April 10, 2013 —
The only hole in Russell’s boys basketball resume was a 16th Region title this season, but that didn’t stop area coaches from deeming the Red Devils deserving of esteemed recognition.
Kyle Skaggs and Merle Kidwell were voted Player and Coach of the Year, respectively, on The Independent 2012-13 All-Area Boys Basketball Team, as determined by area coaches’ votes.
Senior Kyle Skaggs, a four-time All-Area selection, showed very few flaws in his game throughout a storybook six-year varsity career. The 6-foot-2 guard set the all-time scoring mark at Russell with 2,612 career points. In his final campaign, Skaggs averaged 25 points per game and shot 80 percent from the foul line — he visited the charity stripe nearly 300 times. He rattled off eight 30-point performances.
Russell went 26-8 overall, its last loss coming against region runner-up Rowan County — a 53-50 defeat.
“It took me a couple days to get over that loss because you don’t get a lot of chances to get to Rupp Arena, and we felt like we were kind of destined to get there,” Kidwell said. “But we couldn’t let one game exemplify our season.”
Russell won 22 games inside the region, one of those an impressive 67-62 road victory over eventual region champion Fleming County.
Kidwell became the first coach to be named both girls’ and boys’ Coach of the Year. He grabbed the honor on the girls’ side with Russell in 2007.
Russell produced two more All-Area selections: Jacob Porter and Lance Evans. Porter was a 37-percent 3-point shooter, scoring 12 points per contest. He was a pivotal piece to Russell’s fluid ball movement and solid defense as well. Evans transferred from Boyd County before his senior season.
Ashland matched Russell with three All-Area selections in Logan Salow, Nick Miller and Dikembe Dixson. Dixson, a 6-6 sophomore, scored at an 18.8 PPG-clip while tallying 7.9 boards a game in his first year as a Tomcat. Miller netted 12.1 PPG. Salow, the lone Tomcat senior selected, battled through injuries to re-emerge as a starter and leader all while shooting 50 percent from 3-point range.
Fleming County was 28-7 overall, which set a school record for wins. The Panthers were also 20-1 against region foes.
Point guard Darion Burns and small forward Troy Steward, both juniors, had much to do with Fleming County’s first region championship since joining the 16th in 2005. The Panthers lost to John Hardin in the Sweet Sixteen first round.
Burns made his living by relentlessly driving to the hoop en route to 17.3 PPG. Steward was the team’s top scorer at 18.4 PPG and best rebounder with 6.5 RPG.
Boyd County further solidified its program turnaround with 21 wins, the Lions’ most in over a decade. The team tallied a mere two victories just three seasons ago.
Austin Hunt, in his sole season with Boyd County, helped lead the Lions with 16.2 PPG and 5.8 RPG.
West Carter’s Kyle Brown capped off his illustrious career by setting a slew of school records, including owning the all-time boys’ scoring mark with 1,917 points. Brown poured in 23.8 points per game while pulling down 9.6 rebounds a contest.
Other All-Area selections from the 16th Region include East Carter’s Kyle Stewart (12.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG); Lewis County’s Brett Ruckel (21.8 PPG, 220-of-277 FTs); Rowan County’s Tyler Thacker (15.0 PPG); Elliott County’s Logan Nickell (20.1 PPG, 41.5 3-Pt. FG Pct.); Morgan County’s Jordan Perry; and Menifee County’s Drew Swartz.
Both Thacker and Perry helped their squads to 20-win seasons. Thacker was once again key for the Vikings as they fell just short of a region three-peat — the junior guard tore his ACL during the region final against Fleming County.
Johnson Central junior Shane Hall, a 6-8 forward with a growing list of Division I offers, led the Golden Eagles to their second consecutive 15th Region championship. Hall had 15.9 PPG, 9.9 RPG and racked up 92 blocks.
Rounding out the All-Area team is Paintsville’s Trevor Tiller and Lawrence County’s Austin Chaffins. Chaffins shot 50 percent from the field and scored 10.7 PPG as he helped lead Lawrence County to a 20-11 record.
2012-13 ALL-AREA TEAM
Player (School) Year
Kyle Brown (West Carter) Senior
Darion Burns (Fleming Co.) Junior
Austin Chaffins (Lawrence Co.) Freshman
Dikembe Dixson (Ashland) Sophomore
Lance Evans (Russell) Senior
Shane Hall (Johnson Central) Junior
Austin Hunt (Boyd County) Senior
Nick Miller (Ashland) Sophomore
Logan Nickell (Elliott Co.) Junior
Jordan Perry (Morgan Co.) Freshman
Jacob Porter (Russell) Senior
Brett Ruckel (Lewis Co.) Junior
Logan Salow (Ashland) Senior
Kyle Skaggs (Russell) Senior
Troy Steward (Fleming Co.) Junior
Kyle Stewart (East Carter) Senior
Drew Swartz (Menifee Co.) Senior
Tyler Thacker (Rowan Co.) Junior
Trevor Tiller (Paintsville) Senior
PLAYER OF THE YEAR — Kyle Skaggs (Russell)
COACH OF THE YEAR — Merle Kidwell (Russell)
HONORABLE MENTION: Ashland — Zach Hart; Bath County — Keegan Sammons; Boyd County — Grayson Griffith, Brandon Lowe, Brandon Taylor; East Carter — Connor Greene; Elliott County — Aaron Elliott; Fairview —Isaiah King; Fleming County — Austin Crisp, Brady Saunders; Greenup County —Justin Bond, Brandon Johnson, Jair Jackson; Johnson Central — Braxton Blair; Lawrence County — Robert Dalton, Brandon Richardson, Grant Kiser, Timmy Dalton; Paintsville — Matt Daniels; Raceland —Connor Messer.