Finding Lincoln’s foe and filling the field

The final six spots in the Boys Sweet Sixteen brackets were finally filled Wednesday night in regional title games pushed back by last weekend’s winter storm. The list of winners includes Shelby County, which rallied to defeat Gallatin County 49-48 for the 8th Region championship. Shelby will play 12th Region champion Lincoln County in the first round of the state tourney at 1:30 p.m. March 20.

Gallatin, bidding for its first regional title since 1959, was up by two points and at the free-throw line with 12 seconds left. But after a miss, Shelby converted a three-point play with 6 seconds left to turn the tables. The Rockets will return to Rupp Arena for the second time in three years.

Here are the full first-round pairings for the Boys Sweet Sixteen, in bracket order: Wednesday, March 19 — University Heights (2nd Region) vs. Lexington Catholic (11th), Central (6th) vs. Owensboro (3rd), Jeffersontown (7th) vs. Paintsville (15th), Holmes (9th) vs. Bardstown (5th); Thursday, March 20 — South Laurel (13th) vs. Hazard (14th), Shelby County (8th) vs. Lincoln County (12th), Paducah Tilghman (1st) vs. Greenwood (4th), Mason County (10th) vs. Elliott County (16th).

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Rockcastle County put up a good fight in its first-round game in the Girls Sweet Sixteen, but the Lady Rockets came up short in a 60-56 loss to Ohio County, and they remain winless in five trips to the state tourney.

Rockcastle led 34-24 early in the second quarter, then gave up 19 straight points in just 4:02 to fall behind 43-34. There were 11 lead changes in all and six in the third quarter before Ohio crept out to a four-point lead. The Lady Rockets’ last chance came when Angie Lawrence was fouled on a 3-point miss with 3 seconds left. She missed the first two free throws, and Rockcastle couldn’t rebound when she missed the third intentionally.

Sarah Rowe had 20 points in her final game for Rockcastle, and Sara Hammond had 18 rebounds. Rockcastle forced 23 turnovers but committed 29.

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