In all my 50+ years, this is the very first time I've been to the sweet 16.

I've always heard what a great event and how incredible the atmosphere is and it's a must see for any basketball fan. Well I've never been before mostly because no team I was affiliated with (fan or alumni) has never been so I didn't think I would be that into it if I just went to watch. So this year my Cooper Jaguars shocked everyone outside of Union by knocking off the Perenial favorites in the Giants of Cov Cath to earn their first ever regional title and sweet 16 birth.

So this was the year, after only 9 years in existence and behind one of my favorite coaches in the state, the Jags were headed to Lexington to fulfill many of the boys dreams. Not only were Cooper headed to represent NKY in the greatest high school tournament in the country but they were headed Down I-75 with another Cinderella team from NKY in Scott High School. Now many will say Cooper isn't a Cinderella team as they have been in the top 20 in state about all year but never cracking the top 5. Last BGP rankings by PP92 I saw they were #7 so very respectable but Scott was no where to be seen in that list.

So I ventured down to Rupp to see what this sweet 16 was all about and WOW have I been missing something all these years!!! Everybody so thankful to be there, all the fans so respectful to all the teams playing, just an outstanding atmosphere to be in period. First game I watched was the thriller between Elliot Co and Collins and then after that great OT game I got to watch my Jags take the court on the historical Rupp floor for the first time in school history. All I could think of was the 2 McNeil boys who have attended the sweet 16 since Sean was 4 years old. Their ultimate dream of one day playing there and that dream was about to come true. I had so many kids I was rooting for, my boy who played with many of them before he graduated and I had a very special connection with 2 other boys on the team, Tyler and Alex Ollier who I've known since they were barely walking. They have been our next door neighbors forever. So this was going to be special.

Scott had already played and won their game and the legend of Jake Ohmer was already growing after a phenomenal 41 pt 17 rebound legendary game. Now it was Coopers time to start their journey.

Cooper started off slow not being able to hit the side of a barn lol, the jitters of first time playing in sweet 16 at the mecha of college basketball was showing. Then the Magic for me really kicked in. It was early in the first half and Coopers best defender just picked up his 2nd foul. Dante Hendrix had to sit. In came that little kid I've known all his life, Tyler Ollier. I could only imagine what was going thru his young mind as he stepped onto the court. It was one of the first offensive series with Tyler on the floor as he found an open spot in the corner and the next thing I see is a pass to Tyler who then took the ball and spotted up for his first shot ever at Rupp arena, a 3pt shot that hit nothing but net. He took that shot literally 10 feet in front of me and as the ball sailed through the rim I was filled with the joy of a young boy hitting a game winning shot in his backyard pretending to be playing in the championship game.

Wasn't but a few minutes later with the Jags driving to the basket that S McNeil found Tyler again wide open in the corner again and Tyler once again burying a 3 pt shot. 2-2 at the half from the field for 6 points. He would later add 2 FT's to finish the game with 8 as the Jags went in to win their first ever game at state.

What an incredible introduction to the Seeet 16 I had. Only to be eclipsed the next day as Jags shook off the nerves and from the start never looked back as they took their defense and again dismantled their oppenents as they punched their ticket to the final 4 which will be held later tonight.

NKY representing with 2 teams in the final 4. 2 Cinderellas? Maybe just 1 with Scott, but either way no one outside of Union would have ever predicted either one of these teams to be among the final 4 teams in the tournament.

So this has already fulfilled many young kids dreams, but even this older kids dream. When it's all said and done, this may be as far as either team advances as they both play 2 of the top teams in the entire state and ranked that way all year long, but whether win or lose, the memories of this week will live on in the minds of these boys long after they reach and pass the age of this kid at heart.

Sweet 16 is among the best sporting events I've ever attended. I will be back tonight to watch the boys play in the final 4. It's a bitter sweet day as I bury my sister in about an hour but she was as big of a sports fan as any of us and would have loved to watch this years tournament with me. I will take her spirit with me tonight as we watch young boys dreams come true.

What a special day and special tournament. Best of luck to the 4 remaining teams. 1 thing is for certain, Jake Ohmer has already become a sweet 16 legend that will live in forever and some lifelong dreams of some boys for Cooper have been answered this week.

What a special week for boys of all ages from 14 to 94.

Kentucky High School Basketball is special.