Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local Sports

April 3, 2014

Wheeler, Bradley, McKenzie in Ohio-Kentucky All-Star Game

ASHLAND — When high school all-star basketball teams from the Commonwealth and the Buckeye State clash for the 23rd time on April 12 at Thomas More College, three area fixtures will participate.

Ashland coach Bill Bradley will pilot the Kentucky girls team in the Ohio-Kentucky All-Star Basketball Game. Boyd County senior Taylor Wheeler is one of the 15 seniors on the Bluegrass State’s roster.

Johnson Central bench boss Tommy McKenzie will skipper Kentucky’s boys.

Wheeler signed a letter of intent last week to attend Walters State Community College in Tennessee and play softball. She’s well-known in these parts, though, for her hardwood exploits — she became Boyd County’s all-time leading scorer as a senior and was selected the Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches’ player of the year in the 16th Region.

“It will be nice to have Taylor Wheeler on my team, instead of the opposing team,” said Bradley, coach of the Lady Lions’ archrival.

Both coaches are fresh off state tournament runs. Bradley’s Kittens reached the Final Four of the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since the modern era of girls basketball began in 1975.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” Bradley said in a text message in regards to the event. “I’ve helped the last couple years as an assistant, and am excited to be the head coach this year. I’ve seen most of the girls play, and it’s a very good group.”

This season, Ashland faced four of Bradley’s new players, including Wheeler, as well as Fairland senior center Terra Stapleton, who represents southeastern Ohio.

McKenzie’s Golden Eagles got to the quarterfinals of the boys tournament, posting their first win in Rupp Arena since 2000 and only their second Sweet Sixteen victory in school history.

Bradley and McKenzie both became their respective programs’ all-time winningest coaches during this past season. Both Ashland’s girls and Johnson Central’s boys also won their third consecutive region tournament titles.

The Kentucky girls’ roster features four Miss Basketball finalists — Anderson County forward Makenzie Cann, Newport Central Catholic forward Nicole Kiernan, Anderson County forward Eriel McKee and Perry County Central forward/center Kayla Rankin. Sweet Sixteen MVP Danielle Lawrence of state champion Butler is also featured.

Justin Johnson, a forward from Perry County Central, is the lone Mr. Basketball finalist on Kentucky’s boys roster. Covington Catholic guard Nick Ruthsatz, won  Sweet Sixteen MVP honors as the Colonels won the state title, is also slated to play.

The girls game begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Crestview Hills school. The boys’ event is slated for 7:30. It’s sponsored by Russell Athletic. The game director is Randy Ward, a former Greenup County and Coal Grove boys coach.

ZACK KLEMME can be reached at zklemme@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2658.

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