MaxWire National Blog

Covering High School Sports in America
  • Rachel Ayer put her name atop the Kentucky single-game home run list Monday - and she has more than two seasons to try and pass herself.

    According to the News-Enterprise of Hardin County, the sophomore from Meade County (Brandenburg, Ky.) blasted four homers in a 17-3 victory over Hancock County. It was somewhat of a surprise, as Ayer said she had never hit more than one homer in a varsity game before.

    Photo courtesy of Meade County Schools
    The story said she hit a two-run shot in the first, then after flying out homered to right-center (solo style) to lead off the fifth. A two-run shot to center in the sixth tied the state record and in the seventh she knocked a three-run shot to right-center. She finished with eight RBIs.

    And to add a little something extra, Ayer homered in her final at-bat in the team's previous game.

    "It was amazing someone could keep hitting them out of the park one after another," coach Mike Harreld told the newspaper. "I guess after one goes out, you have to figure she's not going to do it again. When it happens again, you have to be believe surely it's not going to happen a third time. And when she did it again, it was like, well there's no way there will be a fourth."

    Ayer said it was "amazing" and that her team was rooting her on the entire way.

    "When I hit the third one, all the girls congratulated me at the plate and told me I had tied it," she was quoted as saying. "When I came across the plate for the fourth one, they were hooting and hollering and cheering me on."

  • A third recent movie — and second documentary — featuring high school football will premiere next week, this one called "Give Us This Day."

    The movie centers around the 2012 season of perennial Northern California power Grant (Sacramento, Calif.), which is centered in the rough neighborhood of Del Paso Heights.

    The team, which won a CIF State Division I championship in 2008 and is coached by one of the state's most successful coaches in Mike Alberghini, was on course to miss the playoffs in 2012 before tragedy struck, the alleged murder by assistant coach Ed Coleman of his girlfriend and his own alleged suicide.

    The movie was gritty enough, featuring the pitfalls and obstacles many inner-city schools and teams face. But the act of violence took the documentary into an entirely different path. Much like Grant's season.

    Especially so because the filmmakers had befriended Coleman, who they said was a role model to many of the players before his death. 

    "We knew this could change the trajectory of the story of the season in a big way," co-director D.L. Stern told the Sacramento Bee. "The people who knew Ed could not believe that could ever happen, because they knew what kind of person he was. We were filmmakers – we had to stay objective – but we had grown to love him, and could not imagine it."

    The documentary, which is also co-directed by Adam Stern (the brother of D.L.) and Milton Boyd, premieres Monday at the Newport Beach Film Festival and Wednesday as part of the Sacramento International Film Festival.

    See feature on Grant coach Mike Alberghini

    It comes on the heels of a trailer and release date of Aug. 22 for the Hollywood production of "When the Game Stands Tall" — the De La Salle football movie. Earlier this week and 12 days following the De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) movie news, came the announcement of another prep football release, a documentary called "We Could Be King," the story of two rival schools from Philadelphia — Germantown and Martin Luther King — merging together due to budget cuts.

    "We Could Be King" will premiere Saturday at the Tribeca Film Festival.
    File photo by Anthony Brunsman

    Grant huddles during a game against Burbank in 2012.

    File photo by Anthony Brunsman

    Grant coach Mike Alberghini didn't keep any secrets during the 2012 season.

    Read more here:

  • Ben Spradley picked a great time for his first career home run.

    The Wilson Central (Lebanon, Tenn.) junior lefty ripped a ball over the right field fence in Wednesday's matchup with rival Mt. Julien.

    Spradley's father, Greg, had been filming the game. As his son's shot cleared the fence, Greg erupted with excitement.

    "Oh my God!" he yelled with a mixture of Tennessee twang and fatherly pride, as the younger Spradley rounded the bases. "Ben Spradley just hit one out of the park!"

    The elder Spradley told MaxPreps that he was just happy for his son.

    "His mother and I are just so proud of how hard he works, and really excited to see him perform well in an important game against Wilson Central's biggest rival," Greg Spradley said.

    Wilson Central takes on Stewart's County on Thursday night. Hopefully Greg Spradley will have his camera rolling.

  • Earl Boykins was named the new varsity boys basketball coach at Douglas County (Castle Rock, Colo.) over the weekend and will meet with players and parents for the first time Tuesday night.

    Stepping in to a new situation is nothing new for Boykins, who spent 13 seasons in the NBA and played for 10 teams — the Bobcats, Bucks, Cavaliers, Clippers, Magic, Nets, Nuggets, Rockets, Warriors and Wizards. He also spent a year in Italy.

    The Cleveland native is inheriting a Douglas County program that went 3-20 in 2013-14 and lost its last 13 games. Turning the Huskies into a winner doesn't seem all that daunting for Boykins, who overcame the odds to carve out a career at the highest level of professional basketball despite standing just 5-foot-5 and weighing 135 pounds.

    "I'm comfortable with the challenge," Boykins told MaxPreps on Tuesday morning.

    A graduate of Cleveland Central Catholic and Eastern Michigan University (his number has been retired at both), Boykins doesn't have any previous high school coaching experience.

    "I've been coaching seventh- and eighth-graders," Boykins said. "But because I played the point guard position in a lot of ways I feel like I've been coaching basketball since I was 10 years old."

    He also operates the Boykins Basketball Academy, which offers specialized training and sponsors youth teams.

    Semi-retired, Boykins has no plans to serve as a figurehead leader at Douglas County. The Huskies will get his full attention and his roots are firmly planted.

    The floor general has been in the Denver area since his run with the Nuggets from 2003-07.

    "The weather is great here and the people really make it special," Boykins said.

  • Done. Finished. Kaput.

