High School Basketball

All 'A' Classic: Familiar foes in a new location

LCA's Kristin Jacob enters the tournament on a roll with impressive double-doubles in the semifinals and finals of the 11th Region tournament.
LCA's Kristin Jacob enters the tournament on a roll with impressive double-doubles in the semifinals and finals of the 11th Region tournament.

The girls' half of the Touchstone Energy All "A" Classic basketball tourney has a familiar ring, but with a twist.

All of last year's final four teams return to the 16-team event, which tips off Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.

The twist is that after playing in Eastern Kentucky's McBrayer Arena for the past 20 years, the All "A" has a new home — the 5,365-seat Frankfort Convention Center.

Timing couldn't have been better for the tournament favorite, Monroe County.

Thursday, as boys' play begins, Coach Dwayne Murray plans an educational field trip for his Lady Falcons — a visit with Monroe County's James Comer, the state's new commissioner of agriculture.

Basketball tops the agenda, though. Girls' games resume Friday. Semifinals are set for Saturday, with finals Sunday at 12:30 p.m.

Monroe was runner-up to Owensboro Catholic last year.

"We talked about losing last year to Owensboro Catholic," Murray said. "We've kind of looked at it as unfinished business. ... That's kind of what we use for a motivational tool."

Both teams are back, although Catholic star Becca Greenwell was lost before this season because of a knee injury.

Also back are semifinalists Newport Central Catholic and Lexington Christian and quarterfinalist Harlan. So are Walton-Verona and Louisville Holy Cross.

Dave Cantrall's ratings favor Monroe County, followed by Walton-Verona, 2010 champion Newport Central Catholic, Green County and Murray.

No. 6 Magoffin County is in its first All "A", as is No. 11 University Heights.

With Walton-Verona meeting Kentucky Country Day in Wednesday's second-to-last game (8 p.m.), followed by Monroe County versus Somerset (9:30 p.m.), there is a potential quarterfinals matchup of the top two teams.

"I think we've got a pretty good team this year," Murray said. "We've got as good a shot as anybody. We're not overlooking anybody, but we've got a pretty good opportunity, I think."

Monroe (18-2) has won six games in a row and 12 of 13.

Caylan Bybee, a 6-foot-1 senior, averages 18 points and 12 rebounds. Junior guard Madison Clements adds about 16 points.

Walton-Verona (15-4) also has won six straight games and 10 of 11.

"We've played well to this point," Bearcats assistant coach Dan Sullivan said. "We played a tough schedule for the purpose of making us ready for these kind of things — this and the district tournament and the regional tournament."

Walton-Verona's Courtney Sandlin, a 5-11 junior, averages 15.4 points and 8.2 rebounds.

Perhaps the hottest player coming into the tourney is Lexington Christian's 6-1 junior, Kristin Jacob.

In the All "A" 11th Region semifinals, she put up 27 points and 21 rebounds in a 46-42 victory over Sayre . She followed that with 20 points and 30 rebounds in a 68-43 finals rout of Frankfort.

LCA will face Green County in the sunrise opener.

Coach Jason Seamands said players will report at school for a shootaround at 6 a.m., leave for Frankfort about 7:30, ready to play at 8:30.

Although LCA (9-13) is the 12th best team in the tourney rankings, the Eagles have won three All "A" titles, most recently in 2009.

"We're going here probably not as the favorite by any means," Seamands said. "But at the same time, this isn't foreign ground to us. ... The thing I tell the girls is, 'You don't have to be the best team in the tournament. You've just got to be the best team on the floor (when) you're playing. We're not playing the entire field. Just beat who you're playing next.' "