Story Matters

Story Matters

THE Official HHS Football Site

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesday Sports Briefs

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

The Highlands Bluebirds softball team eclipsed last year’s win total with a 9-4 win over the Bishop Brossart Lady Mustangs on Tuesday. The Blubirds are 11-5 overall.

Highlands plays host to Dixie Heights on Wednesday. Game time is 5:30 p.m.

Newport Central Catholic baseball 9, Covington Catholic 7:

The Thoroughbreds (14-10) bounced back from Monday’s tough loss to down the host Colonels in a battle of 9th Region contenders Tuesday.

NewCath trailed 3-2 after three innings. But the Thoroughbreds used a six-run fourth inning to go up 8-3 and never looked back.

CovCath outhit NewCath, 12-10. Dom Pangallo, Josh Cain and Kevin Hoffstedder had two hits each to lead the Thoroughbreds. Connor Bartels led NewCath with three runs batted with Alex Grau scoring three runs and Pete Collopy two. Collopy added a stolen base.

Brandon Gray pitched the first four innings and picked up the win for the Thoroughbreds. He struck out one. Nick Seibert pitched the fifth and Colin DuPont the sixth and seventh to pick up the save.

NewCath travels to Cincinnati Elder on Thursday. Game time is 5 p.m.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Monday Sports Briefs

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

The Highlands Bluebirds baseball team recorded a huge 6-4 win in Alexandria on Monday over the 2012 state semifinalist Bishop Brossart Mustangs on Monday.

Highlands scored three in the first and another in the second to go up 4-0 and held off Bishop Brossart. The Bluebirds moved to 14-12.

Jake Whitford, Gabe Schultz, Quentin Murray and Evan Allen all had two hits each for Highlands. Murray had three runs batted in and Schultz two on two infield singles with Whitford and Todd Ramey both recording doubles.

“We tend to score runs early then go on cruise control,” said Jeremy Baioni, Highlands head coach. “We kept the pressure on them. We knew they’d score some runs.”

Joey Cochran pitched the first four innings to pick up the win moving to 5-1 on the year. Jake Liggett pitched the next three to record his fourth save of the year.

Highlands outhit Bishop Brossart, 12-7 and took advantage of three Mustang errors. Tanner Norton and Teddy MacDonald led the Mustangs each going 2-for-4 with doubles and Clay Kramer went 2-for-3.

Highlands hopes to wrap up the top seed in the 36th District Tournament at Bellevue on Wednesday. Game time is 5 p.m.

Lloyd Memorial 5, Newport Central Catholic 4:

The Thoroughbreds (13-10) dropped a close one to the Juggernauts on Monday.

They outhit the Juggernauts, 9-8. Alex Grau, Zach Pangallo and Kevin Hoffstedder all banged out two hits each for NewCath. Pangallo doubled and scored twice with Hoffstedder and Dom Pangallo adding two-baggers.

Tommy Donnelly pitched six innings for the Thoroughbreds. Mitch Pangallo came on and pitched in the seventh.

NewCath takes on Covington Catholic in Park Hills at 5 p.m. today.


Newport Central Catholic 10, Ludlow 9:

The Thoroughbreds (10-10) edged the Panthers on Monday in a tight contest.

NewCath outhit Ludlow, 16-6. Ludlow stayed in the game taking advantage of six Thoroughbred errors.

Michaela Ware, Christine Enzweiler, Morgan Martini and Casey Kohls all recorded three hits each for NewCath. Martini and Kohls recorded two RBIs each. Taylor Burkart followed going 2-for-5 with two RBI.

Sarah Neace pitched five strong innings for NewCath. She struck out six and walked five. Haley Meyers pitched the final two innings to pick up the win moving to 2-3 on the year with two strikeouts.

The Thoroughbreds play host to Newport at 5 p.m. Wednesday.


Highlands (10-5) was to travel to Simon Kenton for a 5:30 p.m. contest Monday. But the game was rained out.

The Bluebirds travel to Bishop Brossart tonight. Game time is 5:30 p.m.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Saturday Roundup

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

The Highlands Bluebirds softball team matched last year’s win total with a 12-0 five-inning run-ruling of the Beechwood Lady Tigers on Saturday.

