Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

March 23, 2014

AARON SNYDER: Cats show up in time

ASHLAND —

Cleanthony Early was Christian Laettner. He just didn't get the ball.
Kentucky coach John Calipari said that Sunday's nip-and-tuck battle was more like a game with a Final Four bid on the line than one with a Sweet 16 spot at stake.
He was dead-on. Everyone watching felt the same way.
Twenty-two years after "The Greatest Game Ever Played" ended, a similar, yet distinctively different, scenario surfaced.
The clock read "3.2" instead of "2.3."
The ball was entering play from the sideline instead of the baseline.
Kentucky's opponent needed a basket to win — this time it was a 3-pointer instead of a 2.
In a sense, too, the experience aspect was on par with 1992's regional final matchup.
Duke, the defending national champion with a slew of returners, faced Kentucky, which was a team full of seniors but had zero NCAA Tournament experience due to three previous years of probation.
All season long, no one could draw a comparison, even remotely, between the 2014 Wildcats, who feature an all-freshman starting lineup, and "The Unforgettables" from two decades ago. That is, until two weeks ago.
The day after Kentucky was blown away by Florida in Gainesville, Calipari sat in his favorite chair in his Lexington home and it clicked.
Why hadn't I done it all along? he thought.
Right at that moment came "the tweak."
While the mystery epiphany was never fully divulged, the Wildcats have revealed the master's plan through remarkable results.
The latest was the most ironic and impressive.
Ironic because all the preseason talk surrounded Kentucky and its recruits and the prospect of going 40-0, but Wichita State, the "mid-major" from Kansas — another basketball state — brought the notion to near fruition.

Text Only
Local Sports
  • 0726fbPrac0079.jpg Practice rolls on as kickoff approaches in less than 5 weeks

    As high school football teams strap on helmets and prepare for Friday nights next month, the theme of the first couple of weeks of practice for most is simple.
    You gotta work. Hard.
    And if you don’t, it’ll be exposed come Aug. 22.
    “Everybody looks good in helmets,” Ashland coach Tony Love said with a grin. “We’re all undefeated. There’s a lot of work to get done.
    “Our coaches and kids, we all know it, and that’s why they’re here and we’re here, and we’re gonna push hard every day.”

    July 25, 2014 4 Photos

  • kenzie-breaststroke.jpg Pennington makes push for Nationals

    Swimmer Kenzie Pennington had one last chance to make the cut for this year’s YMCA Long Course National Championships.
    The 15-year-old from Ashland didn’t disappoint.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Salyers shoots 75 for title at Lakeside

    Baylee Salyers of Flatwoods shot a 3-over par 75 at Lakeside Golf Course on Thursday to win the Girls Open division of the Walmart Kentucky PGA Junior Tour event.

    July 24, 2014

  • 0724putnamwebshot.JPG Laying the foundation Workers are finishing the foundation for the locker room on the home side of Putnam Stadium on Tuesday. The Ashland Tomcats open the football season on Aug. 22 against Newport Catholic.

    July 23, 2014

  • Genuine throwback

    Todd Eastham is disproving the old cliche, “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”

    July 23, 2014

  • MARK MAYNARD: Looking for those who inspire

    Inspirtation, they say, comes from within. It is defined as an inspiring or animating action or influence.

    July 22, 2014

  • 0722KYPGA_152.jpg Jones tops Gillum in playoff at Eagle Trace

    Ashland senior golfer Logan Jones didn't shoot his average Monday.
    He didn't mind.
    His three-over par 75 and one-hole playoff win over Elliott County junior Ryan Gillum gave him the Boys Open division title in the Kentucky PGA Junior Tour stop at Morehead State University's Eagle Trace Golf Course.

    July 21, 2014 6 Photos

  • 102213_329a.jpg Raceland tabs Clark as new girls basketball coach

    Jason Clark has a reputation of being — to use his word — “passionate” on the Raceland volleyball sideline.
    He plans to bring that same approach as the Lady Rams’ new basketball coach.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0305region2_389.jpg Pass the Mayo: East sophomore PG, Lady Raiders preparing for winter run

    East Carter sophomore point guard Kristen Mayo has played basketball for as long as she can remember.

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0718spinda.jpg Steelers super fan Spinda to be recognized in Florida

    Shawn Spinda doesn’t have to use speech to profess his passion for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
    All it takes is a quick glance for a person to get the picture.
    But to absorb the whole picture, you’ll need to clear your schedule.
    Spinda is one of several fanatics who will be recognized at the Sports Fans Conference in Orlando, Florida, which is set for Aug. 28-Sept. 1 at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. He is a “What a Fan” NFL Fan of the Year nominee.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo