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Girls' Sweet Sixteen preview | Poll

With One Shining Moment just 20 days away from playing at Western Kentucky's Diddle Arena, 16 sweet points to ponder:

1 There's a good chance that it will be No. 1 Elizabethtown versus No. 2 Lexington Christian in the first round. Seems such a pity that a potential state championship game will be played at noon on a Thursday.

2 As Lexington Christian went up to collect its hardware for winning its unprecedented third straight All "A" Classic championship, the players and coaches seemed pleased enough, but it was clear they were ready to start gunning for a bigger prize.

3 The 7th Region will no doubt have the wildest ride of the post-season. This year it has four teams ranked among the top 13 in the state in Mercy, Manual, Sacred Heart and Louisville Christian.

4 Speaking of the 7th, no team has been safe there this season, but remember that Sacred Heart has beaten each of the region's other top 25 teams at least once. It's been four long years since the Valkyries were dominating at Diddle Arena. They'd love to get back there.

5 Back when she was just Jaime Walz, the guard led Highlands to three state tournaments. It seems highly possible that she will be returning there again, this time as Coach Jaime Walz Richey.

6 Tia Gibbs wasn't the front-runner for Miss Basketball at this time last year. What a difference the four days of the state tournament made for the guard from Butler, who left no doubt that she was the only option for the state's top honor.

There are plenty of seniors like Iroquois' Adia Mathies, Warren East's Ashley Rainey, Lexington Christian's Anna Martin and Courtney Clifton, Elizabethtown's Alex Jones and Manual's Avery Jones who would love a chance to seal their status as this year's Miss Basketball with big play at the big dance.

7 Could this state tournament also potentially jump-start the Miss Basketball campaign for a junior like Samantha Drake (Nelson County), Ebony Rowe (Paul Dunbar), Antonita Slaughter (Louisville Christian) or Sarah Beth Barnette (Lexington Christian)?

8 It's both likely and impressive that Montgomery and Henderson county's players will make their fifth consecutive trips to Diddle Arena.

9 If Lexington Christian and Iroquois both make it to the state tournament and manage to advance for a rematch of the 2007 championship game, future University of Kentucky teammates Sarah Beth Barnette and Adia Mathies facing off will make an interesting side note.

10 The rankings claim that LCA is a 6.5-point favorite over Lafayette, the next best team in the 11th Region, but the No. 2 Eagles beat the No. 20 Generals by 21 points less than a week ago. It most likely will be much closer than that when they meet in the district tournament on Tuesday.

11 The opening game of the Sweet Sixteen has the 6th Region playing the 4th Region in a rematch of last season's championship game, but it's quite possible that neither Butler nor Franklin-Simpson will be playing in it.

12 It's the 10-year anniversary of when Lexington Catholic cut down its first of four sets of state title nets, but competition in the 11th Region is too steep this season to let the Lady Knights try for a fifth.

13 At least four of the eight teams that will be playing in the tourney quarterfinals on Friday the 13th will consider it a lucky day.

14 Rowan County won its first 16 games of the season and went longer than any team (boys or girls) without a defeat, but the losses since may have better prepared the Vikings for a second straight trip to the Sweet Sixteen.

15 Will there ever be a state championship trophy on a bus headed back to regions 3, 9 or 15?

16 Seems so unfair that Bowling Green is the host city for the Sweet Sixteen, yet Bowling Green High School has never been in the tournament. That could all change this year for the Purples, a favorite to win the 4th Region crown.


Jennifer Smith's Sweet Sixteen picks

1st Region: Marshall County

2nd Region: Henderson County

3rd Region: Ohio County

4th Region: Franklin-Simpson

5th Region: Elizabethtown

6th Region: Iroquois

7th Region: Manual

8th Region: Simon Kenton

9th Region: Highlands

10th Region: Montgomery County

11th Region: Lexington Christian

12th Region: Rockcastle County

13th Region: Clay County

14th Region: Letcher Central

15th Region: Johnson Central

16th Region: Rowan County


Houchens Industries Sweet Sixteen

March 11-14 in E.A. Diddle Arena

March 11, first round: 6th Region vs. 4th, 1 p.m.; 7th vs. 10th, 2:30 p.m.; 14th vs. 8th, 7:30 p.m.; 12th vs. 15th, 9 p.m.

March 12, first round: 11th Region vs. 5th, 1 p.m.; 16th vs. 9th, 2:30 p.m.; 3rd vs. 13th, 7:30 p.m.; 1st vs. 2nd, 9 p.m.

Tickets: $16 lower arena; $10 upper arena

Region sites

1st: Murray State

2nd: Madisonville

3rd: Ohio County

4th: Western Kentucky University

5th: Nelson County

6th: Bellarmine University

7th: Bellarmine University

8th: South Oldham

9th: Northern Kentucky University

10th: Northern Kentucky University

11th: Eastern Kentucky University

12th: Pulaski County

13th: Bell County

14th: Hazard

15th: Eastern Ky. Expo Center

16th: Morehead State University

Rating the State

Dave Cantrall's Top 25 girls' teams

1. Elizabethtown 87.1

2. Lexington Christian 84.6

3. Rockcastle County 83.7

4. Montgomery County 83.4

5. Bowling Green 82.4

6. Nelson County 82.3

7. Mercy 81.8

7. Manual 81.8

9. Casey County 81.7

9. North Hardin 81.7

11. Iroquois 81.4

12. Sacred Heart 80.9

13. Lou. Christian 80.7

14. Simon Kenton 80.1

14. Henderson County 80.1

16. Lincoln County 79.9

16. Boone County 79.9

18. Marion County 79.5

19. Butler 78.7

20. Lafayette 78.1

21. Highlands 78.0

22. Webster County 77.9

22. Tates Creek 77.9

24. Rowan County 77.4

25. Franklin-Simpson 77.2

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