Archive for January, 2007

T-minus four weeks to tourney time

The time to think about the basketball postseason begins now.

Only four weeks of the season remain, and the jockeying for seeds in the district tournaments will be over even sooner. Some of the No. 1 seeds around the 12th Region are starting to become clear; other races are very much up for grabs. Here’s a look at the current district standings around the region, with district and overall records for each team:

BOYS

45th District

Lincoln County 4-1, 14-7; Boyle County 3-1, 9-9; Garrard County 2-3, 10-10; Danville 0-4, 4-13; KSD 0-0, 7-10.

Remaining district games: Lincoln at Danville, 2/2; Garrard at Boyle, 2/9; Boyle at Danville, 2/17.

46th District

(Note: Teams in this district are required to play district opponents only once. If they play twice, the first game counts toward tournament seeding. The results of those games are in parentheses.)

East Jessamine (3-0) 3-0, 10-10; West Jessamine (2-1) 3-1, 13-6; Mercer County (1-2) 1-3, 10-8; Burgin (0-3) 0-3, 5-11.

Remaining district games: East Jessamine at Mercer, 2/3; Burgin at Mercer, 2/6; East Jessamine at West Jessamine, 2/9.

47th District

Somerset 4-1, 10-9; Pulaski County 3-1, 13-8; Casey County 2-4, 8-14; Rockcastle County 1-4, 3-15.

Remaining district games: Rockcastle at Pulaski, 2/2; Pulaski at Somerset, 2-8.

48th District

Southwestern 4-1, 12-6; Wayne County 4-1, 11-9; McCreary Central 2-3, 15-6; Monticello 0-5, 4-16.

Remaining district games: Monticello at McCreary, 2/2; Southwestern at Wayne, 2/6.

GIRLS

45th District

Garrard County 4-1, 9-10; Lincoln County 3-2, 13-9; Boyle County 2-2, 7-12; Danville 0-4, 4-12; KSD 0-0, 1-14.

Remaining district games: Lincoln at Danville, 2/2; Garrard at Boyle, 2/9; Boyle at Danville, 2/10.

46th District

(Note: This district tournament is not seeded.)

Mercer County 4-1, 9-11; Burgin 2-1, 9-9; East Jessamine 1-2, 10-10; West Jessamine 0-2, 4-13.

Remaining district games: East Jessamine at West Jessamine, 2/8; Burgin at West Jessamine, 2/10.

47th District

Casey County 5-1, 12-8; Rockcastle County 4-1, 13-8; Somerset 1-4, 13-8; Pulaski County 0-4, 8-14.

Remaining district games: Rockcastle at Pulaski County, 2/2; Somerset at Pulaski, 2/9.

48th District

Southwestern 4-0, 12-8; Wayne County 4-1, 12-7; McCreary Central 2-3, 8-14; Monticello 0-6, 4-16.

Remaining district games: Southwestern at McCreary, 1/30; Southwestern at Wayne, 2/6.

The district tournaments will be played the week of Feb. 26 at Garrard County (45th), East Jessamine (46th), Pulaski County (47th) and Wayne County (48th).

The 12th Region Tournaments begin the week of March 5 at Lincoln County (boys) and Pulaski County (girls).

The Girls Sweet Sixteen is March 14-17 in Bowling Green; the Boys Sweet Sixteen is March 21-24 in Lexington. The girls tourney is first this year because Rupp Arena is hosting NCAA Tournament games during the week that the boys tourney is usually played. Regional pairings for both tournaments will be drawn during a live telecast at 1 p.m. Friday that can be seen on WKYT-TV (Ch. 27).

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All 'A' moves and other odds and ends

The 12th Region All “A” Classic is on the move. The semifinals of this week’s boys tournament and next week’s girls tournament will be at Danville, but there’s a decent chance that the finals won’t be.

It’s the first step of a move by the four participating schools — Burgin, Danville, Monticello and Somerset — to change the tournament format beginning next year. More on that below, but first let’s explain what’s happening this year.