    After the batter pulled back a bunt attempt on what appeared to be a squeeze play, Salem (Conyers, Ga.) baserunner Ndiayemon Harrison found himself halfway between third and home, with the Cedar Shoals (Athens, Ga.) catcher holding the ball and waiting to tag him out.

    Harrison jammed on the brakes in an attempt to head back to third but slipped, and the catcher ran towards him thinking he had an easy out.

    But Harrison wouldn't go down without a fight, using his best limbo moves to somehow shimmy his way out of the tag, and when the catcher ran past him he had a clear path to the plate.

    The run gave Salem a 6-0 lead, and the Seminoles went on to win 8-0 to complete a doubleheader sweep of the Jaguars.

    Thanks to the NFHS Network for the video.

  • The high school football genre is keeping Hollywood busy these days. Twelve days ago, the trailer and release date of Aug. 22 were announced for "When the Game Stands Tall" — the De La Salle football movie.

    On Saturday, the documentary "We Could Be King," the story of two rival schools from Philadelphia merged together due to budget cuts — Germantown and Martin Luther King — will premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.

    Acclaimed documentary film maker Judd Ehrlich followed the rough edges of this gritty transformation which features a rookie head coach, fighting between teammates and ultimately a brotherhood.

    Unlike the De La Salle film, there are no actors or second takes in this one. Live cameras rolled throughout. Ehrlich and his three-man crew followed the team for four months.

    He told Variety: "We found the other elements in their lives were much deeper and richer than any football rivalry. There are lots of different issues these kids are dealing with. ... I think this is ultimately going to be an inspirational film."
    Screen shot from YouTube

  • Emily Cox finished what she set out to do. Run 26.1 miles. For her grandfather. For Boston Strong.

    The 18-year-old senior at Woodson (Fairfax, Va.) crossed the finish line in 3 hours, 46.08 minutes, according to race results.

    Cox, the youngest female in the field of 36,000, actually qualified for last year's Boston Marathon but because she was only 17 wasn't eligible to run.

    Perhaps it was fate.

    According to this terrific feature on her in the Washington Post, Cox got into marathon running largely because of her grandfather John, who served as a Marine in World War II and was the last WWII veteran to run in the 101 Marine Corps Marathons.

    Doctors convinced her granddad that at 84 he should stop running marathons, so Cox picked up the family tradition at age 15. Without training, she finished a Marine Corps Marathon in 4:35.08, then in the 2012 race, she improved her time by more than an hour in 3:31.51 to qualify for Boston, the first of her family full of runners to do so.

    Following last year's bombing, she had even more incentive to run: Her grandfather had passed away in August of 2011, she told Jacqueline Kantor of the Post before Monday's race.

    "I'll have something to run for this year, more than me just trying to finish a marathon. Ultimately I know I've trained well. I want to have a smart pace, go out and just enjoy it, enjoy the experience, enjoy Boston and be part of something bigger than myself."

    Evidently she did, starting just after 10:30 a.m. while finishing up just short of 2:20 p.m.

    More remarkable than her endurance running is this: she doesn't own a smart phone or social media accounts.
  • Photo by Randy Kemp

    Top 2015 recruit Napheesa Collier committed to UConn this weekend.

    Last week A'ja Wilson, the 2013-14 MaxPreps National Girls Basketball Player of the Year, surprised many by choosing hometown University of South Carolina over national powers like UConn and Tennessee.

    The sting from that recruiting loss just got a little lighter for Geno Auriemma and the Huskies, however, as Napheesa Collier, one of the nation's top recruits from the class of 2015, announced via Twitter on Sunday that she has committed to the reigning national champions.As a junior at Incarnate Word Academy (St. Louis) this season, the 6-foot-1 guard averaged 23.7 points and 10 rebounds while leading her team to a state title and the No. 2 national ranking in the Xcellent 25.

    Collier is the latest in a long line of top recruits to commit to the Huskies, including Breanna Stewart of Cicero-North Syracuse (Cicero, N.Y.) and Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis of Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.).
  • Photos by MaxPreps photographers
    Alabama enjoyed a huge day on the recruiting front on Saturday, landing a commitment from St. Peter's Prep (Jersey City, N.J.) defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick.

    The 5-foot-11, 180-pound rising senior chose Alabama over dozens of offers, including Florida State and Ohio State. Fitzpatrick highlighted a group of five recruits who pledged to the Crimson Tide at the team's spring game.

    A five-star recruit, Fitzpatrick is the nation's No. 30-ranked recruit overall in the 247Composite.

    Alabama currently has the No. 1-ranked recruiting class in the country.

    Check out Fitzpatrick's highlights below.

  • When looking for lacrosse excellence, make sure to head first just outside the Baltimore Beltway's northwest section.

    McDonogh (Owings Mills, Md.) set the national record for consecutive wins Thursday and finished its week with an impressive 106 victories in a row, according to the Baltimore Sun. The record-breaking win was Thursday, an 18-10 triumph over St. Paul's Girls, and the squad added a 15-8 triumph over North Harford Friday before beating Mt. Hebron Saturday by a 15-7 score in the Mt. Hebron Fight for Five Tournament.

    Those 106 consecutive wins have knocked Loch Raven (Towson, Md.) and Mt. Hebron (Ellicott City, Md.) out of the record books. Loch Raven won 103 in a row between 1973 and 1982, according to the story, while Mt. Hebron's streak of 103 ended in 2007. National lacrosse records are not thoroughly maintained in one single spot, the story added, but the McDonogh record is widely accepted.

    "With the record breaking, I feel like it's just icing on the cake now since the pressure's off," senior Miranda McCoy told the newspaper. "But we just want to keep playing our game and really not think about how many games we can win. We want to take one game at a time and try to keep the records out of our minds."

    Teammate Megan Whittle added: "Every team that we play comes out with their best punch and they're pumped."