Embarrassment of riches for Randy Napier
If it appears Randy Napier is floating during this week’s Houchens Industries/KHSAA Girls’ Sweet 16, he just might be.
The Perry County Central coach called this a “fairy tale season” after becoming the state’s all-time winningest coach, leading the Lady Commodores to another regional championship and being named head coach of the West squad for next month’s McDonald’s All American Game.
“I really ought to be picking out some lottery numbers,” Napier said with a laugh.
Perry County Central (23-6) will face Marshall County (30-5) in the first round at 1 p.m. EDT Thursday in E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green.
This is Napier’s 10th trip to the Sweet 16. He won the title with M.C. Napier in 1994 before the school merged with Dilce Combs to form Perry County Central. He has won nine 14th Region crowns at Perry County Central, including three of the past four.
He became the state’s winningest girls’ coach on Dec. 11 when the Lady Commodores beat Jackson City 85-51 for his 794th victory. He passed former Marshall County coach Howard Beth, who posted a 793-150 record before stepping down in 2010.
“I really can’t deserve all of this,” said Napier, whose record is now 814-233. “The community really has made a big deal out of it, and that’s made it even more special to me and my family.”
Moir, Just coaching daughters in Sweet 16
Sacred Heart’s Donna Moir and Butler’s Larry Just are playing double roles this week: proud coaches and proud parents. Meredith Moir and Allison Just play on their parents’ teams. Moir, a junior, is a reserve guard. Just, a sophomore, starts for Butler and averages 6.6 points.
Donna Moir was a freshman on Sacred Heart’s 1976 state title team, and this is her fifth time coaching the Valkyries in the state tournament. She also coached her two older daughters, Megan and Mackenzie, but Sacred Heart didn’t win the region during their careers, and Donna had always hoped she could have a child experience what it’s like to play in the Sweet 16.
Elizabethtown coach Tim Mudd, whose team will face Sacred Heart in the first round, has daughter Kinsey, a senior guard, on his roster, and Moir said they have talked about how excited they are to have their daughters with them at the Sweet 16.
“Being a basketball state, it’s something you strive to go back to because it’s so fun,” Donna Moir said. “To walk out at Diddle, it’s just takes your breath away.”
The Seventh Region title is the latest happy event in Moir’s family. Her son, Michael, married former Sacred Heart player Elizabeth Campbell in January.
“It’s been a great year so far, so hopefully we can finish on a good note,” Donna Moir said.
5 Miss Basketball finalists in field
Five of the seven finalists for Miss Basketball helped lead their teams to the Sweet 16: Anderson County teammates Makenzie Cann and Eriel McKee, Newport Central Catholic’s Nicole Kiernan, Perry County Central’s Kayla Rankin and Sacred Heart’s DaiJia Ruffin.
The other finalists are Ballard’s Javonna Layfield and LaRue County’s Ivy Brown. The winner will be announced during a ceremony Tuesday in Lexington.
Cann (17.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg, Cincinnati signee) and McKee (19.4 ppg, 8.6 rpg, Morehead State signee) have helped Anderson County to a 27-4 record and the No. 3 spot in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings.
“I’ve sensed a little more of a sense of urgency in both of them this season,” coach Tony Kays said. “They’ve both always been leaders with their talent and skills, but they’ve become more vocal leaders this year.”
Kiernan, who has not committed to a college, is averaging 16.6 points and 9.9 rebounds for No. 14 NewCath (29-4).
“She used to be strictly a post player, but she’s able to make plays and stretch the floor now,” coach George Stoll said. “She can do a little bit of everything now.”
Rankin is averaging 28.4 points and 14.5 rebounds despite being the focus of opponents’ defenses all season, Napier said.
“It’s been almost comical all the junk defenses she’s faced this year,” Napier said. “She’ll have two with her at all times and one more waiting.”
Ruffin, a Tennessee-Martin signee, is averaging 18 points and 9.5 rebounds for No. 7 Sacred Heart (27-7).
* The C-J’s preseason poll of coaches correctly picked nine of the 16 regional champions: Marshall County, Henderson County, Meade County, Elizabethtown, Butler, Sacred Heart, Anderson County, Perry County Central and Ashland Blazer.
Six other champions were ranked second in their regions: Glasgow, Newport Central Catholic, Clark County, Lafayette, Corbin and Shelby Valley.
Danville was the biggest surprise, as the Lady Admirals were ranked sixth in the 12th Region.
* Marshall County is making its record 22nd trip to the Sweet 16 and third in a row. Ashland Blazer also is in the field for the third straight year.
Danville is the only first-time qualifier in the field. Lafayette is in for the first time since 1984.