Story Matters

Story Matters

THE Official HHS Football Site

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Dishing her way into Campbellsville History

Contributed Photo. Highlands 2010 graduate Katie Allen (11) makes a move during a game last season. Allen owns 418 assists in 97 games for an average of 4.3 per game in three years at Campbellsville University.
Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

Once Katie Allen arrived on campus, the Campbellsville University Lady Tigers basketball staff took notice of a rare talent.

That’s excellent court vision.

“We get a lot of easy buckets in the open court because Katie pushes the ball up the floor quick,” said Miranda Denney, Campbellsville Assistant Coach. “She sees things before they happen. That’s nothing we’ve taught her.”

Denney and Allen’s head coach in Ginger High-Colvin know a lot about Allen’s position. They both also played point guard at Campbellsville during their playing careers. Colvin said Allen has handled the pressure well.

That attribute has pushed Allen near the top of the list of the most assists in school history. Allen has 418 assists in 97 games for an average of about 4.3 a game. Allen currently ranks seventh in school history. Colvin leads the list with 865 assists in 105 games for an average of about 8.2 a contest.

“You just develop (good court vision) over time,” Allen said. “The most fun part of the game is making things happen rather than something already being there.”

The Highlands 2010 graduate can surpass Shannon Wathen’s 600 career assists if she records the same assist total as last year. Allen made 204 assists last year in 35 games for an average of about 5.8 a contest.

“She is fun to watch because she can find the open person,” Colvin said. “If they’ll move for her, she’ll get the ball to them. She’s so hard-nosed. She’s probably one of the toughest kids I’ve coached physically.”

That total made her just the third player in school history to surpass the 200-plus total in assists. Colvin did it twice recording 246 during the 1988-89 season and 305 in 89-90. Rhea Beaty accomplished the feat going for 21- in 92-93 and 247 in 93-94.

Allen made a career-high 13 assists twice last year. They came in on Feb. 25 in a 75-62 win at rival Lindsey Wilson University and on Dec. 14, 2012 in a 96-45 home win over Wilberforce University (Ohio).

Allen ranked third in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Division I for total assists and in assist-to-turnover ratio at 2.429. Allen also finished second in the Mid-South Conference behind 227 assists from Georgetown’s Kourtney Tyra. As a sophomore, Allen finished third in the country with 186 total assists and led the MSC.

Allen would not mind beating Colvin’s school record of 16 assists in a game. Colvin joked that if Allen hits 15, Colvin will take her out. But Colvin joked that Denney will put her back in.

“We always give (Colvin) a hard time about it,” Allen said. “It just makes it fun. If I beat it or don’t beat it, it’s still something to work for. Even though she’s competitive, (Colvin) is always pushing me to do my best.”

Campbellsville finished 25-10 last year, including 14-6 in the rugged MSC. The Lady Tigers lost 59-46 to Cumberland University (Tenn.) in the tournament title game before falling 71-52 to top-ranked Freed-Hardeman in the second round of the NAIA Tournament. Both tournaments took place in Frankfort.

During that season, Allen averaged 6.5 points per game and shot 42.9 percent from three-point range. Allen scored a career-high 15 points twice last year before tallying 19 in a 78-71 victory against Georgetown College in the MSC Semifinals on March 2.

Both coaches said Allen will be looked upon to score more as a senior with the graduation of two great guards. Offensively, the Lady Tigers will go from a Princeton Four-Guard offense to a more post-oriented attack. Campbellsville’s depth often wears teams down.

“I’m going to have to create a little more and work harder to get (the posts) the ball,” Allen said. “With the Princeton Offense, we could just run picks and get the guards open. We have a lot of posts so it will be good for us.”

Allen is hoping to pick things up defensively. Campbellsville plays a lot of man-to-man defense. Allen said Campbellsville added an offseason workout program that includes jumping ropes to improve defensively, especially in the rebounding department.

“You just have to keep (point guards) in front of you,” Allen said. “Some point guards are penetrators and some point guards just bring the ball up and run the offense.”

Allen majors in Sports Management with a minor in Business. She earned Academic All-MSC honors with a grade-point average of 3.25 or better in 2012 and 2013 with NAIA Scholar Athlete recognition last year earning a GPA of 3.5 or greater.

“You have to keep up with school work. You can’t get behind,” Allen said. “Coach (Colvin) is really big on going to class and getting good grades. That might mean taking homework on away basketball trips or doing it an hour before practice.”

Allen has suffered some injuries during her playing career. She fell on her left shoulder toward the of her sophomore year and tore her Labrum. Allen received a Cortisone shot and wore shoulder brace the rest of that season. A magnetic resonance image (MRI) revealed she also had a bone contusion.

“My nephew who was a football player at the time had the same injury,” Colvin said. “Every time he saw her play, he just shook his head. He said, ‘I can’t imagine with as much movement as you have in basketball, being able to play with that.’ She amazed me then. Kids want to follow her because of her toughness.”