Highlands (10-5) scored five runs in each of the first and fourth innings before scoring two more in the fifth. The Bluebirds outhit the Lady Tigers, 15-3 in the error-free contest.

The Bluebirds saw five players record two or more hits. Haley Coffey led the way going 3-for-3 with two runs scored. Whitney Quillen and Ashley Grosser also finished 3-for-4. Quillen had a double and two runs scored with Grosser doubling and tripling on her way to two RBI and two runs scored.

Freshman Shelby Graybill, the state’s leading hitter, went 2-for-3 with three RBI and two runs scored. Both her hits were doubles. Payton Leighty also went 2-for-4 with a double, two RBI and a run scored for Highlands.

The Bluebirds also recorded two triples off the bats of Bailey Spencer and Brennah Dutcher and had three stolen bases. After Grosser, Graybill and Dutcher recorded thefts.

Spencer turned in another solid outing. She struck out six and walked none in five innings.

Highlands returns to action Monday at Simon Kenton. Game time is 5:30 p.m.

Highlands 10, Boone County 5:
Cincinnati Anderson 3, Highlands 0:

The Bluebirds (13-12) split their games at Boone County on Saturday.

Highlands beat the Rebels for the second time this season to open the day. They outhit the hosts, 13-10 as Todd Ramey and Jake Whitford hit home runs.

Highlands scored four in the first inning then put the game away with four in the seventh. The Rebels cut the advantage to 4-3 with two in the third.

Ben Vermeil started the game and Jake Liggett finished.

Things did not go as well in the second game against the Redskins. They were shut out for the first time this year.

Highlands travels to Bishop Brossart on Monday. Game time is 5 p.m.

Newport Central Catholic 1, Whitefield Academy 0:
Newport Central Catholic 8, Muhlenberg County 0:

The Thoroughbreds snapped a three-game losing streak with two wins Saturday in the Louisville Invitational Tournament.

In the first game against the Whitefield Academy Wildcats out of Louisville, the Wildcats outhit the Thoroughbreds, 5-4. The lone run of the game came in the fourth in the form of a Connor Bartels home run.

Jake Yeager pitched the first four innings to pick up the win for NewCath. Tommy Donnelly pitched the next three to record the save striking out three.

The Thoroughbreds finished the day dominating the Mustangs from western Kentucky. NewCath won the hitting battle, 10-1 as Colin DuPont and Nick Seibert combined for the one-hitter striking out a combined six.

The Thoroughbreds led 2-0 after two innings. But they scored three in the third and another three in the fourth to put the game away.

DuPont, Alex Grau, Pete Collopy and Josh Cain led NewCath with two hits each. Cain homered and doubled on his way to three RBI and two runs scored. DuPont and Zach Pangallo added doubles.

NewCath takes on Lloyd Memorial at 5:15 p.m. Monday.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Friday Sports Briefs

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

The Highlands Bluebirds softball team dominated Covington Holmes, 16-1 in four innings with the varsity players going the first two innings on Friday.

Highlands (9-5) saw Payton Leighty pick up the pitching win. Leighty, Whitney Quillen and Shelby Graybill all had more than one hit for the Bluebirds.

Highlands travels to Beechwood for a 10 a.m. contest today.

Newport Central Catholic 19-16, Dayton 4-1:

The Thoroughbreds (9-10) swept the season series from the District 36 rivals Friday.

The first game concluded the suspended game from two weeks ago. Michaela Ware and Loren Zimmerman led the Thoroughbreds going 4-for-4 each. Zimmerman had two home runs and five runs batted in. Alex Kehoe added a double and two RBI and Molly Mertle had two RBI.

Sarah Neace took the pitching win for NewCath. She allowed six hits, struck out 13 and walked three.

In the second game, NewCath outhit Dayton, 12-3. Casey Kohls led the Thoroughbreds going 3-for-4 with a double and three RBI with Christine Enzweller going 2-for-2 with two RBI and Neace going 2-for-2 with four RBI.

