Fayette County

Lady Eagles look to leave legacy

The Lexington Christian girls have tried to envision paging through the tournament program for the Touchstone Energy All "A" Classic 20 years from now.

Coach Jason Seamands has told his Eagles players to imagine what it would be like to see the words "Lexington Christian" as the winner for three straight years.

"We've talked to the girls about trying to make history," Seamands said. "We've used that as a selling point to them, what a legacy these girls could leave behind."

The Lady Eagles, No. 12 in Dave Cantrall's Rating the State, are the clear favorites to win a third straight small-school state tournament this week at McBrayer Arena.

No other team, boys' or girls', has been able to win three straight All "A" titles.

Seamands doesn't worry about putting too much pressure on such a veteran group, which includes three starters going to Division I.

"This team seems to respond pretty well to pressure, and I wanted them to know how difficult of a task this will be," he said. "Nobody's been able to do it, and there have been a lot of great teams Class 'A' wise."

Seamands is not declaring his team, led by Western Kentucky signee Courtney Clifton, DePaul signee Anna Martin and Kentucky commitment Sarah Beth Barnette, as the clear favorite.

But he likes his chances every time he steps out on the court with those three players.

"They're good," he said. "You always feel — no matter what and no matter who you're playing — that these girls are going to make an offensive run at some point."

Repeating as champs last season was tougher than it was winning it the year before. The first year the Lady Eagles won it, they did it in shockingly easy fashion, blowing away the field by an average of 25.8 points a game. Last season, the margin was 14.5 points.

That margin will only get slimmer this year, he said.

"Last year, it felt like the entire field versus LCA," he said. "We got everybody's best punch, and I'm sure everyone was rooting for whatever team was playing us. It'll be that way again, I suspect."

The Eagles, who have won nine of their last 10 games, will have a rough road to the land of three-peat.

They are situated in the top portion of the bracket, which could mean tough games against Owensboro Catholic and Newport Central Catholic.

If LCA (14-4) survives its first-round game Thursday at 1:30 versus Middlesboro, who has won six in a row, it could face the Lady Aces in the second round on Friday.

Owensboro Catholic (14-7) has won four of its last five. A semifinal matchup with NewCath could come on Saturday morning, and the Thoroughbreds (13-6) have won five of their last six games.

Other contenders include Green County, which has won five in a row and is 15-3 this season, as well as Elliott County (9-7), which has won six straight.

But the Eagles are clearly still the team to beat behind their big three.

Clifton has had a big year, averaging more than 20 points and five rebounds a game. She also hits an average of 3.5 three-pointers per game.

Martin and Barnette are putting up comparable numbers, with Martin adding 18 points and six rebounds a game. Barnette is averaging more than 15 points and nearly 10 rebounds a contest.

Containing all three has proved a difficult task for most opponents this season, Seamands said.

"Everybody knows that to beat us you have to key in on those three, but each night they go out and play very, very well," he said. "They're all having great years."