Sweet 16 notes: Upstart Iroquois looking for a perfect ending

BOWLING GREEN — If Iroquois manages to win the Houchens Industries Sweet Sixteen, don't be surprised to see Coach Al Northington add "author" to his list of occupations.

"One thing this season has motivated me to do is write a book about my 10 years at Iroquois," he said before the tournament. "It's really been an experience."

Before Northington arrived on campus, the Raiders had to forfeit games because they didn't have enough players.

People told him not to bother trying to turn around the inner-city program, that the program was a Louisville "laughingstock."

But in 10 seasons, Northington has compiled a 185-82 record and the Raiders are playing in the state tournament quarterfinals Friday against Montgomery County.

"Movies like Remember the Titans and Coach Carter, we're actually living those movies here at Iroquois," Northington said. "It's like we're living a dream come true. The obstacles we've had to overcome have been unbelievable."

One bi-product of his success has been the success of Adia Mathies, a front-runner for Miss Basketball and a University of Kentucky signee.

If she can lead the Raiders to the 2009 state championship, Northington's book will write itself, he said.

"It'd be the perfect ending to the book," he said. "I'd be a very, very happy man."

A nod for Miss Basketball

The talk about Miss Basketball all season has centered around Louisville signee Ashley Rainey of Warren East and Kentucky signee Adia Mathies of Iroquois.

Coach Tim Mudd of top-ranked Elizabethtown said there's a major omission on that list, his senior center Alex Jones.

"She isn't talked about enough in Miss Basketball conversations across the state," he said. "There's some great players, but she's pretty daggone good."

The Eastern Kentucky signee had 19 points, 12 rebounds and six assists for the Panthers in a win over No. 2 Lexington Christian Thursday.

Casey Co. brings a crowd

On Wednesday night, Casey County had one of the largest crowds of the state tournament so far.

The entire left side of Diddle Arena was covered in powder blue and red. It caught point guard Kayla McFarland a little bit off guard.

"I got sick before the game and that never happens," she said. "I guess there's a first time for everything. I guess my nerves got to me a little bit before the game, the crowd and everything."

But she shook off the bad case of nerves and the unsettled stomach to finish with 12 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals.

With the win, the Rebels earned their 28th win of the season and put themselves in the school's record book as its winningest team.

"She should throw up more often," Coach Randy Salyers joked after the game.

From surgery to Sweet 16

Lyndsey Figgins' nine points and seven rebounds for Simon Kenton Wednesday night may have gone unnoticed by most fans in attendance, but it caught her coach's eye.

It's because he knows what his senior forward has been through the past two seasons.

She could have quit high school basketball after tearing both anterior cruciate ligaments her sophomore season.

"She worked extremely hard to get back after two major surgeries and a couple of clean outs," Coach Jeff Stowers said. "You guys have no idea how hard she's worked to get to where she is."