Neace also picked up the win in this contest. She struck out one with three hits.

NewCath travels to Ludlow at 5 p.m. Monday.

Louisville Butler baseball 3, NewCath 1:

The Thoroughbreds (11-9) dropped the first contest of the Louisville Invitational on Friday.

NewCath outhit Butler, 9-7. But the Bears scored one in the first and two more in the second and never looked back. The Thoroughbreds scored their run in the sixth.

Nick Seibert led the Thoroughbreds at the plate going 3-for-3 with a run batted in. Alex Grau finished 2-for-4 with a double.

Josh Cain took the pitching loss for NewCath. He struck out four.

The Thoroughbreds conclude the tournament today. They take on Whitefield Academy at 10:30 a.m. and Muhlenberg County at 12:30 p.m.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Highlands baseball, softball teams nip NewCath by similar scores

G. Michael Graham Photo. Highlands pitcher Joey Cochran delivers to the plate while catcher Quentin Murray and Newport Central Catholic batter Colin DuPont wait. The Bluebirds won the crucial 36th District contest, 4-3 in extra innings.
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

The baseball team that successfully executed its suicide squeeze attempt Thursday won the extra-inning barnburner.

That turned out to be the Highlands Bluebirds in the 36th District game at Highland Park, 4-3 over the Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds in 13 innings. Barring upsets, the win gave the Bluebirds (12-11 overall, 3-0 district) the inside track toward the top seed in the district tournament and the Thoroughbreds (11-8, 2-1) the second seed. Both teams still need to face Bellevue in district play.

“On the offensive side, we haven’t made those big plays,” said Jeremy Baioni, Highlands Head Coach. “If teams execute better offensively early on, the game is over before we get to the 13th inning, especially for us. We missed some sacrifice bunts, didn’t push the ball the other way when we needed to and a couple base running mistakes cost us from winning the game earlier. You have to execute when you play good teams like NewCath and every run is huge.”

The two-time defending 9th Region champion Thoroughbreds had been playing great baseball lately. They’d won 9-of-11 coming into the contest after starting the year 0-4.

“We’re disappointed,” said Jeff Schulkens, NewCath Head Coach. “We didn’t execute. But give (the Bluebirds) credit. I’m proud of my kids. They’ll battle back.”

Highlands senior catcher Quentin Murray found himself on both ends of the suicide squeeze attempts. He laid down the game-winning bunt in the bottom of the 13th to score Hector Molina. Molina charged toward home plate as NewCath pitcher Michael Bueter fired the pitch home.

“Honestly, I was trying to get the bat on the ball more than anything else,” Murray said. “I tried to stay off the plate. It was a long game.”

Murray made two huge plays in the top of the inning as catcher when the Thoroughbreds tried to take the lead on the similar play. Alex Grau tried to bunt home Colin DuPont. The attempt popped up behind home plate. Murray caught it and threw to shortstop Jake Whitford, who tagged out DuPont for the double play.

“That was huge because I knew they were going to squeeze,” Murray said. “I honestly thought they were going to get it down. It was supposed to be a pitch-out. It went too far inside so (Grau) popped it up.”

Both teams had opportunities to score in extra frames. The Thoroughbreds loaded the bases in the ninth with none out against Joey Cochran, but did not score as Highlands forced the runners out at home before Whitford made a nice play diving and tagging second to end the threat.

NewCath nearly took the lead in the ninth. Nick Seibert singled to right and Zach Pangallo tried to score. But the Bluebirds executed and Murray tagged Pangallo out at the plate.

“We’ve pitched well and played good defense all year even when we’ve moved guys around,” Baioni said. “That continued (Thursday). We made some big plays.”

On the other side, Highlands loaded the based with two outs in the 11th. But Whitford grounded out.

The Thoroughbreds led 2-0 in the first. Dom Pangallo was hit by a pitch and Josh Cain homered.

But the Bluebirds came back to tie it in the second. Whitford doubled and Todd Ramey singled him in. Ramey then scored on an error.

The Thoroughbreds retook the lead in the third. Dom Pangallo singled and ultimately scored when Kevin Hoffstedder hit a sacrifice fly to center.

