Speaking of Sports: FSNB/Roy's a 'classical' success; notes on college players, coaches
By Jim Turner

Posted on January 1, 0001 12:00 AM

Last week's First Southern National Bank/Roy's Bar-B-Q Christmas Classic was a huge success for the Land of Logan.
Twenty-four games were played during the three days, and teams from Russellville and Logan County high schools won eight of them.
In fact, each school went 4-2.
The Russellville Panthers were champions of the boys division with the Logan County Cougars finishing third among the eight teams. The Lady Cougars were runner-up in the girls division with the
Lady Panthers fourth. No loss was lopsided. In fact, the Lady Panthers' two losses were by two points each, one of them in overtime.
The sponsoring businesses combined with the schools to run the tournament smoothly and with little controversy except for disagreements with the officiating, which no school or business can control. Those attending were made welcome, the concession stands were clean and stocked, and the programs were neatly done.
Both Roy's and First Southern have a tradition of contributions to the community in general and sports in particular, so it's appropriate that they have sponsored this Christmas Classic throughout the first five years of its existence. It's also good that the crosstown rival schools can be involved in a united effort like this. Any profits from the tournament were split between the two schools' athletic budgets.
Meanwhile the local economy was boosted as a result of this tournament. Teams, coaches and fans of the 12 visiting teams stayed in our motels, ate in our restaurants, shopped in our stores, bought fuel from our pumps and helped raise the net profit taxes our businesses will pay.
We got good publicity on Bowling Green's WBKO television as Channel 13 Sports Director James Brandenburg made daily trips here recording the action.
Russellville and Logan County are doing more and more to attract tourism dollars by sponsoring sporting events. LCHS has served as host of regional tournaments in both volleyball and cross country this school year. RHS has dramatically improved its athletic facilities with a new track and tennis courts plus a second gym on the high school/junior high campus. The new soccer complex on Armory Drive is huge and has unlimited potential. Improvements have been made to Caleb Slaton Field at City-County Park for little league events. The Carpenter Fitness and Aquatic Center is the site of swim meets, which is rare for smaller towns surrounding Bowling Green. The Red River Fish and Game Club keeps offering public events. Races are held in a number of locations. Our involvement in archery throughout the county system will no doubt bring people here for events.
The Logan County Chamber of Commerce has begun recognizing the importance of sports in today's economy. The Chamber's website has a nicely done recognition of the Little League team which was so successful last summer. Inside a picture of baseball action is this wording:
Logan County
Home of the Logan County-Russellville Little League All-Stars
2009 Kentucky State Champs
2009 Great Lakes Regional Champs
2009 World Series Team
You can see the Chamber website by clicking on the Logan Telephone Co-op ad on the home page of The LoJo and going through their Links section.
Brian White of Auburn Banking Company is president of the Chamber for 2010. He was a pitcher/outfieler on the state quarterfinalist LCHS baseball team and also a starter on the Cougar basketball team.
We're making progress combining athletic events and economic development.
Meanwhile, the tournament had to be very satisfying for FSNB President Rusty Clark. FSNB/Roy's Christmas Classic was his brain child. His bank got good publicity and continued to do a good thing for the community. His alma mater was represented by the Garrard County girls team. He was head coach of the Panthers for the first two wins while Coach Dennis Pardue was sitting out for an ejection in the past tournament. And RHS won the Classic for the second straight year with his son Trevor as the center.
It was also a successful week for Roy's Bar-B-Q. In addition to the Classic being well received, the restaurant was super busy inside and in catering. And best of all, one of the sibling partners, Roger Morgan, got home for Christmas from cancer treatments in Houston after what is considered successful surgery.
Not a bad three days!

The LoJo
The Logan County High School basketball community was saddened in the final week of December by the death of Mary Elizabeth Statton. She was the wife/mother of Chuckie and Michael Statton, who have been some of the greatest supporters the Cougars and Lady Cougars have ever known. For years Chuckie-- an agri-business man-- and son Michael have helped set up and take down the chairs for team benches. They move standards and ropes, help set up the scorer's and press benches, and do other little and often unnoticed tasks that make games move more smoothly. They expect nothing in return.
As soon as I arrived at the LCHS gym for the FSNB/Roy's Classic last week, LCHS Athletic Director Hugh McReynolds and Tournament Manager Holli Brown wanted to make sure that I knew about Chuckie's loss. Hugh and Holli appreciate the Stattons. Everyone who enjoys high school sports should say thanks to people like them and do whatever we can to help them through the grieving process.

