Sunday, February 27, 2011

Girls' regional tournament ... facts and figures

Game 1: Lone Oak vs. St. Mary

The scoop: Perhaps the most intriguing game of the first round. The Lady Vikings won 58-51 at Lone Oak on Dec. 7, but when the two teams get together on Monday night, they haven't faced each other in 83 days.

Since then, Lone Oak has gained some confidence on the strength of its first 20-win season in eight years. The Lady Flash's 21 wins is two more than they had in the last three seasons combined, and sophomore guard Haley Boyd has emerged as one of the area's better up-and-coming talents. Tiffany Brown has size and defensive presence in the middle.

At the same time, Lone Oak has been found wanting against the region's top teams, with a 17-point loss to Marshall County and a 38-point defeat against regional favorite Calloway County. They also lost by double digits at Ballard in December, a game that Brown missed while battling mononucleosis.

St. Mary has retooled some things, too, with coach Staci Averill going with some young talent of her own. Freshman Alex Durbin had a double-double against Ballard Memorial in the district championship game and sophomore Lydia McManus was one point shy of one. Peyton Vaughan has been a reliable lead guard, leading the team in scoring and assists.

The winner probably becomes the sacrificial lamb for Calloway in the semifinals, but both are chasing their first regional tournament wins in some time — St. Mary's last one was in 2006, while Lone Oak's last semifinal appearance was in 2001.

Overall records: Lone Oak 21-8, St. Mary 15-12
Against teams with winning records: Lone Oak 2-6, St. Mary 3-7
Against district champions: Lone Oak 2-3, St. Mary 1-5
Against First Region tournament teams: Lone Oak 5-4, St. Mary 2-6
Against teams that reached regional tournaments: Lone Oak 7-6, St. Mary 2-8

Game 2: Calloway County vs. Hickman County

The scoop: There shouldn't be much mystery about this one. Calloway, led by West Virginia signee Averee Fields, may be the First Region's strongest team since Paducah Tilghman reached the final four of the state tournament in 2005. Hickman, the only team in the tournament with a losing record, simply ended up with the worst possible draw.

Expect the Lady Lakers to roll and for coach Scott Sivills to use his bench liberally. Hickman's only chance to stay competitive would appear to be by slowing down the tempo and/or hitting some 3-point shots early in the game.

Overall records: Calloway County 27-1, Hickman County 8-15
Against teams with winning records: Calloway County 16-1, Hickman County 0-4
Against district champions: Calloway County 5-0, Hickman County 1-3
Against First Region tournament teams: Calloway County 8-0, Hickman County 1-6
Against teams that reached regional tournaments: Calloway County 14-0, Hickman County 1-7

Game 3: Ballard Memorial vs. Paducah Tilghman

The scoop: These two teams met on Jan. 14 in a game that ended in somewhat controversial fashion. After Ballard hit a pair of free throws with 1.2 seconds left to tie the score, the Lady Bombers were called for a foul in the backcourt, with Tilghman's Kendra Patterson hitting one of two from the line to nail down the win.

It was a game soon forgotten in the Ballard camp — the Lady Bombers went on to win the All A Classic regional tournament eight days later, knocking off favored Murray in the final. For Tilghman, it was the first sign of progress in a season that was derailed by star point guard Chelsey Shumpert suffering a torn ACL in a mid-December loss to district rival Lone Oak.

Tilghman coach Josh Barnett has done a good job of reconstructing his lineup and gameplan without Shumpert, perhaps the region's best guard, and athletic center LaQuesha Prather, who also has a torn ACL. But there are times the Lady Tornado attack has trouble generating points if Patterson and forward Ngodoo Itiavkase can't attack the rim, and two of the first players off the bench are eighth-graders.

Ballard, however, isn't the same team that went to the All A Classic state tournament. Center Tisha Burgess tore an ACL in that game, taking away a low-post presence and a badly-needed rebounder. Guard Anna Denton suffered a similar injury in the district finals, giving coach Billie Prince precious little time to make the proper adjustments in practice.

Just before the All A Classic, Prince questioned his team's effectiveness when it went to the bench — Ballard sometimes went 10-deep, but Prince wasn't sure he could afford to go without more than one starter on the floor at a time. Now, with two starters down, he has no choice.

