A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Prep Sports Notebook: Silver Grove basketball player putting up big numbers for smallest high school

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

If this turns out to be the final season for the Silver Grove boys basketball program, senior forward Spence Macke has given the smallest high school in Northern Kentucky something to remember.

With two days left in the regular season, Macke has the highest scoring and rebounding averages in the entire state. He’s the first Silver Grove basketball player to do that, and be may be the last one to ever get a chance.

Silver Grove senior Spence Macke, right, has the state’s highest scoring and rebounding averages. (Photo from player)

At the Silver Grove Board of Education meeting on Monday, members voted 4-1 to initiate a merger process with Campbell County Schools. If the merger is completed, Silver Grove High School will no longer exist.

“If this is the last year, it would definitely be good for the program,” Macke said of topping the statewide statistics with his 35.0 scoring average and 15.2 rebounding average.

Silver Grove has a 7-16 record and finished near the bottom in the Northern Kentucky Division III standings with a 2-10 mark. Five of the Big Trains’ victories came against in-state teams with a combined record of 11-81. 

Even though his team hasn’t faced the highest level of competition, Silver Grove coach Tom Haney said Macke’s scoring and rebounding statistics are still legit.

“You’ve got to give the kid credit,” Haney said. “I mean, should he be Player of the Year in Northern Kentucky, of course not. But, in his class, he’s a really good player.”

The coach said opponents have been double-teaming Macke or using other defensive gimmicks to cut down on his scoring, but the left-handed shooter still managed to get 30 points or more in 14 of the 20 games he has played in thus far.

Macke surpassed the 40-point mark in seven of those games. His highest point totals were a school-record 58 against Heritage Academy, 52 against Covington Latin and 52 against Big Bone Baptist, a school that’s not a member of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association.

“I don’t think a lot of people realize the defenses against me,” Macke said. “They usually double-team me or use a box-and-one and stuff. It’s kind of harder to score than people think.”

Macke played basketball at Holy Cross during his freshman and sophomore years. He sat out his junior year after transferring to Highlands and then left there to play his senior season at Silver Grove.

“I’m really happy, especially after sitting out last year,” he said of his record-setting  season with the Big Trains. “I think this is the best thing that could’ve happened. I wish our wins and losses were a little better, but I’m happy to be leading the state in rebounds and points (averages).”

After his high school graduation, Macke plans to attend the University of West Virginia and join the men’s basketball team as a preferred walk-on. He received that offer from Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins, who saw him play in AAU basketball tournaments on a team coached by his mother, Tricia, a news anchor for Fox19 television in Cincinnati.

Local players among finalists for Mr & Miss Kentucky Basketball

Four players on Northern Kentucky high school teams are among the final candidates for the Mr. and Miss Kentucky Basketball awards that go to the top seniors in the state each year.

Tahj Harding of Newport and Dieonte Miles of Walton-Verona are on the list of 18 boys finalists. Lauren Schultz of Ryle and Zoie Barth of Highlands are two of the 17 girls finalists.

The Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches and Kentucky Lions Eye Foundation will announce the winners on March 5 during a ceremony at the Lexington Center’s Bluegrass Ballroom. The two players chosen for the award will wear No. 1 jerseys for the Kentucky boys and girls all-star teams that will play benefit games against Indiana’s top seniors this summer.

The Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches also announced their Coach of the Year selections in each region. The 9th Region winners were Ryle boys coach Tim Sullivan and Conner girls coach Aaron Stamm.

The 10th Region awards went to Campbell County boys coach Aric Russell and Brossart girls coach Kevin Bundy. Walton-Verona girls coach Mark Clinkenbeard was the one of the 8th Region selections.

Beechwood swimmer posts top qualifying time for state meet

Beechwood sophomore Eli Shoyat is the only top-seeded swimmer from Northern Kentucky going into the state championship meet scheduled for Feb. 21-23 at Wright Natatorium on the University of Louisville campus.

The seeds are based on times recorded in nine regional qualifying meets across the state. Shoyat won the boys 500-yard freestyle at the Region 7 meet in a time of 4:31.47, which turned out to be fastest qualifying time.

Dixie Heights posted the second fastest qualifying time in the girls 200 medley relay. The second-seeded local entries in individual events are Notre Dame senior Allie Piccirillio in the girls 200 individual medley and 500 freestyle, Dixie Heights junior Kenady Biel in the girls 100 butterfly and Covington Catholic senior Logan Smith in boys 1-meter diving.

In last week’s Region 7 meet, Notre Dame won the girls team title for the 21st consecutive year with Piccirillo getting gold medals in two individual and two relay events for the Pandas. Highlands finished with the top score in the boys standings for the second year in a row. The Bluebirds’  top performer was sophomore Mac Russell, who also won two individual and two relay events.

Cooper, CovCath basketball teams win post-season tournaments

Cooper sophomore Jacob Liechty made a last-second shot to give his team a 43-42 win over Beechwood in the championship game of the Northern Kentucky junior varsity boys basketball tournament on Monday at Covington Catholic.

The win lifted the Jaguars’ record to 17-4. The junior varsity team is coached by Justin Holthaus, who has been involved with the Cooper basketball program for 10 years.

In the freshman championship game, CovCath defeated Ryle, 50-37, to claim the tournament title for the sixth time in the last eight years under coaches Matt Stevens and Steve Sorrell. The CovCath players named to the freshman all-tournament team were Luke Lenhoff, David Sullivan, Nick Boydston and Leyton Read.

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