What to watch for in the Girls' Sweet Sixteen

mmaloney@herald-leader.comMarch 11, 2014 

Lafayette's Ashanti Thomas battles with Anderson County's Eriel McKee as Anderson County hosted Lafayette in Lawrenceburg, Ky on February 20, 2014. Photo by Mark Mahan



    Dave Cantrall's Rating the State numbers for teams in the Girls' Sweet Sixteen:

    Elizabethtown (29-4) 89.5

    Butler (28-3) 84.2

    Anderson County (27-4) 83.9

    Lafayette (27-3) 83.1

    Henderson County (24-5) 82.9

    Sacred Heart (27-7) 81.3

    Glasgow (29-6) 79.8

    Marshall County (30-5) 77.8

    Danville (24-7) 77.7

    Corbin (26-7) 77.6

    Newport Catholic (29-4) 76.6

    Clark County (25-7) 73.8

    Perry Co. Central (23-6) 72.3

    Ashland (24-8) 72.0

    Shelby Valley (24-6) 69.5

    Meade County (16-15) 65.7

The Houchens Industries/KHSAA Girls' Sweet Sixteen basketball tournament tips off Wednesday at Western Kentucky University's E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green.

Here is a primer for what to expect:

Best first round game: Sacred Heart vs. Elizabethtown. The Valkyries came out of Louisville's powerful 7th Region and now have to open against the top-rated team in the field.

The favorites: Based on Dave Cantrall's ratings, E-town, Butler and Anderson County are a solid 1-2-3.

Players to watch: Five of the seven Miss Basketball finalists will be on display: Nicole Kiernan (Newport Central Catholic), Makenzie Cann and Eriel McKee (Anderson County), Kayla Rankin (Perry County Central), and Dai Jia Ruffin (Sacred Heart).

Been there, done that: Anderson County, Ashland Blazer, Corbin, Henderson County, Marshall County and Shelby Valley all are back after participating in last year's Sweet Sixteen

Sweet history 1: Ashland Blazer won state titles in 1921, '22, '24, '28 and '29, and placed second in 1931. This marks the Kittens' 12th trip in the modern era and third in a row.

Sweet history 2: Marshall County won state titles in 1982 and '84, and was runner-up in '81. The Marshals are in the tourney for the 22nd time and third in a row.

Quote from the favorite: "There's probably eight, 10 teams up there that have a legitimate chance, I think, to win it. Yeah, I would certainly put us in that boat; I'm not going to sit here and lie to you about that. But I also think there's a lot of teams up there that can beat us on any given day." — Elizabethtown Coach Tim Mudd

Family affair: Lafayette Coach Allison Denton is carrying her second child, due to be born May 6. The boy, to be named William Tate, has a 5-year-old sister, Anna Clay.

Team to watch you may not know about: Henderson County has four starters back from last year's Sweet Sixteen team, but no seniors. Backcourt play is a strength with Maci Brown, Kacie Wallace, Samantha Carter and Callie Francis.

Strong bloodline: Lafayette standout Dee Givens is a cousin to 1978 NCAA Tournament hero Jack "Goose" Givens.

Story line to keep an eye on: If rankings hold in the first round, look for a Titanic second-round clash when No. 1 Elizabethtown would meet No. 3 Anderson County.

Small schools that could make some noise: Three of the All "A" Classic's Final Four are in the field — champion Glasgow, runner-up Danville and semifinalist Newport Central Catholic.

Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @MarkMaloneyHL. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com.

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