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Prep Sports Notebook: Junior guards lead Conner boys basketball team to holiday tournament title

By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter

The Conner boys basketball team won three games at a holiday tournament in Louisville this week to claim the championship trophy and raise its record to 10-3 going into the new year.

Junior guards Daniel Campbell and Landen Hamilton were double-figure scorers in all three victories. In a first-round win over Louisville Seneca, Campbell posted a double-double with 22 points and 12 rebounds. In the championship game against Louisville Eastern, Hamilton did the same by getting 16 points and 16 rebounds.

Conner junior guard Landen Hamilton

Campbell has been one of the most improved players for the Cougars. He’s averaging 12.8 points and a team-high 6.2 rebounds after getting just 3.0 points and 2.6 rebounds per game last season. In the three tournament games this week, he shot 56.4 percent (22 of 39) from the field to raise his season percentage to 47.7 (62 of 130).

Last season, Hamilton was a starting guard who averaged 10.9 points on the first Conner team that made it to the 9th Region boys final since 2005. He’s currently averaging a team-high 20.1 points and has 32 of his team’s 58 3-point field goals.

Hamilton’s younger sister, Anna, is also off to a good start this season. She’s averaging a team-high 17.8 points for the Conner girls basketball team that has a 9-3 record.

The Conner boys are averaging 59.9 points per game while limiting their opponents to 51.0. They’ve held six teams to less than 50 points. Their three losses were by margins of three, two and three points.

This is Matt Otte’s sixth season as the team’s head coach. He was a varsity assistant at three high schools before taking charge of the program. The Cougars posted a winning record four of the last five years and played in the last three region tournaments under Otte. His career record now stands at 91-62.

Conner will return to action on Tuesday with a home game against Holy Cross (9-3). The Indians lost to Louisville Eastern in the semifinals of the holiday tournament that Conner won this week.

Basketball player, volleyball team are LaRosa Hall of Fame inductees

A 2,000-point scorer in 9th Region girls high school basketball and one of Northern Kentucky’s first state championship teams in volleyball have been chosen for induction into the Buddy LaRosa High School Hall of Fame.

Tara Boothe-Smith

Tara Boothe-Smith scored 2,286 points for the Highlands girls basketball team and led the state in scoring with a 25.2 average during her senior season in 2001-02.  She also averaged 13.4 rebounds and shot 56 percent from the field that season to earn first-team all-state honors.

Smith continued her career at Xavier University where she had 2,324 points and 1,004 rebounds over four seasons. She played one season of professional basketball in Switzerland’s Elite League and was named the league’s most valuable player after leading her team to the championship.

Two years after volleyball became a state sanctioned sport in Kentucky, Villa Madonna won the 1980 state tournament and finished with the 39-2 record under coach Carla Austin.

The Villa Madonna roster included four girls who went on to play for NCAA Division I volleyball programs — Lori Erpenbeck (Kentucky), Stephanie Scheper (Tennessee), Fredda Simpson (Kentucky) and Lisa Warman (Florida State).

A complete listing of the new inductees is available on the Buddy LaRosa High School Hall of Fame website.

Cooper grad has double-figure scoring average for 11-1 college team

Cooper graduate Sean McNeil is the second leading scorer on the West Virginia men’s basketball team that will take an 11-1 record into its first Big 12 Conference game at Texas (10-2) that’s set for noon on New Year’s Day and will be nationally televised on ESPNU.

The senior guard is averaging 14 points per game for the Mountaineers. He has been a double-figure scorer in 10 of his team’s 12 games and shared Big 12 Player of the Week honors for getting a season-high 23 points in a win over Youngstown State last Saturday.

McNeil is also averaging 2.8 rebounds and 1.7 assists in his third season at West Virginia. He received a scholarship after averaging 29.7 points for Sullivan Community College in Ohio to earn first-team All-America honors in Division II of the National Junior College Athletic Association.

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