On the eve of the Sweet Sixteen
The good news for Lincoln County is that the Patriots don’t have to tip off the Boys Sweet Sixteen today, as they did last year when they lost to Adair County in the first game of the tournament. That’s never a good thing for a team that hasn’t been there before, because teams don’t get to practice at Rupp Arena, but the teams that play later games at least have a little time to get the feel of the building before their game.
The conventional wisdom says this is one of the better draws for the 12th Region in a few years (although last year’s draw didn’t look too bad, either). Some are saying that Lincoln has a halfway decent chance of making it through to Saturday morning’s semifinals if it can get past Shelby County in its first-round game Thursday afternoon. (The Lincoln-Shelby winner plays South Laurel or Hazard on Friday night.)
I say don’t count those chickens just yet. Yes, Lincoln can beat Shelby. I believe this is a better Lincoln team in many ways than last year, and I believe it will be better for having had last year’s state tourney experience. But Shelby can beat Lincoln just as easily. The Rockets have size that Lincoln doesn’t and an impressive leader in Coty Minnis. To me, this looks like a 50-50 game, and the quarterfinal game that Lincoln or Shelby plays probably will be, too. So yes, the Patriots could win two games in this tournament. Or they could win one. Or they could win none. None of those outcomes would surprise me.
For another opinion, we turn to the final Durden Ratings for the 16 state tournament teams, which will appear in today’s Advocate. Lincoln is ranked eighth among them with a rating of 93.1, while Shelby is 13th but not far behind in points at 90.5. Hazard is 10th (91.7), and South Laurel is 15th (88.6). Less than six rating points separate the teams ranked seventh through 16th. The top three teams are Lexington Catholic (112.4), Mason County (109.4) and Holmes (103.3); Bardstown (87.8) is last.
Today’s Advocate includes the preview of Thursday’s game. There will be postgame coverage within minutes of the final whistle on amnews.com, and that coverage will be updated a couple of times Thursday evening. There will be full coverage in the Advocate on Friday, including a quarterfinal preview if Lincoln advances.
I shouldn’t put it on the record, but for the record here’s my pick to win it all: Holmes.
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For the history buffs among you, here’s a copy-and-paste from last year with the history of Advocate area teams in the Boys Sweet Sixteen. Of the last nine local teams that have qualified for the Boys Sweet Sixteen, only one has made it past the first round. That was Harrodsburg, which reached the quarterfinal in 1996.
Here’s how all of the local teams fared that have reached the state tourney (note that the first state tournament was held in 1916, the KHSAA took it over in 1918 and the present 16-region numbering system began in 1932):
- 1916 (8-team tourney): Danville lost to Somerset 57-8.
- 1917 (8-team tourney): Centre Academy lost to Monticello 29-13; Danville lost to Owensboro 17-8.
- 1918: Danville lost to Lexington 23-14.
- 1919: Danville lost to Somerset 30-24.
- 1926: Danville def. Henderson 24-19, def. Winchester 42-19, def. Ashland Blazer 19-16 (OT), lost to St. Xavier 26-13 (championship).
- 1928: Danville lost to Ashland Blazer 16-8.
- 1930: Moreland lost to Carr Creek 19-15.
- 1938: Burgin (11th Region) lost to Bellevue 32-19; Highland def. Corydon 37-16, lost to Maysville 25-23.
- 1939: Danville lost to Olmstead 31-26.
- 1945: Danville def. Dawson Springs 54-30, def. Providence 40-38, lost to Male 50-20, lost to Harlan 43-39 (third-place game).
- 1951: Danville def. Caverna 47-42, lost to Whitesburg 71-44.
- 1954: Danville lost to Ashland Blazer 74-67.
- 1960: Harrodsburg (11th Region) lost to Bell County 66-54.
- 1968: Danville lost to Lee County 76-58.
- 1973: Danville def. Bowling Green 71-70, lost to Owensboro 77-56.
- 1975: Lincoln County def. Fairview 65-52, lost to Christian County 83-59.
- 1980: Lincoln County lost to Union County 85-69.
- 1990: Danville lost to Clay County 80-59.
- 1993: Casey County lost to Harlan 75-70.
- 1996: Harrodsburg def. Boone County 57-50, lost to Lexington Catholic 67-44.
- 1998: Boyle County lost to Fleming County 57-49.
- 1999: Boyle County lost to Muhlenberg North 47-43.
- 2000: Mercer County lost to Scott County 95-47.
- 2006: Boyle County lost to Pleasure Ridge Park 67-43.
- 2007: Lincoln County lost to Adair County 51-41.