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The Courier Journal

Lyon County's Travis Perry set to become KHSAA's all-time leading scorer on Sweet 16 stage

By Jason Frakes, Louisville Courier Journal,

2023-03-15

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EDDYVILLE, Ky. — Travis Perry is on the cusp of breaking Kentucky’s most famous high school basketball record , but he can’t catch a break in his own house.

The 17-year-old Perry is the oldest of four children. The youngest, second-grader Parker, also plays basketball and already has Travis’ record numbers in his sights.

Perry, a 6-foot-2 junior at Lyon County High School , heard all about Parker's plans when he passed Ty Rogers as Lyon County’s all-time leading scorer earlier this season.

“I was hugging everybody, and Parker doesn’t give me a hug or anything,” Perry said with a laugh. “He just taps me and says, ‘Hey, I’m breaking that one.’ He has high goals.”

They run in the family.

When Lyon County (30-5) takes the court at Rupp Arena at 1:30 p.m. Thursday to face Newport (28-6) in the first round of the UK Healthcare Boys Sweet 16 , Perry will be the center of attention.

A new scoring 'King': Lyon County's Travis Perry breaks Kelly Coleman's Kentucky high school record

Since joining the Lyon County varsity team as a seventh-grader, Perry has amassed 4,317 points during his five seasons. He needs 21 points to pass “King” Kelly Coleman as the state’s all-time leading scorer. Coleman amassed 4,337 points during four seasons, from 1952-56, at Wayland High School .

After totaling 1,490 points during his seventh- and eighth-grade seasons, Perry began to hear talk about catching Coleman one day. That it could happen at the Sweet 16 — on the biggest basketball stage in Kentucky — feels like something out of a movie.

“I was like, ‘There’s no way that’s going to happen. That’s a fairy tale,’” Perry said. “But it’s really neat that it aligned that way. Hopefully we can put on a good show, and maybe if it’s God’s time it will happen.”

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'The main goal is to win'

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Coleman had become so well-known in Kentucky that prior to the 1956 Sweet 16 an airplane dropped leaflets over the city of Lexington , proclaiming, “King Kelly Coleman is coming!”

Coleman scored 185 total points over four games in the tournament, still a Sweet 16 record. His 68 points in a victory over Bell County — without benefit of the 3-point shot — in the third-place game also still stands as a Sweet 16 record .

J.R. VanHoose, the 1998 Kentucky Mr. Basketball from Paintsville and a friend of Coleman’s, said Coleman never got over being booed by some fans who were disappointed that he scored “only” 28 points in the semifinal loss to Carr Creek. Coleman died in 2019 at age 80 .

“You can tell it had a huge impact on him personally,” VanHoose said. “What did he do to deserve that?”

If Perry is feeling pressure to impress fans and break the record Thursday, he’s not showing it.

During a pep rally at Lyon County on Tuesday, Perry was relaxed, speaking to a crowd filled with elementary, middle and high school students. Ryan Perry, Travis’ father and the Lyons head coach, said his son has remained steady throughout the season.

“I probably wouldn’t have been able to hit the backboard if I was out there trying to make those shots,” said Ryan Perry, who played basketball at Crittenden County High School and was a college golfer at Northern Kentucky University. “But Travis is wired different than I was. He’s embracing all of this.”

Travis Perry says winning is more important than the record. The Lyons are 1-2 all-time in the Sweet 16 after a first-round loss to Wayland, coincidentally, in 1951 and a quarterfinal loss to Covington Catholic last year.

“It’s the state tournament, and the main goal is to win,” Perry said. “We’re going to have a lot of fans there, and there’s going to be a lot of people there watching the game because all of the stuff surrounding it. The goal is to put on a good show and win. My mom told me, ‘There may be pressure,’ but I told her, ‘There’s no pressure.’ If we win, that’s another game. It’s all about getting another game in Rupp.”

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'Driven to play the game'

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Ryan Perry said he knew his son was committed to basketball at an early age.

Travis Perry still golfs and played baseball and football in the past, but basketball always has been his passion.

“We saw at a young age he was driven for basketball,” Ryan Perry said. “He would come home from kindergarten, and at night he would dribble up and down the hardwood hallways of our house — right-handed, left-handed, right-handed, left-handed — all night long. He was really, really driven to play the game.”

Travis Perry led the Lyons in scoring as a seventh-grader, averaging 20.6 points per game, and began to hear chants from rival fans: “Overrated!”

“Being a senior in high school, you don’t want to let him do anything that would make you look bad,” he said. “There were a lot of rough games, physical games where bigger guys pushed me around a little bit. But I feel like I’ve molded into my own and had a lot of success from that.”

This season he’s made a state-best 167 3-pointers and is shooting 45.4% from 3-point range, ranking third in the state. His 32.2 points per game are second most in Kentucky.

Perry has been teammates with Jack Reddick and Brady Shoulders since they were second-graders. Shoulders said Perry’s success has never gone to his head, even after making 69 straight 3-pointers in a recent practice.

“He never talks about it,” Shoulders said. “When we go out to eat or anything, all kinds of people are coming up and talking to him. But it’s all glory to God, and he’s just going out there to play for his whole team. It’s not just himself.

“It’s just real special growing up with him. We’re all going to be able to look back at this time and think about all of the great memories we’ve made together. He’s going to be the all-time leading scorer in the state of Kentucky. It’s pretty amazing.”

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'A platform not everybody has'

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The Lyons are loading up the bus for their trip to Lexington, and fans are lining up inside the school to buy Sweet 16 T-shirts.

Among them is Greg Greene, the mayor of Eddyville. He said city hall and the courthouse will shut down while the Lyons play in the Sweet 16. Nearly every local business has a sign in its window saying “Go Lyons!” or “Good luck at State!” or “Road 2 Rupp!”

“It’s the golden age of Lyon County basketball,” said Greene, a 1974 Lyon County graduate. “We’ve never seen anything like it. You’re watching it every night, but you can’t believe what you’re seeing. … It’s not just Travis. It’s the whole team. These kids are so good in every way. They’re good in grades. They’re good in character. They’re great in basketball.”

College coaches have noticed Perry.

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He has dozens of scholarship offers and figures to receive more this summer. He said Indiana University has been recruiting him the hardest, with Purdue, Missouri, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Western Kentucky and Vanderbilt among the several others showing interest.

“He can’t go to the bathroom without getting calls and texts from coaches,” Ryan Perry said.

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Travis Perry said he has no timetable for when he plans to commit. For now, he’s enjoying the attention coming from college coaches for himself and his teammates.

“It’s a huge blessing,” he said. “It’s something I don’t take lightly. It’s a platform not everybody has.”

The Rupp Arena lights are sure to shine bright on Travis Perry on Thursday.

He’s ready.

“Everybody’s watching me play, watching my moves off the court and everything like that,” he said. “It’s brought a lot of light to my game but also brought a lot of light to the games of the others around me and put a lot of light on our school.”

Jason Frakes: 502-582-4046; jfrakes@courier-journal.com; Twitter: @kyhighs.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Lyon County's Travis Perry set to become KHSAA's all-time leading scorer on Sweet 16 stage

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