Fifth Third Bank Holiday Classic
©2002 by Ron Harrison
Louisville Trinity – Trinity finished 16-12 last season, and Coach Mike Szabo has the program headed in the right direction. The Shamrocks lost four starters but they return 6-5 Sr. Chris McCoy who can shoot the ball as well as getting the job done in the paint. 6-5 Sr. Pat Durbin is expected to be a key contributor this season. They also expect help from footballers 6-2 Jr. Blake Nix, 6-4 Jr. Brian Brohm, and 5-9 Sr. TaShawn McBroom. The Shamrocks should also get help from 6-3 Sr. Jason Walsh and a strong sophomore class led by 5-11 Zach Berry, 6-1 Brett Saxton, and 6-2 Kyle Saxton. Several of these players performed on a very good 15-and-under AAU team this summer.
University Heights – Coach Jeff Jackson’s Blazers finished 20-10 last season and captured the All “A” state championship. 6-2 Sr. center Joel Catlett returns and is a force in the paint. Coach Jackson’s son, 5-11 Jr. guard James Jackson returns and is an excellent three point marksman. 5-11 Jr. Dustin Isom is a returning starter for the Blazers and Coach Jackson also expects help from 5-10 Fr. guard Josh Mack and 6-2 Jr. forward Hiram Metcalfe.
Daviess County – The Panthers are coached by Curtis Turley and finished 25-6 last season. Daviess County would appear to enter the season as a slight favorite to capture the 3rd Region crown. They will be led by 6-4 Sr. Matt West, who averaged 17 ppg last season. 6-3 Sr. Jeff Morris is an outstanding shooter. 5-8 Sr. guard Blake Wiggins is extremely quick and handles the ball well. 6-0 Sr. forward John Davis has the ability to score both inside and out. 6-4 Sr. Brandon Jones is an athletic wing player and Coach Turley should get plenty of help in the paint in 6-4 Jr. Cody Barr, 6-4 Jr. John Worth, and 6-3 Jr. Seth Oldham.
George Rogers Clark – Clark County finished 18-10 last season but Coach Mike Reitz’s Cardinals should challenge for the 10th Region crown this season. The Cardinals return four starters and eight of 11 players. Clark County has a strong senior backcourt in 5-10 Marc Midden and 6-1 Randall Gentry. Gentry is an excellent floor general who can shoot the ball. 6-11 Sr. Andrew Preston really improved over the summer and college coaches are noticing this slender post player. Preston is adding more post moves and should improve on his 12 ppg scoring average. The Cardinals will also get help from 5-11 Sr. Jake Barnes, 5-10 Sr. Barrett Bridgewater, 6-2 Sr. Byron Burdell, and 6-1 Sr. Stephen Columbia, etc. They have some good talent moving up including 5-11 So. Matthew Martin, who lit up the scoreboard in the 15 and Under AAU championship tourney this summer.
Paintsville – Coach Bill Mike Runyon’s Tigers will be in the mix of contenders for the 15th Region crown this season. 6-2 Sr. Stuart Rutledge could make a big difference for Paintsville if he remains healthy this season. 6-0 Jr. guard Shane Simpkins passes, handles the ball well, and can either penetrate or shoot the jumper. The Tigers also expect to get help from seniors Ryan Jarrell, Adam Rice, and Tate Harmon.
Madison Central – Coach Allen Feldhaus Jr.’s Indians finished 14-16 last season but the team gained experience against tough competition. 6-5 Jr. Shawn Ballard is a long-range bomber who averaged 14 ppg last season against top competition. 6-0 Sr. Matt Gayheart returns as the point guard and will provide veteran leadership. 6-8 Sr. Brett Alexander and 6-3 Jr. Matt Cornett add experience in the paint for the Indians. Madison Central comes back with a lot of experience this season and was runner-up to Lafayette in the Hoopin’ on the Hill tourney in Bowling Green this season.
Pulaski County – Coach David Fraley has a veteran squad returning and the Maroons should be improved this season. 6-2 Sr. Brandon Wilson averaged 15.2 ppg last season and can score either on penetration or a long-range jump shot. 6-4 230 pound Sr. Brandon Cross averaged 15 ppg and 9 rpg last season. Cross is physically strong, possesses a nice shooting touch, and rebounds well. 5-9 Sr. point guard Eric Helton has the ability to break down defenses through penetration and shoots well from beyond the arc. Pulaski County will also get contributions from football star Cole Draughn, a 6-1 220 pound Jr., among others.
Covington Holmes – Covington Holmes finished 17-12 last season and Coach David Henley has a nice bunch of athletes returning. The Bulldogs resemble a M.A.S.H. unit as a result of football injuries, but hope to eventually get everyone on the floor. The multi-sport superstar Brandent Englemon, a 6-0 Sr. averaged 14.2 ppg and is a good perimeter shooter. 5-10 Sr. Brandon Smith and 6-2 Sr. Ryan Fischer can also hit the outside shot. 6-5 Sr. Duran Smith and 6-5 So. Alexie Brown should capably man the post position. 6-2 Jr. Derrick Jennings and 6-3 Jr. Chris Edmonson are two of the walking wounded expected to help at the forward positions. Other players expected to be key contributors include 5-9 Sr. Trevor Black, 5-8 Jr. Tony Ramsey, and 6-1 Jr. Warren Williams.
