If pre-season favorite Ballard makes a return trip to Rupp Arena for the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys' Sweet Sixteen next month, the Bruins would probably face a difficult path to the school's elusive fourth state title.
Pairings for the state tournament were drawn Monday, and the 7th Region, home to No. 1 Louisville Trinity and No. 2 Ballard, landed in the upper bracket.
The 7th Region representative would likely be a big favorite to win its first-round game against the 3rd Region, but after that the competition would get tougher.
No. 5 Hopkinsville could be waiting in the quarterfinals, No. 3 Scott County in the semifinals and No. 4 Newport Central Catholic in the finals.
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Ballard is led by Mr. Basketball finalists Quentin Snider and Kelan Martin.
This year's Sweet Sixteen will be played March 19-23 in Rupp Arena.
The Houchens Industries/KHSAA Girls' Sweet Sixteen, set for March 12-16 in WKU's Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, figures to be much more competitive than last year, when undefeated Marion County romped to the championship.
If Dave Cantrall's ratings hold true, the best matchup of the first round would be No. 2 Elizabethtown (5th Region) going against No. 3 Sacred Heart (7th Region).
All-sessions ticket packages for the state tournaments ($80 for upper arena, $124 for slower arena) can be purchased online at khsaa.org/payments/tickets/.