The Bluebirds came back to tie it in the fifth. Gabe Schultz singled and ultimately scored when Whitford hit a sacrifice fly to center.

Joseph Martin pitched three innings to record the win for Highlands. He struck out five. Mitch Jones threw the first four innings before Cochran threw the next six.

“We just go out there and throw strikes,” Martin said. “We trust our defense to make plays. We just have to go out there and do our best.”

Bueter took the tough loss pitching more than five innings and struck out seven. Starter Connor Bartels pitched the first seven innings.

NewCath outhit Highlands, 13-12. Grau, Dom Pangallo, Cain, DuPont and Seibert all had two hits each for the Thoroughbreds. Aside from Cain’s home run, Pete Collopy and DuPont doubled.

Murray went 3-for-6 at the plate for the hosts. Molina, Schultz and Ramey all had two hits each for Highlands with Schultz, Murray and Whitford recording doubles.

The Thoroughbreds return to action this weekend in the Louisville Invitational Tournament. They take on Louisville Butler at 6 p.m.

“Anytime you play, you want to win,” Schulkens said. “You shake it off and try to get better. You especially want to win district seed games. But we’ll be fine. It’s a good group of kids who know how to win.”

The Bluebirds play two games at Boone County on Saturday. They face the hosts at 10 a.m. and Cincinnati Anderson at 12:30 p.m.

Highlands softball 4, NCC 3:

The Bluebirds (8-5) bested the Thoroughbreds (7-10) for the second time this year, but in seven innings. Highlands beat NewCath by the same score on April 9.

Highlands scored all four of its runs in the fifth.

Payton Leighty singled and moved to third when Bailey Spencer singled before scoring when Haley Coffey laid down a sacrifice bunt. Spencer then scored after three consecutive walks and Brennah Dutcher had a two-run single.

Spencer pitched a complete game to pick up the victory for Highlands. She struck out six and walked two.

Sarah Neace threw a complete game for NewCath. She struck out five and walked three.

NewCath outhit Highlands, 8-5. Kristin Schreiber went 2-for-4 with a run batted in and Neace went 2-for-3 with Molly Mertle doubling.

No one had more than two hits for the Bluebirds. Whitney Quillen tripled and Dutcher had two RBIs.

Both teams return to action today. Highlands plays host to Covington Holmes at 5:30 p.m. and the Thoroughbreds play host to Dayton at 5 p.m.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Listerman ready to lead new Highlands Basketball Era


Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

It’s currently a breath of fresh air.

But the search committee saw Kevin Listerman as the leader with the qualities to bring the once-proud program back into prominence in Northern Kentucky. Thus, the committee named him the new Highlands Head Boys Basketball Coach on Wednesday.

“I am very excited to continue the tradition of excellence, both academically and athletically, at Highlands,” Listerman said in a release. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to have an impact on both the students and community of Fort Thomas.”

Listerman currently teaches Biology and is an Assistant Varsity Basketball Coach at Cincinnati Colerain. Listerman will take the same teaching position next school year. He owns more than nine years of teaching experience at the high school level that also includes Anatomy, Physiology and Advanced Placement Chemistry.

Listerman said the program can be successful again, even with the success of the football team. Many of the players also played football and helped the Bluebirds to six consecutive state championships.

The number of students can help the cause. The school’s enrollment is about 800 students.

“The biggest thing is the kids are going to see my enthusiasm and energy,” Listerman said. “They have to make a choice to be committed to making it a successful program. The Fort Thomas community wants and demands excellence. I feel like things are in place for the program to be successful.”

Listerman, 35, played basketball at Covington Catholic graduating in 1995 and Northern Kentucky University. Listerman earned his undergraduate degree from NKU in 1999 and Masters in 2002. In four years playing at Northern, the Norse appeared in four NCAA Division II Basketball Tournaments including two NCAA National Championship games.