Lincoln County – The Patriots, coached by Mark Upchurch, have the 12th Region’s largest player in 6-10 Jr. Jonathan True. True has a nice touch and good speed for a big man, and can be a defensive stopper. 6-1 Sr. Jason Stringer and 6-0 Sr. Jaylon Dawson can both penetrate or hit the outside shot. 6-2 Jr. Chris Hart has a nice shot and understands the game 6-1 Sr. Brandon Wesley and 6-3 Sr. Eric Brown are also expected to be key contributors. This team has a good mix of players and could be good by tournament time.
Rose Hill Christian – finished 27-4 last season and Coach Jeff Hall’s Royals should be even better this season. The discussion must be started with highly touted 6-3 8th grader O. J. Mayo, who averaged over 22.0 last season. 6-5 Sr. Marques Dawson averaged 19.1 ppg last season and also hits the boards. 6-4 Sr. Mark King also returns and reportedly had an impressive summer. Also expected to be contributors are Sr. Josh Magnusson, Sr. Marcus Thomas, and 7th grader Matt Thomas. Rose Hill also got some transfers including Zac Gillum and 6-3 David Frazier. The Royals have upgraded their schedule and should be tourney tough by the end of the season.
Lexington Catholic – finished 33-2 last season and captured the state championship. Coach Danny Haney resigned to take a coaching position and athletic director job in Florida. The new coach is Bart Flener, who had a very successful five year run at Glasgow. Catholic returns four of their top six players but will miss the inside defense and rebounding of graduated seniors 6-5 John Rompf and 6-4 Ryan Morton. They return the bulk of their scoring in 6-4 Jr. Demetrius Green, 6-3 Jr. William Graham, and 6-3 Jr. Harrison Morton. They have a very capable point guard returning in 5-11 Sr. Brian Smith (son of UK head coach Tubby Smith). They also expect a big season from 6-4 Jr. Mark Balthrop. Catholic will also get help from 5-10 Jr. Drew Morton, 6-2 Sr. Chase Hillenmeyer, 6-5 Sr. Cory Canter, 6-4 Robbie Riddell, etc. Catholic has a load of talent returning and most polls will probably rank them number one entering the season. They were shaky at times this summer but Brian Smith was absent from some of the summer events. Veteran assistant coach Tommy Huston stayed with the Knights and he will be a big help to Coach Flener this season. The keys to Catholic repeating this season will be to develop their normal deep rotation, remain hungry, and survive a dangerous 11th Region this year.
Wayne County – finished 30-3 last season and Coach Rodney Woods will have the Cardinals in the hunt for the 12th Region crown again this year. The Cardinals don’t have a lot of height, lost Evan Dick, who led the team in scoring and rebounding last year, but expect to have several players step to the forefront this year. They should be led by 6-1 Jr. Jerrod Gibbons, 6-2 Jr. Tyrone Greene, 5-10 Jr. Bradley Bell, and 6-0 So. Steven Sexton. Several teams could challenge in the 12th Region this year, but Coach Woods is just like “Old Man River”—he keeps rolling along each year and should be at the top or very near the top of the region at season’s end.
Grant County – Coach Ron Kinmon’s Braves finished 16-14 last season and will be led this season by 6-3 Sr. sharpshooter Tyler Jones. Jones is deadly from behind the arc and has really improved on penetration to the basket. 5-10 Jr. Dustin Plunkett will return at point guard this season and 6-5 Sr. Jason Combs should be a factor in the paint. Other players expected to contribute include Derek Link, Tyler Mullins, Robert Bounds, etc. Scott County will probably be favored to win the 8th Region crown but Coach Kinmon’s club is a team who can beat anyone on a given night.
Glasgow – The Scotties finished 22-9 last season and this team will be a year of change for Glasgow. The Scotties graduated seven seniors including “Mr. Basketball” Brandon Stockton. Assistant coach Jeff Moore was named head coach and he has some talent returning in 6-3 Sr. Ryan Landrum and 6-1 Sr. Nick Whitlow. Landrum has the ability to score both inside and out. Whitlow is a very athletic player and an excellent defensive player. 5-11 Sr. Luke Flener should be a solid contributor this season.
Simon Kenton – finished 17-10 last season and Coach Scott Humphrey’s squad should be a strong contender in a balanced 9th Region this season. The Pioneers will be led by 6-7 Sr. Mike Brock, who averaged 20 ppg and 11 rpg last season. Brock has the ability to score both inside and out, and has outstanding work ethics. 6-6 Sr. Eric Reed returns as a three year starter and should have a good senior campaign. 6-3 Sr. Mike Kannady is an excellent shooter who has developed into a good all-around player. 5-11 Jr. Evan Stowers returns to man the point this season. The Pioneers should get help from several players including 5-11 So. Jordan Nevels, 6-1 So. Keifer Clarke, 6-3 Jr. Michael Schoborg, 5-11 Sr. Joseph Nevels, etc.
