A look back at the area’s year in prep sports
High school sports have been winding down for the summer, meaning there won’t be much action for a few weeks until preseason practices begin.
That doesn’t mean you can’t relive some of the best moments from the last year, however.
Here’s a look back at 10 of the most memorable sports moments The Ledger Independent’s 13 coverage area high schools produced in 2017-18, plus a few others that stuck out:
Fleming County Football back at the top: The Panthers claimed their first outright district title since 2001, posting a perfect 5-0 record in district play. They made it official with a 49-20 victory at Bath County, but the key play of the season came two weeks earlier at Russell when Jaden Campbell returned a punt 79 yards to the end zone in the final minute to give the Panthers a 35-30 victory.
“When he scored and we won, we kind of knew we had busted through that last bubble. We knew Bath County would be a tough challenge and West Carter would be a tough challenge too, but once you beat the big dog you kind of take a breath of fresh air. Getting over the hump with Russell is a big one.” – Fleming County coach Bill Spencer on beating Russell.
Running to the top: On a cold, rainy day at Lykins Park in Winchester, Jared Jefferson did what no other from Bracken County had done before – claim a cross country regional title. The junior finished in a time of 16:58. He finished third at the Class 1A state meet. With temperatures opposite of that in the fall cross country meet, Jefferson added a first place medal in the 3,200-meter run at the Class 1A, Region 5 track and field meet this spring. He also anchored the 4×800-meter relay team that finished first. Jefferson came away with second in the 3,200 in the state meet. He also won the 3,000-meter run at the indoor state championship.
“It’s amazing to me how some people react to the situation and other people don’t. As I tell them, and Jared has taken this to heart and Brandon [Cox] – champions don’t care what the conditions are. Champions are going to show up. They’re going in with the intention to win. Anyone else that’s worried about anything else – they’ve already got them beat and that’s the reason why he’s at where he’s at.” – Bracken County coach Forrest Hunt on Jared Jefferson winning cross country region.
At the northern edge of the coverage area, it was Jenny Seas of Peebles producing a state championship. Seas finished first in the 3,200-meter run at the OHSAA Division III state championship with a time of 11:04.93. Her older brother, Matt Seas, placed fifth in the boys’ 3,200-meter run to land on the podium.
Mason County pulls Houdini on Harrison: The Mason County football team started Class 4A, District 7 play with an overtime loss to Scott. That was followed by a loss to Bourbon County, 27-26, when a two-point conversion failed with under a minute remaining. In danger of missing the playoffs, the Royals faced a 19-point deficit to Harrison County entering the fourth quarter in their next game, but managed to come away with a 54-48 win in double overtime after cutting the deficit to six in 21 seconds with the help of an onside kick from Mario Soto. Harrison County scored first in overtime and Malkolm Devine answered with a 10-yard touchdown run. Chandler Dunaway kept the ball to put Mason County on the board in the second overtime, before Nailen Billie recovered a fumble to end it.
We’re tied again as Devine scores. Harrison County 48, Mason County 48. We head to double OT pic.twitter.com/a7Z9tTznEa
— Evan Dennison (@EvanDennison1) October 7, 2017
“Bear Down Defense” leads Bracken County to first-ever postseason win: On Nov. 3, 2017, history was made in Brooksville. The Polar Bears topped Fairview, 36-6, for the first football playoff win in school history. With a 16-0 lead, Griffin Appleman delivered the dagger, spinning and running over defenders before breaking free for a 93-yard touchdown run. He finished with 238 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries, while Tad Fisher added 127 yards and two scores on 21 carries. The Polar Bear defense allowed the only blemish with under two minutes to go until halftime, but shut out the Eagles for the remainder, holding an opponent to six points or fewer for the seventh time in 11 games.
“I felt like I was a created Madden player and I just couldn’t be stopped. I don’t know, I just maxed my stats out and couldn’t be stopped. I just kept my feet going. I had like two linemen, I had Tanner Fisher, I had Tad leading me there, so it was pretty easy once I got going with those guys with me.” – Griffin Appleman on his 93-yard touchdown run.
