June 7-9, 1999
©1999 by Ron Harrison
This three day event serves as a good warm-up for a busy and exciting summer basketball campaign. Lexington Catholic head coach Danny Haney and his staff do an excellent job of bringing in a good field for this event. The teams scheduled this year are: Fleming County (late withdrawal), Pleasure Ridge Park, West Carter, Madison Central, Glasgow, Ashland, West Jessamine, Harrison County, University Heights, and Lexington Catholic. Fleming County was replaced in some of their games by the Lexington Catholic JV squad and in others by a split Lexington Catholic squad. This actually worked to Lexington Catholic's advantage by giving some of their talented youngsters more game experience.
Each game consisted of two 20-minute halves with the clock running continuously until the final two minutes of each half. Records and stats were not kept with only the game score being kept. This was a good opportunity for teams to play 5-6 games over a three day period in preparation for the various team camps and AAU events to follow this summer. Some teams were short-handed with players missing due to vacations, football camps, baseball season, and various other reasons.
The two most impressive teams were Lexington Catholic and Pleasure Ridge Park. Catholic lost 7-1 Nathan Popp and 6-4 Don Offutt from last year but they return a very balanced deep squad who can shoot the three and really get after you on defense. Catholic does not have a lot of size and last year's point guard, 6-4 Matt Heissenbuttel may have to play inside this year. Matt is extremely versatile and can play any of five positions. Matt is a streaky shooter but takes the ball inside well and rebounds well for his size. 6-3 Ben Wilson has found his shooting touch and has been deadly from outside. 6-3 Will Harris, 6-1 Kip Wellman, and 6-2 Brendon Woody also possess three point range.
Catholic is presently led at the point guard position by 6-0 Clay Wolford. Other key contributors to the team include David Hewitt. 6-3 Ryan Morton, 6-3 Jack Heissenbuttel and a host of others. 5-9 Brian Smith, the youngest son of UK Coach Tubby Smith, shows promise as the point guard of the future.
It would be easy to feel sorry for the head coach of Pleasure Ridge Park Dale Mabrey this year. He lost three of the outstanding players in school history from the 1998-1999 squad. 6-4 Duane King, 6-0 Michael Griffith, and 5-11 Kevin Paschel graduated but the cupboard is not bare. Panther basketball doesn't die and Coach Mabrey doesn't rebuild, he merely reloads.
They will be led this year by a real-life "Rambo", 6-5 Blake Downing. Blake can rebound, score, pass, play defense, and accomplishes this with 100% effort on every play. They have a fine group of guards including 5-9 Stevie Gaines, 5-11 Matt Morris, the muscular 5-7 dynamo Keyonn Tutt, and the 6-1 dunking machine Steve Koger. Downing will have help up front with 6-2 Jeremy McBroom and 6-5 Johnny Brooks. PRP also has several young players to add to the mix. The Panthers continue to play their smothering defense and as usual possess fine team speed.
Madison Central will also field a good team despite massive losses from graduation. They lost 6-9 Marquis Estill, 6-3 Kenneal Jenkins, and their fine backcourt tandem of 5-9 Chuckie Campbell and 5-9 Brandon Fritz. They will be led this year by 6-7 Kip Kirchbaum and 6-2 Eric Broomfield. They will also receive stellar play from 6-1 Ryan Jones and 6-2 Blake Reichenbach, who missed this event due to prior engagements. Coach Allen Feldhaus Jr. is a fiery coach from the "old school" and his teams will always play hard and give a good effort.
University Heights, coached by Jeff Jackson, has some good young talent on this squad. They will be led by 6-2 Ravi Moss, 6-5 Shane Fuller, and Wes Bollinger. 6-11 Ryan Barnett could join the team later this summer for his senior campaign.
Glasgow has one of the top underclassmen in the state in 5-9 sophomore Brandon Stockton. Brandon can take the ball to the basket or bomb away from outside. He will be assisted this year by Alan and Wes Wade, James Heltsley, and Greg Froggett.
West Jessamine will be led this year by 6-5 senior Chris Johnson. West Carter got good performances from Casey Lowe and Ashland was led by 6-1 Derek Cooksey. It was extremely difficult to evaluate some of the teams due to missing players, but the coaches all seemed to use this as a teaching device to improve their teams for the 1999-2000 season.
Lexington Catholic defeated Pleasure Ridge Park 48-40 in the most anticipated
game of the shoot-out. Matt Heissenbuttel and Ben Wilson
led Catholic with 16 and 13 points respectively. PRP had a balanced
attack with nobody reaching double figures. Catholic raced out to
an early lead and never relinquished control. These teams are evenly
matched and will probably see a lot of each other over the summer.
This was typical summer basketball; incredibly hot gym, some sloppy basketball, flashes of brilliance, yet much promise for the season ahead. The attitudes were excellent from both players and coaches and the overriding theme appeared to be on teaching and improving instead of focusing on a win that will never appear in a record book. Overall, from this observer, a very enjoyable three days.
P.S. Lexington Catholic won the Kentucky 17 and Under AAU Championship. Pleasure Ridge Park won the high school division of the Derek Smith Shoot-Out, and the prestigious Steamboat Classic Championship in later summer developments.