Girls All-A State Tournament Preview
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Girls All-A State Tournament Preview
Girls All-A Classic State Tournament Preview
Lexington Christian Academy appears poised to make a run at their fourth straight Touchstone Energy All-A Classic state title. However, this year’s field appears a little deeper than the past and could make it more difficult for the Lady Eagles to take home the hardware.
LCA (15-3) could meet Owensboro Catholic and super freshman Becca Greenwell in the second round if both teams take care of first round business.
The bottom bracket appears to be a tougher path for whoever can weather the storm of Newport Central Catholic, Caldwell County, Murray, Glasgow, and last year’s runner-up Green County.
Harlan (12-8) meets Whitefield Academy (11-7) in the tournament opener Wednesday morning.
The Lady Dragons lost to Newport Central Catholic in the first round of the 2007 All-A Classic, but head coach Chuck Mitchell thinks that experience will help his team this year.
“This is my second trip in four years, and this group is jelling at the right time,” he said.
Harlan’s strength is their frontcourt, which features 6-1 sophomore Ashley Mullins (17 ppg., 10 rpg.), 6-2 senior Anne Corey Johnson (10 ppg., 9 rpg.), and 5-7 senior forward Sarah Scruggs (8 ppg., 4 rpg.).
“Sarah has really elevated her game the past three weeks and has been a major factor (in our success),” said Mitchell, whose team has won five of their last six games.
Guards Cheyenne Hamblin (5 ppg.) and Madison Ball (3 ppg., 2 apg.) will be charged with running the offense and looking to get the basketball inside to the trees of the team.
“This team really likes to play together, and they are very unselfish. We just need to continue to play hard and value the basketball,” Mitchell said.
Whitefield Academy is making their third All-A appearance, having never advanced past the first round.
After a slow start, the Lady Wildcats enter the tournament winners of five of their last six games.
Whitney Cowles (5-6, Sr.) is the focal point of the WA offense, scoring 22 points in their All-A region semifinal win over Kentucky Country Day. She added 13 more in their title game win over Brown.
Whitefield Academy’s lack of size puts them at a disadvantage against Harlan. However, their scoring balance makes them hard to defend.
Abigail Halleron (5-8, Sr.) is one of five seniors on the roster that also includes five middle schoolers.
Louisville Holy Cross (17-5) is making their All-A record 14th appearance at the state tourney, winning titles in 1994 and 1996.
Veteran coach Fred Copass (54-27 in three years at HC) has a senior dominated team that has won eight of nine games since the calendar flipped to 2010. The Cougars had little trouble winning the Sixth Region All-A Tournament, with their 17-point win over Assumption in the championship their closest game.
Holy Cross struggled early, which coincided with an injury to senior guard Robin Deckard, who has since returned to average 16.6 points and 3.3 assists a game. She is joined in the backcourt by sophomore Kim Mingus (10.9 points, 2.2 rpg.).
Inside, Holy Cross has 6-2 senior Olivia Moore (12.5 ppg., 7.9 rpg.) patrolling the paint.
The forwards are Lindsey Roarx (7.3 ppg., 7.6 rpg.) and Rachel Richardson (3.9 ppg., 3.1 rpg.).
Copass likes his team’s senior leadership and team chemistry and knows they will have to shoot well and take care of the basketball to advance far in the tournament.
Holy Cross will meet another guard-oriented team in the first round in 15th Region champion Betsy Layne.
The Lady Cats have been a streaky team to say the least. They opened with three straight wins followed by five straight losses. They now carry a six-game winning streak into the All-A State Tournament.
Senior guard Megan Hamilton (16.9 ppg.) and junior Taylor Hott (13.8 ppg.) are the two gunners for Betsy Layne, with Hamilton hitting 47-percent from 3-point range.
Senior Lindsey Martin averages 7.6 points, and 5-9 forward Taylor Watkins averages 6.8 points and 6.4 rebounds a game.
Betsy Layne must find a way to handle Moore inside if they are to advance past the first round for the first time since 2004.
The third game of the first round features three-time defending champion Lexington Christian Academy and Russell, making their first appearance in Richmond.
The Lady Eagles (15-3) appeared to be a lock to win their fourth straight title but lost second-leading scorer and rebounder Kristen Jacob (9.6 ppg., 10.4 rpg.) to an ACL injury two weeks ago.
