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Newport going for first state tournament win since 1955 against player closing in on scoring record

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

The last time Newport won a game in the Kentucky boys state basketball tournament was 1955. One year later, “King” Kelly Coleman graduated from Wayland High School with 4,337 career points, a state scoring record that exists to this day.

The winless streak and state record will both be on the line at 1:30 p.m. Thursday when Newport (28-6) faces Lyon County (30-5) in the first round of the UK HealthCare “Sweet 16” boys state tournament at Rupp Arena.  

Lyon County junior guard Travis Perry

Lyon County junior guard Travis Perry enters the game with 4,317 career points that he has scored since he started playing varsity basketball in the seventh grade. If he gets to 21 points in the game against Newport, the crowd is sure to give him a standing ovation for breaking Coleman’s long-standing record.

Newport’s chances of winning the game look pretty good on paper. The Wildcats are among the top defensive teams in the state bracket, giving up just 50.6 points per game. They held three 9th Region playoff opponents to less than 50 points to get a shot at their program’s first state tournament victory in 68 years.

“You got to be able to get back and guard your yard,” Newport coach Rod Snapp said of his team’s defensive performance after a 44-42 win over Cooper in the 9th Region final. “I feel like we’ve got guys who can guard multiple positions.” 

This will be the first state tournament appearance for all of Newport’s players. Last year, Lyon County made it to the state quarterfinals with three sophomores in the starting lineup before losing to Covington Catholic, 59-57. 

Lyon County has the highest offensive average (83.9) in the state this season. Perry is knocking down 32.2 points per game, followed by junior guard Jack Reddick (19.0) and 6-foot-6 junior forward Brady Shoulders (18.1). All three of them are shooting 48 percent or better from the field. Perry has connected on 53 percent (403 of 761) overall and 45 percent (167 of 368) from 3-point range.

Newport senior forward Marquis Miller

Perry, who has already received scholarship offers from Kentucky, Indiana, Purdue, Michigan and several other Division I college programs, has more 3-point goals than the entire Newport team this season.

But the Wildcats are shooting 51.3 percent from the field because they do most of their scoring in the paint with 6-foot-5 senior Marquis Miller and 6-foot-6 freshman James Turner averaging 15.8 and 8.7 points. They also have a pair of hard-driving guards in freshman Taylen Kinney (14.0) and junior Jabari Covington (12.2).

Newport lost in the first round of the 1962 and 2010 state tournaments and the Wildcats are one of the surprise teams in this week’s bracket, but none of that means much to Miller.    

“Nobody had us coming this far so I’m glad we did it,” Miller said. “We’re going to prove them all wrong. We already did here (in the 9th Region) and we’re going to do it down there (at the state tournament).”

Teams from the 9th Region have done quite well in the boys state tournament over the last nine years. During that span, seven teams reached the semifinals and four of them played in championship games. Highlands won the 2021 state tournament and Covington Catholic claimed the 2018 and 2014 state titles. Cooper was state runner-up in 2017.

Boys state basketball tournament at Rupp Arena

WEDNESDAY — Upper bracket
Jeffersontown (17-12) vs. Woodford County (20-12), 11 a.m.
Elizabethtown (23-9) vs. McCracken County (29-5), 1:30 p.m.
Warren Central (32-1) vs. Pulaski County (27-6), 6 p.m.
Owensboro (19-10) vs. Ashland Blazer, (22-11) 8:30 p.m.
THURSDAY — Lower bracket
Louisville Male (25-10) vs. Breathitt County (18-9), 11 a.m.
Newport (28-6) vs. Lyon County (30-5), 1:30 p.m.
Frederick Douglass (31-2) vs. Martin County (24-10), 6 p.m.
George Rogers Clark (27-5) vs. North Laurel (25-10),  8:30 p.m.
Upper bracket quarterfinals, 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Lower bracket quarterfinals, 6 and 8:30 p.m.
Upper bracket semifinal, 11 a.m.
Lower bracket semifinal, 1:30 p.m.
Championship game, 7 p.m.



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One Comment

  1. Mike Tussey says:

    Great Story Terry! Love your Columns..!

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