Overall records: Ballard Memorial 21-9, Paducah Tilghman 13-14
Against teams with winning records: Ballard Memorial 10-7, Paducah Tilghman 4-9
Against district champions: Ballard Memorial 4-4, Paducah Tilghman 2-4
Against First Region tournament teams: Ballard Memorial 7-3, Paducah Tilghman 4-4
Against teams that reached regional tournaments: Ballard Memorial 10-6, Paducah Tilghman 6-8

Game 4: Murray vs. Carlisle County

The scoop: There isn't much reason to think this game won't be well in hand by halftime. Murray, the defending regional champion, beat Carlisle 59-34 only two weeks ago, and has generally had its way with the regional small-school competition, aside from Ballard Memorial.

Point guard Janssen Starks and swingman Haley Armstrong are two of the region's top players and are on course to combine for something like 4,500 points in their careers — Armstrong, a junior, is the school's all-time leading scorer and recently passed the 2,000-point mark, while Starks has eclipsed 1,000 points as a sophomore. And 6-3 center Sian House and guard Amanda Winchester are two of the region's most potent defensive forces, House as a shot-blocker and rock in the paint.

Carlisle has some young talent, led by sophomores Macy Moran and Jenna Babb, but this probably isn't the way coach Ember Wright would have liked her team to develop some regional tournament experience.

Overall records: Murray 20-9, Carlisle County 13-13
Against teams with winning records: Murray 8-9, Carlisle County 1-8
Against district champions: Murray 4-6, Carlisle County 0-5
Against First Region tournament teams: Murray 4-4, Carlisle County 3-7
Against teams that reached regional tournaments: Murray 9-7, Carlisle County 3-8

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Second Region pairings ...

(at Hopkinsville)
Livingston Central vs. Christian County, 6 p.m.
Henderson County vs. Hopkins Central, 7:45 p.m.
Madisonville vs. Lyon County, 6 p.m.
University Heights vs. Union County, 7:45 p.m.
March 7
Semifinals, 6 p.m.
March 8
Championship, 7 p.m.

(at Livingston Central)
Madisonville vs. Christian County, 6 p.m.
Henderson County vs. Lyon County, 7:45 p.m.
Hopkinsville vs. Union County, 6 p.m.
Crittenden County vs. Caldwell County, 7:45 p.m.
Semifinals, 6 p.m.
Championship, 7 p.m.

Boys' First Region pairings ...

Fulton County (23-4) vs. Ballard Memorial (19-9), 6 p.m.
Paducah Tilghman (25-4) vs. Calloway County (15-13), 7:45 p.m.

Marshall County (24-6) vs. Carlisle County (16-13), 6 p.m.
Graves County (22-7) vs. Heath (20-10), 7:45 p.m.

March 7
Semifinals, 6 p.m.

March 8
Championship, 7:45 p.m.

Notes: Who got the best draw? You have to go with Paducah Tilghman, which saw Marshall County and Graves County placed in the opposite bracket.

Two first-round matchups stand out — Ballard Memorial and Fulton County split a pair of regular-season meetings, with the Bombers winning in Hickman just a week ago, and they were the top two seeds in the All A Classic regional tournament.

But neither ballclub has the personnel with which it began the season — Ballard has had three athletic guards (Manny Yarbro, Alex Hill and Chris Jones) leave the team in the last month, and their absence is particularly noticeable on the defensive end. Fulton County was rocked when double-double machine Derrick Swift moved back to Lake County, Tenn.

The other one is Graves County and Heath, two teams that met about a month ago. Heath won that game 74-64 at the Eagles' Nest, a somewhat surprising result in that it came right after the Pirates had won the All A Classic regional title and it was generally thought they were due for a letdown.

Girls' First Region pairings ...

Lone Oak (21-8) vs. St. Mary (15-12), 6 p.m.
Calloway County (27-1) vs. Hickman County (8-15), 7:45 p.m.

Ballard Memorial (21-9) vs. Paducah Tilghman (13-14), 6 p.m.
Carlisle County (13-13) vs. Murray (20-9), 7:45 p.m.

Semifinals, 6 p.m.

Championship, 7 p.m.

Notes: Ballard Memorial sustained its second big personnel loss in a month when guard Anna Denton tore the ACL in her right knee during Thursday night's Third District championship game against St. Mary. Center Tisha Burgess suffered a similar injury in the All A Classic state tournament.

The Lady Bombers will play a Paducah Tilghman squad that is also without two critical players, point guard Chelsey Shumpert and center LaQuesha Prather, both of whom tore ACLs in December.