The LoJo

Former Russellville football and basketball standout Jerrell Mayo is on a college basketball roster. He is playing for Kennedy King City College in Chicago. Coach Garland Diddy has three Kentuckians on the Statesmen's roster, the other two having played their prep ball at Louisville Faidale.
The 6'2",.190-pound Mayo is in his third year out of high school but is listed as a freshman. He went to Southeastern Illinois two years ago, but was not part of the team.
The only other former RHS or LCHS player still playing college basketball is Kara Haley, who is a member of the Kentucky Wesleyan team. She was home during the FSNB/Roy's Christmas Classic. She had sat out the last two games before that with a groin injury but expected to be back in action soon.

The LoJo
Former Cougar coach Jeff Rogers directed his Thomas More College team to a 7-4 record in the 2009 portion of his first year as head coach of the NCAA Division III men's basketball team. His Saints upset NCAA Division III's 10th-ranked Wilmington 92-90 in Ohio just before the break.
As was his tendency at LCHS, Rogers has been experimenting with different lineups. The coach, who held tryouts for new players in the middle of both of his seasons at LCHS, has put 19 different players on the floor, 13 of them as starters. No player has started every game and 11 have started at least twice. Also 11 are averaging double-figure minutes per game.
Thomas More is located in Northern Kentucky near Cincinnati. None of the players are from west of I-65 except for one from North Hardin. Adam Haley, who played for Rogers at LCHS, considered accepting an invitation to be part of the team but decided against it. He is now an assistant coach with the Cougars.

The LoJo
One of my earliest conversations with Rogers was about who would be Kentucky's best player in the 2005-06. My choice was Steffphon Pettigrew of Elizabethtown, who had been a teammate of our son Trey on the Kentucky Nike HoopStars that summer. His was A.J. Slaughter of Shelby County, against whom he had coached while at Carroll County. Slaughter finished as runner-up for Mr. Kentucky to South Laurel's Walt Allen while Pettigrew was Mr. Kentucky the following year.
Both have turned out to be excellent players for Western Kentucky University. They really need to play all their games at Nashville's Sommet Center. Steff's defense was the key in the Toppers' win over Louisville last year. A.J. was The Man in WKU's win there this December over Vanderbilt. Pettigrew was awesome at times Monday in WKU's win over Mississippi State.
The loss of Sergio Kerusch to a leg injury the night before the Louisville game at Freedom Hall this year took the wind out of Western's sails for a while. Losing Kerusch is the equivalent of what it would have meant to U of L to lose their heart and soul, T. Will, in the middle of the Cardinals' marvelous season last year.
For the Toppers to reach the heights they have the last two seasons with Pettigrew and Slaughter shining, Kerusch has to be back and doing his thing. Also crucial is for 6-10 guard/center Cliff Dixon to get his unlimited talent under control. The half-brother of Oklahoma City star Kevin Durant has been both a highlight reel and a detriment to the Toppers' so far. Another key could be the development of freshman Jordan Swing, who was Alabama Gatorade Player of the Year in 2009, beating out two super Kentucky freshmen, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe.
If you've been to a Western football or basketball game this year, you may have noticed the WKU Superheroes, a group of cape-wearing avid team boosters who have become favorites of teams, coaches, administrators and the media, especially the ever-present Tony Rose of SAM 107. Like Rose, the Superheroes are Logan Countians­­-- Tray Allen, Joe Dan Laster, Trey Turner, Brandon Bond, Tyler Parrish and Ross Smith.
The WKU Superheroes site on Facebook now has 263 members, including Kerusch, who wore one of their capes on the team bench New Year's Eve until Coach Ken McDonald spotted it and had him take it off.
Two Russellvillians played a significant role Monday in what may turn out to be an NCAA record. Mississippi State's Jarvis Vanado has been the nation's leading shot blocker the past two seasons and has an outside shot at setting the national career record. Keeping the official stats at WKU this year are the former RHS doubles tennis team of John Brett Reynolds and Alex Watkins. J.B. is the 'caller' and Alex the 'typist.' They awarded Vanado three blocks against WKU. He also scored a third of the State points. The 'runner' of the stats to the press tables is former Russellville Movie Gallery manager Andy Adams.

