High School Basketball

Mike Fields' Sweet Sixteen primer

In political-speak, high school basketball's regular-season campaigns and post-season primaries are over. We're left with 16 candidates for state champion as the 95th PNC/KHSAA State Tournament opens in Rupp Arena on Wednesday.

The front-runners are Trinity, Scott County and Bullitt East, but history tells us not to overlook dark-horse contenders. Good shooting, good defense, good coaching and good luck will determine the winner come Saturday night.

To get you primed for the four-day hoops convention, 16 facts, figures and opinions.

1. Private schools rarely win the Sweet Sixteen. but the last three to do it did it in similarly numbered years: St. Xavier in 1962, University Heights Academy in 1992 and Lexington Catholic in 2002. That bodes well for Trinity in 2012.

2. When we last saw Rowan County's Adam Wing in Rupp Arena, he was draining 12 of 13 three-pointers in the semifinals and finals of last year's state tournament. It'll be interesting to see if he's still got radar range when the Vikings play North Laurel at high noon on Wednesday.

3. Freshman stars Camron Justice of Knott County Central and Jaqualis Matlock of Hopkinsville figure to get an early boost for Mr. Basketball consideration for 2015.

4. Boone County Coach Greg McQueary returns to Rupp Arena where he played for Taylor County 29 years ago. McQueary had 24 points and seven rebounds in an 81-65 loss to Sheldon Clark. "I had to take too many shots to get those 24 points," McQueary said with a laugh as he recalled his 10-for-26 performance in 1983.

5. Bullitt East junior and UK commit Derek Willis is the overwhelming favorite to sign the most autographs this week. At 6-foot-9, he can't get lost in the crowd.

6. The most sought-after recruits in this year's Sweet Sixteen are football players, not basketball players. Trinity's James Quick, a junior with 4.4 speed, is one of the top wide receivers in the nation, and Apollo's Hunter Bivin, a 6-foot-7, 265-pound junior, is a highly coveted offensive lineman.

7. UK's Anthony Davis won't be the leading shot-blocker to play in Rupp this season. That distinction will belong to Oldham County's 6-6 senior Tyler Wesley, who has 178 swats in 32 games. (Davis has 157 in 34 games.)

8. This state tournament has an odd look to it. For the first time since 1960, there are no Louisville public schools and no Lexington schools in the 16-team field.

9. Billy Hicks of Scott County and Steve Wright of Southwestern lap the field when it comes to state tournament coaching experience. Between them they've taken 18 teams to the Sweet Sixteen. The other 14 coaches have a combined to take 12 teams to state tournaments.

10. This is the 25th anniversary of Clay County's state title, the first for a mountain school since Carr Creek in 1956. After Clay County beat Ballard 76-73 in overtime in the 1987 finals, Tigers Coach Bobby Keith said: "I was hoping so bad I could win one before I gave it up because these things are harder to come by than chicken teeth."

11. Don't send these guys to the free-throw line: Apollo's Hunter Shelton (58 of 66 for 88%); Oldham County's Sam Gruber (84 of 95 for 88%); Southwestern's Justin Edwards (113 of 131 for 86%); Knott Central's Camron Justice (153 of 181 for 84.5%); Boone County's Zane McQueary (102 of 122 for 84%), and Scott County's Trent Gilbert (58 of 69 for 84%).

12. Most of the Sweet Sixteen teams come to town on some kind of winning streak, which means they're riding a wave of momentum. But Hopkinsville Coach Tim Haworth, whose Tigers have won 24 of their last 25, said he doesn't buy the value of Big Mo. "I don't really believe in that momentum thing. Each game is a different beast. What you've done before doesn't change the fact that you've got to do all the little things it takes to win."

13. My vote for Coach of the Year goes to Clark County's Scott Humphrey, who graduated 95 percent of his scoring and rebounding, but rebuilt his team into another 30-game winner and 10th Region champion.

14. At least five proud papas will be on the bench watching their sons play in Rupp Arena. Apollo Coach Steve Sergeant's son Sam starts for the Eagles. Bullitt East assistant Junebug Rakes' son Trey is the Chargers' point guard. Boone County Coach Greg McQueary's son Zane is a senior standout. Knott Central assistant Raymond Justice's son Camron is a freshman phenom. Rowan County Coach Shawn Thacker's son Tyler is a top reserve for the Vikings.

15. The Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches announced this week that Elizabethtown will be home to a new high school basketball Hall of Fame. One exhibit should be a video, playing on an endless loop, of the most famous shot in Sweet Sixteen history: Paul Andrews' half-court heave that gave Laurel County a 53-51 victory over North Hardin in the 1982 championship game.

16. The Sweet Sixteen championship game could be a rematch from the Class 6A football finals between Trinity and Scott County. The Shamrocks won that battle 62-21. A hoops showdown would be infinitely more interesting.

Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Email: mfields@herald-leader. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com

In political-speak, high school basketball's regular-season campaigns and post-season primaries are over. We're left with 16 candidates for state champion as the 95th PNC/KHSAA State Tournament opens in Rupp Arena on Wednesday.

The front-runners are Trinity, Scott County and Bullitt East, but history tells us not to overlook dark-horse contenders. Good shooting, good defense, good coaching and good luck will determine the winner come Saturday night.

To get you primed for the four-day hoops convention, here are 16 facts, figures and opinions.

1 Private schools rarely win the Sweet Sixteen. But the last three to do it did it in similarly numbered years: St. Xavier in 1962, University Heights Academy in 1992 and Lexington Catholic in 2002. That bodes well for Trinity in 2012.

2 When we last saw Rowan County's Adam Wing in Rupp Arena, he was draining 12 of 13 three-pointers in the semifinals and finals of last year's state tournament. It'll be interesting to see if he's still got radar range when the Vikings play North Laurel at high noon on Wednesday.

3 Freshman stars Camron Justice of Knott County Central and Jaqualis Matlock of Hopkinsville figure to get an early boost for Mr. Basketball consideration for 2015.

4 Boone County Coach Greg McQueary returns to Rupp Arena, where he played for Taylor County in the Sweet Sixteen 29 years ago. McQueary had 24 points and seven rebounds in an 81-65 loss to Sheldon Clark. "I had to take too many shots to get those 24 points," McQueary said with a laugh as he recalled his 10-for-26 performance in 1983.

5 Bullitt East junior and UK commitment Derek Willis is the overwhelming favorite to sign the most autographs this week. At 6-foot-9, he can't get lost in the crowd.

6 The most sought-after recruits in this year's Sweet Sixteen are football players, not basketball players. Trinity's James Quick, a junior with 4.4 speed, is one of the top wide receivers in the nation, and Apollo's Hunter Bivin, a 6-foot-7, 265-pound junior, is a highly coveted offensive lineman.

7 UK's Anthony Davis won't be the leading shot-blocker to play in Rupp this season. That distinction will belong to Oldham County's 6-6 senior Tyler Wesley, who has 178 swats in 32 games. (Davis has 157 in 34 games.)

8 This state tournament has an odd look to it. For the first time since 1960, there are no Louisville public schools and no Lexington schools in the 16-team field.

9 Billy Hicks of Scott County and Steve Wright of Southwestern lap the field when it comes to state tournament coaching experience. Between them, they've taken 18 teams to the Sweet Sixteen. The other 14 coaches have combined to take 12 teams to state tournaments.10 This is the 25th anniversary of Clay County's state title, the first for a mountain school since Carr Creek in 1956. After the Tigers beat Ballard 76-73 in OT in the 1987 finals, Coach Bobby Keith said: "I was hoping so bad I could win one before I gave it up because these things are harder to come by than chicken teeth."

11 Don't send these guys to the free-throw line: Apollo's Hunter Shelton (58 of 66 for 88 percent); Oldham County's Sam Gruber (84 of 95 for 88 percent); Southwestern's Justin Edwards (113 of 131 for 86 percent); Knott Central's Camron Justice (153 of 181 for 84.5 percent); and Scott County's Trent Gilbert (58 of 69 for 84 percent).

12 Most of the Sweet Sixteen teams come to town on some kind of winning streak, which means momentum. But Hopkinsville Coach Tim Haworth, whose Tigers have won 26 of their last 27, said he doesn't buy the value of Big Mo. "I don't really believe in that momentum thing. Each game is a different beast. What you've done before doesn't change the fact that you've got to do all the little things it takes to win."

13 My vote for Coach of the Year goes to Clark County's Scott Humphrey, who graduated 95 percent of his scoring and rebounding, but rebuilt his team into another 30-game winner and 10th Region champion.

14 At least five proud papas will be on the bench watching their sons play in Rupp Arena. Apollo Coach Steve Sergeant's son Sam starts for the Eagles. Bullitt East assistant Junebug Rakes' son Trey is the Chargers' point guard. Boone County Coach Greg McQueary's son Zane is a senior standout. Knott Central assistant Raymond Justice's son Camron is a freshman phenom. Rowan County Coach Shawn Thacker's son Tyler is a top reserve for the Vikings.

15 The Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches announced this week that Elizabethtown will be home to a new high school Hall of Fame. One exhibit should be a video, playing on an endless loop, of the most famous shot in Sweet Sixteen history: Paul Andrews' half-court heave that gave Laurel County a 53-51 victory over North Hardin in the 1982 championship game.

16 The Sweet Sixteen championship game could be a rematch from the Class 6A football finals between Trinity and Scott County. The Shamrocks won that battle 62-21. A hoops showdown would be infinitely more interesting.

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