There could easily be a rematch of the All A Classic regional final between Ballard and Murray, a game in which the Lady Bombers made a dramatic fourth-quarter rally with a wild 22-1 run. But the Ballard team that could meet Murray in the semifinals isn't the same club that beat the Lady Tigers a month ago.

But this should be a lot like last year's regional tournament, where there isn't much drama until the championship game.

Notice who is missing ... no Graves County and no Marshall County in the regional tournament. It's the first time that has happened since Graves was formed by consolidation in 1985.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Pre-postseason briefs ...

First District: Two boys' teams with regional tournament aspirations have had recent comings and goings that could drastically affect their post-season fortunes.

To start, the bad news: Fulton County's Derrick Swift, a 6-foot-3 senior forward and sometimes prolific scorer and rebounder, recently moved back to Lake County (Tenn.) for the second time — Swift moved there as a sophomore and came back to the Pilots over the summer. His loss is significant for Fulton County, who will have a difficult time replacing his 15 points and 10 rebounds per game, not to mention his athleticism and relentless on the glass.

His loss shouldn't cost the Pilots a trip to the regional tournament, but it severely jeopardizes their chances of doing damage once they get there.

Fulton City welcomed back guard Vance Maze, who had left the team briefly. Maze is coming off the bench for the Bulldogs, but he provides some quickness, ballhandling and scoring potential on the perimeter.

Second District: Paducah Tilghman's boys' team hit its stride in late January and early February last season and got on a roll that led to a regional title. The Tornado had that focused, engaged demeanor again in last week's win over Heath, and Josh Forrest's 30-point, 13-rebound performance that also included a pair of assists, three blocked shots and three steals showed that few, if any, players in far western Kentucky can impact the game in so many ways.

Forrest's performance last March earned him regional tournament MVP honors, and it wouldn't come as a shock if he does it again.

On the girls' side, Tilghman coach Josh Burnett has made sure his team adjusted to the early-season loss of star point guard Chelsey Shumpert and athletic center LaQuesha Prather, and has started to utilize a bench that includes a pair of talented eighth graders in Kaylee Humphrey and Alex Kohler. Kendra Patterson, who took over as the playmaker, and Ngodoo Itiavkase can take the ball to the basket, and Tilghman still has enough quickness and athleticism to cause problems on the defensive end.

Their first-round game with Heath, which features a potent 1-2 punch in point guard Elizabeth McSparin and forward Lauren Baer, will be one of the region's most intriguing.

Third District: St. Mary's girls have taken to starting a pair of freshmen in forwards Alex Durbin and Casey Kupper. Even more noteworthy, they have a chance to keep Graves County out of the regional tournament for only the second time in its 26-year existence.

Graves opened in the fall of 1985, and has missed the regional only once — in 2005, when the top-seeded Lady Eagles were beaten by Ballard Memorial. Graves has won 15 district titles in those 25 years, but the talent level there isn't what it used to be, due in large part to the fact that six players that attended Graves in middle school now play elsewhere.

The list is headed by Murray sophomore point guard Janssen Starks, who will likely be a four-year Paducah Sun All-Purchase Team selection. Abby McAlpin is a reserve guard at Murray, and Samantha McClain is a perimeter threat at Hickman County. Throw in three solid post players — Marshall County's Kaylin Goins, Carlisle County's Jenna Babb and St. Mary's Lydia McManus — and you have the makings of a pretty good squad.

On the boys' side, Ballard Memorial was hit by the loss of two guards — Alex Hill and Chris Jones, both of whom have started at the point at times, left the squad last week. Two sophomores, 3-point threat Chris Davis and swingman Clay Chandler, have seen their playing time increase dramatically in recent weeks.

St. Mary, which meets the Bombers, will be without its outstanding shooter, freshman Patrick Hubert, who was injured in a collision with Marshall County's Cole Nelson in a game two weeks ago and is still suffering post-concussion side effects.

Fourth District: All eyes are on the Murray-Marshall County clash, which pits two of the region's top three teams against one another. They split during the regular season, with Marshall at full strength on neither occasion. The Lady Tigers beat Marshall when it was without point guard Margaret Thomas, an All-Purchase pick last year, and Marshall won the second meeting when forward Kaylin Goins was sidelined as she recovered from a concussion. Marshall is now also without swing player Kelsey Lawson, who has a torn ACL.

