A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

NKy Prep Sports Notebook: Ryle hires girls’ basketball coach; Raiders host passing tourney

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

Katie Madden-Haitz resumed her high school coaching career last week when she was named head coach of the Ryle girls’ basketball program.

Haitz, 29, was an assistant coach at Boone County High School for five years. She did not return to the staff for the 2013-14 season and spent last season keeping the scorebook during games.

Katie Haitz 2

Katie Madden-Haitz

“This is the first head coaching position I applied for and I’m just really excited,” Haitz said. “My husband and I discussed it and decided it was the right time for me to do this. I’m really excited that they offered me the job andI’m looking forward to coaching those girls.”

Last season, Ryle won the 33rd District title and advanced to the 9th Region playoffs under former head coach Karra Jackson. Even though six of the top seven players on that team were underclassmen, Jackson resigned as head coach at the end of the school year to “explore other opportunities outside of basketball,” according to Ryle athletic director Jim Demler.

Ryle freshman coach Heather Loechel took charge of the program during summer camps in June. Haitz was officially named the new head coach last week. She said her husband, Josh, will be one of her varsity assistants. He was on the Boone County coaching staff the last two years.

Haitz had an impressive playing career in high school and college. She was a three-year starter at Boone County and scored more than 1,000 points as a pivot player for the Rebels. She continued her career at Taylor University and was named an NAIA Division II All American after helping her team reach the quarterfinals of the national small-college playoffs as a junior.

After college, Haitz returned to Boone County High School and was an assistant for head coach Nell Fookes from 2008 to 2013. The Rebels won three regional titles while she was on the coaching staff.

“Katie has an outstanding background in the game and has been very successful as a player and coach,” Demler said in a press release that was released when she was hired by Ryle. “She comes from a tradition-rich program (Boone County) and has learned from one of the best ever (Nell Fookes). We feel like she is a perfect fit for our girls’ basketball program.”

Some of the Ryle players attended Gray Middle School while Haitz was a teacher there. When they had a team meeting earlier this week she said they were “very open to learning a new system” that she will be introducing in pre-season practice.

“It’ll take some time, but they’re very wiling to learn and that’s a great atmosphere to come into,” the new coach said.

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Simon Kenton sophomore guard Ally Niece received a scholarship offer from Xavier University’s head coach while the Pioneers were playing in a team camp on the Xavier campus last month.

Ally Niece SK 2

Simon Kenton sophomore guard Ally Niece (Photo by Marc Figgins)

“This offer is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Simon Kenton head coach Jeff Stowers. “I have fielded calls from numerous (college) coaches.”

Niece averaged a team-high 16.5 points and shot 47.8 percent from the field during her freshman season with the Pioneers, who won the 8th Region championship.  She was named Division I Player of the Year at the Northern Kentucky Girls Basketball Coaches Association post-season awards banquet.

This summer, the talented teen-ager is playing on a premier select team that includes other top college prospects. She also attended an elite camp at the University of Kentucky and received an invitation to an elite camp at Vanderbilt University, according to coach Stowers.

“Let me just say this, she has earned everything through her own work ethic,” Stowers noted. “She calls me to see when I can open the gym and she comes to work. Ally is a throwback player. She brings her lunch pail and goes to work, always trying to find ways to improve her game.”

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The Ryle football team will host a 7-on-7 passing tournament on July 24-25 that also includes a Lineman Challenge where players compete in strength and agility contests. Admission will be $2 each day with children under 10 years old admitted free.

Eighteen high school football teams will participate in the passing tournament that starts at 3 p.m. Friday, July 24 and resumes at 9 a.m. on Saturday, July 25.  The local teams registered for the tournament are Highlands, Ryle, Brossart and Grant County. Perennial in-state powers Louisville Male and Lexington Catholic will also take part along with Anderson and Western Hills from Ohio.

No tackling is permitted in a passing tournament game. A play ends when the offensive player with the ball is tagged by a defensive player. Each team puts seven players on the field and everybody on the offensive unit is an eligible pass receiver except the center and quarterback. The quarterback has four seconds to release a pass or the play is whistled dead. The team with the ball has four downs to go 20 yards for a first down or 40 yards for a touchdown.

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