November 7th, 2016

Billy Reed: Notes from Catholic sports weekend

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Billy Reed

Executive Editor


Billy Reed: Notes from Catholic sports weekend
Sacred Heart's Paige Hammons (left, in white jersey) poses with Assumption's Alexis Hamilton for cover of the LCSN Fall Sports Guide; Hammons was named MVP of the state volleyball tournament / photo by Bill Brymer

Notes from the Catholic sports world…

Last Friday the 22-person team from Ohio County (21 boys and a female defensive tackle) rode a yellow school bus from their home in western Kentucky to play Trinity in the state high school 6-A football playoffs. The Shamrocks, won, 69-0, in a game, to use the term loosely, that had no business being played.

A team with Ohio County’s 2-8 record should never, ever be in a playoff. What is gained by rewarding an unaccomplished team? Not even Trinity derived any benefit from this fiasco. Indeed, the Shamrocks are fortunate they escaped without serious injury, which would only have made a horrible situation worse.

And Trinity-Ohio County was hardly the only mismatch. The other three Catholic schools in Jefferson County won by 63-14 (St. Xavier over Muhlenberg Co.), 52-0 (DeSales over Monroe Co.), and 38-12 (Holy Cross over Ludlow).

The Kentucky High School Athletics Association should be ashamed of itself. Any system that produces a Trinity-Ohio County game is inherently flawed. There has to be a better way, and the KHSAA needs to get back to the drawing board right now.

Next topic, please.

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I was happy that Sacred Heart won the state volleyball championship, but I was equally proud of runner-up Henry Clay, my alma mater. This was only the second time a public school had crashed what’s always an all-Catholic party.

At the risk of boasting, I also must point out that Sacred Heart’s Paige Hammons, the Most Valuable Player of the State Tournament, was one of the two girls who adorned the cover of the Louisville Catholic Sports Network’s Fall Guide. The other? One of her best friends Alexis Hamilton of Assumption.

One of the three Henry Clay girls to make the all-tournament team was Kaitlyn Hord, a daughter of former University of Kentucky basketball star Derrick Hord. He played for Coach Joe B. Hall in the early 1980s, and scored nine points for the Cats in the 1983 “Dream Game” loss to Louisville in the finals of the NCAA Mideast Regional tournament.

Kaitlyn, a junior, is headed for Penn State, which is to women’s volleyball what UK is to men’s basketball. The top of the mountain, in other words.

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I went to see the University of Louisville’s exhibition game against Kentucky Wesleyan last Tuesday in the KFC Yum! Center because I wanted to check out the Cards, of course, but I also wanted to see how Josh Derksen looked in a Wesleyan uniform.

He’s the 6-foot-10 kid from Australia who came to the U.S. to play in Coach Scott Davenport’s program at Bellarmine. However, after three tempestuous seasons, Derksen decided to move to Owensboro and play for Coach Happy Osborne as a senior.

At his best on offense, Dirksen was a mini-Larry Bird, shooting the three and dunking with flair and skill. But he also lacked quickness and the desire to play defense. At once obstinate and sensitive, Dirksen was a problem without a solution.

Maybe it will be better for him at Wesleyan. If so, it was difficult to see in the Panthers’ 109-71 loss to the Cards. In 14 minutes, Dirksen scored five points, hitting two of four from the field and one of three from behind the line. He also had one rebound, one assist, and one turnover.

If anything, his lack of quickness is exposed more in Osborne’s up-tempo style. Where Davenport could often hide his weaknesses in Bellarmine’s patterned style, he’s more exposed in a wide-open, up-and-down game.

His adventures in Happy Land will be worth following.

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It’s hardly news that the University of Notre Dame football team is having a bad season that nobody saw coming. Some of the “subway alumni” are saying it’s time for a coach change, even though Notre Dame historically has been slower to pull the trigger than most other big-time programs.

I expect Brian Kelly to get at least another year. But if he doesn’t, well, there’s this Catholic fellow coaching in Tuscaloosa, Ala., who has a pretty good run going. It might behoove the Irish to at least give him a phone call. 

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Finally, congratulations to all of the participants in this year's Toy Bowl Championships. It was the 68th year for the 8th Grade championships and the 6th Grade championships have been played since the late-'60's.

In the 6-A title game St. Patrick's defeated St. Albert the Great 23-6. In 6-AA it was St. Mary's/St. Aloysius defeating Holy Trinity in a barn-burner 12-8. The 8-A game featured St. Edward defeating Notre Dame 28-8 and the 8-AA title went to St. Bernard who edged Holy Trinity 12-0. 

 

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