Rowan County boys basketball coach Shawn Thacker and his Vikings ventured out into the wilderness this past season, playing a healthy portion of tough opponents outside of the 16th Region.
What he discovered?
“We had as good of offensive, hard-to-guard players in our region as anywhere we went and played,” Thacker said.
Thacker’s conclusion was further justified with the selection of players in the 21st annual Kentucky-Ohio All-Star Game. A record six total players — four boys and two girls — will represent the 16th Region this weekend at Thomas More College’s Connor Convocation Center. There will be a slam dunk contest, a three-point competition, 3-on-3 battles and 1-on-1 duels on Friday night at 7, while the girls game tips off at 5:30 p.m. Saturday with the boys following.
“It’ll be a fun, All-Star atmosphere,” Thacker said.
Jagos Lasic (Morgan County), Mike Terry (Fairview), D.J. Townsend (Rowan County) and Adam Wing (Rowan County) were the 16th Region boys selected to participate. The girls are Mykal Farris (Ashland) and Brooke Gee (Raceland).
Ashland coach Bill Bradley is an assistant for the Kentucky girls. Bradley, who won his first 16th Region title this past season with the talented Kittens, took part in the event last season as an assistant coach as well.
“It was really nice being involved in it last year,” Bradley said. “I was around (the game) back when it started.”
Shawnee State University was the former site of the event until it moved to Thomas More, its current location, in 2002.
Coupled with the record amount of regional representees, Marla Gearhart, Nathan Sutton and Davin Barnette, all 16th Region officials, will call the girls game, according to event co-founder Randy Ward.
Louisville Trinity coach Mike Szabo will guide Kentucky’s boys, with Thacker and Mike Allen (Bryan Station) as assistants. DuPont Manual coach Stacy Pendleton will direct the state’s girls, with Bradley and Mark Evans (Mercy) serving as assistants.
Both Trinity’s boys and Manual’s girls won state titles, but the coaches were selected months prior, according to Ward.
Ohio won both the boys and girls games last season — Kentucky’s boys were led by Anthony Hickey, a Christian County graduate now at LSU, as Ohio was paced by Trey Burke, a Northland High product who just completed his freshman season at Michigan.
“Players take it serious,” Bradley said. “I thought it was more of an exhibition before last year.”
Included among Ohio’s girls is Caite Craft (Liberty-Benton), sister of Ohio State star point guard Aaron.
When Bradley scanned up and down Ohio’s roster, he noticed a guard-heavy lineup.
“(Gee) could be key for us inside,” Bradley said.
Gee, a 6-foot senior at Raceland and Concord signee, was among the state’s leaders in rebounding this season. She pulled down 12.1 boards and scored 12.9 points.
Farris could also be a catalyst this Saturday. She averaged 9.7 points and 4.4 rebounds for Ashland in her senior year. This game will mark the last time Bradley will coach Farris.
“That’s going to be special,” Bradley said.
Wing and Townsend will suit up one final time for Thacker. The senior duo helped lead the Vikings to a state runner-up finish in 2011 and then to a state quarterfinal appearance in 2012.
Their final statistics: 17.8 PPG, 50.6 FG%, 37% 3-pt. FG and four assists per game for Townsend; 14.7 PPG, 52.1 FG%, 40% 3-pt. FG and 10.6 rebounds per game for Wing.
Wing and Townsend also competed in the Kentucky juniors vs. seniors in preparation for the Kentucky-Indiana All-Star game last season.
Wing is an Evansville signee, while Townsend is still undecided on his college choice.
Lasic, a foreign exchange student from Serbia, averaged a double-double in 17 games for Morgan County. The Cougars were 9-8 after he was ruled eligible.
Terry, a 6-7 forward drawing Division I interest, had a memorable going-out party with a record seven 3-pointers against Rowan County in the 16th Region Tournament. Terry netted 22.5 points per game and grabbed 10.7 rebounds per game.
His college list includes: Bradley, Jacksonville, Samford, Gardner-Webb, South Dakota, Georgia State, Missouri State and Bellarmine.
Trinity forward Nathan Dieudonne, a Mr. Basketball finalist along with Wing, is also on the squad.
“I told (Trinity coach) Szabo that we’re in this thing to win it,” Thacker said.
AARON SNYDER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.
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