. Shourds returns his top nine players and picked up 6-0 Sr. Camron Brown, a talented transfer from Ohio. 6-6 Sr. Mario Urrutia (15 ppg, 8 rpg) is virtually unstoppable in the paint. 6-5 Sr. Branden Hamby (13 ppg, 8 rpg) teams with Urrutia to give the Tigers a terrific one-two punch. Other key players on this talented squad include 6-1 Sr. Turrell Cleaves (12 ppg), 6-0 Sr. Rod Kelsey (10 ppg), 5-7 So. Terrance Britt, 6-4 Jr. Brandon Mullins, and 6-3 Sr. Quentin Sweeney.
Graves County – The Eagles finished 17-11 last season and utilizing Coach Allan Hatcher’s deliberate style and commitment to playing defense will again be a 1st Region contender. Graves County will be led by 6-6 Sr. A. J. Adams, who can play inside or outside, and 5-11 Sr. guard Josh Frick. 6-4 So. Randon Cavette is a very athletic inside player. 5-11 So. Zack Sims and 6-4 So. Matt Colley are also expected to start this season. 5-10 Jr. Drew Collins and 6-3 Jr. Brad Allred are also expected to see significant playing time this year. Coach Hatcher enters this season with 580 career wins. He has also added nine Region One titles at Graves and Marshall County.
Highlands – Coach John Messmer guided the Bluebirds to a 27-3 record last season but faces the 9th Region battles this year without the services of graduated 6-8 “Mr. Basketball” Ross Neltner. Highlands also graduated five other seniors including. Coach Messmer returns 5-10 Sr. Josh Moeves, 5-10 Sr. Nathan Hall, and 6-1 Sr. Mitchell McMahon. The Bluebirds have some young talent moving up including 5-7 So. Jeff Vories and 6-5 So. Tanner Johnson. Coach Messmer’s teams always play tough defense but must come up with consistent scoring to replace the points lost to graduation.
Jackson County – Coach Keith Hays’ Generals finished with a losing record last season but star guard Stephen Gabbard was injured and only played in two games. The 6-4 Sr. is once again healthy and Jackson County could challenge for the 13th Region crown. 6-2 So. James McCowan, 6-6 So. Patrick Elliott, and 6-2 Jr. Walt Rader are all double digit scorers who, along with Gabbard, should provide plenty of firepower. 5-10 Sr. Josh Gray should round out the lineup. Other players expected to contribute include 6-4 Jr. Andrew Chrisman, 6-4 8th grader Nick Brumback, 5-8 Sr. Dustin Coffey, 5-11 So. Troy Truett, and 5-11 So. Matt Eversole. Jackson County has a brutal schedule this season which should make them tournament tough by March.
Lexington Catholic – Coach Bart Flener’s Knights finished 24-8 last season and this team should challenge for the Sweet 16 crown this season. The Knights will be led by 6-4 Sr. swingman Demetrius Green who averaged 19.2 ppg and 6.2 rpg last season. 6-3 Sr. Harrison Morton averaged 17.6 ppg and 6.7 rpg last season. 6-3 Sr. William Graham (10 ppg) is jet quick in the open court and an excellent finisher off the Knights’ press. 6-4 Sr. Mark Balthrop (6.1 ppg) also return for his final campaign. 6-2 Sr. Jason Azubuike transferred from Dunbar and is expected to help on both ends of the court, provided he is ruled eligible by the KHSAA. 5-10 Sr. Drew Morton (4.6 ppg) will probably man the point for Lexington Catholic this season. Other players expected to contribute include 6-4 Sr. Joe Tunde, 6-0 Jr. Joe Boneau, 6-5 Jr. Rob Riddell, 6-2 Jr. Kevin Vogelsang, 6-0 Jr. P. J. Wilson, and 5-10 Jr. Chad Buchignani. The Knights also have several other players that could contribute to this deep and talented squad this season.
Male – Coach Bryce Hibbard guided the Bulldogs to a 17-14 record in the always-tough 7th Region. Male graduated star basketball-footballer Michael Bush and lost their returning big man 6-7 Sr. Scott Green, who opted not to play this season. The lineup this season will be dominated by guards with a blend of experienced players and talented newcomers. 6-3 Sr. Stephen McKinney is expected to be a key contributor if he returns after football season. Other players expected to contribute this season include 6-3 Sr. Elijah Baker, 6-4 Jr. Alex Gravelle, 6-3 Sr. Antjuan Hackley, 6-3 Jr. Ryan Newton, and 6-5 So. Forrest Smallwood. Several freshmen could make an impact, including 5-9 Douglas Beaumont, 6-2 Kris Carree, and 5-10 Corey Gainey.