Have a game Griffin Appleman! He adds a 47-yard TD to give Bracken County a 36-6 lead over Fairview. 3:06 4Q. pic.twitter.com/qfj3IcSibK
— Jared MacDonald (@JMacDonaldSport) November 4, 2017
Mason County archery continues to grow: The Royals posted many firsts throughout the 2017-18 season, starting in November when they hosted their first tournament. The won their first KHSAA Region 7 Tournament, posting a 1,931 to finish one point ahead of Harrison County and three ahead of Pendleton County. Landon Bowling claimed the school’s first individual title with a 291. Mason County sent the team to the state tournament and also sent three individuals from the girls’ team. Mason County competed at all levels in National Archery in the School’s Program tournaments throughout the season, even qualifying for the World Tournament.
“The other two teams shot before us – we were delayed in getting there because of the weather. I saw their scores. My dream Saturday when we went was to inch past one of them. You have to place second to go to state. One got a 1930 and the other got a 1928. I thought, ‘We only have one point between, this is insane.’
“We got first and exceeded my expectations. The other teams were really great because we finally made it and are doing well. We’re being accepted into that group now that we’re a competitor.”- Mason County archery coach Bridget White on winning the regional tournament.
Lewis County basketball finds EKC success: It had been 61 years since the Lions had won the Eastern Kentucky Conference Tournament title. But with a 77-73 overtime victory over Morgan County on their home court, that changed. Tay Offut, who went on to become the conference Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year, led Lewis County with 22 points and five rebounds. Bryce Wallingford, Seth Wright and Sam O’Keefe also finished with double figures in the scoring category. The Lions, featuring conference Coach of the Year, Joe Hampton, also won the regular season title with a 6-1 record.
“I think my mother said when she was a senior in high school was the last time we won it. Regretfully so that it’s been that long between titles. Regretfully to revelry though. I’m very proud of this group.” – Lewis County coach Joe Hampton on winning the EKC championship.
Big games on the hardwood: Oh, and speaking of Offut, he posted one of the most memorable games in the coverage area this winter when it mattered most. The 6-foot-2 senior scored 35 points and grabbed 15 points to lead Lewis County to a 68-64 victory over Russell in the 63rd District semifinals. He wasn’t the only one with big nights. Mason County senior Leevi Dunaway landed fourth on the school’s single-game scoring list with 49 points in an 80-72 overtime win at East Carter. Josh Crump landed fourth on Fleming County’s single-game scoring list with 42 points, including eight 3-pointers, in a 72-64 win over Harrison County. Robertson County big man Alex Schalch had a big game in the 10th Region All “A” Classic quarterfinals against Nicholas County, posting 20 points and 20 rebounds to lead the Black Devils to a 67-50 win. Noah Pack led Georgetown with 17 points and 15 rebounds per game this season. His biggest performance came in a 75-55 win over Blanchester when he posted 28 points and 22 rebounds.
Dragon Dynasty: Greg Himes walked into West Union wanting to turn the boys’ basketball program around and did just that. The Dragons were picked to finish last in the big school division of the Southern Hills Athletic Conference, but managed to claim their first Division I title since 1989 with a 10-3 conference record. That success carried over into the baseball season, as West Union claimed the baseball title for the first time in 29 seasons with a 15-4 run-rule victory over Fayetteville-Perry.
“I look at them every day and ask them if we’re a fifth place team in this conference. Everybody will have to bring it every night. We play off of it as no respect, so we need to go out there and earn our respect.” – Greg Himes on season expectations in a preseason interview with The Ledger Independent.
Peebles, Ripley reach far in postseason: It was a postseason of memorable runs. The Blue Jays came back to beat James Gamble Montessori, 58-51, to advance to the district finals for the first time since 2004, after the Gators started to pull away in the second quarter with a 13-3 run. Landon Rigdon led Ripley’s offense with 23 points in the game, including five 3-pointers that helped bring the Blue Jays back. Brian Dunn had 14 points and Ryan Harney had 10.
“I just told them to settle down. We knew they were going to throw some punches our way and they did exactly that and they got the momentum early. I just told our guys, ‘Just settle in. If you continue to grind, you continue to play hard possession by possession, good things will happen and we’ll chip away at the lead.'” – Ripley coach Rex Woodward on coming back against Gamble Montessori.
A 47-46 win over Coal Grove Dawson-Bryant sent the Peebles boys’ basketball team to their second-ever regional final and first since 1974. It came in dramatic fashion, as Tanner Arey knocked down a free throw with 4.9 seconds left in the Southeast Division IV regional semifinal to give Peebles the lead. For the girls’ team from Peebles, it was a trip to the district championship game for the first time since 1998, when they finished runner-up in Division III.
