MaxWire National Blog

Covering High School Sports in America

Category: Kentucky

  • The University of Michigan received a pledge this week from Kentucky's No. 1 football player in the Class of 2015, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.

    Running back Damien Harris of Madison Southern (Berea, Ky.) made his long-time love of the Wolverines official and thus rejected the likes of Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee.

    The 5-foot-11, 210-pounder, who runs 40 yards in under 4.4 seconds, is ranked as the No. 91 junior prospect and No. 10 running back in the nation by 247Sports.

    Madison Southern coach Jon Clark told the newspaper, "He has an ability to accelerate very quickly on the field, but what's unique about him is his size. He's not a small back by any means ... He's got great vision. He's got a good understanding of the game and he works hard. He's a good kid and a good person."

    As a sophomore, Harris ran for 1,911 yards and 37 touchdowns in 10 games. He also caught 10 passes for 176 yards and three touchdowns.
  • The Charlotte Observer announced Monday that prized 7-foot sophomore Raekwon Long is leaving Garinger (Charlotte, N.C.) for Scott County (Georgetown, Ky.). He will be playing for Billy Hicks, the winningest active coach in Kentucky.

    Photo by Fabian Radulescu

    Raekwon Long will transfer to Scott County.

    Long, who was a MaxPreps freshman All-American, averaged an impressive 15 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocked shots last season.

    Former Garinger assistant coach Keith Ison, who has mentored Long for the past five years, told the Observer, "It's really not a motivation other than I'm originally from this area. All my family is from this area. We wanted to get away from the pressure that Raekwon had been under, his expectations. Not saying they won't be here, but let him get his feet wet being away from home for a while.

    "Just trying to let him be a kid, have his childhood. And just let him get away from all of that pressure and all that that comes with being an elite athlete."

    Ison also revealed that the University of Tennessee Vols lead in the recruiting battle for the rising superstar. He already has had unofficial visits to Kentucky, Louisville, Clemson, Wake Forest, North Carolina and Duke.
  • The unbeaten Greenwood (Bowling Green, Ky.) softball team won twice on Friday and needs two more victories to claim its first state championship. The Gators, who are No. 3 in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 rankings, were to play defending champion Mercy (Louisville) this morning in the semifinals of the double-elimination tournament.

    Courtesy of Facebook

    Emily Gravette, Greenwood

    Along the way the Gators extended their state record winning streak to 42 games, which also is a Kentucky record for wins in a single year.

    They breezed in the morning with a 13-0 rout of Notre Dame Academy (Park Hills) in five innings. Senior shortstop Emily Gravette paced the 19-hit attack with a 4-for-5 performance and drove in four runs.

    However, a rainstorm then set the entire tournament back and the team ended up taking in an afternoon movie while awaiting its next opponent.

    The wait was worthwhile because the Gators then blanked the state's No. 2-ranked team, Lone Oak (Paducah),  9-0 to gain revenge for last year's  2-1 semifinal loss in eight innings.

    Coach Penny Reece told the Bowling Green Daily News, "That's the one that sent us home last year and we felt like we gave that game away. You wait a whole year to get back and they've got that No. 2 ranking. That's a championship game right there and we delivered."

    Elizabeth Moss, who lost that game a year ago, also gained her share of satisfaction by holding Lone Oak to six hits and striking out seven.
  • When James Blackmon Jr. is hot, coaches are learning to just let him shoot.

    Photo courtesy USA Basketball

    James Blackmon Jr.

    On Friday the 6-2 rising senior poured in 21 of his 27 points in the second half and overtime to lead the Indiana Junior All-Stars to a wild 108-102 basketball victory over their Kentucky counterparts in Greenfield, Ind.
     
    The format was to rotate groups of five, but coach Brent Chitty allowed Blackmon to stay in the game when his points were badly needed.

    He told the members of the media, "He did the same thing in practice on Thursday. He started out kind of slow and then it was like, 'OK, here we go.' You guys saw it."

    A blue-chip guard, Blackmon will be playing at Marion, Ind., this year after his father, James Blackmon Sr., took the job as head coach at his alma mater. One year later he will be the center piece in an outstanding Indiana University recruiting class.

    Another blue chipper, Trevon Bluiett, added 17 points for the Hoosiers. Justin Johnson, a 6-7 forward from Perry County Central (Hazard, Ky.), paced Kentucky with 20 points.

    Indiana also won the girls match-up 79-67 as 5-5 University of Iowa recruit Whitney Jennings of Logansport scored scored 23 points.
  • Photo by Megan Stearman

    St. Xavier rallied in the 8th inning to beat Logan County.

    Caleb Bruner, a sophomore from Logan County (Russellville, Ky.), was one strike away from a 1-0 victory over Kentucky's No. 2-ranked baseball team during Tuesday's state tournament opener.

    But then lightning struck for favored St. Xavier (Louisville, Ky.) in the last of the eighth inning.

    The 150-pound right-hander hit Nate Stemle with a pitch on an 0-2 count. Junior catcher Austin Clemons then broke up the no-hitter with a hard smash that the third baseman could not handle. Pinch runner Trace Amshoff raced to third and Stemle wound up on second following the throw to third. Andrew Hubbs was safe on an error by the second baseman and both runners scored for a mind-boggling 2-1 victory.

    St. Xavier coach Andy Porta told Mike Fields of the Lexington Herald-Leader, "Honestly, I thought we were dead in the water. (Bruner) pitched a heck of a game. He didn't deserve to lose."

    Bruner threw 125 pitches. He struck out seven, walked five and hit three.