Marshall is hosting the district because Community Christian passed on those duties since its gym lacks the seating to handle the district tournament crowds.

Fifth District: Crittenden County's hopes of contending for a Second Region title have taken a hit as its team has struggled in recent weeks, perhaps a letdown after its All A Classic exploits, but should still advance to the regional party. The Nos. 2-3 seeds game is between Lyon County and Livingston Central, which have split two regular-season meetings. The tournament is at Livingston, but the Lady Lyons won there 61-54 on Jan. 4.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Want a better girls' regional tournament?

Not to rehash the last post, but this is what a girls' regional tournament format would look like under my proposal:

The four top district seeds:
1. Calloway County
2. Ballard Memorial
3. Lone Oak
4. Hickman County

The four No. 2 seeds:
5. Marshall County
6. St. Mary
7. Heath
8. Carlisle County

And the rest:
9. Murray
10. Paducah Tilghman
11. Graves County
12. Community Christian
13. Mayfield
14. Reidland
15. Fulton County
16. Fulton City

District tournament sites:

(at Calloway County)
Calloway County vs. Fulton City
Carlisle County vs. Murray

(at Ballard Memorial)
Ballard Memorial vs. Fulton County
Heath vs. Paducah Tilghman

(at Lone Oak)
Lone Oak vs. Reidland
St. Mary vs. Graves County

(at Hickman County)
Hickman County vs. Mayfield
Marshall County vs. Community Christian

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Want a better boys' regional tournament?

Once again, I'm proposing a change to the postseason format we use for high school basketball.

District tournaments, in this day and age, are almost obsolete. Most districts in the state are down to four teams — it isn't like the old days when districts had 10-12 schools and the tournament was a week-long party.

And not all districts are created equal. Some are much stronger than others, and I would make the argument that if we want the regional tournament to be a showcase for the best teams in the region, we come up with a format that allows more than two teams from the same district to advance to the next stage.

With that in mind, here is my idea, one for which I make an annual pitch.

In the 16-team First Region, with four teams in each of four districts, we continue to seed them as normal, with home-and-home, round-robin play.

The four top seeds will be seeded 1-4 in the 16-team regional field and will, as a reward, host a "district tournament." The four No. 2 seeds go in the 5-8 slots, with the rest of the region seeded 9-16.

Postseason rules apply, just as they do now. You win your first-round game and you're in the regional tournament. The second-round winners go into the regional tournament as "district champions" and meet a team that lost a second-round game in the regional quarterfinals.

Under the current format, the four top seeds are (in order of district) Fulton County, Paducah Tilghman, Graves County and Marshall County. For seeding purposes, I'm going to combine three power ratings services — the Louisville Courier-Journal's Litkenhous Ratings, the Lexington Herald-Leader's Cantrall Ratings and's Freeman Ratings.

Let's seed them this way:

1. Paducah Tilghman
2. Marshall County
3. Graves County
4. Fulton County

The four No. 2 seeds are (in order of district) Carlisle County, Heath, Ballard Memorial and Calloway County.

Let's seed them this way:

5. Heath
6. Ballard Memorial
7. Calloway County
8. Carlisle County

Now, the rest of the region:

9. St. Mary
10. Mayfield
11. Lone Oak
12. Murray
13. Fulton City
14. Hickman County
15. Reidland
16. Community Christian

That gives us these "district tournament" matchups:

at Fulton County — Fulton County vs. Fulton City, Heath vs. Murray

at Paducah Tilghman — Paducah Tilghman vs. Community Christian, Carlisle County vs. St. Mary

at Graves County — Graves County vs. Hickman County, Ballard Memorial vs. Lone Oak

at Marshall County — Marshall County vs. Reidland, Calloway County vs. Mayfield

In all honesty, this format could give us the same eight teams we'll see for real at Murray State University's CFSB Center. The biggest changes will be reflected on the girls' side, and we'll look at that on Thursday.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pujols "ends contract talks" ... so what?

St. Louis Cardinals fans are all panicky because first baseman Albert Pujols has said he won't negotiate a new contract by a certain deadline.

So what?

It's simply posturing by Pujols and his agent, Dan Lozano, in an effort to sway public opinion to push the Cardinals to meet what is likely to be a contract demand somewhere in the $30 million per year range.

