LaRue County High School’s boys varsity basketball team has captured the 18th District crown four years running, and with a veteran squad returning this season, the Hawks are a credible contender for a fifth title.
“We have nine to 10 kids that could contribute,” said Paul Childress who is entering his eighth season as the Hawks’ head coach. “Our point guard position is really strong; potentially we could have a good shooting team from the perimeter and we have decent size, so we should rebound the basketball.”
The coach added capsule comments about his charges:
Kelton Ford (6-0) – The best point guard in the region with excellent driving ability, passing, and scoring; excellent competitor; needs to be determined to be the best and lead this team all year with his play.
Gabe Shirley (5-9) – A good perimeter shooter, ball handler; needs to become better defensively and more consistent.
Jackson Venegas (6-4) – Could provide scoring inside; must be more consistent on the boards and defensively.
Dustin Coulter (6-1) – A lot stronger than he was last year; needs more confidence.
Tyler Howell (6-4)– Should be the team’s best rebounder; has gotten stronger and could provide some scoring around the basket; must become tougher minded and better defensively.
Kody Key-Close (6-1) – Can provide perimeter scoring plus adds some muscle around the basket; needs to improve on defense and rebounding.
Thomas Harman (6-0) – Versatile; good perimeter shooter; needs to improve his strength, confidence and rebounding.
Dalton Lawson (5-8) – Could play backup point guard; good quickness and good defender; still nursing a hand injury from last season.
Michael Neal (5-11) – Very athletic; quick, good defender; inexperienced, needs to build confidence.
Micah Wiseman (5-11) – Best perimeter shooter; must improve defense and gain strength to play at varsity level.
Caleb Sheffer (6-2) – Probably the most improved player; could help on inside depth off bench; needs more toughness and strength for varsity play.
Childress sees Ford and Coulter showing early signs as leaders. That leadership will come into play in what the coach terms his team’s most-needed improvements.
“We need to develop a chemistry and learn how to play together consistently,” he said. “Overall, defense is a concern right now as we need to show toughness and willingness to be physical night in and night out.”
Finishing last season with a 23-8 record, the Hawks advanced to the semifinals of the Fifth Region Tournament before eventual region champ John Hardin nipped them 84-78 in overtime.
Childress, who has taught for 20 years, sees the Bulldogs, with Elizabethtown, North Hardin, Bethlehem, Marion, and Taylor County, as regional powerhouses this year.
The coach, with 19 total years of coaching, won his 100th game at LaRue County last season. He is approaching the 200 mark in career victories with 198 including 85 wins during his coaching tenure at Caverna.
His assistant coaches include Josh Henderson (six years) and Simon Ford (four years).
LaRue opens the season at home Saturday, playing Madisonville as the Hawks host the Corky Cox Classic.