Before going to Colerain, Listerman served as an assistant at Northern Kentucky University and Covington Catholic. He had one-year stints as Head Coach at Bellevue and Boone County combining to go 43-16. Listerman coached the Tigers to a 17-12 mark in 2002-03 and the Northern Kentucky Athletic Conference Division III crown before coaching the Rebels to a 26-4 mark the following year. The Rebels won the 33rd District before losing to Covington Catholic in the 9th Region title game. At that time, the Colonels were coached by his father Mike, currently an assistant at Holmes.

Listerman is also the head coach of a minor league basketball team in the Kentucky Basketball Developmental League. He was the league’s coach of the Year in 2008.

“Our committee was very excited to find such an outstanding teacher and coach,” said Brian Robinson, Highlands Principal. “We feel that Kevin will be a tremendous addition to our science department and just the right person to build an elite basketball program. His record of success, commitment to excellence, and enthusiasm for impacting young people in a positive way makes us feel fortunate to have him as part of our learning community.”

Listerman said he learned two things from his dad coaching-wise. That’s to teach and always find positives.

Listerman fills in for veteran Head Coach Mike Flynn, who stepped down in March after going 50-61 in four years. During that time, the Bluebirds made two 9th Region Tournament appearances losing to Dixie Heights in the first round in 2011 and Lloyd Memorial in 2012 in the same round.

“Kevin has made a tremendous, positive impact on every school that he has been associated with as a player, teacher and coach,” said Dale Mueller, Highlands Director of Athletics. “He is a man of outstanding character and a great role model for young people. We are truly blessed that he will be a member of the Highlands community and lead our basketball program.”

Highlands graduated four players from this past year’s team that finished 12-16 and lost to Newport Central Catholic in the first round of the 36th District Tournament, including Luke Turner. Turner averaged 11.3 points per contest.

The Bluebirds will return starters Nick True and Drew Houliston. Houliston averaged 11.3 points per contest and True averaged six rebounds. Other players like Parker Harris showed promise last year.

“We hope (the coaching change) motivates people to come out,” said Todd Ramey, Highlands junior. “He’s young and energetic. We hope he changes our enthusiasm in practice knowing we’re starting over.”

Listerman said he’s not decided on any assistants or what style of play to implement yet. But he prefers to play pressure defense and an up-temp offense. However, he said they will play to their strengths.

Listerman met with the returning players Thursday. Houliston said his positivity resonated throughout the room.

“I think he’s going to bring a lot more wins,” Houliston said. “He’s motivated. He had a great career at CovCath and NKU so he definitely knows how to get us better.”

The Bluebirds last won a district championship in 2008 and last won the region in 2001. Between 1997 and 2001, Highlands won the 9th Region four out of five years and finished state runner-up in 1997.

Wednesday cancellations

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

The Highlands Bluebirds baseball and softball teams were scheduled to play Wednesday. But the games were cancelled because of excessive rain. The baseball team was to play host to St. Xavier and softball team was to play host to Covington Holy Cross.

The teams play host to Newport Central Catholic today. Game times are 5 p.m.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tuesday Sports Briefs

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

The Highlands Bluebirds softball team (7-5) played an annual 9th Region contender tough Tuesday falling 4-2 to Conner.

The Bluebirds take on Covington Holy Cross back in Fort Thomas at 5 p.m. today.

Newport Central Catholic softball 15, Covington Holmes 2:

The Thoroughbreds (7-9) snapped a four-game losing streak with a win Tuesday.

NewCath took advantage of 14 walks and three hit batsmen in the five-inning contest. The Thoroughbreds had two hits, boy by Morgan Martini.

NewCath travels to Highlands on Thursday. Game time is 5 p.m.

Conner baseball 7, Highlands 2:

The Thoroughbreds (11-7) lost on the road Tuesday.

The Cougars took a 3-0 lead in the fifth before the Thoroughbreds scored two in the sixth. Conner added four insurance runs in the sixth.

NewCath managed just five hits. Josh Cain led the way going 2-for-4 with a double. Pete Collopy added the other double.

Josh Yeager took the loss for the Thoroughbreds. He pitched five innings striking out three and walking three.

NewCath travels to Highlands on Thursday. Game time is 5 p.m.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Monday Sports Briefs

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

The Highlands Bluebirds baseball team moved back to .500 with a 12-2 win over the Dayton Greendevils on Monday.