The semifinal pairings are the same in both the boys and girls brackets: Burgin vs. Monticello and Somerset vs. Danville. If Somerset beats Danville in tonight’s girls semifinals, the Saturday night championship will be played at Somerset. The boys semifinals are Thursday, and if Somerset’s boys beat Danville then, the winner of the Burgin-Monticello game will host the Saturday night final.

Starting next season, the tournaments will be played during the same week at a single site, and with identical pairings. And if the host team loses in both the boys and girls semis, the team that beat them will then host the championship games.

It’s a little strange and a little confusing, but it does make sense to play the tournaments together. It’s easy with only three games in each bracket — there used to be five when Garrard County and Harrodsburg were playing — and it means the girls champion would no longer have to wait an extra week for the statewide tournament.

* * *

Bad news from Lincoln County, where starting guard Noah Keeton is out of action after suffering a broken hand in practice last weekend. The Interior-Journal reports that Keeton will miss four to five weeks.

Keeton, who was featured along with teammate Daniel Ralston in this story earlier this week, is the Patriots’ third-leading scorer at 11.4 points per game and is shooting 48.4 percent from 3-point range. Lincoln will miss him as it prepares for the postseason, but if his recovery goes well he should be back before the district tournament.

* * *

The Burgin girls’ victory over Mercer County on Tuesday shocked basketball fans around the 12th Region, and it also broke a lengthy streak of district victories. Mercer had won 51 straight 46th District games since its last district defeat, a 44-40 loss to Garrard County, in the district tournament championship in 2000.

Meanwhile, folks at Burgin haven’t yet pinned down the last time their girls basketball team beat Mercer. If you think you know, let me know.

* * *

A single rebound is all that keeps Burgin sisters Ann and Bev Harris from laying claim to an unusual statistical achievement — for now. They are just that close to becoming quite possibly the first pair of sisters to lead the area in scoring and rebounding.

In the latest statistics compiled by the Advocate, Bev Harris led the eight area schools in scoring at 21.2 points per game, well ahead of second-place Hayley Hellyer of Boyle County, who is at 17.8.

In the rebounding race, Ann Harris’ average of 8.71 placed her an eyelash behind Boyle’s Tori Alcorn at 8.76. One more rebound would have raised Ann Harris’ average to 8.79 and put her in front.

Of course, there’s still time. The stats are sent in each week by coaches and published on Wednesdays in the Advocate.

* * *

Central Kentucky Conference championships used to be a big deal in a number of sports, but now they only exist in cross country and track. The CKC is still alive and well in those sports, however, and those titles are still meaningful.

There are 14 member schools, and they’ve been trying to recruit two more thanks to the Mercer County-Harrodsburg merger and the departure of Lexington Christian. An open invitation was sent to schools in the region, three of them applied and the existing members are voting on which two to accept.

The prospective members are Model, Paul Dunbar and Rockcastle County. They hope to join existing members Anderson County, Boyle County, Casey County, Danville, East Jessamine, Frankfort, Franklin County, Garrard County, Henry Clay, Lincoln County, Mercer County, West Jessamine, Western Hills and Woodford County, who are carrying on the considerable tradition of the oldest conference in Kentucky.

* * *

Be sure to check out the Advocate’s newest sports blog, Hardwood Happenings, in which Mercer County girls basketball coach Chris Souder will write on all things hoops. It’s along the same lines as Coach Stoney, the football blog of Garrard County coach Steve Stonebraker.

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All ‘A’ moves and other odds and ends

The 12th Region All “A” Classic is on the move. The semifinals of this week’s boys tournament and next week’s girls tournament will be at Danville, but there’s a decent chance that the finals won’t be.

It’s the first step of a move by the four participating schools — Burgin, Danville, Monticello and Somerset — to change the tournament format beginning next year. More on that below, but first let’s explain what’s happening this year.

