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Northern Kentucky high school basketball teams made this a season to savor for multiple reasons

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

Northern Kentucky teams didn’t last long in the final chapter of the 2022-23 high school basketball season. One week after Cooper and Simon Kenton lost in the first round of the girls state tournament, Newport was one-and-done in the boys bracket.

But local players and coaches made the 12 weeks leading up to the state tournaments a story to savor for a lot of reasons, including a pair of All “A” Classic state finalists and several record-breaking accomplishments.

Holy Cross senior Jacob Meyer

On a Sunday afternoon in January, Holy Cross had a chance to become the first high school to win Kentucky All “A” Classic boys and girls state championships in the same year.

Both title games came down to the wire. The Holy Cross girls edged Bardstown Bethlehem, 65-61, but the boys literally came up short in a 65-62 loss to Evangel Christian, a team with four players 6-foot-10 or taller that dominated the boards.

The Indians did sweep the tournament’s most valuable player awards. Julia Hunt was the girls recipient after getting 21 points and 19 rebounds in their championship game. The boys award went to Jacob Meyer, who scored 49 points in their title game and set a state tournament record with 157 points in four games.

Meyer finished the season with the state’s highest scoring average (38.6) for the second straight year and set a new 9th Region career scoring record with 3,280 points. He was named co-winner of the 9th Region Player of the Year Award along with Covington Catholic senior guard Evan Ipsaro, who averaged 25.2 points, 5.1 assists and 4.8 rebounds.

The other 9th Region boys basketball records were broken by St. Henry coach Dave Faust and Highlands senior guard Will Herald. Faust became the region’s most successful coach ever with 465 career wins and Herald set a region record in career 3-point goals with 343.

St. Henry coach Dave Faust

Conner basketball players Landen and Anna Hamilton also made headlines by becoming the first brother and sister in school history to surpass the 1,000-point mark. They’re not related to Campbell County senior Aydan Hamilton, who became his team’s all-time leading scorer with 2,216 points.

Cooper won the 9th Region girls championship for the second straight year and senior Whitney Lind was named the girls 9th Region Player of the Year.

The Cooper boys team made an inspired run to the region final before losing to Newport, 44-42, on a basket by junior guard Jabari Covington in the final seconds. It was Newport’s first region championship since 2010 and the Wildcats did it with just one senior on the roster.

Simon Kenton won the 8th Region girls championship with a young lineup that included one eighth-grader, three freshmen and one senior. The Bearcats’ youngest player was Brynli Pernel, a 5-foot-2 point guard who ran the offense for first-year head coach Brenden Stowers. He took charge of the program after his father retired.

Notre Dame senior Noelle Hubert

Several other teams had successful seasons under new leadership. Brossart won a pair of 10th Region All “A” Classic titles with Ben Franzen and Steve Brown in their first year as coaches of the boys and girls programs. Ludlow won the boys Division III conference title under Aaron Stamm, who had never been a boys head coach before.

The Simon Kenton boys team lost in the semifinals of the 8th Region tournament with 7-foot-3 senior center Gabe Dynes getting 20 points and 10 rebounds in his final game. He made all nine of his field goal attempts and ended the season with a 73.9 shooting percentage that was second in the state.

The local girls who finished among the top five in statewide statistics were Notre Dame senior guard Noelle Hubert, second in 3-point goals per game (3.6), and Highlands sophomore center Marissa Green, third in field goal percentage (63.7).

The Highlands girls were one of the most improved teams in the state. After finishing 12-17 last season, the Bluebirds posted a 23-9 record and won the 36th District tournament with one senior on the roster.

In the 10th Region post-season playoffs, Brossart and Scott made it to the girls semifinals under new head coaches and Campbell County reached the boys semifinals for the seventh consecutive year under long-time mentor Aric Russell, who announced his retirement shortly after the season ended.

Russell compiled a 284-134 record in 13 seasons at Campbell County to give him a 459-286 record overall. He started his career at Newport where he was head coach of the girls team and then took over the boys program.


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