Manual – Coach Dave Zuberer’s Crimsons finished 10-16 last season playing in the 7th Region. Coach Zuberer has some talented players returning and expects to play on up-tempo game. 6-2 Jr. Justin Royles (9.4 ppg) is very athletic and a terrific leaper. 6-3 Sr. Chris Warfield (6.5 ppg) is a third-year starter at point guard and 6-2 Sr. Ronnie George (8.8 ppg) returns at the 2-guard slot. Other top players include 5-11 Jr. Andrew Robinson and 6-3 So. Tra’h Moore. Coach Zuberer expects to press some and score in transition when possible but also maintain the flexibility to execute half court sets when needed. The Crimsons do not have outstanding size but hope to offset that potential problem with quickness and experience at the guard positions.
Mason County – Coach Kelly Wells’ Royals finished 35-2 last season and captured the Sweet 16 Championship. The Royals will enter the season as a strong favorite to capture the 10th Region crown and ranked No. 1 in the state. They return four starters including 6-3 Sr. Chris Lofton (21.1 ppg). Lofton shot an amazing 47% from the three point line and is a leading candidate for Mr. Basketball this season. Some of Lofton’s accomplishments last season include 10th Region Tournament MVP, Sweet 16 Tournament MVP, King of the Bluegrass MVP, and 5/3 Tournament MVP. 6-3 Sr. Dustin Grutza (12.9 ppg) is a solid guard who is solid at all aspects of the game. 6-3 Sr. Jarrod Litzinger (10 ppg) is a versatile forward who can shoot, dribble, pass, defend, and rebound. 6-1 Jr. Wes Jones was a standout in the Sweet 16 Tournament last year and should only improve this season. Mason County has several other capable players including 6-3 Jr. Drew Stahl, 5-11 Jr. Andrew Tibbs, and 6-2 Jr. Chris Schumacher.
Rockcastle County – Coach Clayton Cash’s Rockets finished 24-5 last season but face the task of replacing four starters from last year’s squad. 5-11 Jr. Aaron Cash (21 ppg), the coach’s son, is not only one of the best in the 13th Region, but also one of the state’s elite. 6-4 Jr. Blake Roberts is expected to be a factor in the paint. Other players expected to log important minutes this season include 5-10 Sr. Devin Taylor, 6-5 Sr. Elijah Lunsford, 6-2 So. J. C. McClure, 6-1 So. Colby Brown, and So. Kyle Mullins. Rockcastle County will face some formidable competition in the region but they have returning talent in Cash, Roberts, and Taylor with other players expected to contribute.
Trinity – The Shamrocks finished 17-13 last season and coach Mike Szabo should put an excellent team on the floor this season. The Shamrocks have an excellent floor general returning in 6-0 Jr. Zach Berry (7.4 ppg). Twins 6-3 Jr. Kyle (8.9 ppg) and 6-3 Jr. Bret (6.5 ppg) Saxton can score and are also tenacious defenders. 6-3 Sr. Blake Nix (6.6 ppg) can score in the paint as well as stroke the outside shot. 6-4 Sr. star footballer Brian Brohm added 8.1 ppg and 6.4 rpg last season. The Shamrocks expect contributions from other players including 6-6 Sr. Nick Hope and 6-8 Jr. Charlie Gonzalez.
University Heights – The Blazers finished 10-15 last season and Mary Cline takes over as head coach. Coach Cline should be familiar with the school and the 2nd Region as he led UHA to a state title in 1992. Some of the top returnees for the Blazers include 5-11 So. Josh Mack, an excellent point guard who can score, 6-3 Sr. Hiram Metcalfe, and 6-3 So. Patrick Metcalfe. Coach Cline also expects to get help from 6-0 Jr. Nathan Owen and 5-9 Sr. Ve’airrus Leavell. 6-7 Jr. Logan Chestnut adds size to the UHA lineup. The strengths of the team are expected to be quickness, three point shooting, and pressure defense.
Wayne County – The Cardinals are coached by Rodney Woods and finished 25-3 last season. Wayne County only graduated one player, had an excellent summer in AAU play, and will be a strong contender for the 12th Region title this season. The Cardinals return four of the best players in the region in 6-2 Sr. Jerrod Gibbons, 6-2 Sr. Tyrone Greene, 6-1 Jr. Steven Sexton, and 5-10 Sr. Bradley Bell. 6-2 Sr. Seth Frost or 6-3 Fr. John Perkins could help inside and Coach Woods should get some minutes from 6-10 Jr. Drew Guffey. 6-1 So. Tyler King will also log time this season. Coach Woods has a talented 7th grader on his roster in 6-0 Ty Perkins.