The LoJo
After watching Mississippi State in person Monday, I'm convinced a Kentucky loss to any other SEC team this year would be a major upset. The Bulldogs came in at 12-2, including an 18-point win over UCLA in the John R. Wooden Classic. With Florida's inconsistency and the legal and moral mess Tennessee's team has encountered, many think State might be the SEC's second best team. Yet the Bulldogs didn't break 40 against Western until 5:24 remained on the Diddle scoreboard for the game, not the half. Western, which led by double figures with about four minutes left in the game, won 55-52 to go 2-2 against SEC teams this year.
UK just keeps getting better and better.
Among my all-time favorite University of Kentucky basketball players are Dan Issel, Cotton Nash, Pat Riley, Louie Dampier, Larry Conley, Rick Robey and Kyle Macy. Patrick Patterson is nearing the top. I think he is one of the classiest players I've ever seen. He's certainly one of the most talented. He never puts himself above the team nor does he do anything to draw attention to himself except play super, solid basketball. If UK does make a run at an eighth national championship this year, Patterson's decision to come back to Lexington this season will be as important as the recruitment of an unbelievably talented freshman class.
When he was deciding whether to accept first Tubby Smith's offer and then Billy Clyde's invitation to become a Wildcat, people tended to classify him in stability and character with his high school teammate, the one-and-done, cash-on-demand O.J. Mayo. We certainly were wrong. Patterson is on schedule to graduate from UK in three years. That's almost impossbile for anyone, let alone a big-time athlete.
Also on the UK front, Southcentral Kentucky has a close tie-in to Kentucky football with the ascension of Joe 'Joker' Phillips to head coach upon the retirement of Rich Brooks, who did great things for the commonwealth. Joker is from Franklin and played against Coach Ken Barrett's earliest teams at RHS. He led Coach James 'Shadetree' Matthews' Franklin-Simpson Wildcats to back-to-back state football championships in 1979 and '80. In fact the neighboring Wildcats and Panthers both won state championships in 1980.
One of the first calls Phillips received Monday after Brooks made his retirement official was from veteran WFKN sports broadcaster James Mooneyhan, who not only called Joker's games at F-S but knew him as the friend and schoolmate of his son Ricky. Phillips told James he would have been pleased if Brooks had stayed on another year.
Mooneyhan says that Phillips was "just a regular teenager" who didn't act like a joker when he played three sports well for Franklin, that he was all business. Phillips, who helped Russellville's Tommy Wilkins lead UK to a pair of Hall of Fame Bowls as Kentucky players, has conducted summer football camps at Franklin-Simpson for years. Several Logan County and Russellville players have gone to those camps, but Mooneyhan says he basically invites only Franklin players now.
Former Alabama head basketball coach David Hobbs, who was Tubby Smith's top assistant at UK much of this decade, was at Diddle scouting for the Charlotte Bobcats Monday. "Joker is a really nice guy," he said. "He's such a good recruiter that they will miss some of his recruiting skills because of his extra duties as head coach."
Phillips has been offensive coordinator and coach in waiting at UK during this run of four straight bowl games.

The LoJo
Former LCHS assistant coach and now Graves County High School principal is convinced he made a good choice when he hired former Cougar Lance Gregory as his team's head football coach. He notes, "Lance was named the 6A, District 1 Coach of the Year by the Kentucky High School Football Coaches Association. He has done a great job for us, and we have been fortunate to have him."

The LoJo
I wrote a few months ago about the illness of former Chandlers boys basketball coach William Swatzell. Not long after his retirement, he and wife Martha went on a cruise, but William had to be lifeflighted back to the mainland after having heart trouble. He tells The LoJo: "Everything is great with my health now. I had my last doctor visit on Dec. 3, and he took me off the blood pressure medicine I'd been taking since our little adventure in the Caribbean.”

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