Friday, January 27, 2017

Coach Hodge: It's not over; time to forge ahead

Coach Hodge and senior players in the post-game
interview room with media at Frankfort.
Lady Rocket coach Shannon Hodge said her team struggled to make baskets early and once Harlan’s high-powered point guard starting stroking there was no room for recovery.

Harlan’s Jordan Brock, a Tennessee Tech signee, scored 31 points as the Lady Dragons beat Crittenden County 43-21 in the quarterfinals of the All A Classic Friday at Frankfort.

“When you hold a team to 43 points, even if one gets 30, you’d think you could win,” Hodge said. 

But by the same token, it's almost impossible to win when your team puts up just 21 points.

“We just couldn’t put the ball in the basket early and couldn’t keep up on the scoreboard. Then we lost our confidence.” 

Crittenden senior Cassidy Moss, who went into the game needing 12 points to set a new Lady Rocket career scoring record, was stymied by the Harlan defense. She finished with just 3 points, a season low and the fewest points she’s scored in a game since midway through her sophomore season against University Heights.

Moss was 0-for-9 from the floor. She made one foul shot in the first half and two in the last half. 

Hodge was disappointed with the loss, but more so with the performance because she believes her girls are much better than they showed in the second round of the small-school state tournament.

Harlan coach Derrick Akal said his team's entire strategy revolved around slowing down Moss. His team aborted its more customary run-and-gun offensive style to play a slower tempo as part of its plan to put the brakes on Moss's scoring. Brock said the half court offense gave her a chance to shoot farther from the basket.

"Usually I don't get many of those types of pull up jumpers when we play teams back home," Brock said. "And that's what me and coach work on all of the time so it was nice to be able to get those."

Brock was 10-for-21 from the floor, including 2-of-6 from three-point range. Harlan shot 33 percent and Crittenden shot 16 percent. The Lady Rockets were out rebounded 40-26.

"She was hard to guard," said Moss who drew the assignment early defending Brock, a player listed by most scouting reports among the top 10 girls in Kentucky. "She was fast and it was hard to tell which was she was going."

For Crittenden County, the magic carpet ride is over and the girls will be back to reality in a hurry with some key games looming as the final stretch of the season begins next week.

“The good thing is that it’s not over,” Hodge said, pointing out that her team will head home and get some rest over the weekend before playing a critical Fifth District game Monday at Lyon County (14-4) then hosting Webster County (11-12) on Tuesday.

"After all these emotions and everything that goes with it, we're a bit exhausted," Hodge added. "Now it's time to regroup and get back to where we were before this game."

Kiana Nesbitt led the Lady Rockets with 8 points. Madison Champion and Amanda Lynch had 4 apiece.

Game Statistics

Big hole for Lady Rockets in second half

The Lady Rockets will have a huge hole from which to dig itself out if they hope to stay alive in the All A Classic.

The girls trail Harlan 25-7 at the break.

Crittenden is 3-for-20 from the floor and struggling against the peppy zone defense deployed by Harlan.

Meanwhile, Harlan's Jordan Brock is stroking. He has 18 points at the break, including the last 9 points of the first half.

Some Pre-Game Perspective with Coach Denis Hodge

Denis Hodge, the CCHS boys' basketball coach, is married to the Lady Rocket head coach, Shannon Hodge, and has a pretty good insight on what she's thinking minutes before tipoff.

Crittenden Press coverage of the All A Classic is presented by 

Former Lady Rocket talks about today's game

Kayla Bebout, a three-time participant in the All A Classic during her career, talks about what it's like to be on this stage.

Crittenden Press coverage of the All A Classic is presented by 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Brock is catalyst for Lady Dragons; Friday's opponent

Click Here for Harlan Stats and Roster
If Lady Rocket basketball fans need to know just one thing about Harlan, Friday’s opponent in the state quarterfinals, it is that the 17-5 Lady Dragons are led by one of the state’s best players.

Senior guard Jordan Brock has already signed to play collegiate basketball at Tennessee Tech, which is not too far from her home in the mountains of southeast Kentucky.

Brock has amassed a number of accolades and honors during her storied career but the most remarkable achievement is the way she leads Harlan’s team. Brock is the top three-point shooter in Kentucky, making 37 percent of her shots and scoring more than three treys a game.

