OHS found right recipe late in season

Mar. 18—The Owensboro High School boys basketball team faced a variety of challenges throughout the 2022-23 campaign, but the Red Devils finally pieced it all together when their backs were against the wall.

OHS entered the postseason at just 14-10 before stringing together five consecutive victories and, along the way, capturing championships in the 9th District and 3rd Region tournaments — earning the program's state-record 45th trip to the KHSAA state tournament.

Though Owensboro ultimately fell 66-65 in an instant classic against 16th Region champion Ashland Blazer, it wasn't difficult to see how much the experience meant to the Red Devils.

"I'm extremely proud of these young men," said coach Rod Drake, who won a state title as a player with OHS in 1980 and later as a coach in 2015. "We got seven seniors. They're great kids, super kids. They'll be an asset to our community, and I look forward to seeing these guys in the community after this is over with."

Earlier this season, Drake surpassed 250 career wins — and it was an honor that he credited to assistant coaches and players over the years.

He counted this year's group as among some of the Red Devils most deserving of experiencing a state tournament.

"They learned a lot," he added. "I told these guys we could've laid down midway through the season, but we circled the wagons. These guys put it together, and we were lucky to get here. I was extremely proud I got the opportunity to coach these young men."

Senior guard Kenyata Carbon finished his Owensboro career as the program's second all-time leading scorer behind Kenny Higgs, and the dynamic 6-foot guard finished the season averaging team-high marks of 22.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game.

Carbon finished with 22 points, six rebounds, six assists, two blocks and a steal in the UK HealthCare Boys' Basketball Sweet 16 Tournament matchup against Ashland.

His late-season mindset was simple.

"I just felt like we needed to play hard just from the jump," he said.

"I thought we could beat any team in our region, then come up here and play hard and see what we could do."

The outcome didn't turn out in Owensboro's favor, but the opportunity left the Red Devils with memories they'll always cherish.

"It's been a long season and I'm glad this group came together as it did through the end of the season," said Talas Taylor, a senior wing who scored 13 points against Ashland.

"We had a lot of troubles at the beginning of the season, facing just a lot of unimaginable things you wouldn't think upon high schoolers, and throughout the season we came together as a group and as a team and found love in each other and played hard for each other."