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Prep Sports Report: Seniors on 9th Region basketball championship team have made college choices

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

Newport senior DeShaun Jackson puts up a shot during 9th Region championship game. (Photo by Dale Dawn)

Both seniors on the Newport boys basketball team that won its second consecutive 9th Region championship in March have made college commitments, and one of them will be joining a team that’s making a transition to NCAA Division I.

DeShaun Jackson, who averaged 10.9 points and 6.1 rebounds for the 32-4 Wildcats, was recruited by Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pa.

The school recently accepted an invitation to join the Northeast Conference that had a team in this year’s NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament.

Mercyhurst must complete a four-year provisional period before achieving full Division I status. During that time, teams can compete at the Division I level, but they are not eligible for postseason play.

Jabari Covington

Newport’s other senior starter was Jabari Covington, who made a commitment with Union Commonwealth University in Barbourville, Ky. The Bulldogs won the Appalachian Athletic Conference and made it to the second round of the NAIA playoffs in March.

Covington averaged 12.6 points and 4.4 rebounds during his senior season at Newport. He was named most valuable player in the 9th Region tournament after scoring a team-high 15 points in the championship game.

As a junior, Covington made a last-second shot to win the 2023 9th Region title game. Jackson was not on that championship team. He transferred to Newport last summer.

Beechwood girls basketball coach looking to turn program around

Celeste Hill Brockett was introduced as head coach of the Beechwood girls basketball team during a ceremony on Monday night when she officially took charge of a program that hasn’t had a winning season since 2013-14.

Celeste Hill Brockett

The Tigers posted a 9-22 record last season with a young team that had one senior, four juniors, one sophomore, four freshmen and six eighth-graders on the roster. They lost eight of their last 10 games and scored 31 points or less in five of those losses.

One of Beechwood’s victories came against district rival Holmes, the high school where Brockett spent much of her basketball career as a player and coach.

Brockett was a three-year starter at Holmes from 1987 to 1990 and spent four seasons as head coach of the Bulldogs from 2004 to 2008 after being a varsity assistant. Her teams compiled a 55-50 record and one of them made it to the 2007 9th Region final.

During her college career at Old Dominion University, Brockett totaled 2,112 points and 1,124 rebounds. She was named Player of the Year in the Colonial Athletic Conference three times. She went on to play women’s professional basketball in Greece and Israel.

Beechwood graduate sets record at college track championships

Beechwood graduate Natnael Weldemichael won the men’s 5,000-meter race at the Horizon League Outdoor Championships in 14:18.43, the fastest time ever recorded in that event at the conference meet that began in 1998.

Weldemichael, a sophomore at Northern Kentucky University, eclipsed the previous conference record of 14:23.94 set in 2019. He also placed seventh in the 1,500 run (3:59.60) on Sunday to account for 12 of his team’s 22 points in the championship meet.

During his senior year at Beechwood, Weldemichael placed first in the Class 1A state cross country meet and won gold medals in the 1,600 and 3,200 runs at the Class 1A state track meet. He was the school’s first-ever individual state champion in cross country. 

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