Brock, a 5-foot-7 guard, can light it up from anywhere. She scored 39 in an All A Classic State Tournament game last year and put up 48 once before in a game. She is the state’s top foul shooter and ranks among Kentucky’s top scorers at 23 points per game. She scored 41 points in a January win over Pineville, but junior McKenzie King, a 5-foot-9 forward, adds another 13 points a game to the Dragon attack. Senior Emma Bianchi, a 5-11 forward, scores 6 points and gets 7 rebounds a game. 

Harlan won both the KHSAA and All A 13th Region championships last year under Brock’s leadership and got to the Classic semifinals before losing to Owensboro Catholic. As a junior, Brock was listed as the 25th best player in Kentucky by the Lexington newspaper. This is the Lady Dragons’ fourth straight trip to the small-school state tournament.

Crittenden’s coaching staff knows that Brock and the Dragons will be formidable opponents.

“She is what they do. She runs everything,” surmised Lady Rocket coach Shannon Hodge after seeing Harlan defeat 19-2 Paintsville in the game just before Crittenden’s game Wednesday at Frankfort. 

“We’re going to have to try to keep her out of the paint as much as possible and try to prevent second shots because they have a couple of big bodies underneath,” Hodge added. 

Tickets are $10 and available
only at the door for Friday's
game. There is plenty of seating.
Crittenden has a right to believe it can keep Brock in check, however. The Lady Rockets have one of the best defenses in Kentucky, which became clear to Sayre coach Charles Thomas during the opening round game. He said Crittenden’s defense around the basket was partly to blame for his team’s undoing. 

Crittenden County’s girls are 8th in the state in team defenses, giving up just 37 points a game. Much of that has to do with the dogged tenaciousness of senior Cassidy Moss, who regularly is assigned to the opposing team’s best player. But the blanket coverage is more diverse than just her. Kiana Nesbitt has become a heralded post defender and the length of Madison Champion and Amanda Lynch is key to Crittenden’s ability to slow down nearly anyone it encounters. Beyond that, junior Mauri Collins is a pesky perimeter watchdog and senior Meredith Evans is a strong physical presence in the post when she comes off the bench. 

In the state tournament opener, Coach Hodge played only those six. In fact, the rotation has become quite predicable over recent games, with perhaps only spot appearances by one other player – eighth-grade center Nahla Woodward – unless it’s late and the outcome is clear.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

More than 100 photos from state tournament win

PODCAST: Post Game comments from the two coaches

Crittenden Press coverage of the All A Classic is presented by 

Post-Game Interview with Lady Rockets

That's a Winner! Lady Rockets going to Final 8

Coach Hodge makes a point during timeout in OT
Senior Cassidy Moss played an incredible game defensively, scored 18 points and was a determined bull down the stretch as Crittenden County beat Sayre 45-42 in the All A Classic State Tournament at Frankfort.

Crittenden had been to the state All A tournament five times previous but had never won a game. That all changed with an overtime victory capped by tenacious defense, a patient offense, good foul shooting and ball handling in the waning seconds.

The Lady Rockets struggled at times around the basket in front of 6-foot-1 Sayre center Kaya Davis and her two 5-foot-11 running mates. But in the end, the Lady Rockets were unguarded and at the line for 7 of their final 13 points.

Davis blocked 4 shots in the contest and her 5-foot-11 teammates knocked down 2 more.

Junior Madison Champion continues to be a key offensive cog. She put in a dozen against Sayre. Champion dropped in 3 of 10 from the floor and 5 of 8 at the foul line. She and Kiana Nesbitt each had five rebounds and Nesbitt scored a key basket after gathering in a loose ball late in overtime.

Sophomore Mauri Collins kept Crittenden on pace early with 8 of the team's first 10 points. She finished with 9.

Moss had 7 rebounds as Crittenden, somewhat surprisingly, beat the taller Lady Spartans 24-18 on the boards.

Sayre coach Charles Thomas said his team committed some costly turnovers late in the game, but praised Moss for keeping pressure on Davis, who came in averaging 18 points and 12 rebounds. She got 16 points and 8 rebounds.

Hodge agreed that Moss's defense was key to the victory. She said Champion's offensive contributions continue to be central to Crittenden's recent success, which includes four wins in the All A Classic tournament series and eight straight victories.

The Lady Rockets are now 17-3.


Click Image to Enlarge

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Double down on this GE pair from Johnson's

Lady Rockets lead by two at half

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Son of legendary Tolu player Harry Hardin at All A Classic

Rocket boys' head coach Denis Hodge visits
with Stan Hardin at the Frankfort Convention Center
where the Lady Rockets were getting ready to play.
Meet Stan Hardin, whose father Harry Hardin, played on the renown 1931 Tolu basketball team that won the Class B state title before losing to DuPont Manual 34-23 in the combined championship game.