But Allen said she had surgery on the Labrum after the season and everything was

fine for her junior year. Allen also rolled her right ankle her junior year, but it was not as serious. Allen has not missed many games as a result of the injuries.

Allen said the best part of playing college basketball has been the relationships she’s developed with her coaches and teammates. That’s not always the case with college student-athletes.

“Down at Campbellsville, the team is like a family,” Allen said. “We’re always together all the time. We get along really well. When your coaches are just as involved, it makes it all fun.”

These accomplishments follow a great career at Highlands. Allen averaged 18 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals a game as a senior for the 19-9 Bluebirds. Allen led the Bluebirds to the 9th Region semifinals her junior and freshmen years.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Highlands, NewCath football teams tackle sense of entitlement

G. Michael Graham
Shortly after Clay Clevenger took over as the new head football coach of the Danville Admirals, he put a picture on Twitter of the title years on the school’s stadium and raised the question, “What are you doing that will help hang another banner?”

The Admirals rank fifth in Kentucky for the most football state championships with 10 only behind Highlands (22), Louisville Trinity (22), Louisville St. Xavier (12) and Beechwood (11). But they’ve not won once since 2003.

I remember those dominant Danville teams led by Kelvin Turner and Andrew Hopewell. I was Sports Editor of the Commonwealth Journal in Somerset during that time when the Admirals won three titles in four years.

In fact, Danville has not played for a state championship since 2006 when Newport Central Catholic edged the Admirals, 37-34 for the title when there were still four classes. Since going to six classes, the furthest Danville has advanced in the playoffs came in 2010 when it made it to the state semifinals before losing to eventual state runner-up Owensboro Catholic. They’ve not been able to beat arch-rival Somerset in the playoffs the past two years.

Why am I talking about Danville? It’s simple. The Highlands and Newport Central Catholic football teams have to be on the lookout against against what some Danville fans on say has occurred there and could be a reason why longtime head coach Sam Harp left to take the same position at struggling Lebanon (Tenn.) High other than to be closer to his daughter and her family.

That’s a sense of entitlement.

That’s the thought process where you feel like you’ve earned the right to win state championships based on your past and do not put in the work that it takes to earn them. It is a reason why Highlands Co-Head Coach Dale Mueller does not like to talk much about the school’s great history of an overall record of 842-225-26 good for the second-most wins in school history in the country behind Valdosta, Georgia’s 876 victories and Kentucky state-record six straight state championships. (I tried to sneak in a question about it during the playoffs last year and he did a great job deflecting it. Thus, I won’t even try again.)

When I covered a school in Tennessee years ago that won in a nearby opposing stadium for the first time in school history, the head coach said, “History can hurt you if you dwell too much on the negatives.” The opposite holds true for Highlands and NewCath.

Highlands finds itself at that perch in Class 4A and Newport Central Catholic at the same throne in Class 2A after winning the respective titles last fall. But based on what I’ve seen in the offseason, both teams are putting in that same work that has made previous teams successful. The current players want to add to the legacies of their predecessors.

“We have such a determined group of guys,” Mueller said. “They just want to do well.”

Mueller and staff emphasize improvement each and every day. He said that after Highlands handled Scott County, 60-37 this past year. There is a reason that’s important.

I remember covering the game at Louisville Western in Week 3. The Bluebirds won 51-23. But you just felt like something was not right.

Surely enough, the Bluebirds responded with a 61-3 thrashing of Mason County the following week. The Royals may not be to the level of the Bluebirds. But they’re still a good team having made the third round of the 3A playoffs before losing to undefeated Bourbon County last year.

The coaches and players at Highlands know the moment you stop working your tail off to improve is the moment someone will knock you off. The only thing the coaching staff needs to remind the current players of in those terms is that rival Covington Catholic is constantly improving like recently graduated center Mitch Dee mentioned last year.

Covington Catholic may be the main threat to the Bluebird dominance. But you never know when a Lexington Catholic, Boyle County, Johnson Central, Ashland Blazer or even a Warren East or Collins could rise up and knock them off. Thus, the Bluebirds continue to stay on their guard and do the extra push-ups and repetitions.

One big way Highlands has improved in recent years is putting players on just offense or defense. That has especially helped with the depth growing each year that is expected to rise above 100 players this fall. Highlands gets twice as much practice time at its position as opposed to half the time on offense and half on defense.

I remember walking into the Highlands locker room this past spring. There was no room to walk while Co-Head Coach Brian Weinrich led the offseason conditioning drills. So many head coaches in the country wish that as many players would be as dedicated as the Bluebirds have been. Instead, they have to deal with a mentality like, “Why should we put in that time if we’re not going to win a state championship anyway?”

Over at NewCath, newly-promoted head coach Dan Wagner and staff do not need to remind the Thoroughbreds what happened two years ago. They came into 2011 as state champions and district rival Covington Holy Cross upset them in the regional title game before winning the state championship.

The Thoroughbreds rebounded to bring the gold back across the Licking River last year. But while they may be head and shoulders above the rest of the region, teams like Lloyd Memorial, Holy Cross and Walton-Verona could beat them if they are not careful.