Highlands (11-11) moved to 2-0 in 36th District action as Joseph Martin tallied the pitching win. He is 3-0 overall.

Todd Ramey led the Bluebirds at the plate going 3-for-3 with a double, home run and five runs batted in. Mitch Gesenhues and Lou Bunning both went 2-for-2 with two RBI as well.

Highlands plays host to Cincinnati St. Xavier on Wednesday. Game time is 5 p.m.

All “A” Sectional:
Newport Central Catholic 4, Bishop Brossart 3:

The Thoroughbreds (11-6) advanced in the All “A” State Tournament with a Sectional win Monday.

NewCath advanced to the state tournament on May 4-5 at Whitaker Bank Park in Lexington. The Thoroughbreds face Glasgow at 10 a.m. in the first quarterfinal game.

Josh Cain picked up the win for NewCath. He pitched into the seventh before Connor Bartels pitched the last two outs to record the save.

The Thoroughbreds recorded six hits. Pete Collopy led the way going 2-for-3 with two doubles. Alex Grau and Zach Pangallo also had doubles and Cain tripled in two runs.

The Thoroughbreds take on Conner at 5 p.m. tonight.


Highlands 11, Cooper 5:

The Bluebirds (7-4) won their second in a row Monday.

Payton Leighty picked up the win for Highlands on the mound. Haley Coffey led the Bluebirds at the plate going 2-for-3.

The Bluebirds take on Conner at 5 p.m. today in Fort Thomas.

Ryle 3, Newport Central Catholic 0:

The Thoroughbreds (6-9) lost their fourth straight Monday in Union.

Sarah Neace pitches six inning and allowed just one hit. But the Lady Raiders scored three runs in the fourth off Thoroughbred errors. NewCath committed six miscues to one for Ryle. Neace struck out four and walked nine.

Ali Crupper went the distance for Ryle. She struck out 13 and walked none.

Casey Kohls led NewCath at the plate going 3-for-3 with a double.

NewCath takes on Covington Holmes at home at 5 p.m. today.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Saturday Sports Briefs

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

The Highlands Bluebirds baseball team lost both game Saturday in the Doc Morris Invitational.

They lost 4-0 to Boyle County before losing 8-6 to Campbell County. Joey Cochran (3-1) and Lou Bunning (0-1) took the pitching losses for the Bluebirds.

Highlands takes on Dayton in 36th District action Monday. Game time is 5 p.m.

Newport Central Catholic baseball 12, Danville 4:
The Thoroughbreds (10-6) got back on the winning track with a win Saturday at Dixie Heights in the Doc Morris Tournament.

Michael Bueter picked up the win for the Thoroughbreds and Nick Seibert saved it. Bueter pitched into the fourth striking out four and walking three. Seibert struck out three and walked three.

NewCath led 3-1 after the third before scoring four more to go up 7-1. The Admirals scored three in the fifth to trim the margin to 8-4 before the Thoroughbreds scored four insurance runs in the seventh.

NewCath outhit Danville, 15-7. The Thoroughbreds saw four players record two or more hits. Alex Grau led the way going 3-for-5 with a double, three runs batted in and three runs scored. Brandon Gray followed going 3-for-4 with two doubles, three runs batted in and three runs scored. Zach Pangallo went 2-for-5 with two RBI and a run scored and Connor Bartels went 2-for-3.

The Thoroughbreds pounded out seven doubles. Jake Pangallo, Josh Cain, Dom Pangallo and JB Williams also had doubles for NewCath.

NewCath faces Bishop Brossart in an All “A” Sectional Tournament game Monday. Game time is 5 p.m.

NewCath Softball loses two:
The Thoroughbreds (6-8) managed just two hits combined in losing both games across the Ohio River on Saturday.

The lost the first game to host Cincinnati McNicholas, 6-2 in five innings. Lady Rocket pitcher Abby Jones threw a one-hitter.

Taylor Burkart had the lone hit for the Thoroughbreds. It was a two-out two-hit single to center field.

