This year’s 11th Region Tournament will be unlike any of the 71 that preceded it.
Wins by Lexington Catholic and Sayre in their respective boys’ basketball district tournaments on Wednesday night ended an incredible streak of appearances by Fayette County public high schools in the penultimate tournament of postseason play.
A public high school from Lexington made the boys’ 11th Region Tournament every year from 1946 through 2016. That 71-year run came to end after Lexington Catholic held on for a 58-56 victory over Lafayette in the 43rd District semifinals. Sayre knocked off Henry Clay, 68-61, earlier Tuesday night. Those results came one night after Lexington Christian upset Paul Laurence Dunbar, 68-64, and Scott County upended Bryan Station, 78-54. Lexington Catholic, Lexington Christian and Sayre are all private institutions.
The last year no Fayette County public schools boys’ teams participated in the 11th Region Tournament was 1945, when the field featured just one Lexington team: University High, a model secondary school affiliated with the University of Kentucky focused on the training of teachers. A Lexington Herald article from May 9, 1918, indicated that the Fayette County Board of Education was involved in the creation and organization of the model school, including the furnishing of five teachers, but the facility functioned under the direction of UK.
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Barbara Harper Bach, a retired teacher and cookbook author who graduated from University High in 1956, said Thursday that the school charged tuition and was only open to students whose parents had graduated from the University of Kentucky. It closed in 1965.
According to results from the Kentucky High School Basketball Encyclopedia compiled by Jeff Bridgeman, this is the fourth season in the sport’s history under KHSAA sponsorship in which a Fayette County public school didn’t play in the regional round (which started in 1922). In addition to the 1944-45 season, Lexington public schools failed to make regional appearances in the 1937-38 and 1943-44 seasons (regionals were not contested from 1927-1931).
In the modern era of regional alignment beginning in 1932 and going through last season, Lexington public schools have won 44 of a possible 84 titles in the 11th Region, or 52.4 percent. All five public schools — Bryan Station, Henry Clay, Lafayette, Paul Laurence Dunbar and Tates Creek — have played in the boys’ Sweet Sixteen.
Lexington Catholic has won 12 of the remaining 40 possible championships, or 14.3 percent. Scott County has won four titles since moving to the 11th Region from the 8th Region in the 2005-06 season.
Madison High, which merged into Madison Central in 1989, won six 11th Region championships. Madison Central has won four and Franklin County three.
Midway won two 11th Region titles before consolidating with Versailles to form Woodford County in 1963. The Yellow Jackets also have won two titles in the region.
The following schools all won one title in the 11th Region: Berea, Burgin, Frankfort, Harrodsburg, Irvine, Kavanaugh and Lawrenceburg. Only Berea and Frankfort are still open and competing in the region today. Burgin is open but competes in the 12th Region.
Corrections: The original text of this article stated that Madison High merged into Madison Southern in 1989. Madison Southern opened in 1988. Additionally, the article originally excluded Burgin from the schools that are still open today.