A month after winning its first state championship in basketball, the Highlands boys basketball team continues to rack up honors.
Highlands swept the individual honors in the Louisville Courier-Journal all-state basketball team that the newspaper published May 8. The Courier-Journal, a sister publication to the Enquirer, named its all-state team based on balloting from head coaches around the state.
Highlands head coach Kevin Listerman was named the Coach of the Year in the poll. Senior Sam Vinson was named first-team all-state and earned the most votes among all players.
Listerman received 60 votes from the 92 coaches from around the state who returned ballots.
“The coaches know how much goes into any season, whether you’re successful or unsuccessful,” Listerman said in an article announcing his honor. “To be recognized by the peers around the state … is very humbling. I know how fortunate we were to get the draws and play the way we did. It makes me very proud, and it’s also a testament to my staff. As head coaches, we don’t do it by ourselves.”
Also in the article, Listerman said the past month since winning the state title has been “awesome,” especially hearing stories from long-time Highlands fans and sharing the championship with the Fort Thomas community.
He said his favorite moments came when the team visited the elementary schools in the area, showing off the Sweet 16 trophy.
“To see those little kids light up like there were superheroes walking through the hallway, that was so cool for me to see,” he said. “That has been the best.”
Vinson finished first in the players ranking ahead of Ben Johnson of Lexington Catholic, who was named Mr. Basketball in April. The NKU signee averaged 22.3 points and 9.4 rebounds and was a stat-sheet stuffer in the Sweet 16.
“Sam has the greatest combination of skill, athleticism, basketball IQ and competitiveness I have ever coached,” Kevin Listerman said in the Courier-Journal. “He does whatever is necessary on the floor to win games. He gets assists, rebounds, steals, blocks shots and finishes above the rim. He controls the game. Simply, Sam is a winner who makes everyone else on the floor and in the locker room a better player and person.”
Simon Kenton senior Kelly Niece was also named first team and finished ninth in the voting.
Niece led the state in scoring at 30.1 points per game and finished his career with a school-record 2,481 points. He was the Mr. Basketball finalist from the Eighth Region and is unsigned with a college so far.
“Kelly Niece is an old school player,” Simon Kenton coach Trent Steiner said. “He can score at all three levels but is the most effective from 15 feet and in. He is very creative at getting to his spots on the floor and very efficient at finishing when he gets there. He’s the type of teammate you want to play with.”
Beechwood senior Scotty Draud and St. Henry senior Wyatt Vieth were named second-team all-state. Draud finished 13th in the voting. He averaged 24.8 points this season and is the all-time leading scorer in Ninth Region history. Vieth, ranked 18th in the voting, led St. Henry with 19.1 points per game, leading the Crusaders to the All “A” Classic state championship.
Covington Catholic junior Mitchell Rylee and Scott senior Grant Profitt were named honorable mention all-state. The full list is here.
In girls basketball, Ryle senior Brie Crittendon was named first team. She ranked fourth in the number of votes received among all the first-teamers, and one spot behind Franklin County’s Brooklynn Miles, who was named Miss Basketball in April.
The EKU signee averaged 14.2 points and 4.4 rebounds for a Raiders squad that finished 23-3 after falling in the semifinals of the Ninth Region Tournament.
“Brie is a multi-purpose player who can shoot the 3 or pull up for a jumper, able to drive hard to the basket or post up when necessary,” Ryle head coach Katie Haitz said in the Courier-Journal. “Because Brie is such a fierce competitor, she does all the little things. She is a strong communicator on the floor, goes hard for rebounds and creates deflections defensively. Her consistent tenacity on both ends of the floor created such havoc for her opponents.”
Bishop Brossart senior Marie Kiefer was named to the second team, ranking 14th in the overall poll. She averaged 19.6 points and led Brossart to the 10th Region championship and the first round of the Sweet 16. Kiefer will play for Ball State.
Scott senior Mya Meredith was named second team after finishing 15th in the voting. She averaged 20.4 points this season and has signed with Western Kentucky.
Dixie Heights senior Sydney Lockard was named honorable mention. The point guard led the Colonels to the Ninth Region championship and the first round of the Sweet 16.
Sacred Heart head coach Donna Moir, who led the Valkyries to the state championship, was named the coach of the year. No Northern Kentucky coach finished in the top six in the voting. The full list is here.