Unbeaten Ballard might be considered the favorite in the Republic Bank Holiday Classic that begins at Lexington Catholic on Sunday.
The Bruins were apparently underrated at No. 18 in the state in the pre-season because they rolled up a 10-0 record before Christmas, including victories over No. 8 Scott County, No. 13 Trinity and Duncanville, Texas.
Ballard, state runner-up last season, plays No. 14 Paducah Tilghman in the first round of the Holiday Classic.
Freshman Quentin Snider has been a spark for Ballard, along with DeVante Parker, the football star who's getting it done on the basketball court, too.
The Holiday Classic also features No. 5 Bowling Green, led by University of Louisville signee Chane Behanan; No. 6 Warren Central; No. 10 Lexington Catholic; No. 16 Henry Clay, and No. 25 Seneca.
Among the top individuals are Elliott County's Timmy Knipp, who led the state in scoring last season with a 30-point average; Warren Central's George Fant and Jordan Shanklin and Tilghman's Josh Forrest (who has signed to play football at UK).
Republic Bank Holiday Classic
at Lexington Catholic
Dec. 26: Seneca vs. Mercer Co., noon; Sheldon Clark vs. Oldham Co., 1:30; UHA vs. DeSales, 3; Henry Clay vs. Cov. Scott, 5; Elliott Co. vs. Knox Central, 6:30; Fayette Co. (Ga.) vs. Lou. Central, 8.
Dec. 27: Covington Catholic vs. UHA-DeSales winner, 1; Ballard vs. Paducah Tilghman, 2:30; Warren Central vs. Fayette Ga.-Central winner, 4:30; Lexington Catholic vs. Betsy Layne, 6; Bowling Green vs. Sheldon Clark-Oldham winner, 7:30.
Dec. 28: CovCath-UHA-DeSales winner vs. Ballard-Tilghman winner, 3:30; Henry Clay-Scott winner vs. Warren Central-Fayette Ga.-Central winner, 5; Elliott-Knox winner vs. LexCath-Betsy Layne winner, 6:30; Bowling Green-Sheldon Clark-Oldham winner vs. Seneca-Mercer winner, 8.
Dec. 29: Semifinals, 6:30 and 8.
Dec. 30: Finals, 7 p.m.