Bottom line ... Pujols is under contract for all of this season, so he is under the Cardinals' control through October. And there is always the possibility that, if the Cardinals feel they are out of the race by the end of July, they can put him on the trade block.

As a player with 10 years of experience and five with the same team, Pujols has a right to veto such a deal, but would he really do that if the Cardinals are out of the race and he has a chance to showcase himself for a new contract in a pennant race?

If so, then maybe the Cardinals really need to look elsewhere for a new first baseman.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz echoed the point on Sunday that I've been making for some time.

Putting it my way, Pujols needs to decide what he wants for the rest of his baseball career. Does he want to remain in St. Louis, as he has continually insisted, or does he want to chase a megabucks contract?

The Cardinals need to know, and St. Louis fans need to know.

If Pujols wants to stay in St. Louis and join Stan Musial as a Cardinals' legend, then he will accept a little less on the contract. If he wants to pursue an Alex Rodriguez-type contract, it's time to say "good riddance" in October.

As Miklasz puts it, Pujols can walk with Stan the Man or he can walk with A-Rod.

Really, now, if Pujols is wanting a 10-year, $300 million contract as is rumored, who is going to pay it?

The Yankees? They have Mark Teixieira signed to a long-term deal, as do the Red Sox with recent trade acquisition Adrian Gonzalez. Neither team is likely to want to sign a $30 million designated hitter.

At one point, I thought the Angels might be an option, but they have taken on Vernon Wells' albatross contract.

That leaves, perhaps, the Mets and Cubs. And I have my doubts about those, too.

Really, who is going to give Pujols, who is allegedly 31, a contract that takes him to past 40? And just because the Phillies gave Ryan Howard, admittedly an inferior player to Pujols, a $25 million per year deal doesn't mean another team has to top it.

Pujols and Lozano can posture all they want, but they can also accept the fact that the Cardinals don't have to make them a contract offer, and there isn't another team that can for months.

And remember, this is a verbal line in the sand. Those have long been made to be erased.

Murray's road to recovery ...

Defending the crown and protecting the throne aren't necessarily easy.

Case in point: Murray's Lady Tigers.

A lot of things went right for Murray a year ago, when the Lady Tigers went 30-4 and swept the All A Classic and overall regional titles. There were no major injuries, no blowups, no unexpected or catastrophic losses.

This season ... well, Murray has hit a lull after finishing 2010 on a high note. The Lady Tigers have had four signature games, and lost all of them — twice to archrival Calloway County, to Ballard Memorial in the All A Classic regional final and last week to a Marshall County club that it will meet a make-or-break game in the first game of the district tournament.

Monday night provides a chance to go into the postseason on a high note, with a visit to Henderson County, which has won six consecutive Second Region titles and is favored to win it again, even with a young squad that has taken some lumps this season.

Murray coach Rechelle Turner scheduled the game last week when some other contests were lost to inclement weather, and it will give us one more chance to determine whether this Murray club is ready for prime time again.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

No change for Fourth District ...

The Fourth District boys' tournament will remain seeded for at least another year. Christian Fellowship, which has indicated plans to enter its boys' squad in district play next season, didn't have a representative at Saturday morning's district meeting.

Therefore, there was no third vote to trump those of Marshall County and Calloway County. Community Christian and Murray were expected to support such a change, but needed a third vote to determine the district tournament pairings via a blind draw.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fourth District decision looms ... seed or not to seed?

The Fourth District meets to finalize tournament plans on Saturday, and there is one big decision awaiting the five schools that play boys' basketball.

Indications are that Christian Fellowship, which plans to rejoin the district on the boys' side next season, will join Community Christian and Murray in voting to determine future district tournament pairings by blind draw and not by seeding.

Christian Fellowship upset the applecart, so to speak, and throughly upset Marshall County and Calloway County last spring by voting to determine the baseball pairings by blind draw. Not coincidentally, none of the three "yea" votes on the blind draw — Murray, Community Christian and Christian Fellowship — appear on the schedules of either Marshall or Calloway this spring.

The same could happen with boys' basketball, if Murray — the obvious swing vote — again cast its lot with the two tiny private schools. That could prove costly at the gate, as Marshall and Calloway generally represent the Tigers' two biggest gates each season.

Girls' basketball won't be affected by the vote, since Christian Fellowship doesn't field a girls' team.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011 rankings ...