Stan Hardin is a member of the All A Classic Board of Directors and was selling State Tournament T-shirts just off the edge of the court during Wednesday’s opening round All A games where Crittenden County is playing.

He is a former high school basketball coach, winning two KHSAA state championships at Louisville Fairdale in 1990 and 1991.

Hardin’s father was among the famous Tolu boys who defied all odds and ended up on the state’s largest stage 86 years ago. Much has been made about the legendary Tolu team and there is a popular story that the boys got sick eating bananas while in Lexington for the state tournament and lost the combined championship game because of bellyaches.

“My dad say that’s not true. He said (Dupont) was just better,” Stan Hardin said.

Harry Hardin played at Western Kentucky and went on to become a successful high school coach for almost 20 years at Drakesboro, Fairdale and Louisville Southern. He was later principal at Fairdale where he had coached from 1938 to 1950. Harry Hardin was an all conference player at Western during his collegiate playing career.

In adulthood, Stan has never gone back to Tolu, but wants to visit there and take his daughter.

“I think I was there when I was really little,” said the 78-year-old.

Hardin was proud to see Crittenden County in the tournament at Frankfort. Before Wednesday, his last brush with Rocket athletics was 2009 when he was Athletic Director at Louisville Holy Cross. Crittenden's football team went to Holy Cross that season and won a playoff football game.

Click Image to Enlarge

Johnson's Motto: Play Hard, but Keep it Clean

PODCAST: Pre-Game Interviews From Frankfort

Crittenden Press coverage of the All A Classic is presented by 

Lady Rockets lead region in All A berths

Lady Rockets on bus traveling to Frankfort
Crittenden County is playing in its sixth girls’ All A Classic State Tournament. That is the most for a Second Region team. Webster County, formerly a Class A school before consolidation with Providence, also went six times.

The Lady Rockets have never won a game in the All A Classic. Louisville Holy Cross has been there 18 times, most of any school. Lyon County, the team Crittenden beat in the Second Region championship last weekend, has gone twice. Sayre, Crittenden’s first round opponent in today’s tournament, has been there twice and never won a game.

The All A Classic is a statewide basketball tournament for the smallest 131 high schools in Kentucky based on student enrollment for the grades 9-12. Each of the 16 basketball regions across the state, according to KHSAA alignment, send a representative champion to the state tournament. The All A Classic is not a KHSAA event. See Complete 2017 Girls' All A Bracket

Crittenden Press coverage of the All A Classic is presented by 
Groundwork for the Kentucky All A Classic was formed in 1980 through the efforts of coaches like Stan Steidel of Dayton, Father Ed Heile of Covington Latin, Bill Frey of Covington Holy Cross and others.

The inception of a small-school basketball tournament began in 1980 and included only a handful of boys’ teams from central Kentucky. The first tournament was held at Holy Cross High School with eight teams. In 1981, it moved to Bellevue and included 10 teams, all from northern Kentucky.

From 1982 to 1989 the Classic was still just for boys and it became an invitational tournament. In those years, six at-large Class A schools from around the state were invited to compete with the 10 northern Kentucky schools.

In 1990 the All A Classic became a true small-school statewide championship tournament with 16 boys' regional tournament winners competing in Lexington. In 1991 the Classic expanded to include a limited number of girls basketball teams and in 1993 girls basketball became a full-fledged partner with 16 regional champions represented.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

CCHS's All Opponent Sayre : At a Glance

Sayre Basketball Team
SAYRE is a private school in Lexington.
This year's record: 12-4 record
Affiliation: 11th Region, 42nd District
Last year's record: 19-7

Coach Charles Thomas (first year)
Sayre’s coach is a former Kentucky Mr. Basketball. He won the award in 1995 as a senior guard at Harlan. He played collegiately at Minnesota and was on the Golden Gopher 1997 team that lost 78-69 in overtime to the University of Kentucky in the NCAA semifinals. Thomas also played collegiately at Eastern Kentucky University.

Sayre beat 6-12 Lexington Christian 54-30 to open the All A Classic at Berea. The Lady Spartans then dispatched 6-13 Model Laboratory School of Richmond 52-33 before knocking off Berea in the championship game 60-55 at EKU Alumni Coliseum

Crittenden Press coverage of the All A Classic is presented by 
Sophomore Kaya Davis is a 6-foot-1 forward who joined the team just this year. She is a big presence in the post and is averaging 18 point and 12 rebounds a game. She shoots right at 50 percent from the floor and gets about a dozen points a game on the floor. The rest come at the foul line where Davis is 49-of-80 (61%).

