There's no shortage of must-see hoops in the last four weeks of the high school regular season. Ten of the best showdowns:
No. 1 Trinity vs. No. 6 Madison Central (Saturday in the Joe B. Hall Prep Classic at Montgomery County): Madison Central Coach Allen Feldhaus said he wasn't going to mention Trinity to his unbeaten team until after its game Thursday night at Lincoln County. That doesn't mean Feldhaus himself hasn't been prepping for Trinity, which breezed to the Louisville Invitational Tournament title last week and is unbeaten against Kentucky competition. Feldhaus has looked at tape of the Rocks and said "their defensive pressure is scary. They put more pressure on the ball than any team I've seen in a long time. They've got so much depth, too, and every one of them can flat-out guard." Trinity has three college signees in seniors Nathan Dieudonne (Boston University), Charles Foster (Morehead State) and Troy Saxton (Alabama-Huntsville), and a nationally ranked junior in Darryl Hicks. "Win or lose, it's definitely going to help us," Feldhaus said. "I just hope we can hang in there with them."
No. 5 Bullitt East vs. Rowan County (Saturday in the Joe B. Hall Prep Classic at Montgomery County): Rowan County's run to the Sweet Sixteen finals last year was highlighted by a 51-49 win over Bullitt East in the semifinals. Ten months later, they get a rematch. Both teams return key players. Adam Wing, D.J. Townsend and Jason Egan are back for Rowan County. Bullitt East has 6-9 standout Derek Willis and Rusty Troutman. While Bullitt East (15-3) is rated No. 5 in the state, Rowan County (10-5) isn't in Dave Cantrall's top 25. Three of the Vikings' four in-state losses have been to No. 1 Trinity, No. 3 Pleasure Ridge Park and No. 13 Clark County. Rowan County Coach Shawn Thacker said Townsend, who's averaging 18.5 points, has stepped up his offense. "He's really improved his shooting and getting a lot of things done. He's the straw that stirs the drink for us." Wing, who starred in the Sweet Sixteen, is rounding into form after football. One of his goals is to reach 1,000 rebounds for his career. The Evansville signee needs 112 to get there. Townsend is drawing interest from Morehead State and Austin Peay. He has offers from Georgetown College and Clark Atlanta (Ga.)
No. 5 Perry County Central girls at No. 3 Mercy (Saturday): Perry Central, led by Kayla Rankin and Kendall Noble, is the last unbeaten girls' team in the state. If it can get by Mercy it will be favored to get to the state tournament with a perfect record. Mercy is a huge hurdle, though. The Jaguars handed then-No. 1 Manual its first loss of the season last week.
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No. 1 Trinity at No. 3 PRP (Tuesday): Since Trinity and Ballard don't play in the regular season, this is the most intriguing game between Louisville powers until tournament time.
No. 12 Dixie Heights at No. 13 Clark County (Jan. 28): The top-rated team in the 9th Region visits the top-rated team in the 10th Region. Dixie Heights, led by sophomore Brandon Hatton, was supposed to be this good. Clark County, with a rebuilt lineup, has been one of the biggest surprises in the state.
No. 5 Bullitt East at No. 3 Ballard (Feb. 4): Round 3 of a heavyweight fight. Bullitt East beat the Bruins in the King of the Bluegrass. Ballard beat the Chargers in the LIT.
No. 6 Madison Central at No. 25 Lexington Catholic (Feb. 7): The Indians' late-season schedule is full of tough games, including this rematch of last year's region finals. Lexington Catholic beat Madison Central to earn a trip to Rupp Arena last March.
No. 14 Perry County Central at Knott County Central (Feb. 9): Bragging rights in the 14th Region and recognition as the best in the mountains might be on the line in this one. Both teams have been bolstered by newcomers. Jaysean Paige, a transfer from New York, is averaging 21 points for Perry Central. Camron Justice, a transfer from East Ridge, is averaging 23 for Knott Central.
No. 1 Marion County girls vs. No. 6 Boone County (Feb. 11 in the Valentine Shootout at John Hardin): Makayla Epps and Kyvin Goodin-Rogers helped the Knights knock off then-No. 1 Manual last weekend. They'll get a big challenge from Boone County and its star, Sydney Moss.
No. 25 Lexington Catholic at No. 2 Scott County (Feb. 11): This is one of the most heated rivalries in the state. Lexington Catholic beat the Cards in the region tournament last year to take an 11-10 series edge since 1998.