NewCath then lost 6-0 to Cincinnati Indian Hill in five innings. Ally Hermes threw the one-hitter for Indian Hill.

NewCath’s lone hit came in the fifth inning. Loren Zimmerman broke up the no-hitter with a single.

The Thoroughbreds travel to Ryle on Monday. Game time is 5 p.m.

Highlands Boys Hoops Head Coaching Job Still Good One

G. Michael Graham
Even though the Highlands Bluebirds boys basketball team has not been a region contender in a while, it is still important in Fort Thomas.

That’s evidenced by the numerous posts about the open head coaching position on Bluegrass Preps. You can’t believe everything you read on that web site. But it can give you some good information.

Some wonder if basketball can also be successful at a tradition-rich football high school. I don’t see why not. It has before.

Thus, this is my two cents on the matter. Keep in mind this is just one opinion and I do not have the expertise that those involved in hiring the next head coach do.

I first want to say that I feel veteran Head Coach Mike Flynn and his assistants gave it everything they had. Things just did not work out so Flynn resigned in March.

The Bluebirds finished 50-61 in Flynn’s four-year tenure with appearances in the 9th Region Tournament in 2011 and 2012. They lost to Dixie Heights in the regional quarterfinals in 2011 and Lloyd Memorial the following year in the same round.

Highlands has not won a region game since 2009 and not won a 36th District championship since 2008. The Bluebirds once dominated the 9th Region having won 12 championships including four in a five-year span between 1997 and 2001 led by the likes of Derek Smith, Jared Lorenzen and Ross Neltner.

“Anytime there’s a coaching change in any sport, it is an exciting time. It is a time when you have the opportunity to make a substantial step forward,” said Dale Mueller, Highlands Director of Athletics. “We’re looking for ways for our guys to have a good experience and battle for region and state championships on a regular basis. We have guys in Fort Thomas that love playing basketball.”

There are a number of reasons why this job is still a good one. The first one has to do with numbers.

Highlands has about 800 students. If 400 happen to be boys, they don’t all play football so surely there are some athletes who can put an emphasis on working on their basketball skills year-round. I’ve been told that previously successful teams had that one good non-football player surrounded by football players.

Mueller said the school system is working with the city of Fort Thomas to develop more youth basketball leagues. If you get someone started young, a lot of good things can happen.

Take a look at the Highlands girls basketball team. Freshman Brianna Adler started playing basketball at a young age. Now she has one of the prettiest shots in the 9th Region.

The new head coach does have some talent to work with. Sophomore Parker Harris showed some promise last year. Returning starters Drew Houliston and Nick True also give the Bluebirds something to build on.

The main thing Highlands needs to do is improve its shooting. Highlands hit 478-of-1,283 shots for 37 percent, including 100-of-345 from three-point range for 29 percent.

I’m sure the academic success at Highlands has drawn some good applicants. I’ve been told at least 25 people have applied for the job.

The decision-makers need to decide whether to promote one of the assistants or start over fresh. I’ve seen things work out or not work out in either situation.

With that in mind, here are some of my top candidates for the job provided they’ve applied. This is not in any particular order and again comes with limited knowledge.

1. Josh Feldmann – Feldmann has had a lot of success with the Bishop Brossart Lady Mustangs. He served as Junior Varsity Head Coach at Highlands from 2004 to 2010 and teaches at Johnson Elementary School in Fort Thomas.

2. Steve Hunt – Current Highlands Assistant and former player. He already knows the players.

3. Beau Menefee – His background is similar to Hunt. He served as Freshman Coach last year and is a former player. He is also a familiar face to the players.

4. Erik Goetz – He just left the job at Covington Holy Cross. Goetz led the Indians to the All “A” State championship in 2012 but had a hard time getting out of the 35th District loaded with other powers in Covington in Covington Catholic and Holmes.

5. Brett Blevins – He is currently the Junior Varsity Coach at Cooper. He has helped the young Jaguar program quickly evolve into a region contender.

