Tuesday, March 29, 2011

College player updates ...

Chad Wright is having another fine spring as the University of Kentucky's starting left fielder. Wright, a junior from Heath, is hitting .348 with 3 home runs and 19 RBI in 25 games and leads the Wildcats in several offensive categories. Wright also has a very impressive .469 on-base percentage. Kentucky is 14-11 overall and 2-4 in the SEC after being swept at Alabama last weekend.

Gabriel Shaw is 0-1 with a 5.59 ERA at Louisville, and has been his pattern, has been very good out of the bullpen. Shaw, a St. Mary product, gave up four runs in three innings in his only start but has a 2.70 ERA as a reliever. Louisville is 15-8 and took two out of three at Rutgers to start its Big East schedule.

Ballard Memorial product James Jones has taken to a bullpen role at Louisiana-Monroe, with a 4-1 record and a 2.03 ERA and three saves in 10 appearances. In 31 innings, Jones has allowed 21 hits with 10 walks and 31 strikeouts. ULM is 14-9 overall and 3-3 in the Sun Belt.

And Marshall County graduate Cody Forsythe is having a great sophomore season at Southern Illinois. Forsythe is 2-3 (for a team that is 6-17) with a 2.76 ERA. In 42 innings, Forsythe has allowed 42 hits with four walks and 27 strikeouts.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Beck leaves Graves, surfaces at Massac ...

Travis Beck, a 6-3 forward who transferred from Joppa to Graves County in mid-December, is now enrolled at Massac County.

Beck, who helped the Eagles as a reserve next season, should lend some versatility to the Patriots' roster. He can score from the perimeter and won't have to play in the post at Massac, which already has 6-5 Griffin Bazor and 6-6 Ethan Schulte back for next season.

Presnell eligible at Tilghman ...

Paducah Tilghman may have found a new quarterback in Lone Oak transfer Tyler Presnell, who has been ruled eligible to play for the Tornado next fall.

Presnell was Lone Oak's starter at the beginning of the 2010 season but was soon replaced by freshman Cole Ousley.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Boys' regional tournament ... facts and figures

Game 1: Fulton County vs. Ballard Memorial

The scoop: These two teams have been paired at the hip, so to speak, for much of the season. They were the early-line favorites in the All A Classic regional tournament, and indeed, they went into the event as the top two seeds.

They split a pair of regular-season matchups, with Fulton County prevailing 55-52 in LaCenter in early December, a game decided when Zack Chaykowsky's potential game-tying 3-pointer was ruled as coming after the buzzer.

In a rare Saturday night game in the final week of the regular season, the Bombers won 52-40 in Hickman, with Fulton County star Leonard Smith in constant foul trouble — he finished with five points and five fouls.

Both teams have had some ups and downs — the Pilots were the No. 2 seed in the All A Classic, but their bid to win it was derailed at the start with a loss to district rival Carlisle County. Ballard lost a seven-point lead in the final two minutes to Heath in the championship game a few days later.

And neither team is at full strength. Fulton County's Derrick Swift, who averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds per game, went back to Lake County (Tenn.) in early February, taking away a player that was sometimes a dominant force in the post. Ballard has had three guards — Manny Yarbro and sometimes-starting point guards Alex Hill and Chris Jones — leave the team since the All A Classic.

So where does that leave us? Swift's loss hurts the Pilots on the inside, where Ballard's Jay Middleton makes his living, and the loss of Swift means that Fulton County coach Andrew Clinton has nightly decisions to make on whether he utilizes Smith and Dylan Johnson on the perimeter or moves them closer to the basket.

Ballard doesn't have the frontcourt depth it once enjoyed, and the personnel losses seem to have hurt a defense that was playing rather well at midseason.

A win gives the Bombers their first 20-win season since 1982. Fulton County is 23-4 against a soft schedule — only a third of their games have comes against teams with a winning record.

Overall records: Fulton County 23-4, Ballard Memorial 19-9
Against teams with winning records: Fulton County 5-4, Ballard Memorial 6-8
Against district champions: Fulton County 1-2, Ballard Memorial 1-5
Against First Region tournament teams: Fulton County 4-4, Ballard Memorial 4-7
Against teams that reached regional tournaments: Fulton County 5-4, Ballard Memorial 6-8

Game 2: Paducah Tilghman vs. Calloway County

The scoop: Tilghman seems to be playing a like a team very conscious of the calendar, with the focus and passion of a team that knows this is the postseason and wants to get back to Rupp Arena, where a winnable first-round game with the 13th Region awaits the winner of the First Region.

One coach told me last week that Tornado point guard Josh Forrest is the hardest player to keep out of the lane that he's ever coached against, and Forrest has asserted himself more on the offensive end when he senses it's needed.

Defense is what won the Tornado the regional title last year, and more good work is expected from guards Trevonte Cole and Cody Schultz. With athletic swingmen J.D. Harmon and Darrius Brown and several other options inside, Tilghman coach Brad Stieg is well-stocked with options if foul trouble arises.

