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From the Sideline

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Breaking down the 2009-10 high school basketball season

By Tommie Kendall

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Connor Jeffries: The Henry County High School senior will be the number one option for the Wildcats during the 2009-10 campaign. HCHS coach Derek Springate said Connor Jeffries has great scoring ability and can take over a game at any time. He can pull up at three-point range, drive to the basket or play down low, providing tough matchup problems for opponents. He will spend a majority of his time running the point or on the wing.

Bradley Foree: The Eminence Warriors have some promising up-and-coming players, but freshman Bradely Foree — who started last year as an eighth grader — already has potential to be a dominant force. EHS coach Chris Nethery said Foree has progressed tremendously between seasons. Plus, he has grown two inches to his current 6-foot-5 frame. He is the younger brother of former Eminence standout Brian Foree.

Kelsey Mings: Starting as an eighth grader in the 2005-06 season, Kelsey Mings is entering her senior year as a five-year starter. She plays the point and is the glue that holds the Ladycats together. Mings, along with junior Jessica Booher, were the leading scorers from last year’s 10-15 team. Mings, Booher, HCHS coach Toddy Gilley and the rest of the Cats want to improve on last year’s double-digit victories.

Rachel Raisor: No player in the county has had more starts or logged more varsity minutes than Eminence High School junior Rachel Raisor. The point guard played varsity while in the fifth grade and was starting as a middle schooler. She will once again be the team leader in 2009-10 with her ball handling skills and ability to create her own shots. She led the team in scoring and assists the last few years, and is tenacious in getting to the ball. EHS coach Carter Martin expects big things from Raisor on a team that has no seniors.

SHOES TO FILL

Cody Hinkel: Henry County High School had one of its best seasons on record last school year, and then-senior Cody Hinkel was a big reason why. The Wildcats had plenty of firepower but Hinkel provided a needed presence down low. New HCHS coach Derek Springate will have to fill the void Hinkel leaves behind. He said he might play with five guards on the court at once.

Steven Tillett: Another reason why the Wildcats were so successful was because of the play from Steve Tillett. Last year’s sharp shooter was a threat in three-point land and was one of five seniors who produced leadership and key minutes on the court. Henry should have plenty of options around the perimeter but Tillett will be tough to replace.

Ed Berry: The Eminence High School senior during the 2008-09 school year was one of the top athletes with his play in football in the fall, basketball in the winter, and track and baseball in the spring. Berry, now on the University of Kentucky football team, was the top basketball player for the Warriors last season, leading the team in scoring and controlling the ball a majority of the time. With Berry gone, the other perimeter players will need to step up, including senior point guard Jordan Fairchild and junior guard Dre Banta.

Note: The high school girls’ basketball teams in the county – Henry County and Eminence – had zero seniors last year. Henry has four seniors this year in Brittany Brown, Brittany Crawford, Kelley Everidge and Kelsey Mings, and Eminence has none once again.

MUST SEE GAMES

Boys’ county matchups: The Henry County and Eminence boys’ basketball teams play twice during the 2009-10 regular season. Eminence plays at Henry on Jan. 14 and Henry plays at Eminence on Feb. 13. Last year, Henry won both games – 74-25 in December and 66-46 in February.

Girls’ county matchups: The Henry County and Eminence girls’ basketball teams play twice during the 2009-10 regular season. Eminence plays at Henry on Dec. 3 and Henry plays at Eminence on Feb. 19. Last year, Henry won both games – 63-6 in January and 54-12 in February.

All “A” Classic: The boys’ 8th Region All “A” Classic tournament will be held in January at Walton-Verona High School. Eminence opens against Williamstown on Jan. 19. The top team out of the region advances to the All “A” state tournament for the smallest 125 schools in Kentucky. EHS coach Chris Nethery said this is a focal point to the upcoming season.

Postseason tournaments: The postseason tournaments are far from being finalized but teams across Kentucky are already focusing on the tournaments taking place in late February. Henry County plays in the 31st District, while Eminence plays in the 30th. The top two teams from each district advance to the 8th Region tournament, which both Henry and Eminence are part of.

DID YOU KNOW?

New gym: Henry County High School finished its new gym for the 2009-10 school year, which has eliminated a majority of the scheduling conflicts for court time. The new gym hosted all of the volleyball games in the fall and will host junior varsity basketball games this winter. HCHS Athletics Director Todd Gilley, who also coaches the girls’ basketball team, said they have scheduled a few basketball games that allow the junior varsity teams to play in the smaller gym while the varsity teams play in the larger gym at the same time. This allows a boys and girls double-header on the same night.

All “A” Classic: After just one season competing in various All “A” Classic tournaments throughout the 2008-09 school year, Henry County High School was knocked out of being eligible for All “A” this year. The tournaments are set up for the smallest 125 schools in Kentucky with the numbers checked annually, and Henry fell above that line this year. The HCHS boys’ basketball team won the 8th Region All “A” Classic last year to advance to the state tournament.

Coaching changes: The only coaching change in the county this basketball season is Derek Springate at Henry County. Springate takes over the boys’ program from Jason Holland. Other coaches include Todd Gilley for the Henry girls’ team, Chris Nethery for the Eminence boys’ team, and Carter Martin for the Eminence girls’ team.

County showdown: The Henry County and Eminence girls’ basketball teams will play each other the first game to tip off the season and the final game before the postseason starts. Eminence plays at Henry on Dec. 3 and Henry plays at Eminence on Feb. 19.