LCA's Barnette Lexington's first Miss Basketball

Sarah Beth Barnette sat on the big stage at Lexington Christian flanked by her coach and other officials.

The senior forward, who received Kentucky's Gatorade Player of the Year Award recently, knew that she was being honored with an assembly.

She sat patiently and attentively listened to each speaker.

The University of Kentucky signee smiled politely at the various friends and family in the front few rows.

What Barnette didn't know was what was waiting for her on the other side of the maroon curtains just behind her.

Slowly, they parted to reveal a blue No. 1 jersey, a glass trophy and balloon sculptures saying that she was this year's Miss Kentucky Basketball, as voted on by the state's coaches.

The crowd of fellow LCA students, friends, family, a couple of her future UK coaches and various local dignitaries cheered loudly.

"I was about to cry," she said afterward. "Tears were in my eyes. I just couldn't believe it. I had no idea this was going to happen."

She was shaking slightly when she got the podium.

"I'm just so thankful," said Barnette, the first Miss Basketball from Lexington since the award's inception in 1976.

Coach Jason Seamands is equally as thankful to have had Barnette on his team for the past four seasons, when the Eagles have gone an impressive 127-29.

LCA won a Sweet Sixteen championship and an unprecedented three straight All "A" Classic championships. She was named MVP of the title game in 2009.

"When you look at a four-year career of winning, it's ridiculous how much success she's had," he said. "She was an amazing leader and as good as she was on the court, she was an even better person off the court."

While at LCA, Barnette scored 1,928 points and pulled down 1,076 rebounds.

This season, she led the Eagles to the region tournament, averaging 23.6 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.3 steals, 2.2 assists and 1.9 blocks.

Barnette set a school and career record by scoring 43 points against Doss this year.

"She's impacted so many games, so many people's lives," Seamands said. "There will be a true void when she's gone."

Barnette is the second straight Miss Basketball to sign with the University of Kentucky, which will play in the NCAA Tournament's Kansas City Regional this weekend against top-seeded Nebraska.

Next season, the Cats will have three Kentucky Miss Basketballs on the roster with Barnette, Scott County's Rebecca Gray and Iroquois' A'dia Mathies, who was named the Southeastern Conference's Freshman of the Year.

But before Barnette can put on the UK blue and white, she will try to lead the Kentucky seniors to wins over their Indiana counterparts in the annual border rivalry.

The charity all-star games are set for June 11 at Bellarmine University and June 12 at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

"I know this title carries a lot of weight," Barnette said. "I hope I'm up for the challenge to carry it."