Junior guard Dee Dee Wheeler was honorable mention on last year’s All-Lexington team. She averages 11 points and 3 rebounds per game. She has a high basketball IQ, according to reports. Wheeler is the team’s best 3-pointer shooter, making 30 percent of her long-range shots.

Senior guard Ellie Alford joins Wheeler in the backcourt, giving the Lady Spartans two very solid ball handlers. She’s fast and athletic. Alford averages 10 points and 3 rebounds a game.

Junior forward Isabelle Pergande is 5-foot-11 and averages 9 points and 4 rebounds. She is probably the team’s best outside shooter. She has made 32 percent of her three-pointers and has the squad’s highest field goal shooting percentage.

Junior center Lainie Tew is also 5-foot-11, giving the Lady Spartans a formidable frontline. She averages 5.2 points and 4 rebounds and is one of the team’s best free throw shooters at 65%.

Emma Bilberry and Mia Pulliam are seniors who come off the bench. Neither provides much offense.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

State tournament tickets on sale Monday at CCHS

Tickets to the Lady Rockets' opening round game in the All A Classic State Tournament at Frankfort's Convention Center will go on sale at noon Monday at Crittenden County High School front office.

Advanced tickets are $8. Tickets at the door at $10.

Second Region champion Crittenden (16-3) will play 11th Region champion Sayre (12-4) at 5:30pm CST Wednesday.

Crittenden Press coverage of the All A Classic is presented by 

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Lady Rockets capture regional championship

2nd Region All A Champions!

Crittenden County is heading to Frankfort next week to play in its sixth All A Classic State Tournament.

The Lady Rockets punched their ticket to the small-school sweet 16 with a 42-37 victory Saturday over Lyon County in the Second Region Class A championship at Hopkinsville.

Crittenden got 17 points from Madison Champion who scored the Lady Rockets first six points of the fourth period just before Lyon made its final run. Crittenden led by 11 at one point in the second half, but Lyon trimmed it three with 1:07 to play.

Meredith Evans, off the bench for Mauri Collins who fouled out, made four key free throws down the stretch to help close out the Lady Lyons – a team Crittenden has struggled to control over the past four years.

Lyon concentrated its game plan on stopping Cassidy Moss, Crittenden's candidate for player of the year in the Second Region.

Lady Lyon defensive specialist Terrianna Johnson was assigned to Moss and every time the Lady Rocket stalwart caught the ball, another defender or two collapsed on her, freeing up Champion and the rest of the Lady Rockets. Crittenden shot well, nailing 5-of-10 field goals in the second half. Champion had Crittenden's only three fielders in the final period. CCHS was 11-for-15 at the foul line in the final frame.

Johnson was a teammate of the Lady Rocket seniors when they were all in middle school She moved to Eddyville before her freshman year. Johnson is a top-notch defender and streak scorer. She held Moss to no field goals in the game and led Lyon's offense with 11 points.

Moss needs just 30 points to become the Lady Rockets’ all-time career scoring leader.

Crittenden’s defense was stellar the entire game, forcing Lyon to settle mostly for outside shots. The Lyons are routinely accurate from long range, but struggled most of the game. A couple of late three-pointers helped them close the gap in the fourth period.

The game became much more physical in the second half. Each team was whistled for just one personal before the break, and Lyon committed 14 fouls and Crittenden 8 in the last half.

The Lady Rockets will face Sayre, a private school from Lexington, which is 11th Region champion. The play the Lady Spartans in Wednesday’s first round of the state tournament. Game time will be 5:30pm CST. Sayre beat Berea Saturday night for the 11th Region crown.

Crittenden has been to the All A Classic five times previously, the last being in 2011 when the Lady Rockets also won went the KHSAA Sweet 16. Crittenden has never won a first-round game at the All A Classic State Tournament.

Crittenden 42, Lyon 37
Crittenden County 8 16 26 42
Lyon County 4 11 19 37
CRITTENDEN - Moss 6, Lynch 6, Collins 4, Champion 17, Nesbitt 5, Evans 4. FG 12. 3-pointers 1 (Champion). FT 17-23. Fouls 9.
LYON - Ellis 2, Johnson 11, White 5, Doom 2, Holloman 8, Murphy 9. FG 14. 3-pointers 4 (Hollomon 2, Murphy, White). FT 5-7. Fouls 15.



