Sweet Sixteen notes: Rowan County gets an opponent its own size

BOWLING GREEN — Size might not matter as much for Rowan County Thursday in the first round of the Houchens Industries Sweet Sixteen.

The undersize Vikings don't have a player in their top eight taller than 5-foot-9, but they're facing a Boone County team with similar challenges.

The lack of size hasn't been a detriment for Rowan County so far, Coach Scott Tackett said.

"We just work harder on the fundamentals," Tackett said. "We put pressure on the basketball and try to stay out of the half-court game, especially when playing against bigger teams."

The Vikings were the only undefeated team left in the state until Feb. 6, winning their first 16 games. They have lost only three games all season.

"You play with the cards you've been dealt, and I wouldn't trade this group of kids for any other," Tackett said.

The Rebels also don't have a player taller than 5-foot-9 in their first eight players.

Home soon to be home

Not 10 minutes after Lexington Christian won its first game of the post-season and Courtney Clifton already was imagining an early college visit to Diddle Arena.

"My goal is to get to Western Kentucky a little bit early," the Lady Toppers signee said. "Coach (Mary Taylor) Cowles has been telling me to play well and get down there."

Clifton has had a solid post-season so far, including scoring a career-high 38 points in the 11th Region championship game.

The guard, who will face Elizabethtown in the first game Thursday, is averaging 21.8 points a game, hitting 52 percent from the field and 44.5 percent from three-point range. She has made 114 treys already this season.

Coaching greats go at it

Two of the state's longest-tenured active coaches will take the court against one another Thursday.

In that game, the state's all-time winningest coach, Howard Beth of Marshall County, will meet Jeff Haile, who has been at Henderson County for 23 seasons.

In his 29 seasons with the Lady Marshals, Beth has gone 772-142, and he is leading the school to its state-record 19th trip to the Sweet Sixteen and its second in as many years. Beth won state titles in 1982 and 1984.

Haile won his 500th game this season and comes into the tournament with a 503-147 record. He has led the Colonels to five straight state tournaments.

Like mother, like daughter

Three daughters are following in their mothers' footsteps in the Sweet Sixteen this week.

Included in that group is Elizabethtown's Alex Jones, whose mother Carla English played for the Panthers in 1981 state tournament.

Lea Wise Prewitt, a star at the University of Kentucky, has two daughters who have played for Montgomery County in the Sweet Sixteen, including senior Elizabeth Prewitt.

Kelli Cook, an assistant coach at Franklin-Simpson, sits on the bench while daughter and senior guard Dominique Cook plays for the Wildcats, who fell to Iroquois in the opening game on Wednesday.

Herald-Leader Staff Writer Ross Jacobson contributed to this report.

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