High School Basketball

Sweet Sixteen notes: UK didn't seek Rupp for NIT

There was no discussion among the University of Kentucky, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association and Rupp Arena about holding the National Invitation Tournament game between UK and UNLV in Rupp Arena.

The game was played Tuesday night in Memorial Coliseum because Rupp was already being readied for the start of the National City Boys' Sweet Sixteen on Wednesday.

KHSAA assistant commissioner Julian Tackett said there was discussion about the arena's availability last year, when it wasn't certain that UK would make the NCAA Tournament.

"At that time, we brought up the problems we'd face," Tackett said. "We use a completely different arena configuration, like the e-Rupp-tion zone, the staging of the end zone and press row, applying decals to the floor ...

"Choreographing everything is an enormous task."

So when UK found out it would be hosting an NIT game this year, it didn't even talk to the KHSAA or Rupp Arena officials, knowing it was too much to ask.

One misconception is that the Rupp Arena court would have to be shortened from college length (94 feet) to high school length (84 feet).

Tackett said the Sweet Sixteen has been played on a college-length floor for about 10 years.

Jocular Jock

Jock Sutherland, who guided Lafayette to the state championship 30 years ago this month, was proudly showing off his Gallatin County jacket at the state tournament on Wednesday.

Gallatin County?

It was 50 years ago this month that a young Jock, then in his fourth year as coach at Gallatin County, led the Wildcats to their first and only Sweet Sixteen appearance.

Sutherland said the school recently put up a large photo of that 1959 team in its new gym.

Sutherland didn't stay through the entire afternoon session in Rupp Arena on Wednesday. He left to take advantage of the warm weather to play golf.

Home away from home

After Central escaped the first round of the Sweet Sixteen with a 53-51 victory over Graves County, Yellowjackets senior Ridge Wilson walked off the court, shaking his head as if his team had lost.

Wilson was disappointed in the way Central played in the second half when it blew a 13-point lead and had to rally from seven down to win.

Wilson said the fact that he has signed to play football at Kentucky had something to do with his reaction.

"Seeing all these fans here in Rupp Arena, and knowing (Lexington) is going to be my home for the next four or five years, I can't lose in my own home," he said.

"That's why I was upset. No down talk about Graves County, but we should've won by more."

Wilson had 16 points and six rebounds.

Wilson and basketball teammate Tim Patterson, a junior, helped Central win back-to-back Class 3A football titles the last two years.

Even though Wilson celebrated those titles at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, he said the atmosphere for the state basketball tournament is better because fans from all across the state flock to Rupp Arena.

"Kentucky's a basketball state, and some people have been coming to the (Sweet Sixteen) for years and years," he said. "It's different than football where you just get the fans of the schools that are playing."

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