Casey set for Sweet Sixteen
There’s finally a reason for some local basketball fans to pay attention to the Girls Sweet Sixteen again, as the tournament will include an Advocate-area team for the first time in six years.
Casey County heads to Bowling Green to face Johnson Central in tonight’s final first-round game at Diddle Arena, and there is reason to believe the Lady Rebels can do more than merely make an appearance. On the other hand, there’s also reason to believe they could be one and done.
If it sounds like I’m on the fence, it could be because I am.
Any power rating you care to dig up shows Casey as not only the favorite in this game but as one of the better teams in the entire field. One such rating that I read yesterday listed them fourth out of the 16 teams. And the Lady Rebels emerged from a good and hotly contested region after going 4-1 against Lincoln and Rockcastle counties, the other two teams at the top of the region.
Casey has three capable scorers — Lauren Hatter, Kayla McFarland and Megan Pittman — who have accounted for two-thirds of its points this season. Their combined scoring average is 38.2 points per game, and the team averages 56.8.
On the other hand, Johnson has more balance. Each of its five starters averages between 8.2 and 12.2 points, and together the account for 50.3 of the Lady Eagles’ 56.8 points per game. (That’s right, the two teams’ scoring averages are identical.)
The Lady Eagles also have experience on their side, having played in the state tournament last year, and I tend to put quite a bit of stock in a team that’s been there before. Their lineup includes four seniors who shouldn’t be rattled when they take the court.
So yes, I could make a case for either team in tonight’s game, and in that case I will pick neither.
* * *
In case you missed it, here’s the preview of tonight’s game from Tuesday’s Advocate. Check Thursday’s paper and amnews.com for full postgame coverage.
* * *
Now for some historical nuggets:
- As mentioned, Casey is the first local team to reach the Girls Sweet Sixteen in six years. The last Advocate-area girls team to play in the state tournament was Mercer County, which lost to Christian County 70-67 in 2003.
- Casey’s only previous trip to the state tournament came in 2000, when the Lady Rebels played in Richmond. Their only game there was a 59-55 overtime loss to Lexington Catholic.
- Johnson is making its second straight trip to Diddle, returning after a 51-31 loss to Elizabethtown last year. Prior to this run, the Lady Eagles also made back-to-back appearances in 2001 and ’02, losing first-round games to Allen County-Scottsville and Perry County Central. The Lady Eagles have made eight state appearances in all and have never won a first-round game.
* * *
Here’s for some logistical info for fans going to the game or otherwise interested:
- Casey fans who are making the trip down the Cumberland Parkway or following their team from afar should visit this page on the KHSAA Web site. There are rosters and statistics for Casey, Johnson and the other 14 teams, plus links to live statistics, streaming audio and more information that will be updated as the tournament progresses.
- The audio link is especially important, as no local radio station is airing the game. The game can be heard in parts of this area on Lexington station WVLK-FM (101.5), but that signal probably doesn’t reach Liberty.
- Tickets are available at Diddle Arena for $11 and $16. Tickets in the Casey cheering section are $8 each and are/were available only through the school. If the Lady Rebels advance, $8 tickets for subsequent games will be available at the arena after any games they win.
- Casey County will be the home team for its game, with its fans seated in sections 115, 116 and 216. All tickets for its game are also good for the Breathitt County-Simon Kenton game that precedes it.