Honors have flown freely for coaches and players

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By Mike Farner

SHEPHERDSVILLE – There has been no shortage of honors for a handful of local athletes now that the high school basketball season is complete.

As was reported in last Wednesday’s edition of the Pioneer News, Bullitt Central senior Lindsay Hester has been invited to the try-outs for the Kentucky All-Star team that will take on the best from Indiana in the annual summer series.

Hester was one of 39 players from across the state selected to participate in the try-outs next weekend at Campbellsville University. Four seniors were selected just from the Sixth Region that already boasted the 2009 Miss Basketball, Adia Mathies of Iroquois.

Hester’s selection is certainly deserved, but it might have come a little as a surprise. Remember, Hester wasn’t even selected last summer to play in the East-West All-Star Game at Bellarmine, a contest that selected six players from the Sixth Region.

Without a doubt, if the Kentucky team thinks it needs an outside shooter, then Hester could fit the bill. The senior became one of the best shooters from long range this season and she could fill that special need if the All-Star coaches don’t see that from the more athletic players at the try-outs.

Hester ended her Bullitt Central career as the second-leading scorer in school history with over 1,000 points.

A few weeks earlier, Hester was honored by the coaches in the area by making the All-Sixth Region team as posted in the state’s largest newspaper.

Joining Hester on that honor team was Bullitt East junior Kayla Thacker. Making the honorable mention list in that voting was Bullitt Central’s Qualeatha Bennett and Bullitt East’s Shelby Romine. Both of those players are juniors.

In addition, Bullitt Central Lady Cougar head coach Bryan Bates was voted as the top coach in the Sixth Region for the past season. That was a well-deserved honor as he led his team to 19 victories against a challenging schedule. In addition, Bullitt Central did it with Hester as the team’s only senior. In fact, only three of the players on the roster were seniors or juniors.

It was short of a bittersweet honor for Bates as the award was announced two days after his team had been upset by Fairdale in the semi-finals of the 24th District Tournament. Still, it was an honor well earned.

A few weeks later, Bates was honored again as the Sixth Region Coach of the Year by the Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches.

What was a little bit of a surprise was that the KABC voting gave the Player of the Year award in the Sixth Region to Butler’s Tiara Hopper. That group selected Hopper over Mathies who was Miss Basketball.

More Honors

It seems like at least once a year a new high school sports magazine appears in the local area. This year, it is Vype Magazine.

Local scouting/recruiting expert Rick Bolus recently helped that publication with an All-Metro Team. The talent pool included Louisville and southern Indiana as well as surrounding counties to Louisville.

Vype honored Bates as the Coach of the Year.

On the Girls’ side, Thacker was a first team selection while Bennett was on the second team. Hester was an honorable mention pick.

The boys’ second team included Bullitt East’s Willie Moore while Bullitt Central junior T.J. Flener made honorable mention.

When I chatted recently with Bullitt East Lady Charger head coach Chris Stallings about next season, he said that his schedule was nearly complete, but that he was holding out a spot in case the team was asked to play in the Girls’ Louisville Invitational Tournament.

Last week word came that the Lady Chargers had not been invited to that event, a tournament that they won in 1995.

Me thinks someone on the Girls’ LIT committee might have made a mistake there, especially considering that the Lady Chargers will probably be the pre-season first- or second-ranked team in the Sixth Region next season.

Remember, the Boys’ and the Girls’ LITs are conducted by different groups. They don’t follow the same format and don’t pick their teams the same way.

As was reported in the three boys’ wrap-up stories that have already appeared, the Boys’ LIT has slightly changed its format as it applies to the three Bullitt County teams.

For the first time, Bullitt County teams will be able to play into the LIT based on their computer rankings in late December. Over the past two years, a slot was provided to one Bullitt County team with Bullitt East playing two years ago and North Bullitt this past season.

Bullitt East was competitive, but North Bullitt was not. It was probably best not to continue the rotation plan of having one Bullitt County team in the tourney each season.

So now, Bullitt East has left that week open on its schedule next season. Bullitt East had agreed not to play any games on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday or Saturday of LIT week. If the Chargers don’t get into the LIT, they will probably pick up one of the other Jefferson County schools not in the event for a game on Thursday night.

Bullitt East had a computer ranking good enough to get into the LIT last season. In fact, so did Bullitt East and Bullitt Central on the girls’ side.

Conversely, the boys’ teams at Bullitt Central and North Bullitt have opted not to take part next season in the LIT no matter what their computer rankings might be. They will schedule opponents for that week just like they have in the past.