Head coach Jason Seamands has tried to rework his lineup, with 5-11 junior Kelli Rinehart (10 ppg., 7.4 rpg.) and 5-11 sophomore Olivia Eastham (2.6 ppg., 3.1 rpg.) filling the void.
Senior Sarah Beth Barnette (25.8 ppg., 7.1 rpg.) is among the state leaders in scoring, but the Lady Eagles have been getting the job done on defense, giving up just 40 points a game during their current 10-game winning streak.
“Our pressure defenses have created some trouble for people,” Seamands said. “We just need a third scorer to step up for us. We’ve won three straight championships, so we are expecting everyone’s best shot.”
Russell (9-8) won the 16th Region title in the school’s first year of eligibility. Their reward is a first round game with LCA.
Senior center Kayla Parsley returned from knee surgery after Christmas and has posted some huge numbers for the Lady Devils. She scored 25 points in their semifinal win over West Carter and 16 more in the title game win over Bath County.
Sophomore guard Gabrielle Cassity and senior guard Ginny Ferguson compliment the inside presence of Parsley on the outside, while 5-6 forward Sarah Hanson joins Parsley inside.
Bracken County (10-5) meets Owensboro Catholic (10-11) in the final game of the day session Wednesday.
The Lady Bears are a senior dominated bunch, led by six-foot center Hannah Haight, who averages 18 points and nine rebounds.
Head coach Patrick Kelsch employs a three-guard offense, led by seniors Brittany Burden (9 ppg., 4 steals) and Jaclyn Crawford (6 ppg.).
“Making it to state has been a goal of our team since the seniors were freshman,” Kelsch said. “They knew this goal could not be accomplished without hard work and dedication.”
Bracken County is making only their second appearance in Richmond and first since advancing to the semifinals in the first year of the All-A State Tournament in 1991.
“We have to come out relaxed and not be ‘stage struck’ and have to play with intensity for a full 32 minutes,” Kelsch said.
While Bracken County is making a rare trip to the state All-A tourney, Owensboro Catholic is making their fifth straight trip and fifth overall. However, they have advanced past the first round just once (2009).
The Lady Aces feature one of the top players in the tourney, if not the state, in freshman Becca Greenwell. The 5-10 guard is scoring close to 26 points a game, grabbing ten rebounds, and handing out three assists per game.
Head coach Ray Zuberer says Greenwell is be recruited by Kentucky, Louisville, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, North Carolina, and Duke. The All-A tourney stage will give Greenwell another venue to showcase her skills, joining Lexington and Louisville this year.
No other OCath player averages in double figures, although forward Kaley Robinson (5-6, Sr.) nets seven points and six rebounds a game. Mary Kate Clemens (5-11, Soph.) adds six points and four rebounds.
The bottom bracket appears more balanced and could feature a surprise or two, although Newport Central Catholic is the likely favorite to emerge to the finals.
The Thoroughbreds (13-2) are the only team in the field ranked in this week’s Bluegrasspreps.com Top 20. They carry a nine-game winning streak into the tournament having breezed through the Ninth Region tourney for their fourth straight title.
Their balance will make head coach Ron Dawn’s team a tough out in the state tourney.
5-11 senior forward Mariah Tabor is among the team’s leading scorers, while senior guard Courtney Sandfoss, junior guard Kiley Bartels, and junior guard Hannah Thiem could present matchup problems for their opponents.
Junior guard Brittany Fryer can play either inside or out and could help stymie opponents’ outside shooting.
Their depth is likely give their first round opponent fits.
Caldwell County (11-6) is in Richmond for the second straight year after becoming eligible to play in the small school tourney.
The Lady Tigers have a formidable starting five but little depth after that.
Jayme Jackson (11.9 ppg.) and Savannah Pepper (10.7 ppg.) headline a quick and talented backcourt that includes Jacquelyn Sindelar (7.5 ppg., 5.8 rpg.).
Inside, Caldwell features six-footers Emily Meeks (16.4 ppg., 7.9 rpg.) and Casey Stone (4.4 ppg., 3.0 rpg.), who missed a month after suffering a hand injury.
Green County and Somerset square off in one of the better first round games in the tournament.
Green County (13-6) struggled around the Christmas break without injured starter and point guard Micah Jones. The 5-8 sophomore (15.1 ppg., 3.8 rpg.) missed 11 games with an ankle injury but has returned in time for a six-game winning streak heading into the tournament.
