State title cements Perry’s legacy as a scholastic hoops legend

Published 1:30 pm Thursday, March 28, 2024

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When Travis Perry was named Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball, he said not only was it “really cool,” but he knew what that would add to his legacy.

However, his legacy grew even more last week when he helped Lyon County, a high school with less than 300 students, win its first state basketball championship.

Perry, a Kentucky signee, is the only the second Kentucky high school player to score at least 3,000 points, be named Mr. Basketball and win a state championship (J.R. VanHoose of Paintsville also did it). But Perry is also the Gatorade Player of the Year and, even more importantly, is the state’s all-time leading scorer, a mark he broke as a junior.

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Perry finished his high school career with 5,481 points and beat the previous all-time scoring record of 4,337 points by King Kelly Coleman set in 1956 by over 1,000 points. He also holds the record for field goals made (1,918), field goals attempted (3,880), 3-pointers made (714) and 3-pointers attempted (1,746), and free throws made (933) and attempted (1,139).

Before the state tournament, Perry admitted there was a “little pressure” on him but he believed Lyon could “accomplish something I have dreamed of not since seventh grade but first grade” and he was right.

He averaged 22 points, 3.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.2 steals per game while making 30 of 71 shots overall from the field, 16 of 36 3-pointers and 14 of 18 free throws. The 6-2 guard saved his best game for the championship matchup with Harlan County when he scored 27 points on 10-for-18 shooting overall including 5-for-9 from 3. He also had five assists, two steals and one rebound.

“The first two games (teammates) Brady (Shoulders) and Jack (Reddick) and those (other) guys carried us. It was my time to take us home,” Perry said after the state win. “They all trust me and know when the time gets tough it is up to me to do what it takes to get us a win. I tried to ice it the best I could. We are winners. We all made big plays down the stretch. We just did the little things to win.”

He’s been in the spotlight for years but never hogs the spotlight. When he was named Mr. Basketball, he made sure to reach out to Miss Basketball Trinity Rowe of Pikeville privately to congratulate her.

“That means the world to me that he would do that,” Rowe, who was at the Lyon-Harlan game, said. “He’s an amazing player but an even better person. My best accomplishment and I got to share it with Travis Perry and he is complimenting me. They definitely got it right with him (being Mr. Basketball).”

In the state title game he was going against Trent Noah, a South Carolina signee and long-time friend. Noah called him an “exceptional player and person and friend” after the game.

Noah, who scored over 3,400 points in high school, texted Perry after Harlan County won its semifinal game to set up the title game with Lyon.

“There were no losers in this game,” Perry said. “He (Noah) had a legendary career. He had maybe the best Sweet 16 performance ever (48 points against Campbell County). To play in the state championship game against a guy like that … I was really happy it worked out that way.”

The Kentucky signee also talked about his faith and the importance the team put on their faith daily.

“We are blessed and it is important to use our platform and recognize we would not be where we are without God. It has been really important to get us here,” Perry said.

Perry also excels in the classroom. He has a perfect 4.0 grade-point average and has one more goal he wants to reach at Lyon County.

“His next goal is to be one of our valedictorians,” his mother, Jami Perry, said. “He has two college classes he’s working hard in to keep A’s.”

He performs his best under pressure, so he likely will keep the A’s. He had — for him — two below average games to open the state tournament with 16 points against Ashland and 21 against Adair County but shined in the two final games.

Lyon coach Ryan Perry, Travis’ father, said having more than a couple of bad games in a row is uncharacteristic for him but also understood the amount of attention the senior guard got from opponents in the state tourney.

“But he finished with a couple of good games and made some big-time shots down the stretch,” the Lyon coach said.

Travis Perry talked with his teammates earlier in the week about what they would do if they won the championship and whether he would cry.

“Mr. Basketball is the highest honor in the state a player can achieve and I am so thankful for that,” Perry, who had 40 people attend the Mr. Basketball ceremony, said after the state title game. “But it is not a one-person award, especially for Lyon County. It’s big not only to me but our team and community.

“I have always been a team guy. This (state title) is something I always wanted. I wanted it for myself but wanted it more for my dad, the two guys here (Shoulders and Reddick) and the guys in the locker room. I am a team guy and to help get this for us all is just awesome.”