“It’s just a free throw. I know there’s a lot of gravity in that situation, but it’s just a free throw.” – Tanner Arey on hitting the game-winning free throw against Coal Grove.
Peebles plays in their second regional final ever and first since 1974 tonight. Before they tip with Hiland, take a look back at their regional semifinal game that came down to the wire. pic.twitter.com/88mh3hA3CO
— Jared MacDonald (@JMacDonaldSport) March 16, 2018
Robertson County Stays Hot: Almost all of Mount Olivet was in Richmond on Jan. 25, thanks to the heroics of Brandon Dice. The freshman hit a game-winning 3-pointer with five seconds to play in the 10th Region All “A” Classic championship game to help the Black Devils top defending All “A” state champion Paris, 59-57. Robertson County had been to the title game three times before, but this was their first victory.
Relive Robertson County’s road to Richmond below:
Before the Black Devils play in the All “A” State Tournament, take a look back at their road to Richmond, which involved winning the first 10th Region All “A” title in Robertson County history. pic.twitter.com/jblB62vWXd
— Jared MacDonald (@JMacDonaldSport) January 25, 2018
More memorable moments from the year:
-Tessa Gray claimed her second straight 10th Region tennis title to lead the Lady Royals to back-to-back team championships.
-Mason County knocked off preseason No. 12 Ryle, 73-62, behind 20 points from A.J. Reed, 15 from Kara Moran and 14 from Victoria Brooks for their first win of the season.
-Lewis County made their first-ever trip to the KHSAA State Golf Tournament after finishing second in the 12th Region Tournament.
-Low numbers meant no girls’ soccer team at St. Patrick, but that didn’t stop four from playing. Libby Gallenstein, Tori Griffith, Elizabeth Ignacio and Olivia Poczatek helped the boys’ team to a 6-6-6 record.
-West Union’s Elijah McCarty continued his SHAC golf dominance, claiming first for the third time. He also advanced to the state tournament for the third time.
-Eastern Brown’s Allison Day was unable to play this year due to injury, but she signed her letter of intent to play Division I basketball at Loyola University Chicago.
-The Lewis County boys’ basketball team beat Mason County, 74-58, for their first win over the Royals since Feb. 21, 1996.
-Fleming County’s Jordan Hughes finished runner-up in the 8th Region golf tournament, after having a putt lip out in the first sudden-death playoff hole against Grant County’s Ryan Mitts.
-Robertson County’s Mason Burden crossed the 2,000 point mark in his career with a 3-pointer against Menifee County during the CSI Classic at Bath County.
-The H.I.P.E. Train was rolling in Georgetown as the boys’ basketball team went undefeated in Southern Buckeye Athletic and Academic Conference play.
-St. Patrick knocked down 21 3-pointers in a 104-48 victory over Silver Grove, the most in school history and the fifth-most in KHSAA history. Baylen Bauer had 10 – a school record – and Brevin Jones had nine.
-Eastern Brown’s Madison Hopkins won the high jump, long jump, 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash at the SHAC track and field meet. She later qualified for the state meet, but was unable to compete due to injury.
-Morgan Napier finished first at the Region 8 bowling championship and the Fleming County team finished second.
-Several area athletes claimed first in the indoor state track meet, including Mason County’s Marissa Scilley in the long jump and Dalton Kindt in the shot put, the Lady Royals’ 4×800-meter relay team and Fleming County’s Robert Applegate in the 3,000-meter run.
-The Lady Royals’ 4×800-meter relay team claimed first at the Class 2A, Region 6 meet, along with individual titles from Te’A King in the 100, Scilley in the triple jump for the third year in a row and Abi Dawson in the pole vault. Kindt won the shot put title and Applegate won the 1,600-meter run.
-The Lady Royals lost a heartbreaker in the 10th Region semifinals to Scott, falling in double overtime, 65-63, after getting beat by the Lady Eagles, 64-49, earlier in the year.
-It took two stints as Lewis County’s head coach, but Larry Riley picked up his 200th career win with a 6-1 victory over Fleming County.
-Taylor Dotson pitched a perfect game for Eastern Brown, striking out eight batters in a 16-0 victory over Ripley.