History of the All-A Classic and Caverna’s key to victory
By T. Wampler / JPI Sports
The Caverna Colonels basketball team and Coach Steve Barker are headed to the All-A State finals for the first time in the school’s history after knocking off Green County 59–55 in the 5th Region All-A finals.
Caverna defeated Bethlehem 83–71 in their 5th Region All “A” Classic opener. They dispatched Fort Knox easily in round two, 80–47, before their big win over District 18 and Region 5 rival Green County in the region All “A” Classic Finals.
Caverna sports an overall record of 12–5, 7–2 in Region 5 action, and currently sits at 2–2 in District 18 games with wins over LaRue and Green County. Caverna avenged a district loss to Green County (65–55) to advance in the All-A Classic. This win also counts as a district win for Caverna because of an agreement reached between the two schools’ athletic directors prior to the game being played.
The Colonels just missed their first trip ever to the All-A State finals when Washington County defeated Caverna 56–45 in the 5th Region All “A” Classic last season in Coach Barker’s first season as the head coach.
According to a history provided by the All-A Classic, the groundwork for the Kentucky All-A tournament was formed in 1980 through the efforts of several different coaches. The inception of the small school basketball tournament began in January of 1980. The first Class “A” Tournament was held at Holy Cross High School in Latonia with eight teams. In 1981, it moved to Bellevue with ten teams, all from Northern Kentucky.
Then, in 1982 to 1989, the Classic went statewide by inviting six Class A schools from around the state to compete with the ten northern Kentucky schools. In 1990, the All “A” Classic became what it is today, a statewide championship tournament with sixteen boys’ regional tournament winners competing.
It expanded in 1991 to include the field of 16 boys’ regional winners and included four girls’ sectional winners competing in the statewide finals. In 1992, the statewide tournament again expanded to include eight girls’ teams and in 1993 included the full complement of 16 boys and 16 girls’ teams.
The Colonels did go to the state finals in 2004 with head coach Paul Childress at the helm after winning the District 18 and Region 5 championships. Caverna lost to Scott County at Rupp Arena 52-37 for the state title. That was Caverna’s last trip to the Sweet Sixteen dating back to 1997-98 (as far as the KHSAA website has the records posted). The Colonels went 30–4 overall that season, 17–1 in Region 5 games and 8–0 in the 18th district.
In their first win in the All-A tourney this season, Tyson Martin led Caverna in scoring with 26 points. Just behind T. Martin was Jaylin Craine with 25 points. Desmond Rowlett reached double figures with 16 points. T. Martin led the team in rebounds with 12 boards. Russell Williams added 8 points and Beau Barker chipped in 6 points.
In their second round game, T. Martin and Craine again were the Colonels’ one-two punch. Martin had 22 points and Craine had 20 points. T. Martin led the team in boards with 8 rebounds. Kenyon Martin had 7 boards and 7 points. Rowlett had 12 points and Cole Beeler chipped in 10 points.
In their win to reach the All-A State Tournament, Craine led Caverna in scoring with 20 points. T. Martin had 19 points. K. Martin had 10 points and led the team in rebounding with 10 boards for a double-double. Williams chipped in 7 points.
- Martin, K. Martin, and Craine received the prestigious honor of being named to the All-A Classic Region 5 All-Tournament Team (for more on the Martin twins and Craine, see Coach Barker’s interview in this week’s print).
Coach Barker noted he was getting strong play from his starters and bench utilizing an 8-man rotation.
Rowlett has added an extra scoring punch and good ball handling skills to compliment Craine at the point for the Colonels this season. Rowlett can shoot, pass, and play tough defense and has been a key player for Caverna for several years.
Cortavian Maxey has skills that Barker likes in his rotation including shooting from any spot on the court. Maxey is a tough defender that can match up against the other team’s best ball handlers and gives the Colonels another tough presence on the boards with his jumping ability when he moves inside.
Williams can score inside, especially putting back missed shots on tip-ins. Williams has a nice short-range jumper. He is a force on the boards. Williams, like the Martin brothers, attacks the glass and the rim, and all three can block shots to compliment their hard-nosed defensive play.
Barker can come off the bench, shoot the three, and spark the ball club when they need something from outside. Barker is also an excellent passer that has a knack for finding the open man. He is a smart player that fills in wherever he is needed on the court including playing small forward.
Beeler has also come off the bench and given Coach Barker another solid player that will play hard when and wherever he is needed. He has a nice jumper and plays tough defense giving the Colonels an extra guard if any starters get in foul trouble or need a rest.
Caverna will next play (Pike County or Martin County) in the All-A Classic on Thursday, Jan. 25 at 8 p.m. EST at “The Corbin Arena” in Corbin, Kentucky. Organizers of the Kentucky All “A” Classic announced that the tournament will be held at “The Corbin Arena” for the first time this season.
The tournament dates are Jan. 24 through Jan. 28, The statewide tournament consists of 32 schools from across the commonwealth — 16 boys teams and 16 girls teams.