    "I gave it my all," he said. "They just found a way to put two runs up in the bottom of the eighth."

    Logan County finished with a 26-11 record. St. Xavier advances with a 34-4 record.
  • The record-setting career of Wolfe County's (Campton, Ky.) Dylan Creech came to an end last week and with it fell a pair of Kentucky state baseball records.

    Photo courtesy of Wolfe County High School
    During his career, Creech set the state record for RBIs with 255 and walks with 169. The record-setting walk was an intentional one, which has been a common occurrence for Creech, according to former Wolfe County coach Jim Creech, since Dylan's sophomore season when he hit home runs in a state-record six consecutive at-bats.

    Creech also has 242 career hits, which rank second in state history, while his 65 career doubles and 18 career triples each rank third.

    Creech already holds state records for hits in a single game (6), doubles in a single game (4), RBIs in a season (87) and RBIs in a game (13).
  • Nobody has found a way to stop the Greenwood (Bowling Green, Ky.) softball team on its way into the Kentucky High School Athletic Association record books.

    Photo courtesy of raleyslone.com

    Raley Slone, Greenwood

    According to the Bowling Green Daily News, the Gators' 1-0 triumph over Christian County on Tuesday was the 31st in a row, breaking the mark of 30 set by Reidland in 2000.

    They added to the legacy with a 5-2 victory over Central Hardin on Thursday. That extended the record to 32, and the Gators have two more shots Saturday to add to it, as they have scheduled games against Daviess County and Oldham County.

    In the record-setting win, Raley Slone knocked in the only run with a third-inning single and Brittany Graham threw a two-hitter for the Gators, who are ranked No. 16 in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 National Softball Rankings and 56th nationally in the Freeman Rankings.
  • Photo by Theresa Szpila

    Hailey Szpila set a state record by hitting home runs in five consecutive at-bats.

    Maturing power hitter Hailey Szpila of Bullitt Central (Shepherdsville, Ky.) set an all-time Kentucky softball record during the past week by slamming home runs in five consecutive at-bats. There was one walk during the streak.

    Coach Buddy Gallemore told MaxPreps that she hit a solo shot on her last Tuesday at-bat against Elizabethtown (Ky.), then exploded for three (two with the bases loaded) during a 15-1 rout of Spencer County (Taylorsville, Ky.) on Wednesday and collected her final round-tripper on Thursday against South Odlham (Crestwood, Ky.).

    The previous Kentucky record was three.

    The 5-foot-6 junior first baseman/pitcher was finally retired Thursday on a fly ball to left field.

    "It was kind of a groan from our fans, but things like that have to come to an end," Gallemore said.

    "You don't expect anybody to set a record like that," he continued. "To hit five in five consecutive at-bats is incredible. Her teammates were as excited as she was and so was the coaching staff, believe me. She's worked hard on her swing the last few years. She is just seeing the ball. It looks like a beachball. Her mechanics are very sound and the ball travels. She knows she can hit and her confidence is through the roof."

    The left-handed slugger, who has started since eighth grade, bats third in the lineup and is normally a first baseman. However, she has been pressed into pitching this year out of necessity and has compiled a 14-4 record with 56 strikeouts, just eight walks and a 2.47 ERA.

    She had only three home runs prior to last week and Gallemore believes she hit just one as a sophomore. This season she is batting .476 with eight home runs, 26 runs and has driven in 27. She has drawn 19 walks and struck out just seven times.

    *In a marathon baseball game, Christian Brothers (Memphis, Tenn.) outlasted Memphis University (Memphis, Tenn) 3-2 in a 17-inning thriller which lasted four hours and 35 minutes. No. 9 hitter Brandon Dawson was the hero with the winning RBI single following a triple by Chris Carrier.
  • Bill Miller notched his 1,000th baseball coaching victory on Friday when Pleasure Ridge Park (Louisville, Ky.) defeated Lone Oak (Paducah, Ky.) 8-3.

    Courtesy photo

    Bill Miller

    Bob White reported in the Louisville Courier-Journal that Miller's 34-year record now stands at 1,000-264 with four state championships and four runner-up finishes. He is just seven wins shy of breaking the Kentucky record, which is 1,006 by Larry Gumm, who retired at Green County (Owensboro) in 2007.

    The 67-year-old Miller was given a water bath after the game, the first time he ever received that type of treatment after a regular-season contest.

    Miller told White, "I'm not a numbers guy. I'm a people's guy. I'm more into what my kids do. I'm proud of this because of what it means to the tradition of our program."

    PRP first baseman Hunter Johnson, who doubled twice, noted, "It means he's had a great career. A lot of great players have come through here and that he's a great coach."

    The veteran coach took PRP to the state tourney for the first time in 1982. He told his assistant coach to enjoy the trip because they might never get back there again.

    Long ago, a state-finals trip became an expected part of each year's schedule. This year's 23-7 team could make it 15 Final Fours during Miller's illustrious career.
  • Photo by Wayne Litmer

    Drew Barker made his college choice on Friday.

    Another top quarterback has made his college decision, as Drew Barker committed to Kentucky in an announcement this afternoon.

    The ceremony was streamed live online by WKYT - Lexington.

    Barker is ranked as the nation's No. 7 pro-style quarterback and the No. 108 recruit overall according to 247Sports.com.

    As a junior, Barker tossed for 2,067 yards and 22 touchdowns and rushed for an additional 1,422 yards and 18 scores for Conner (Hebron, Ky.).

    "When I make the decision will be the day I'll be like, ‘Dang,' and look back at everything and I enjoyed it all, and the hard work paid off," Barker told the Courier-Journal. "Now it's time to work even harder."