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Stallings set to lead Kentucky’s best players

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By Mike Farner

 MOUNT WASHINGTON - Bullitt East Lady Charger head coach Chris Stallings will get his chance to coach the Kentucky All-Stars this summer and he is excited for the opportunity.

“You only get to do it once,” the veteran Bullitt East coach said. “I’m blessed to do it and I’m looking forward to it.

“I have a lot of great support from my staff and players here and my wife and kids,” Stallings added. “It’s going to be fun.”

Stallings is the second Bullitt East coach to get his turn with the Kentucky All-Stars. Former Lady Charger head coach Jerry Troutman coached the 1996 team.

The team went through try-outs in mid-April and then had a mini-camp a few weeks ago in Louisville. Stallings reported last Friday to begin work with the 2011 group with the players arriving on Saturday. Because of some graduations, the full team wasn’t together until Monday.

The Kentucky All-Stars will take on the best from Indiana on Friday starting at 5:30 p.m. at Bellarmine University. The teams will then switch sites with the Hoosier state hosting the game on Saturday at Canseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

The two women’s teams split their games last season with each winning on the other’s home court. Stallings was the assistant coach last season and that team included Bullitt East standout Kayla Thacker.

The Kentucky team is led by McDonald’s All-American Sara Hammond who is headed to the University of Louisville. She is the first female player from Kentucky selected for the McDonald’s team.

Indiana Miss Basketball Bria Goss, who is headed to the University of Kentucky, was also a McDonald’s All-American.

Stallings feels that his team can do well against what should be a strong Indiana squad. In fact, last summer, the core group of girls this year beat last year’s Indiana All-Stars in a scrimmage early during game week. On Monday of this week, the Indiana All-Stars beat their junior counterparts handily with Stallings watching the game.

“It’s a great group of kids. They are quality kids,” Stallings said of the Kentucky squad. “I saw how dedicated they were at mini-camp.

“They want to beat Indiana,” the coach added. “They are competitive kids. I’m looking forward to the week with them.”

It has become a short week for the All-Stars on both sides of the river. Stallings was Troutman’s assistant coach at Bullitt East when he had the Kentucky All-Stars. At that time, the two games were a week apart and coaching the teams was a two-week job.

Now, it is all compressed into a week. When you count in two scrimmages during the week and the games on Friday and Saturday. That only leaves four days strictly for practice.

“It is different now,” Stallings said. “It is a jam-packed week.

“I feel that one key is having our legs for Friday and Saturday,” the coach said of not over-working the team during the week. “We didn’t go two-a-days much last year and I think that helped us on Saturday.”

The Kentucky All-Stars scrimmaged at Eastern High School in Louisville on Tuesday against a group of Junior All-Stars and there will be a scrimmage on Wednesday at Mercer County against a different group of Junior All-Stars.

“Four of the six nights we’re together we’ll have games,” Stallings pointed out. “There is not a lot of time in there.

“Monday will be the first day all 12 will be together,” the coach pointed out. “The amount of things you can do is limited.”

Stallings will be assisted by Manual’s Stacy Pendleton and Mercer County’s Chris Souder. The position for Souder is a new one as he will work more with the Junior All-Stars, a post that Stallings had last year that kept him away from the Kentucky All-Stars for much of the week.

Former Bullitt East head coach Steve Small is the Game Chairman for this year’s event on the girls’ side.

On this side of the river, the All-Star series is sponsored by the Kentucky Lions Eye Foundation.

Tickets for the game on Friday at Bellarmine University’s Knights Hall are $20 and are available at kyallstars.net or by calling the Kentucky Lions Eye Foundation at (502) 583-0564.