Franklin County has won the previous three 11th Region championships. For the Flyers to make it four in a row they might have to knock off two of the previous three region finalists before a likely encounter with a top-10 program.
Scott County is the favorite to end the Flyers’ streak. The Cardinals are ranked third in the state, have not lost to an 11th Region team this season and have only two losses total. They lead the state in scoring (78.8 points per game), are fifth in average margin of victory (23.9 points) and have three players — Maaliya Owens (16.3), Peyton Riddle (15.8) and Morgan DeFoor (14.6) — who average double-figure scoring.
The Cardinals will open the tournament against Madison Southern in the first round Monday night at Eastern Kentucy University’s McBrayer Arena. Scott County has won the 11th Region tournament once before, in 2010. It went on to play in the Sweet Sixteen finals that year.
Franklin County, coming off its fifth straight 41st District title, for the second straight season is matched up in the first round with Henry Clay, whom it defeated in the 2015 finals. A win over the Blue Devils would pit the Flyers against either Lafayette or Madison Central in the semifinals. Franklin County defeated Lafayette in last year’s title game.
The Flyers beat Henry Clay (56-48) and Lafayette (62-58) in their only meetings this season but haven’t played Madison Central. They lost to Scott County, 78-56, in early January.
Henry Clay built an early lead against Scott County in the 42nd District finals but eventually slowed down in a 66-52 defeat. The Blue Devils had won five straight and seven of their last eight before that loss, a stretch that included wins Lafayette and Paul Laurence Dunbar.
Kiya Thompson leads Henry Clay with 13.1 points per game while Braxton Price isn’t too far behind at 10.3 a night.
Dunbar, which snapped Lafayette’s five-year 43rd District champion streak, was paired with Woodford County. Mashayla Cecil, a Miss Basketball finalist, broke the Fayette County all-time girls’ scoring record against the Yellow Jackets in a 58-42 win on the road in the last week of the regular season. She enters the tournament with 2,208 career points.
Elise Ellison-Coons is a budding star for the Bulldogs. The freshman averages 12.3 points and 10.2 rebounds.
Woodford County sophomore Delaney Enlow averages 15.7 points and 9.7 rebounds and is sixth in the state with a field-goal percentage of 64.3 percent. Head coach Steve Jaco is in his first season guiding the Yellow Jackets after longtime leader Jay Lucas retired last spring.
The Dunbar-Woodford winner would play the winner between Scott County and Madison Southern in the semifinals on Friday.
Lafayette boasts four double-figure scorers — seniors Caroline Bennett (16.7), Terri Abram (11.8), Tekiya Garr-Carter (10.3) and junior Lindi DeBilzan (10.0) — as well as a coach on track to become the city’s all-time wins leader. Allison Denton, who has been with the program since 2001, has 319 wins entering the tournament and already leads Fayette County in wins; former Lexington Catholic Coach Greg Todd ended his high school career with 391 victories.
Samantha Cornelison leads Madison Southern at 15.6 points per game. Aleigh Richardson averages 8.5 rebounds for the Eagles, who are 1-5 over their previous six contests and are the only program in the field that’s never won the tournament.
A team from Lexington has not won the 11th Region tournament since Lafayette defeated Dunbar in the 2014 finals. That year also was the only time since 2008 that two Lexington teams have met in the finals.
Henry Clay is first in 11th Region history with 11 titles, seven coming consecutively from 1986-1992. Franklin County and Lafayette have won the tournament four times, Woodford County has done it three times and Dunbar and Madison Central have each won twice.
Scott County has five total region titles, its first four coming as a member of the 8th Region.