BOWLING GREEN — Every state tournament has its share of star players, but Thursday's lineup of games seems to have more than the norm.
"It features a lot of really, really good players," Sheldon Clark Coach Darrin Rice said. "I know it always does, but it seems like this year there's some kids that have had some name recognition across the state."
One of them is his senior star Carla Booth, who has signed with Eastern Kentucky.
Booth is one of several top players who will be on display.
The group includes Miss Basketball front-runner and Louisville signee Sara Hammond, a future Big East opponent in Averee Fields of Calloway County, who has signed with West Virginia, as well as the state's top scorer in Rebecca Greenwell of Owensboro Catholic.
For several of these players it will be their first chance to shine on the state's biggest stage.
"This is the best thing that can ever happen for Becca is that she can play in the big show," Aces Coach Ray Zuber said. "This will give her a chance to be seen by people from all over the state so she can have a shot at winning Miss Basketball."
It's hard for many to miss the super sophomore who is being recruited by the biggest names in women's college basketball. The guard averages a state-best 32.8 points.
Greenwell's definitely caught the attention of opponent Clay County.
"She's fun to watch," Clay Coach James Burchell said. "She just does it all. She can play any position on the floor. She's outstanding in the open floor, very difficult to stop in the open floor because she handles the ball so well with either hand and she's got speed and strength."
Rice is excited that Booth will get a chance to play in the state tournament before she graduates.
"She's the real deal," Rice said. "She has a tremendous feel for the game. She is an intense competitor. She's a good ball-handler. She can shoot for range. She can post. She can go off the bounce and create her own shot."
Fields' coach Scott Sivills lamented that his star senior doesn't live in one of the bigger markets where she might get more recognition.
"It's going to be gratifying to get her up there and let people see just how really good she really is," Sivills said. "She'd be one of the top two players in Lexington or Louisville."
Sitting on the pot?
It was a little odd for Stacy Pendleton to walk out on the floor and see his own giant, floating head hovering in the Manual student section Wednesday.
They had created a giant cardboard cutout head of the head coach.
While he gave them bonus points for creativity, Pendleton wasn't a huge fan of the picture they selected.
"It looked like I was sitting on the pot," he said. "I don't really know what it looks like when I'm sitting on the pot because there's no mirror there. ... I don't know where they got it. They might have twisted my face. I don't know. They might have got it while I was sitting on my pot."
Trying to make history
It's been 19 years since Sheldon Clark has made an appearance at the Sweet Sixteen, and in eight tries the Cardinals have never advanced past the first round.
Rice would love to see that change this year.
"I'm going to tell the girls they've got an opportunity to do something that's never been done in the history of our school," he said. "What a great way, what a great moment it would be, what a great memory it would be if they could pull that off."
Attendance record set
Thanks to a huge Bowling Green crowd, Wednesday's first-round attendance of 6,858 broke a first-round record and was the second-highest of all time. The record is 7,123 set in 2001.