When Randi-Carol Napier was just 7 years old, she was on the bench at the girls' state tournament.
Granted, she was just the coach's daughter passing out water to his Perry County Central players, but she was there under the bright lights, taking in the atmosphere 10 years ago.
"It's sort of a family affair with our basketball team," said Randy Napier, her father. "My players helped raise her since she was a puppy. She was in the gym her entire life."
As the KHSAA/Houchens Industries Girls Sweet Sixteen gets under way Wednesday, Napier won't just be on the Commodores' bench, she'll be in the starting lineup.
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"It's been really, really cool," Napier said. "That she's on the team has made it that much more special ... her being able to wear that uniform as a player at the state tournament is so special."
Randi-Carol Napier doesn't have the big stats of Perry Central teammates Kendall Noble (20.2 ppg) or Kayla Rankin (19.2 ppg), players Coach Napier refers to collectively as "Special K."
But the 5-foot-10 sophomore is still an important part of the team.
"She's hard-nosed and a typical coaches' kid," Napier said. "She gets in there and gets her hands dirty. She knows her role and does good things for us."
When Napier coached M.C. Napier High School to a state championship in 1994, he held his daughter in his arms as he cut down his portion of the nets.
"Even as a 2-month-old, I took her up the ladder to cut down the nets," he said.
He was back up on the ladder with her last week when the Commodores cut down the nets after winning their region.
Injured Wilson will sit
There is one Miss Basketball candidate for next year who won't be taking the floor this week even though her Manual team will be.
April Wilson, a Purdue commitment, broke a bone in her right hand in what Coach Stacy Pendleton called "a freak accident during a defensive drill" last week.
She's out for at least six weeks with the injury, but there was no pouting.
"She's just had the perfect attitude," Pendleton said. "It blows me away. This is her opportunity to get on a big stage and show she's a Miss Basketball, but she's more worried about getting her team ready. I'm so proud of her."
First time's a charm?
Coach Cory Miller doesn't have much time to get his Walton-Verona team used to the idea of playing in the school's first Sweet Sixteen in its 75-year existence.
The Bearcats play the first game of the tournament against Bowling Green.
"It's been crazy," Miller said of the chaos since the team won the 8th Region. "These fans, they really embrace athletics at this school. But ever since the celebration, we've tried to keep our focus. This group has always responded and been level-headed and believed in taking it one game at a time."
Miller's team isn't the only one experiencing this tournament for the first time.
So are Madison Central, which gets the benefit of waiting a day to play, and Shannon Hodge's Crittenden County.
Hodge has been the head coach there for 18 years and never advanced until now. She and her daughter Jessi, a senior guard, will be in their first Sweet Sixteen.
'They have no idea'
Even though Montgomery County has been to the Sweet Sixteen six of the past seven seasons as a school, this version of the Indians has no idea what to expect.
Coach Janie Robinson said it was a big surprise her 15-15 team made it into the field.
"We thought we were a couple of years away from making that run just because we're so young," she said.
Robinson's not sure what to expect when they take the floor against Marion County.
"Listen, they have no idea," she said. "They have not seen it and, going into this year, we only had three players who had played in a district or regional tournament. We're just going to get down there and walk around and try to get the shock out of their systems."