Lexington Christian – The Eagles are coached by Jason Seamands and finished 12-15 last season. The Eagles have a good mixture of upperclassmen and promising newcomers. LCA should be led this season by 6-3 Sr. forward Tyler Morris. Morris is very athletic and can operate in the paint as well as score from the perimeter. 5-11 Sr. point guard Drew Breaux is entering his third year as a starter. 6-4 Sr. Matt Vogel is an excellent athlete and is very capable of averaging a double-double this season. The Eagles also have some promising freshmen including 6-3 Clay Turner and 6-5 Seth Lawless.
Morgan County – Coach Matthew Perry’s Cougars have four starters returning from last season and could challenge Rose Hill for 16th Region supremacy this season. 6-3 Sr. guard Ryan Williams can slash to the basket as well as knock down the trey. Williams is solid in all aspects of the game. 6-3 Sr. guard Justin Perry is very athletic and among the top players in the region. 6-5 Sr. Nick Havens gives the Cougars a presence in the paint. James Fyffe is another returning starter capable of scoring in double figures. Other players expected to contribute this season include Ryan Phipps, Whitney Perry, and Mike Gevedon.
Mason County – finished 28-6 last season, lost four starters, but still figures to be at or near the top of the 10th Region this season. Coach Kelly Wells’ team doesn’t have a lot of height, many of the players play football, and the Royals will need a few games to get their basketball “legs”, but they have talent returning led by 6-3 Jr. Chris Lofton. Lofton is a versatile performer who can play the 2, 3, or 4 positions and averaged 18 ppg last season. 6-0 Sr. Nathan Myrick is an excellent defender and uses his speed to slash to the basket. 6-3 Jr. guard Dustin Grutza averaged 7.8 ppg last season and is solid in all aspects of the game. The Royals also expect contributions from several players including 6-3 Jr. forward Jarrod Litzinger.
Louisville Eastern – Coach Doug Bibby’s Eagles only finished 11-16 last year but they possibly have as much returning talent as any team in the state. They will be led by 6-0 Jr. Rajon Rondo who is jet quick and can take it to the basket at will. Rondo is the complete package, but must play under control to fully realize his tremendous potential. 6-6 Sr. David Cornwell, who transferred from Ballard at the start of the second semester, is another who must play under control. Cornwell is very athletic and has the ability to take over a game. 6-1 Sr. Russell Miller will be in the shadow of his highly touted teammates, but he has the ability to break presses, find the open man, and shoot the ball. The Eagles should also get help from 6-2 Jr. Jermaine Bentley, 5-10 Sr. Lee Morris, 6-3 Sr. Brandon Simmons, 5-11 Jr. James Ray, and others. Coach Bibby has a lot of talent at his disposal and if they develop the proper chemistry they could turn the always brutal 7th Region upside down and make a lot of noise in the state rankings.
Ft. Thomas Highlands – The Bluebirds finished 23-8 last season but Coach John Messmer graduated five seniors including Derrick Moeves and Craig Forbes. Coach Messmer does return one of the best players in the state and one of the top candidates for “Mr. Basketball” in 6-8 Sr. Ross Neltner. Neltner averaged 18 ppg and 10 rpg last year and is very capable of improving these numbers this season. Neltner has good hands and is an excellent passing big man. He will get help from 6-1 Sr. Jeff Guidugli and 6-5 Sr. sharpshooter Kevin Gilles. Coach Messmer will also get contributions from several players plus he has some young talent that could factor in the equation. Highlands faces a challenging season as there are several teams capable of capturing the 9th Region crown.
Hatsboro-Horsham (PA) – The Hatters are coached by Walter Ostrowski and should be led this year by 6-6 Sr. Herb Courtney. Courtney was instrumental in leading the Hatters to a 15-10 record last season and was named team MVP as well as first team All-Conference. 5-11 Sr. Brian Goodwin is a two-year starter at point guard. The Hatters also return two guard 5-11 Sr. Dan Teets who has the ability to score either inside or out.
Oak Ridge (TN) – The Oak Ridge Wildcats are coached by Rick Norris and finished with a 19-12 record last season. The Wildcats should be led this year by 6-5 Sr. Kevin Kauchak, who averaged 14.5 ppg last season. Kauchak is an excellent shooter who connected on almost 60% of his field goal attempts and was 78% from the charity stripe. 6-1 Jr. point guard Zach Gulmire could be the best point guard in the league this season after getting a lot of experience in his sophomore campaign. Gulmire has good court awareness and excellent leadership skills.
Please send your comments and questions to Ron Harrison at email@example.com.
Ron Harrison’s reports on this and other basketball events appear on https://www.angelfire.com/ky/prephoops.