Calloway is the consummate middle-of-the-road team that beats the teams it should — none of the Lakers' wins this year have come against a team with a winning record. Brock Simmons is still one of the region's best scorers, and the Lakers' X-factors of late have been a pair of young guns, 6-6 freshman Michael Arnett and 6-4 eighth-grader Parker Adams, who will be a tough matchup on the wing in the future.

Overall records: Paducah Tilghman 25-4, Calloway County 15-13
Against teams with winning records: Paducah Tilghman 14-4, Calloway County 0-12
Against district champions: Paducah Tilghman 7-3, Calloway County 0-8
Against First Region tournament teams: Paducah Tilghman 10-1, Calloway County 0-8
Against teams that reached regional tournaments: Paducah Tilghman 15-4, Calloway County 0-11

Game 3: Marshall County vs. Carlisle County

The scoop: It's become a running joke in both programs, the seeming inevitability of this matchup. They've drawn each other in the first round of the regional tournament in six of the last nine seasons, dating back to 2003 — the other three years were those that the Comets failed to advance out of the district.

Carlisle also knocked out Marshall in the semifinals 10 years ago in its Cinderella run to Rupp Arena, where it led eventual state champion Lexington Lafayette for most of the first three quarters before falling in the first round.

Marshall has had their way with the Comets in recent years, and is favored to do so again with regional player of the year front-runner Stephen Atkinson leading the way and a club that Carlisle coach Brian O'Neill told me earlier this season he felt was the best defensive team in the region.

The key for Marshall is the backcourt. Cole Nelson has become the primary ballhandler, with Blake Clark helping out, and Peter Northcutt has found his shooting range in the latter part of the season. Chase York can score off the bench, and he and Nelson can hit the boards, too.

Carlisle guard Blake Rutherford can light it up from the perimeter and the key for the Comets would appear to be 6-6 sophomore Marcus Burnett, who could pose the undersized Marshall frontcourt some problems.

Overall records: Marshall County 24-6, Carlisle County 16-13
Against teams with winning records: Marshall County 12-6, Carlisle County 2-10
Against district champions: Marshall County 5-3, Carlisle County 1-7
Against First Region tournament teams: Marshall County 9-2, Carlisle County 2-8
Against teams that reached regional tournaments: Marshall County 12-5, Carlisle County 2-9

Game 4: Graves County vs. Heath

The scoop: Graves coach Terry Birdsong insisted on Saturday that the Pirates should be favored to beat his club, based on their 74-64 win at the Eagles' Nest a few weeks ago. No one agrees with that, necessarily, but this is one of the region's most intriguing matchups.

Heath employed a triangle-and-two against Graves, chasing senior guards Jesse Anderson and Ross Williams and limiting them to a combined 13 points.

Graves has had questions about depth all season, but guard Mason Beale and forward Travis Beck have been solid in the latter half of the season. The Eagles' MVP may be center Aaron Cooper, whose low-post scoring and defense are invaluable.

Heath is a tough matchup for the Eagles with 6-6 Drew Robinson and 6-5 Jacob Jett, two players that can face the basket, and 6-4, 260-pound reserve David Wallace, who had a career-high 11 points against Graves.

But the Pirates have also struggled a bit since coming back from its quarterfinal-round appearance at the All A Classic — they lost to Reidland in their first game back home, then struggled to beat the Greyhounds in the district tournament, and have lost decisively to Padcuah Tilghman twice in the last three weeks.

One key to watch — point guard Damien Bolen gave the Eagles fits in the regional tournament last year with his quickness and ability to penetrate. Swingman Drew Wrinkle has emerged as a potential scorer.

Overall records: Graves County 22-7, Heath 20-10
Against teams with winning records: Graves County 11-7, Heath 10-8
Against district champions: Graves County 3-5, Heath 2-7
Against First Region tournament teams: Graves County 7-5, Heath 5-6
Against teams that reached regional tournaments: Graves County 9-6, Heath 8-8

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Final BluegrassPreps.com rankings ...


1. Louisville Eastern
2. Louisville Ballard
3. Clark County
4. LexingtonTates Creek
5. Scott County
6. Christian County
7. Louisville Trinity
8. Jeffersontown
9. Warren Central
10. Lexington Catholic
11. Louisville Moore
12. Louisville Western
13. Lexington Henry Clay
14. Bullitt East
15. Louisville Central
16. Pleasure Ridge Park
17. Bowling Green
18. Louisville Seneca
19. Paducah Tilghman
20. Madison Central


1. Louisville Manual
2. Rockcastle County
3. Boone County
4. Louisville Mercy
5. Bowling Green
6. Louisville Sacred Heart
7. Marion County
8. Perry Central
9. Ryle
10. Elizabethtown
11. Calloway County
12. Louisville Butler
13. Greenwood
14. Newport Catholic
15. Lexington Bryan Station
16. Clay County
17. Owensboro Catholic
18. Grayson County
19. Scott County
20. Franklin-Simpson