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Dan Weber's Just Sayin': Top-Heavy Talent in Girls' 9th Region Basketball Field

Dan Weber writes a sports column for The River City News. Contact him at

With basketball season almost here in Kentucky’s high schools, how about a couple of takes on what to expect in the state on both the boys and girls sides. For the girls, we’ll start with The Cats’ Pause annual guide that calls the Ninth Region “top-heavy in talent” with four teams – that’s right, four – deserving a spot in the state’s preseason Top 10.

Not all that unlike the way it was for the boys here a year ago when Highlands won the state title but it could have been either St. Henry or Covington Catholic doing the same thing.

The top four girls teams, in order, are: Notre Dame, Ryle, Cooper, and Dixie Heights. The rest of the region’s Top 10 follow with Holy Cross (5), Newport Central Catholic (6), Conner (7), Highlands (8), Lloyd (9), and Ludlow (10).

NDA led the state in defense allowing just 34.8 points a game and is led by veterans Lacey Bradshaw and Macie Feldman.

Ryle returns five of its top six scorers led by regional player of the year candidate Abby Holtman. Cooper has all six leading scorers back from a district runner-up team. And regional champs Dixie Heights has three starters back led by Madeyn Lawson.

Ranking the Ninth Region’s top players in order, The Cats’ Pause goes with Holtman No. 1, Cooper’s Whitney Lind (2), NDA’s Bradshaw (3), NewCath’s Rylee Turner (4), Dixie’s Lawson (5), Ryle’s Quinn Eubank (6), Ludlow’s Jenna Lillard (7), NDA’s Feldman (8), Holy Cross’ Julia Hunt (9), and Cooper’s Kay Freihofer (10).

In the Eighth Region, Walton-Verona is picked to finish fifth with Simon Kenton sixth behind top pick Anderson County while Simon Kenton’s Sereniti Webb is the No. 6 preseason regional player.

In the 10th Region, Scott, Bishop Brossart and Campbell County are picked 4-5-6 behind top team George Rogers Clark. Campbell County’s Kylie Koeninger is No. 3 among the region’s top players while Scott’s Ava Coleman and Madelyn Wilson are ranked Nos. 7 and 8.

*** 2 COVCATH PLAYERS ON BOYS ALL-STATE TEAMS: Courtesy of the Premier High School Sports Podcast people, it looks like you can pencil in three teams for the Sweet 16 in March if preseason picks for boys high school hoops are on the money here with their all-state predictions.

Louisville Ballard, led by 6-foot-10 senior Maker Barr, has three players on the top three teams with 6-5 junior Gabe Sisk a second-teamer and 6-3 senior Keno Hayden on the third team. CovCath has two reps, both third-teamers, in junior 5-11 point guard Evan Ipsaro and 6-7 senior post player Mitchell Rylee. Ashland senior Cole Villers was first-team with junior Colin Porter a second-teamer.    

The complete teams: 

First Team: Maker Bar (SR) - Louisville Ballard; Kaleb Glenn (JR) - Louisville Male; Reed Sheppard (JR) - North Laurel; Cole Villers (SR) – Ashland; George Washington (JR) - Christian Academy Louisville.

Second Team: Jerone Morton (Reclassified JR) - George Rogers Clark; Travis Perry (SO) - Lyon County; Colin Porter (JR) – Ashland; Gabe Sisk (JR) - Louisville Ballard; Jevonte Turner (Reclassified SR) - Knox Central. 

Third Team: Turner Buttry (SR) - Bowling Green; Keno Hayden (SR) – Ballard; Evan Ipsaro (JR) - Covington Catholic; Mitchell Rylee (SR) - Covington Catholic; Jackson Twombly (SR) - Woodford County.

*** SENIOR DAY SENDOFF AT TMU: Nice way for senior Thomas More kicker Xander Haley to end his career with his pre-game on-field engagement to fiance Ashley Centers as the highlight to TMU football’s Senior Day celebration . . . JUST SAYIN’.

*** JUST A QUESTION: From long-time CovCath stat guru Dave Wear, here’s a question for the KHSAA. There are something like 288 teams playing high school basketball in Kentucky, just 172 in football. And yet it takes five weeks to conduct the state championships for football’s five classes (despite an average of less than 30 teams per class) but just three weeks for basketball. Might want to think about having four teams per district in football replaying the regular season the first week – or two -- for starters . . . JUST SAYIN’.

*** 7 SAINTS ALL-MID-SOUTH: Thomas More earned seven All-Mid-South-Conference spots this season with four Saints named to the first team: graduate offensive lineman David Sandlin, senior linebacker Peyton Van Horn, senior defensive lineman Dominic Valentino, and sophomore punter Elgin Phillips. Three Saints named to the second team were junior linebacker Del Thomas, sophomore defensive back Colton Sandhas, and freshman return specialist Freddie Johnson. 

--Dan Weber

Photo: Dixie Heights hoists the girls' 9th region title in 2021 (Brian Frey/RCN file)