Next year’s girls high school basketball state championship will be the last one played at WKU’s Diddle Arena for at least two years. The Kentucky High School Athletic Association has voted to award the girls’ basketball championship to Northern Kentucky University for 2016 and 2017. The girls tournament had been held at WKU every year since 2001.
The Bowling Green Convention and Visitor's Bureau says an estimated 39,000 visitors came to town during the course of the 2013 tournament.
Bowling Green also lost out on the state high school softball tournament which will remain in Owensboro through 2018.
Hear about plans for a Kentucky Basketball Hall of Fame building in Elizabethtown
As a member of the Bremen High School basketball team in the late 1970s, Ray Harper was twice the district’s player of the year.
“Every night it was a battle and there were some great rivalries. We had seven high schools in the county – there’s only one high school now,” said Harper. “It helped prepare me in the sense that you had to be ready to play every night and couldn’t take a night off and you could never underestimate your opponent."
The high schools in Muehlenberg County were consolidated into one, Bremen High School is no more, but the memories remain.
"It’s good to get back and reminisce and see those guys. We had some really good teams and some great memories that will last a lifetime,” said Harper.
Harper is in his third season as the head men’s basketball coach at Western Kentucky as a native of the commonwealth, he understands the importance of high school basketball.
“The thing I’ve always said is if you get a kid from a high school in Kentucky they’ve been coached. The learning curve isn’t as great as it is for some kids."
High school basketball in Kentucky is a big deal. There’s a Hall of Fame honoring the state’s best through the years, but right now, it’s just a collection of names. There’s no building, no permanent museum...no brick-and-mortar.
The annual showdown between the best boy’s and girl’s high school basketball players in Kentucky and Indiana is set for this Friday night.
Both games are at Freedom Hall in Louisville, with the girl’s game starting at 5:30 p.m. eastern, and the boy’s following at 7:30. The four teams then play again the following night in Indianapolis.
The Kentucky boy’s team is led by the state’s Mr. Basketball winner, Dominique Hawkins of Madison Central. Members of the team from our listening area include Devonte Grundy from Bardstown and Jordan Majors of Hopkinsville.
University of Kentucky signee Derek Willis of Bullitt East is also on the team.
The Kentucky girl’s team is filled with players from our listening area, including this year’s Miss Basketball, Makayla Epps of Marion County. Her Marion County teammates Kyvin Goodin-Rogers and Logan Powell are also on the squad, along with Becca Greenwell of Owensboro Catholic, Jessica Hardin of Wayne County, and Michaela Hunter of Rockcastle County.
The Indiana boys are led by Mr. Basketball Zak Irvin, and Indiana University recruit. He's joined by fellow future Hoosiers Devin Davis and Collin Hartman. The Indiana girls feature Miss Basketball Stephanie Mavunga.
The Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches is asking Elizabethtown tourism officials to help market the state's new Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame. Association executive director Ken Trivette told the Elizabethtown Tourism and Convention board the Hall will preserve the stories and contributions of coaches and players.