The semifinal pairings are the same in both the boys and girls brackets: Burgin vs. Monticello and Somerset vs. Danville. If Somerset beats Danville in tonight’s girls semifinals, the Saturday night championship will be played at Somerset. The boys semifinals are Thursday, and if Somerset’s boys beat Danville then, the winner of the Burgin-Monticello game will host the Saturday night final.

Starting next season, the tournaments will be played during the same week at a single site, and with identical pairings. And if the host team loses in both the boys and girls semis, the team that beat them will then host the championship games.

It’s a little strange and a little confusing, but it does make sense to play the tournaments together. It’s easy with only three games in each bracket — there used to be five when Garrard County and Harrodsburg were playing — and it means the girls champion would no longer have to wait an extra week for the statewide tournament.

* * *

Bad news from Lincoln County, where starting guard Noah Keeton is out of action after suffering a broken hand in practice last weekend. The Interior-Journal reports that Keeton will miss four to five weeks.

Keeton, who was featured along with teammate Daniel Ralston in this story earlier this week, is the Patriots’ third-leading scorer at 11.4 points per game and is shooting 48.4 percent from 3-point range. Lincoln will miss him as it prepares for the postseason, but if his recovery goes well he should be back before the district tournament.

* * *

The Burgin girls’ victory over Mercer County on Tuesday shocked basketball fans around the 12th Region, and it also broke a lengthy streak of district victories. Mercer had won 51 straight 46th District games since its last district defeat, a 44-40 loss to Garrard County, in the district tournament championship in 2000.

Meanwhile, folks at Burgin haven’t yet pinned down the last time their girls basketball team beat Mercer. If you think you know, let me know.

* * *

A single rebound is all that keeps Burgin sisters Ann and Bev Harris from laying claim to an unusual statistical achievement — for now. They are just that close to becoming quite possibly the first pair of sisters to lead the area in scoring and rebounding.

In the latest statistics compiled by the Advocate, Bev Harris led the eight area schools in scoring at 21.2 points per game, well ahead of second-place Hayley Hellyer of Boyle County, who is at 17.8.

In the rebounding race, Ann Harris’ average of 8.71 placed her an eyelash behind Boyle’s Tori Alcorn at 8.76. One more rebound would have raised Ann Harris’ average to 8.79 and put her in front.

Of course, there’s still time. The stats are sent in each week by coaches and published on Wednesdays in the Advocate.

* * *

Central Kentucky Conference championships used to be a big deal in a number of sports, but now they only exist in cross country and track. The CKC is still alive and well in those sports, however, and those titles are still meaningful.

There are 14 member schools, and they’ve been trying to recruit two more thanks to the Mercer County-Harrodsburg merger and the departure of Lexington Christian. An open invitation was sent to schools in the region, three of them applied and the existing members are voting on which two to accept.

The prospective members are Model, Paul Dunbar and Rockcastle County. They hope to join existing members Anderson County, Boyle County, Casey County, Danville, East Jessamine, Frankfort, Franklin County, Garrard County, Henry Clay, Lincoln County, Mercer County, West Jessamine, Western Hills and Woodford County, who are carrying on the considerable tradition of the oldest conference in Kentucky.

* * *

Be sure to check out the Advocate’s newest sports blog, Hardwood Happenings, in which Mercer County girls basketball coach Chris Souder will write on all things hoops. It’s along the same lines as Coach Stoney, the football blog of Garrard County coach Steve Stonebraker.

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Midseason surprises

We’ve just passed the midpoint of the high school basketball season, and enough time has elapsed to give us a pretty good handle on how the 12th Region races are shaping up. I picked the Lincoln County boys and the Rockcastle County girls in a couple of preseason previews I wrote for other publications (with considerable help from the region’s coaches), and I’ll stand by those picks.