I don’t know if any of the coaches of any current 9th Region contenders have applied such as Tim Sullivan at Cooper. But if they have, they also deserve a hard look.
All in all, the community support is there and that’s also a big reason why this job is still attractive. Everyone working together is what is needed to turn things around. A new head coach can’t turn things around alone.

G. Michael Graham has been covering school sports for various media outlets since November, 1994 along with some experience covering college sports. He’s worked for outlets in Alabama, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Texas.

Friday Sports Briefs

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

The Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds softball team came up short in its bid for an All “A” 9th Region title Friday at Northern Kentucky University.

The Thoroughbreds (6-6) fell behind 7-2 after four innings but came back to go up 10-7 in the sixth before St. Henry tied the game in the sixth with three runs. The Crusaders scored the game-winning run in the eighth against Taylor Burkart.

Freshman Gabby Stewart led off the inning and made it all the way to third on a throwing error. Teammate JoAnna Rebitski then singled her home to end the game.

St. Henry outhit NewCath, 11-8 and won despite committing six errors. The Thoroughbreds committed just two errors.

Noelle Butts pitched the entire game for St. Henry to pick up the win. She struck out five and walked three.

Sarah Neace pitched the first four innings and Haley Meyers pitched the next three. Neace struck out three and Meyers two.

Casey Kohls again led NewCath at the plate going 3-for-5 with four runs scored and Kristin Schreiber went 2-for-4 with two runs, a double, home run and four RBI with Burkart doubling in three.

Rebitski went 4-for-4 with two runs scored an RBI for the Lady Crusaders. Butts finished 2-for-2 with a home run, three RBI and two runs scored and Stewart went 2-for-5 with a double, home run, five RBI and two runs scored.

NewCath plays two games today across the river. The Thoroughbreds battle host Cincinnati McNicholas at 10 a.m. before taking on Indian Hill at Noon.

Friday Cancellations:

Three area games were called off Friday. In the Doc Morris Baseball Tournament, Highlands was to play Cooper at Campbell County and Newport Central Catholic was to face Danville.

The Bluebirds will still play two games today at Highland Park. They take on Boyle County at Noon before facing Campbell County after the Campbell County/Boyle County game. NewCath faces Louisville Trinity at 2:30 p.m.

In softball action, Highlands tried to make up its game against Newport but could not do it. The Bluebirds battle Cooper at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Thursday Sports Briefs

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

The Newport Central Catholic Thoroughbreds softball team will play for the 9th Region All “A” crown today after edging the Covington Holy Cross Lady Indians, 11-9 Thursday.

The Thoroughbreds (6-5) trailed 8-7 in the bottom of the fifth. But they scored three in that frame before adding another in the sixth to go up 11-8.

Haley Meyers again picked up the pitching win for NewCath. She moved to 2-1.

NewCath banged out 11 hits. Casey Kohls led the way going 2-for-3 with a triple and run batted in with Loren Zimmerman going 2-for-4 with two triples and three RBI. Kristin Schreiber followed going 2-for-4 with two doubles and Morgan Martino added two runs batted in.

Holy Cross had 12 hits and five errors. Madyson Moran led the way going 4-for-4 with a single, double, two triples and an RBI.

The Thoroughbreds take on either Newport or St. Henry at 5:30 p.m.

Dixie Heights baseall 7, Newport Central Catholic 3:

The Thoroughbreds saw their seven-game winning streak snapped in the opener of the Doc Morris Tournament on Thursday.

The Colonels put seven runs on the scoreboard in the fourth inning before the Thoroughbreds (9-6) responded with three in the fifth.

Dixie Heights outhit NewCath, 7-6. Josh Cain and Zach Pangallo led the way going 2-for-3.

The Colonels recorded five extra-base hits. Garrett Combs doubled and tripled with Nick King adding two doubles and Seth Caple also tallying a two-bagger.

Tommy Donnelly took the pitching loss for NewCath. He struck out one and walked seven in 3 and a 1/3 innings pitched before Colin Dupont relieved him.

Nick Niehaus struck out eight in a complete game. He walked four and allowed just two earned runs.

The Thoroughbreds continue tournament play at Dixie Heights against Danville tonight at 8:15 p.m.