On the statewide level, Somerset and Caldwell County will definitely enter the season hungry to challenge the Thoroughbreds. Both teams had young quarterbacks last year.

We’ll find out more about these teams in just more than two months when the season begins on Aug. 23. It should be another exciting ride.

G. Michael Graham is preparing to enter his 16th season covering high school sports. He has previously covered high school sports in Ohio, Texas, Tennessee and Alabama in addition to Kentucky.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Healy aims to bring winning culture to Greeley Central

Contributed Photo. Highlands graduate Angela Healy (central) instructs the Greeley Central (Colorado) players during a game last year. Healy was recently named head coach at the school located 49 miles north of Denver.

Fort Thomas Matters Sports Reporter

Angela Healy is proud of where she came from.

But the 2004 Highlands graduate said she feels her calling is to be teaching and coaching where she is now in Greeley, Colorado, which is 49 miles north of Denver. Healy teaches sixth grade at Bella Romero School there.

Highlands has very few students with free and reduced lunches. One web site noted that percentage is 62 percent in the Greeley School District.

“When I decided to go to Northern Kentucky (University) for college, I kind of made a promise to myself that I would venture out eventually just for adventure,” Healy said. “Between my junior and senior year of basketball, I came to an Athletes in Action Ultimate training camp. They taught spiritual principles of being an athlete. It was my first time to Colorado. I fell in love with Colorado at that time.”

Her basketball coaching career recently took a big step. She was recently named the head girls basketball coach at Greeley Central High School. She’d been an assistant on staff the previous two years.

“Her knowledge of our program and our kids stood out,” said Mark Koopman, Greeley Central Assistant Principal and Activities Director. “She knows what we have coming up. She was a highly talented player in college.”

Greeley Central finished 6-17 last year, which was the team’s best record in five years. The Wildcats are in Class 4A – the second-largest of five classes in Colorado. Healy said that was the team’s best record in five years.

Greeley Central did not make the state playoffs. Healy said teams have to finish in the top six out of eight teams in their league to make the postseason. The Wildcats play in the Northern League.

“It’s difficult because I was raised in a culture where the expectations were of winning,” Healy said. “But I feel like that’s what I can bring to the program.”

Healy moved to Colorado in the fall of 2009 after graduating from NKU. She played soccer for the Norse in 2008 and did her student-teaching at an elementary school in Covington and overseas in South Africa.

She made some friends at the camp and they helped pave the way for her coaching career in Colorado as well. Prior to landing at Bella Romero, Healy served as a substitute teacher in the Greeley School district before teaching fifth grade for two years at Bella Romero then moving up to the sixth grade last year.

Healy served as an assistant basketball coach at Highlands during the 2008-09 year. Healy landed a job as a middle school, junior varsity head coach and varsity assistant coach at Bay Spring Christian in Greeley during the 2009-10 year before going to Greeley Central.

Healey won a lot during her high school and college years. The Norse won the NCAA Division II national championship her senior year in 2008.

Current Highlands girls basketball Head Coach Jaime Walz-Richey coached Healy for three years including the last two as head coach. Healy said Walz-Richey was one of the first people to know when she earned the job.

Highlands won the 9th Region in Healy’s freshman year and finished runner-up to Covington Holmes in Healy’s sophomore year. The Bluebirds lost to Boone County in the region quarterfinals her junior before losing to the Lady Rebels in the region semifinals her senior year.

“Angela played and coached with so much passion for the game,” Walz-Richey said. “She really enjoyed the game of basketball while she was playing and coaching. She was a very hard worker on and off the court that I think her players will see and will not want to disappoint her.”

The Wildcats had no seniors on last year’s team. One of the leading returning players is rising senior Kelsey Cousins. Cousins set the Greeley Central season free-throw percentage making about 73 percent of her attempts last year.

“Fortunately, the group of girls we have right now, especially our seniors, understand and they’re hungry for somebody to hold them accountable to putting in that time,” Healy said. “Like this summer, we’ve already had a great turnout. The seniors are going to leave a legacy.”

Healy said the big goal for this season is to make sure the girls are fundamentally sound on offense and defense. She said girls in Greeley do not play organized basketball until the eighth grade. Healy likes to play mostly a man-to-man defense with help side principles. Then offensively, Healy plans to run a Read and React offense taking some basic sets from NKU.

“I visualize our recreation leagues getting better from a lot younger ages,” Healy said. “We have to work on our fundamentals because a lot of girls come in and don’t know how to play basketball. We’re starting more from scratch than a typical team.”

Healy said she plans to motivate the girls with a reward system. She said the theme for the year is commit. The players need to earn a certain amount of points to be in the running for being a captain and they can also earn a shirt that says committed on the back.

“With my family, we all played sports and there were only two weeks of the year that we went on vacation because it was understood that you would be at everything in the summer,” Healy said. “We’re definitely not there yet. But it’s completely changed from when I first got there.”

Greeley has several high schools. Greeley Central can build off the fact it beat in-town rivals Greeley West and Northridge last year.