But there are always a few unexpected developments, and I’m using the midseason milestone (which was last week, but we’re close enough) to call attention to some of the surprises.
The biggest of them is in Lancaster, where the Garrard County boys are working on the region’s most impressive turnaround this season. After going 5-19 and taking a number of fairly sound beatings last season, the Golden Lions are 10-7 and might finish the regular season with 15 wins or so.
In calling the Lions my biggest surprise, I have to admit being way off in my preseason assessment of them. Coach Scott Bolin couldn’t believe this fall that I didn’t consider Garrard for a list of the top 10 teams in the region. I, on the other hand, thought this would be a better year than last, but still not all that good.

If I ranked the top 10 teams in the region today, I’m still not sure whether Garrard would be on that list, but it would get serious consideration now. And if the Lions continue to improve at the same pace, they’ll certainly be a top-10 team by March. Regardless, Bolin was a lot closer to being right than I was.

The other eye-catching boys team in this area is Mercer County. I did list the Titans as a top-10 team, but they adapted to first-year coach Nelson Cundiff’s system better and got out of the gate faster than I imagined. That system, which utilizes a fast pace and plenty of players, suits a team like Mercer that has decent speed and the depth created by the Mercer-Harrodsburg merger.

The Titans are in a slump, having slipped to 10-7 thanks to a current three-game losing streak that includes defeats against 46th District rivals East Jessamine and West Jessamine. They’ll have to beat one of those teams to get out of the district, but they showed me enough in the first half of the season to convince me that they could.

Mercer also has the biggest surprise among area girls teams, but it isn’t a pleasant one. Everyone knew that Mercer’s run of seven straight 20-win seasons would probably end this winter, because there just wasn’t enough experience to sustain another such year, but it still comes as a shock to the system to see the Titans sitting at 8-8.

The jolts included a 50-point loss to a Central Hardin team considered to be one of the 10 best in the state, a 27-point loss to a Letcher County Central team that certainly isn’t, and most recently Tuesday’s loss at Burgin, which might be the ultimate indicator of a sea change.

Mercer has young talent and should bounce back in time, but some of its results for the rest of this season might look a little strange.

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Is it hot in here?

At Lincoln County, the answer is yes. The Lincoln boys are turning up the heat on their opponents by turning up the temperature in their gymnasium. Even with a typically good home crowd warming up the place during Tuesday’s game against Danville, the building’s heaters worked hard throughout the game to keep the temperature in the mid-70s.

That’s a little on the warm side when there’s a big crowd in the house, but it’s just where the Patriots want it. Lincoln coach Jeff Jackson said didn’t say whether the advantage was physical or psychological, but he said the coaches want to make sure the players are perspiring whether at games or practices. “We like it hot, even at practice,” Jackson said. “They need to sweat and get good and loose.”

Regardless of the room temperature, Lincoln one of the hottest teams in the 12th Region, with wins in five of its last six games and a 2-0 start in 45th District play. At 11-5 overall, the Patriots’ record is better than every team in the region except McCreary Central, which has won seven straight games and is 11-4. Oh, and they’re 5-0 at home.

But if you’re going to see them play at home, wear short sleeves.

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And you thought Kentucky football was fouled up…

Believe it or not, things could be worse. Sure, fans are still up in arms about the continued success of private schools. And yes, going from four classes to six and ordering championship trophies by the case is still the craziest idea to come down the pike in a while.

But while changing planes in Atlanta during a holiday vacation, I discovered a mess in Georgia that trumped all of that. The Georgia High School Association crowns five state champions, and two of its title games last month ended in ties. Charlton County and Dublin played to a 13-13 draw in Class AA, and Peachtree Ridge and Roswell tied at 14-all in the Class AAAAA game.

The two teams in each game were declared co-champions because even though regular-season and playoff games in Georgia are decided by an overtime format similar to that used in Kentucky, the lone exception to the rule is a state championship game.

There had been ties before, although it had happened only once in the previous 16 years. But Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Curtis Bunn wrote that these two ties reveal just how ridiculous this rule is.

Incidentally, the one and only Kentucky state championship game to end in a tie was the 1971 Class AAA final — before the KHSAA adopted the NFHS tie-breaker method, in which Flaget and Thomas Jefferson played to a 7-7 draw.

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