By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
In his seven seasons at Marion County, Trent Milby had an incredible run of success.
He led the Lady Knights to seven district titles, four-straight 5th Region championship and his teams won at least 20 games each year.
Last season, Marion County went undefeated (39-0) and captured a state championship. The Lady Knights were ranked No. 4 in the final USA Today national poll and Milby was named the 2013 Naismith National Women’s Coach of the Year.
Following that historic championship run, Milby decided he might be ready for a new challenge.
“I always wanted to get into college basketball,” said Milby, who was 208-36 at Marion County. “Being at Marion County and having that kind of success, I just thought it perfect timing to go to the next step and see what college basketball is (like).”
That opportunity came when Terrence Brooks stepped down as the women’s basketball coach at Berea College earlier this year.
Milby was hired in August takes over a program that posted a 13-17 overall record and a 8-7 mark in the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference last season.
“We are excited to have Trent Milby lead our women’s basketball program,” Berea athletic director Mark Cartmill said after the hiring was announced. “His previous coaching success and resume show his incredible ability as a coach and his ability to develop players.”
Milby’s Marion County teams were known for their up-tempo pace and pressure defense, which led to easy transition baskets.
The Lady Knights averaged 71 points a game last season and scored more than 80 points five times, including a 99-point performance against Campbellsville.
Milby has brought that same system to Berea College.
“It’s going to be fast-paced. We are going to run the entire length of the floor, offensively and defensively,” Milby said. “We really try to push the basketball and extend our defense and get up as many shots as we can. It will be an exciting style of basketball.
That style will be a dramatic change for the Lady Mountaineers.
Berea averaged just 56 points a game last season.
“They’ve picked up on it pretty quickly,” Milby said. “They are improving every week. Their conditioning is getting better. We played well in our two scrimmages and there are a lot of positives.”
Milby didn’t arrive on campus early enough to bring any new players into the program, but the Lady Mountaineers return 10 players from last year and have four seniors on the roster.
And Berea is deep too.
Milby says he will likely use a 10 or 11-player rotation.
“We really don’t care who starts,” Milby said. “It could change game to game. The style we play, it really doesn’t matter who starts.”
Junior Johnesha Warren is Berea’s top returning scorer from last season (9.0 points a game) and will run the point this year. Guards Malena Steve (senior, 4.6 ppg), Katelyn Butler (junior, 3.2 ppg), Kaitlynne Smith (senior, 5.6) and Erika Parks (junior, 7.1 ppg) are also back along with post players Shelby Romine (senior, 8.6 ppg) and Anna Loveless (sophomore, 6.0 ppg).
“Johnesha Warren, Erika Parks, Katelyn Butler and Anne Loveless, I’d say those four are our offensively most gifted players,” Milby said.
Shakiera Bell, a sophomore from Louisville, has been a solid addition to the team. She ran track last year at Berea College and played basketball in high school at Butler.
The Lady Mountaineers were picked sixth in the preseason KIAC poll, but even though he’s only been with the team for a couple of months, Milby believes his team can exceed those expectations this year.
“I really think we are better than people think we are,” Milby said. “I’m kind of glad people don’t think we are very good, so we can sneak up on people. We are very athletic and very quick. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do in the conference. I really think we’ve got a shot.”
The Lady Mountaineers are set to open the season today at Mid-Continent.