In what could be a preview to any number of matchups in this season’s girls’ Sweet Sixteen, nine teams ranked in the Herald-Leader preseason top 25 and several of the state’s top players, including Kentucky commit Emma King of Lincoln County, will take the court this week in the annual Traditional Bank Holiday Classic.
King, a 5-foot-11 senior averaging 21.7 points and 10.7 rebounds this season, will be joined by a number of other players who should be on the Miss Basketball ballot this year and the years to come.
The tournament plays out Thursday through Sunday in Lexington Catholic High School’s two gyms.
Ryle has junior standout Maddie Scherr, a 5-11 guard with more than two dozen offers already from schools including Kentucky, Louisville, Oregon and Florida. Teammate Lauren Schwartz, a 5-11 senior, has committed to Rice University.
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Boyd County has 5-7 senior Savannah Wheeler who’s averaging 31.8 points and has committed to Marshall.
Mercy Academy features 6-foot junior Ta’Ziah Jenks, one of three double-digit scorers for the Jaguars, who’ve also seen a breakout from fellow junior Sivori Hope this season, averaging 18.3 points.
Cameron Browning, a 6-1 senior at Male who’s committed to Belmont, comes into the tournament averaging 14.8 points and 8.8 rebounds. She’s been a high-percentage shooter and hasn’t let up this season, making 58.1 percent of her field goal attempts.
Also on the list of the Herald-Leader’s preseason top 25 girls’ players is Butler’s Jasmine Elder, a 5-9 senior committed to Indiana State.
Five teams in this year’s Classic made last year’s state tournament, including No. 1 Mercy, No. 3 Ryle, No. 8 Boyd County, No. 12 Mercer County and No. 18 Simon Kenton. Joining them in this year’s Holiday Classic are No. 6 Lincoln County, No. 10 Butler, No. 11 Male, and No. 24 Paul Laurence Dunbar along with host Lexington Catholic and six other contenders in a format that guarantees each team three games and crowns a champion Sunday.
Several of those teams could make it back to Lexington next March, when the girls’ state tournament will be played for the first time in Rupp Arena.
Henry Clay Holiday Tournament
Henry Clay will bring four Herald-Leader preseason boys’ top 25 teams and two out-of-state foes to its annual holiday tournament, which also begins Thursday.
All eight teams take the court Thursday, with No. 9 Butler facing No. 21 Paul Laurence Dunbar in perhaps the toughest opening-round matchup at 5:45 p.m.
No. 19 Pleasure Ridge Park takes on West Jessamine at 7:30 p.m.
No. 22 Henry Clay will face one of the out-of-state visitors in Great Falls, S.C., at 9:15 p.m. Great Falls is a multi-state champion in South Carolina’s smallest division.
The day tips off at 4 p.m. with a game between Seven Hills out of Cincinnati taking on Bourbon County.