1. Louisville Eastern
2. Louisville Ballard
3. Clark County
4. Jeffersontown
5. Lexington Tates Creek
6. Christian County
7. Scott County
8. Louisville Trinity
9. Lexington Catholic
10. Louisville Western
11. Lexington Henry Clay
12. Warren Central
13. Louisville Moore
14. Bullitt East
15. Louisville Seneca
16. Louisville Central
17. Bowling Green
18. Pleasure Ridge Park
19. Paducah Tilghman
20. Madison Central


1. Louisville Manual
2. Rockcastle County
3. Louisville Sacred Heart
4. Louisville Mercy
5. Bowling Green
6. Boone County
7. Ryle
8. Marion County
9. Perry Central
10. Elizabethtown
11. Calloway County
12. Scott County
13. Louisville Butler
14. Lexington Bryan Station
15. Greenwood
16. Newport Catholic
17. Madison Central
18. Clay County
19. Owensboro Catholic
20. Grayson County

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

District deadline pushed back ...

Because teams all over the state are having to juggle games on the schedule because of a series of snowstorms, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association is granting schools an extension on the deadline to play all district games.

Under normal circumstances, district games needed to be completed by this weekend, one week before the start of the district tournaments. That has now been pushed back to next Wednesday, and it could be sorely needed locally.

Heath's boys and girls have three remaining district games apiece. Last Friday's doubleheader with Lone Oak was moved since Heath's boys were playing in the All A Classic, and it was postponed again, from Monday to Wednesday, after this week's surprise storm. Lone Oak, Paducah Tilghman and Graves County each have both teams needing to play two district games, and the same goes for the Mayfield and Ballard Memorial girls, who meet on Saturday afternoon.

Here is a look at each district race, as we go to the final week:

First District

Boys: There is one game left to play, but the first-round pairings have already been decided. Fulton County is the top seed and will take on Hickman County, while Carlisle County will meet a Fulton City club that is more dangerous now that guard Vance Maze, dismissed from the team in January, is back in good graces.

Girls: Hickman County is scheduled to meet Fulton County on Tuesday night, but a postponement seems likely. If the Lady Falcons, they tie Carlisle County for the top seed. The winner of the coin flip gets winless Fulton City.

Second District

Boys: Nothing is decided yet. Paducah Tilghman has the inside track on the top seed, but needs a win over Heath on Tuesday to lock it down. Chances are that Lone Oak and Reidland will end up in a tie for the No. 3 seed.

Girls: Lone Oak is 4-0 in the district but has games with Paducah Tilghman and Heath to be played, and there is a possibility of a three-way tie. The only thing that is for certain is that Reidland is the No. 4 seed.

Third District

Boys: Graves County can clinch the top seed by beating either Ballard Memorial or Mayfield this week. Ballard is guaranteed at least the No. 2 seed, and Mayfield must beat the Eagles to tie St. Mary for the third seed.

Girls: Ballard Memorial has clinched the No. 1 seed, with St. Mary locked in the No. 2 spot. Graves County can lock up the No. 3 seed by beating Mayfield on Friday.

Fourth District

Boys: Marshall County visits Calloway County on Friday, with the Marshals poised to take the top seed. A Calloway upset would force a coin flip, with the winner getting Community Christian and the loser facing third-seeded Murray.

Girls: Marshall County's win over Murray on Saturday night was little more than a dress rehearsal for the most meaningful game — the Lady Marshals will host Murray in the district semifinals, one night after Calloway County meets Community Christian.

Fifth District

Boys: Lyon County and Livingston Central, both 4-2 in the district, will have a coin flip for the top seed. Trigg County is the No. 3 seed, with only its early-season loss to fourth-seeded Crittenden County preventing a three-way tie for the top spot.

Girls: Crittenden County is the No. 1 seed and will meet Trigg County in the district semifinals, with Lyon County taking on Livingston Central.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Lawson turns down Hoptown, exits coaching ...

Last week, we told you that former Marshall County football coach was the top choice for the Hopkinsville vacancy, and he was. There are reports that Lawson initially accepted an offer from Hopkinsville, but changed his mind and elected to turn it down.

Now comes word that Lawson is stepping down at Central Hardin and may have plans to get out of coaching altogether.

Lawson is 73-41 in 10 seasons as a head coach, three apiece at Owensboro Catholic and Marshall and four seasons at Central Hardin.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The All A hangover ...

Years ago, local broadcaster David Rowton coined the term "All A hangover," alluding to the lull that teams regularly suffer after coming back from an extended stay at the All A Classic state tournament.