■ Can Betsy Layne make it 2-for-2 in the boys' Touchstone Energy All "A" Classic? The Bobcats won the small-school state basketball tournament in its first try last year. They beat Shelby Valley in the All "A" 15th Region finals on Monday to earn a chance to defend their title in Frankfort next week. "It's a surprise," Coach William Newsome Jr. said. "We've got a young bunch. We've overachieved a little bit." Andrew Roberts, a senior averaging 12.5 points and eight rebounds, is the only returning starter. Sophomore Dylan Meade (16 ppg) is a transfer from Pike Central. Peyton Cash (10.5 ppg) is a freshman, and Landon Hale (8.5 ppg) is a transfer from Piarist.
■ The 60th anniversary of Cuba's Sweet Sixteen championship will be marked Feb. 3 at Graves County. Led by Howie Crittenden and Charles "Doodles" Floyd, the Cubs beat Manual in the 1952 state finals. Cuba was consolidated into Sedalia and then into Graves County. Cuba remains as an elementary school in Graves County.
■ Owensboro Catholic star Becca Greenwell is sitting out her junior year after having ACL surgery in late September. Coach Ray Zuberer said Greenwell, who has 2,821 career points, is progressing with her rehab and has started running in a straight line. Greenwell is at practice every day and attends all of the Aces games. She had a tournament-record 122 points to lead Owensboro Catholic to the All "A" Classic title last year. The Aces are trying to win the 3rd Region All "A" for the seventh year in a row.
■ When Henry Clay hosts the Al Prewitt Classic on Saturday, it will recognize the 50th anniversary of the 1962 Blue Devils, who went 23-3 and made it to the Sweet Sixteen quarterfinals. That team will be honored at halftime of the Henry Clay-Tates Creek game, which tips off at 7. The '62 Devils were coached by Elmer "Baldy" Gilb and led by star Pres Judy.
■ West Carter's "family" of 1,000-point scorers continues to grow. Comets junior Kyle Brown, son of the late John "Hop" Brown, reached the 1,000-point plateau last week. He and sister Kandi, MVP of West Carter's girls' state title team (coached by her father), are the fifth siblings' duo to reach the 1,000-point mark at the school. The others: Aaron and Brandi Rayburn, Kalen and Kayla Jones, sisters Leigh Audra and Kristin Perry, and Marla and Megen Gearhart (Miss Basketball in 2003).
■ Menifee County's Paige Warren had a quadruple-double (26 points, 10 rebounds, 15 assists, 12 steals) and no turnovers in a rout of winless Rose Hill Christian.
■ The draws for the boys' and girls' state basketball tournaments will be carried live by WKYT-TV in Lexington on Jan. 27 at 10:30 a.m., and replayed on CWKYT at 1 p.m. It also will be streamed live through www.khsaa.tv.
■ Kip Wellman, who played high school hoops at Lexington Catholic, has been promoted to assistant coach at WKU under Ray Harper. Wellman joined the Hilltoppers' staff in 2009. He was previously a graduate assistant at Syracuse.
■ East Jessamine grad Matt Prewitt, a punter at Kentucky Christian the past four seasons, has been selected to play in the 87th East-West Shrine All-Star football game in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Saturday. East Jessamine Coach Mike Bowlin said it's rare for an NAIA player to be invited to play in the game, which will air at 4 p.m. on the NFL Network. Prewitt played soccer at East Jessamine when Bowlin talked him into coming out for football his junior year. "Tremendous young man that I am very proud to have coached," Bowlin said. Prewitt will be on the West squad on Saturday.
■ A two-day baseball coaches' clinic (International Youth Baseball Coaches Summit) is set for Feb. 4-5 at Transylvania. Speakers will include Henry Clay grad and Oakland Athletics outfielder Collin Cowgill, LCA grad and Texas Rangers pitching prospect Robbie Ross, and former UK coach Keith Madison. For more information call Miles Noland (859) 221-7715.
■ A high school diving invitational will be held at UK's Lancaster Aquatic Center on Saturday. Girls' competition will be from 1:15 to 4 p.m. The boys hit the water from 5 to 7:30. All of the Lexington schools, with the exception of Lexington Christian, will take part with 12 other schools, including St. Xavier. Admission is $5.