“With Micah back, we are trying to readjust our roles and trying to get a substitution rotation in place,” said head coach Chris Blaydes.
The supporting cast is made up of seniors who were part of Green County’s run to last year’s All-S title game.
Senior center Kelsea Mitchell (12.9 ppg., 8.6 rpg.) gives the Dragons an inside presence to match Jones in the backcourt.
Seniors Becca Bush (7.8 ppg., 3.6 rpg.) and Raegan Deaton (7.9 ppg., 4.5 rpg.), and freshman Rachel Marr (8.9 ppg.) give Blaydes solid balance and make them tough to guard.
“We have four seniors that picked up the slack during Jones’ absence, and they have a strong will to win,” Blaydes said.
Green County will face another All-A experienced team in Somerset (14-5), who is making their ninth trip to Richmond but first since 2007.
The Briar Jumpers feature a balanced attack, with three starters averaging seven points or more.
Forwards Rolisa Jones (5-4, Sr.) and Lori Thomas (6-0, Jr.) are a solid frontcourt duo, complimented well by guards Samantha Dorsey (5-7, Sr.), Maria Kerr (2.3 ppg., 2.2 assists), and Jessica Coffey (5.1 ppg., 3.6 assists).
“This group of girls has been together since a young age and is a strong-knit team,” head coach Chris Adkins said. “I want the girls to enjoy their time here and make some great memories.”
The matchup between Murray (19-1) and Glasgow (13-5) will feature two of the better backcourts in the tournament.
Murray features sophomore Haley Armstrong (16.1 ppg., 3 assists), who has started since the seventh grade. Freshman Janssen Starks (14.7 ppg., 5 assists) joins her in the backcourt.
5-11 sophomore Shelby Crouch (11.7 ppg., 7.3 rpg.) has steadily improved and runs the break well for the Lady Tigers.
Murray is guard heavy and has a nice rotation that includes seniors Sarah Crouch and Emily Benson, and junior Amanda Winchester.
The X-factor could be 6-2 junior Sian House, who moved to the U.S. from England and had never played basketball before last year. House averages nine points and five rebounds off the bench for the Lady Tigers, who are making their eighth trip to Richmond.
“We feel like we have an all-around team and that anyone can step in and be the difference,” head coach Rechelle Turner said. “We will have to continue to work hard at the defensive end of the floor, rebound and take care of the basketball.”
Glasgow overcame some early season inconsistency to win 10 of their last 12 games.
Like Murray, their backcourt is fueled by a freshman and sophomore. 5-2 Kelsey Greer is the freshman, averaging 14 points and three steals a game. 5-3 Shelby Ray is the sophomore, averaging 12 points and three assists.
Inside, 5-9 sophomore Haley Perkins averages 11 points and eight rebounds, while 5-10 senior Whitney Williams scores eight points and grabs seven rebounds.
“We have to become more mentally tough and click together as one unit,” head coach Chris Crain said.
Owsley County (11-6) and Walton-Verona (15-2) are virtual newcomers to the All-A State Tournament. Owsley is making their first-ever trip, while Walton-Verona’s only previous appearance was in 2000 when they made it to the semifinals.
The Lady Owls got hot at the right time, winning four straight games to claim the 14th Region title and feature one of the top scoring tandems in the tournament.
5-6 senior Mika Turner (21 pg., 9 rpg.) and 5-10 sophomore Peyton Wright (18.5 ppg., 9 rpg.) account for nearly 70-percent of the Lady Owl offense.
Head coach Paul Green has seven players he rotates frequently, but Wright is the tallest player at 5-10.
“We must defend and rebound and then do a good job in transition offense,” Green said.
They will face a stingy Walton-Verona team that gives up just 35 points a game and has allowed only two opponents (Highlands and Conner) to top 45 points.
Junior forward Kelly Dixon averages 17 points a game and makes up a starting lineup of five underclassmen.
5-11 freshman Courtney Sandlin and 5-5 sophomore Katie Slavey help pick up the scoring slack, while 5-6 sophomore Lizzie Hoffa leads the Bearcats in assists. Sandlin also leads the team in rebounds and blocks.
“They are very fundamentally solid,” Green said of his first round opponent. “They play very good half court defense and execute well at the offensive end.”