It seems as if the basketball season began only a month or so agao, but postseason play begins tonight across the state.
There are no major changes in the schedules for the 12th Region’s four district tournaments from last year to this. It’s ladies first once again as the Girls Sweet Sixteen will be the first of the two state tournaments for the second straight year. (And it’s scheduled to be so through at least 2011.)
Locally, that means the girls regional will be played March 3-4 and 7-8 at Lincoln County, while the boys regional will be March 5-6 and 10-11 at Pulaski County.
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For the second straight year, only one district tourney will be played at a local school (the 45th at Lincoln). The 46th is at West Jessamine, the 47th is at Rockcastle County and the 48th, which has no local teams, is at McCreary Central.
Boyle County, Mercer County and Somerset will host next year, with the site for the 48th District to be determined. (It’s Monticello’s turn in the rotation.)
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The Lincoln County girls can earn a state tournament berth without ever leaving home. Lincoln hosts the 45th District Tournament and the girls regional, meaning if Don Story’s team takes another bus ride this season, it’ll be to Bowling Green.
Meanwhile, the records and ratings say Lincoln is the school with the best chance to pull off a sweep of the boys and girls regional championships. That has happened three times in the previous six seasons, with Wayne County taking both trophies in 2002 and 2004 and South Laurel doubling up in 2005.
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Casey County became the fifth girls team in the last 10 years to finish the regular season undefeated against 12th Region teams. The Lady Rebels went 13-0 against 10 different regional foes. (They didn’t play East Jessamine, Kentucky School for the Deaf, McCreary Central, Monticello, Wayne County or West Jessamine.)
Only one of the previous four teams to achieve that feat made it to the state tournament: Mercer County’s 2002-03 team, which went 12-0 within the region in the regular season. Mercer teams went 15-0 in 2001-02 and 12-0 in 2004-05 and Somerset was 13-0 in 1998-99, but all three of those teams lost in the regional finals.
Following Casey in the intra-regional standings were Lincoln County (15-2, .882), Wayne County (10-3, .769), Southwestern (10-5, .667), Danville (9-5, .642) and Rockcastle County (7-4, .636).
The best boys record within the region this season belongs to Lincoln County at 17-1 (.944), followed by McCreary Central 13-2 (.867), Boyle County (10-5, .667), Wayne County (10-5, .667) and Garrard County (8-4, .667),
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All of this region’s district tournaments are seeded now, and they have for a few years. In fact, the vast majority of the state has gone to seeded tourneys. Currently, there are only 12 boys districts and 12 girls districts (out of 64) that are unseeded.
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The forecast of one or two snowy days this week raises the possibility of some schedule changes at a time when coaches and athletic directors least want them.
The threat of snow at this time of year always makes me recall my senior year in high school at Jackson County, the undisputed leader in all-time snow days.
We were hosting the 49th District and had made all sorts of preparations to put on the best event possible. (What we lacked in basketball prowess we made up for in hospitality.) But we got slammed by an honest-to-goodness winter storm — and not just a dusting that seems to close school there for three days — right in the middle of the tourney.
The games went on, but the crowds were low and the atmosphere was that of a Tuesday night game in January. The biggest crowd seemed to come from Oneida Baptist, a boarding school in neighboring Clay County, which sent a convoy of buses through the snow with not only its teams but virtually its entire student body.
Be sure that if bad weather strikes this week, officials at the host schools will make every effort to get the games in when they’re supposed to be played, and that any decision to postpone will come much later than it usually would.
And if there are any postponements to report, we’ll get the word to you ASAP on amnews.com.