Thursday, January 19, 2017

Lady Rockets advance to Class A title game

Madison Champion (right) had a double-double.
The Lady Rockets used an 18-3 run in the third quarter to leave Livingston Central in the exhaust Thursday night en route to an All A Classic semifinal victory at Hopkinsville.

Crittenden beat Livingston 60-43 led by junior Madison Champion's 20 points and 11 rebounds.

The win sends Crittenden County into the regional small-school championship game at 4pm Saturday at University Heights. The Lady Rockets will play Lyon County.

Livingston's intensity was strong in the first half and Crittenden foul trouble allowed the Lady Cardinals to keep the game close. It was tied at 23 at the half.

The Lady Rockets got six points and four rebounds from senior Meredith Evans in the first quarter after she came off the bench to fill in for Moss, who picked up two quick fouls. Kiana Nesbitt and Moss sat for a good part of the first half due to foul problems.

Crittenden dominated the second half, using defensive rebounds and its transition game to get going early in the third quarter.

Moss finished with 12. She now needs 36 points to break the Lady Rockets' all-time scoring record.

Crittenden 60, Livingston 43
Livingston 8 24 29 43
Crittenden 10 33 43 60
CRITTENDEN - Moss 12, Lynch 4, Collins 8, Champion 20, Nesbitt 8, Evans 6, Woodward, Summers 2, Ch.Moss, Long. FG 28. 3-pointers 0. FT 4-8. Fouls 15. 
LIVINGSTON - Campbell 6, Padon 19, Wring 5, Adams 2, Stanford 7, Wright, Dudley, Talley, A.Campbell, Williams 8. FG 14 3-pointers (Campbell 2, Stafford) FT 12-17. Fouls 9.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Crittenden sweeps Trigg County at Rocket Arena

Coach Hodge and players react to a late shot against Trigg.
Crittenden County beat Trigg County 48-42 in a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback Friday at Rocket Arena as the two Rocket seniors helped CCHS take control in the final period.

Crittenden led by seven in the third quarter, but trailed by nine early in the fourth.

Bobby Stephens and Will Tolley scored eight points apiece in the final period for Crittenden (5-10, 2-2). Stephens knocked down a three-pointer from top of the key with about a minute to go to break a tie game. Shortly thereafter, Tolley collected a loose ball in Trigg's front court and raced to the opposite end for a layup that sealed the deal.

Stephens scored 17 and Tolley finished with 14. Trigg's Devron Triplet had 17, too, but that was three below his average and Coach Denis Hodge was pleased with the way his boys defended the Trigg sharpshooter. The Wildcats fall to 5-9 overall and they are winless in league play after winning the last two Fifth District championships.

"Our guard play out front was great. We didn't allow Triplet to get too many catches and when he did have the ball we did a good job of keeping two guys in front of him," Hodge said.

The Lady Rockets played extremely well in a 51-27 victory over the Lady Wildcats (4-9). Coach Shannon Hodge said at times, her girls played some of their best ball of the season. The Lady Rockets improved to 13-3 overall and 3-1 in district play.

"We looked really strong at times out there," Hodge said.

Kiana Nesbitt and Mauri Collins led the team with 10 points apiece.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Girls' makeup game at Lyon County

The Lady Rocket basketball team will make up a Fifth District game against Lyon County on Monday, January 30.

It will be a JV and Varsity doubleheader at Lyon County. The game was postponed earlier in January because of snow.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Moss can eclipse coach Friday night

Cassidy Moss can outdo her coach Friday night with 18 points at Lyon County.

Moss, who averages just over 18 points per game, can move into second place on the Lady Rocket all-time scoring list, bumping her skipper, Shannon (Collins) Hodge, to third.

Hodge, who graduated in 1985, has been the basketball program's No. 2 scorer since she finished playing high school ball with 1,534 points. Hodge went on to become an NAIA All American at Centre College.

Jeanne Hinchee, who played from 1973 to 1978, scored 1,628 points during her career and is the Lady Rockets' all-time scoring leader at this time. Moss needs just 112 to eclipse that longtime scoring record.

244 Senior Season (13 games)
485 Junior Season
348 Sophomore Season
280 Freshman Season
160 Eight Grade Season

1,517 Moss Total Points to Date

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Crittenden splits with Hopkins Central at Marion

The Lady Rockets won for the 10th time this season, beating Hopkins Central by 11 points Tuesday while the Rockets lost by 20 to the Storm.

Cassidy Moss scored 21 points and moved to within 112 points of becoming the all-time leading scorer in CCHS girls' history.