Fans and opposing coaches often joke about certain mainstay players that it feels as if they’ve been around a lot longer than the traditional four years.
In the case of Scott County High School basketball guard Morgan DeFoor, that feeling is correct, and then some.
“She is one of three players we brought up as a sixth-grader,” SC coach Steve Helton said. “Now the KHSAA since has stopped that. The other two, one was Miss Basketball, and the other was a Miss Basketball finalist, so we’ll see what happens this year.”
One thing is certain: DeFoor will play her senior season without having to worry about where she’ll be making those trademark steals, behind-the-back passes and 25-foot bombs next winter.
DeFoor continued SC’s long-standing tradition as a pipeline to the NCAA Division I ranks by signing her national letter of intent Wednesday to play at Morehead State University.
The flashy, 5-foot-7, red-headed guard, only 318 points away from becoming the Lady Cardinals’ fifth 2,000-point scorer, is one of three SC players likely to accept a D1 scholarship in the coming months.
Malea Williams, a 6-4 senior forward, currently is choosing from no fewer than 14 major college offers, while 6-foot junior Kenady Tompkins also is on many nationally known schools’ radar.
Wednesday was DeFoor’s turn, however, along with five other Scott County athletes — all female.
Four players from the three-time KHSAA champion softball program signed with schools at the next level.
Katlyn Mullins and Katelyn Byrd joined the University of Pikeville. Savannah Merriman put it on the dotted line with nearby Midway University, while Madison Scott made her intentions official with Wilmington (Ohio) College.
Multi-sport standout Lydia Le’Det will take her triple, long and high jump talents to the University of the Cumberlands track and field program.
DeFoor has earned multiple all-region and all-district honors in her lengthy career with the Lady Cardinals, helping SC to its current runs of three consecutive 42nd District titles and back-to-back 11th Region championships.
She’s also only 25 rebounds from 500, something Helton half-joked is almost as much as source of pride for DeFoor as all the scoring.
“In her description, that classified her as a big body,” Helton said. “She was really excited about that.”
DeFoor is the youngest of three sisters who have been part of the Scott County program for a majority of Helton’s 20-year tenure.
He noted that her mom, Dee, has attended 14 of his preseason coach/parent meetings.
“This family, the support, the time and the effort they’ve put into our program the past 14 years is incredible,” Helton said.
DeFoor also is a standout in the classroom, having scored 26 on her ACT exam.
At Morehead State, DeFoor will play for head coach Greg Todd, who led Lexington Catholic during a brief but intense rivalry with Scott County before moving to the collegiate level.
Scott County is considered one of the favorites, along with Franklin County and Paul Laurence Dunbar, to represent the region at Rupp Arena in March.
“I know one thing: You’ll walk out of the gym saying. ‘Wow, that little No. 1 is one of the most dynamic players I’ve ever seen play,’” Helton said.
Glenn Wilson, a longtime SC track coach, introduced Le’Det as “one of the best track athletes and one of the best female athletes to go through Scott County High School.”
Le’Det was regional champion and fourth at the state level in the Class 3A triple jump last season.
She is also a part of Scott County’s successful competition cheering team.
Softball coach Billy James looks forward to having the talented softball quartet in his first season at the helm as the Lady Cards aim to continue their trend of winning the state title in even-numbered years.
Mullins, a 6-foot right-hander, successfully stepped into the big shoes of Kennedy Sullivan and led SC’s pitching staff a year ago.
“I was tough on her this summer, and I think you’ll see that pay off in performance this season,” James said.
Merriman has been a slugger in the heart of the lineup for two years and anchors the infield at third base defensively, while Scott showed the versatility to play both catcher and all outfield positions while providing clutch hits. Byrd is expected to take on an increased role this season in a program where even college-bound players traditionally must wait their turn. The 2018 KHSAA championship team sent 10 players into the college ranks.
More signings are expected in the coming months as football, soccer, basketball and baseball standouts finalize their future plans. Helton, who now serves in the dual role of athletic director, spiced up the event by leading the large crowd of friends and family in the “Wooooooo!” cheer popularized by pro wrestling legend Ric Flair before cuing up “Celebration” by Kool and the Gang.
“When they leave here, they’re not just leaving here and we’re seeing, ‘See ya, bye.’ They’re one of our family, and we’re sending them on to that next chapter,” he said.
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at email@example.com.