By LARRY VAUGHT
Pendleton County senior Dontaie Allen scored more points — 1,019 — than any other player in the state last season while averaging 31.8 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. He shot 59.1 percent from the field, including 39.6 percent from 3-point range. He was one of three juniors to earn first-team all-state honors in 2018.
To help showcase that talent, Pendleton coach Keaton Belcher is upgrading his team’s schedule. For the first time, Pendleton will play in the prestigious Marshall County Hoop Fest.
“That is huge for us. Not many people here in Pendleton County have been to Marshall County, so going to Hoop Fest is a significant deal for us. Obviously, the big reason we got invited is Dontaie,” Belcher said. “Our fans travel well. It’s about a 5 1/2-hour drive for our crowd but I think we’ll play on Saturday, Dec. 1, and I think we will have a lot of fans make the trip.”
Pendleton will also play in the Zip Zone Classic at Sheldon Clark — “a lot of the state’s better teams and players are invited,” Belcher said — as well as the Ashland Invitational Tournament, the state’s oldest Christmas tournament.
“All that not only challenges our team but lets our kids see different parts of the state and play against good competition,” Belcher said. “For a rural school to get to travel all over Kentucky is just special.
“We want people that might not normally get to see him play have a chance to see him. He’s not the frontrunner for Mr. Basketball, but I really think he has a chance to be Mr. Basketball.”