The Holy Cross High School boys’ basketball team endured a bitter end to its season Wednesday with a 53-49 loss to Fairdale in a 21st District Tournament semifinal, but coach Mike Durham will remember the season with fondness.
The Cougars won the Lindsey Wilson College Holiday Classic in January, reached the quarterfinals of the All “A” Classic state tournament and set a school record for victories with a 21-8 campaign.
After 9-21 records the past two seasons, Durham has been rewarded for the turnaround by being named the Sixth Region Coach of the Year. He received four votes in a regionwide ballot of coaches. Doss’ K.C. Goodin was second with three.
“I’m a little overwhelmed by that,” said Durham, in his eighth season as head coach. “If you don’t have a good coaching staff with you, you’re not going to win anything. My assistants were great this year.”
Ballard’s Chris Renner was named Seventh Region Coach of the Year, receiving four votes. St. Xavier’s Kevin Klein and Eastern’s David Henley each got three.
Durham attributed Holy Cross’ success to a solid preseason program, which included more weightlifting. The Cougars also posted a 25-3 record last summer and carried that momentum into the regular season.
They beat Adair County 63-56 in overtime to win the Lindsey Wilson tournament on Jan. 4 and beat University Heights in the first round of the All “A” Classic before falling to Lexington Christian. Another highlight was a 54-50 overtime victory over Pleasure Ridge Park on Feb. 6.
“We were undersized all year, but we only got outrebounded in five games,” Durham said. “That was a crucial stat.”
The Cougars will lose nine seniors, including the school’s all-time leading scorer in Dominique Mack.
Renner has Ballard (26-5) No. 1 in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings entering Friday’s 28th District final against Eastern. The Bruins won the King of the Bluegrass Holiday Classic, were runner-up in the Louisville Invitational Tournament and have played a tough schedule featuring teams from eight states.
Renner said he appreciated the Coach of the Year honor.
“It definitely helps having talent and two Mr. Basketball candidates,” he said of Quentin Snider and Kelan Martin. “But it’s not always easy. I obviously couldn’t do this without having a tremendous coaching staff.”