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Prep Sports Notebook: Kevin Listerman joins father on list of coaches with 9th Region championships

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

The list of coaches who have won 9th Region boys basketball championships includes a father and son for the first time ever.

Kevin Listerman joined that list last Friday when his Highlands team defeated Conner, 77-67, in the 9th Region final. His father, Mike, coached two 9th Region championship teams while he was in charge of the Covington Catholic basketball program.

The Listermans were also the first father and son to coach against each other in a 9th Region final. That happened in 2004 when a CovCath team coached by Mike defeated a Boone County team coached by Kevin.

Kevin Listerman (Photo by Allen Ramsey, dwcphoto.com)

Kevin will be making his coaching debut in the state tournament on Thursday when Highlands (26-4) takes on 3rd Region champion Muhlenberg County (19-1) in a first-round game at Rupp Arena.

Mike took CovCath teams to the state tournament in 2004 and 2006. His first team made it to the state semifinals and finished with a 29-4 record.

Family ties have been interesting subplots to several other success stories in Northern Kentucky high school basketball this season:

 • Beechwood senior guard Scotty Draud ended his high school career as the all-time leading scorer in 9th Region boys basketball with 3,128 points. His father, Scott, did the same thing in 1986 when he finished his career at Highlands with 2,865 points, a region record that stood for 28 years.

 • Simon Kenton senior guard Kelly Niece surpassed the 2,000 mark in career scoring, just like his older sister, Ally, did when she played for the Pioneers. Kelly also became the first Simon Kenton player to finish the season with the state’s highest scoring average at 30.1. 

 • The Dixie Heights girls basketball team won its first 9th Region championship since 1992 under head coach Joel Steczynski and his daughter, Ella, is one of the five starters. In the team’s last two victories, the sophomore guard was 6-of-13 from behind the 3-point line and pulled down seven rebounds.

 • Sisters Liz and Kay Friehofer were two of the top four scorers on the Cooper girls basketball team that posted a 17-5 record to snap a three-year string of losing seasons. Kay averaged nine points and Liz averaged 7.5 for the Jaguars, who were ranked among the state’s top 10 teams in the Associated Press media poll.

Bluebirds set 9th Region tournament records with 3-point shooting

Highlands set a pair of 9th Region boys basketball tournament records with its 3-point shooting during last week’s playoffs.

The Bluebirds set a single-game record with 15 3-point goals in Friday’s championship final and that give them a three-game total of 36 treys, which is also a tournament record. They ended up scoring 108 of their 255 points from behind the arc in three victories, hitting 36 of 83 attempts for 43.3 percent.

“We don’t set goals about how many we shoot or make,” coach Kevin Listerman said. “We want to just take great shots, for this group that means threes. The kids are so unselfish and have so much confidence in each other that they turn down good ones for great ones. It’s a fun way to play and coach.”

The team’s 3-point leader during the region tournament was sophomore guard William Herald with 12. He knocked down five treys in the championship game to finish ahead of Zach Barth with 10 and senior Luke Muller with nine.

The Bluebirds entered the state tournament with the best 3-point field goal percentage (43.5) in the 16-team field. They’ve made 322 treys in 30 games for a 10.7 average.  

Scott girls made it to 10th Region semifinals without scoring leader

The Scott girls basketball team lost seven of its last 13 games without leading scorer Mya Meredith and finished the season with a 16-9 record.

After scoring 34 points in an overtime loss to Ryle on Feb. 5, Meredith had nine points in a loss to Holy Cross on Feb. 9 and then didn’t see action for the rest of the season. Her final scoring stats were 265 points in 13 games for a 20.4 average.

The Eagles still made it to the semifinals of the 10th Region tournament before ending the season with a 54-53 loss to Montgomery County. Senior forward Sofia Allen had 15 points and 11 rebounds in that game. She averaged 15.6 points and 8.8 rebounds on the season.

Meredith, who was named 10th Region Player of the Year by coaches, was recruited by Western Kentucky University. Allen will continue her career at the University of Tampa.

Ryle graduate scores 19 points in WNIT championship game

Ryle graduate Lauren Schwartz scored 19 points with five assists to help her Rice University team defeat Mississippi, 71-58, in the championship game of the Women’s National Invitational Tournament last Sunday.

Schwartz is a sophomore forward for the Owls, who won five games in the WNIT to finish the season with a 23-4 record. The team did not receive a berth in the NCAA tournament after losing in the Conference USA championship game.

Schwartz averaged 13.1 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists on the season. She shot 50.6 percent (131 or 259) from the field and 42 percent (42 of 100) from behind the 3-point line.

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