Mercer County takes girls’ Sweet Sixteen title
Below is the preseason top 25 ranking of Kentucky high school girls’ basketball players for the 2018-19 season, as voted on by coaches in a statewide survey conducted by the Lexington Herald-Leader/Kentucky.com.
The top 10 players are listed with their school along with grade level, height and last season’s points per game in parentheses along with a brief comment. The remaining 15 players are listed with their school, grade level and last season’s ppg along with their college, if known.
Preseason girls’ top 10 players
1. Emma King, Lincoln County (Sr., 5-11, 20.6): Mercer County’s Seygan Robins was a lock to win Miss Basketball entering last season. Could this year’s leading vote-getter keep the crown in the 12th Region? King, a 5-foot-11 standout who’s committed to the University of Kentucky, led the Patriots to the 12th Region semifinals, where they fell to Robins’ Titans last season.
2. Maddie Scherr, Ryle (Jr., 5-11, 16.2): She has more than a dozen reported scholarship offers, among them UK, Louisville, Georgia, Oregon and Florida. Scherr, ranked 25th nationally in her class by ESPN, shot 48.7 percent from the floor last year for the Raiders, who reached the quarterfinals of the Sweet Sixteen.
3. Savannah Wheeler, Boyd County (Sr., 5-7, 24.7): Might she be the biggest threat to King in this season’s Miss Basketball race? The Marshall commit led the state with 108 made three-pointers last season and was ninth in scoring. She led Boyd County to the Sweet Sixteen semifinals, and the Lions are favored to make a third straight trip to state on her watch.
4. Shelby Calhoun, Christian Academy of Louisville (Jr., 5-11, 20.5): Another nationally ranked class of 2020 prospect — she’s 29th overall in ESPN’s rankings — might not be as widely known among fans due to the Centurions’ lack of team success; they went 11-16 last season against a brutal schedule in the 7th Region. College coaches have noticed, though: UK, Indiana, Tennessee, Duke and Ohio State are among the dozens of schools after her.
5. Ta’Ziah Jenks, Mercy Academy (Jr., 6-0, 16.0): She increased her offensive output to 22 points a night over Mercy’s run in the state tournament, which ended at the hands of Mercer County in the finals. If you ignore her nine-point effort from that 74-34 loss, that Sweet Sixteen average would’ve ended as an eye-popping 27 points per game.
6. Hayley Harrison, Clark County (Sr., 5-10, 12.0): Clark County brings back a wealth of experience from a team that reached the Sweet Sixteen semifinals, falling to the eventual champs. Harrison, who committed to Tennessee-Martin during last year’s regular season, leads a trio of seniors that also includes future college players in Maleaha Bell (EKU) and Jasmine Flowers (Cumberlands).
7. Maaliya Owens, Scott County (Sr., 5-9, 15.6): It’s reasonable to expect Owens’ scoring and rebounding (5.7) to swell after the departure of leading scorer Peyton Riddle, who led the team in both categories last season. She has committed to Tennessee Tech.
8. Kennedy Igo, Clark County (Jr., 5-7, 11.5): Igo made 40.1 percent of her three-point attempts last season for the Cardinals, who ranked third statewide as a team at 37.7 percent. She will start at point guard for the third consecutive season.
9. Cameron Browning, Male (Sr., 6-1, 14.8): The Belmont commit was among the state leaders in shooting with a 57.7-percent clip from the field and was in range of averaging a double-double at 8.5 rebounds a night.
10. Lauren Schwartz, Ryle (Sr., 5-11, 17.6): Her junior teammate is more nationally known but it was Schwartz who led Ryle in scoring and rebounding (7.6) last season. The duo will try to win the 9th Region one more time before Schwartz, a Rice University commit takes off to Texas.
The next 15
11. Nila Blackford, Manual (Sr., 6-1, 13.1): Kent State
12. Whitney Hay, Elizabethtown (Jr., 6-0, 19.2): Uncommitted
13. Jada Higgins, Knott County Central (Sr., 5-9, 14.5): Eastern Kentucky
14. Ally Collett, South Laurel (Jr., 5-6, 19.6): Uncommitted
15. Cassidy Rowe, Shelby Valley (Fr., 5-5, 9.9): Kentucky
16. Ivy Turner, Danville (Sr., 5-6, 24.1): Uncommitted
17. Erin Toller, Sacred Heart (Jr., 5-6, 10.3): Uncommitted
18. Kendall Wingler, Meade County (Jr., 5-10, 25.4): Uncommitted
19. Aaliyah Hampton, Christian County (Sr., 5-7, 13.9): Uncommitted
20. Jasmine Elder, Butler (Sr., 5-9, 13.1): Indiana State
21. Destyne Jackson, Frederick Douglass (Sr., 5-8, 26.0): Uncommitted
22. Mikayla Kinnard, Eastern (Sr., 6-0, 13.9): Southern Illinois-Edwardsville
23. Mackenzie Keelin, Owensboro Catholic (Sr., 6-0, 13.5): Tennessee Tech
24. Ashlee Harris, Sacred Heart (Sr., 5-6, 6.5): Bellarmine
25. Emma Hacker, Menifee County (Sr., 6-2, 21.7): Uncommitted
Our annual survey was emailed to all 267 KHSAA girls’ basketball coaches in Kentucky, using their email registered with the KHSAA. Multiple attempts were made to encourage every school to participate. Coaches were asked to select their top 10 players, and points were assigned based on a player’s position on the ballot (10 points for No. 1, nine points for No. 2, eight points for No. 3, etc.), and tabulated across all ballots received; some schools participated in the survey but declined to vote due to unfamiliarity with players and teams outside of their own.
A total of 111 schools (41.6 percent) responded to the survey and are recognized here: Adair County, Allen County-Scottsville, Anderson County, Ashland Blazer, Assumption, Ballard, Barren County, Bath County, Bell County, Bellevue, Bethlehem, Bishop Brossart, Boone County, Bourbon County, Bowling Green, Boyd County, Boyle County, Brown, Bryan Station, Butler, Calloway County, Campbellsville, Carroll County, Caverna, Central Hardin, Christian County, Clark County, Clay County, Clinton County, Collins, Cooper, Corbin, Danville, East Carter, Elizabethtown, Elliott County, Fern Creek, Floyd Central, Fort Knox, Franklin County, Frederick Douglass, Gallatin County, Garrard County, Glasgow, Graves County, Grayson County, Green County, Henderson County, Henry Clay, Henry County, Highlands, Hopkinsville, Kentucky School for the Deaf, Knott County Central, Knox Central, Lafayette, Leslie County, Lexington Catholic, Lincoln County, Lloyd Memorial, Ludlow, Madisonville, Manual, Mason County, McCracken County, McCreary Central, Menifee County, Mercer County, Mercy Academy, Montgomery County, Morgan County, Murray, Nelson County, North Bullitt, Notre Dame Academy, Owensboro Catholic, Owsley County, Paintsville, Paris, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Pendleton County, Pike County Central, Portland Christian, Prestonsburg, Pulaski County, Rockcastle County, Rowan County, Russell, Russell County, Ryle, Sacred Heart, Scott, Scott County, Shelby County, Shelby Valley, Simon Kenton, South Laurel, South Oldham, South Warren, Spencer County, St. Mary, Tates Creek, Thomas Nelson, Valley, Walton-Verona, Wayne County, Webster County, West Jessamine, Whitley County, Williamstown, Woodford County