There is always a dose of emotional and physical fatigue for the affected teams, and each club handles it differently. Some take All A Classic success and build on it — coming to mind are Fulton County's boys in 1993, who were beaten in overtime in the championship game and eventually weathered the shocking death of teammate Joey Bumpous (from a congenital heart defect) en route to a spot in the regional championship game.

In 2003, Mayfield's boys came back from a two-point loss to eventual champion St. Henry in the quarterfinals and made it to the regional finals. And just last year, Murray's girls built on a semifinal finish in Richmond with a run to the regional championship in March.

Others seem to never recover. Murray's boys, beaten in a close game by eventual champion Harlan in the quarterfinals in 1995, never put things back together. Heath's boys had a sluggish performance in a loss to Barbourville and 2005 and had nearly a total collapse upon returning home, going 2-5 and getting knocked out of the postseason by a sub-.500 Paducah Tilghman outfit in the district semifinals.

So what happens with Heath's boys and Ballard Memorial's girls? We almost don't have enough time to find out.

Because the All A Classic state tournament was moved back a week to accommodate host Eastern Kentucky University and its Ohio Valley Conference schedule, we're now just two weeks away from the end of the regular season.

For the Pirates, there is no time to lick their wounds from a draining quarterfinal-round loss to Danville. Friday's game with Lone Oak was moved back to Monday, and Heath has to finish up its district schedule with Tilghman on Tuesday and Reidland on Friday. Heath has something for which to play, too — a sweep of the week would probably earn it a tie for the top seed for the district tournament.

Ballard's girls may have some emotional baggage to shed. Coach Billie Prince didn't bring any of his players to the postgame press conference, noting that they were "devastated" after a 52-51 loss to Sheldon Clark.

"We had put in their head the idea that we could win up here," Prince said. "And that's what they were thinking about doing."

Ballard needs only one win this week to clinch the top seed for the district tournament, with home games against Graves County on Tuesday and Mayfield on Saturday afternoon. Those games will also help to determine the Nos. 3-4 seeds, as those are the two teams that could face the Lady Bombers in the postseason opener.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Former Marshal Lawson to Hoptown?

Indications are that former Marshall County football coach Mike Lawson is the leading candidate to take over at Hopkinsville, although the school has yet to officially announce Dixie Jones' replacement.

Lawson just finished his fourth season at Central Hardin, going 9-3 and advancing to the second round of the Class 6A playoffs, and he was also able to work wonders in previous rebuilding jobs at Owensboro Catholic and Marshall County.

He would certainly inherit another one in Hopkinsville, which was a fixture in state top-10 rankings for a decade under Craig Clayton but has gone 6-15 the last two seasons and missed the Class 5A playoffs in 2010 for the first time in 20 years.

The worm has certainly turned in the Christian County school system. In 2004, when Clayton retired and took the coaching job at Tennessee power Franklin, the hope inside the program was that longtime assistant Steve Lovelace, a Mayfield native, would be Clayton's successor.

But Hopkinsville chose to hire Jones, another former assistant, away from Madisonville, and the two local programs' fortunes have drastically changed. Hopkinsville was 33-37 in Jones' six seasons, and Lovelace went to Christian County before being elevated to the top spot in 2007.

All Lovelace has done is put together a 39-16 record with a pair of state runner-up finishes in Class 5A over his first four years.

Thursday, February 3, 2011 rankings ...


1. Louisville Eastern
2. Jeffersontown
3. Louisville Ballard
4. Clark County
5. Lexington Tates Creek
6. Christian County
7. Louisville Trinity
8. Scott County
9. Lexington Catholic
10. Lexington Henry Clay
11. Warren Central
12. Louisville Western
13. Louisville Moore
14. Bullitt East
15. Pleasure Ridge Park
16. Madison Central
17. Bowling Green
18. Louisville Seneca
19. Paducah Tilghman
20. Louisville Central


1. Louisville Manual
2. Louisville Mercy
3. Rockcastle County
4. Louisville Sacred Heart
5. Boone County
6. Marion County
7. Bowling Green
8. Perry Central
9. Scott County
10. Ryle
11. Calloway County
12. Elizabethtown
13. Louisville Butler
14. Greenwood
15. Lexington Bryan Station
16. Newport Catholic
17. Madison Central
18. Clay County
19. Murray
20. Grayson County