Well folks, after making the trip to Harlan County High School eight out of the past 10 days, I am now in Lexington getting ready to cover the Boys Sweet Sixteen.
Yep, after covering 14 boys and girls games combined in Harlan County, by the time Sunday rolls around, I’ll have covered 15 games at Rupp Arena – not too shabby, huh?
With that said, I’ve got a lot of stuff to ramble about – from my thoughts on Harlan County High School hosting the 13th Region Boys and Girls Tournaments to my pick on who will be cutting down the net at Rupp Arena Sunday.
So, here we go.
Corbin Lady Redhounds are the 13th Region champions
I’ll be honest, when the season began, I would have never thought the Lady Redhounds would be cutting down the nets at Harlan County High School. Boy, did they prove me wrong. Jennifer Parsons and her coaching staff has done a fantastic job with this year’s version of the Lady Redhounds and a lot of the credit goes out to the players, too. They’ve got solid guard play in twins Miranda and Kayla Wilson along with solid play from both ends of the floor from players such as Sarah Ashley, Holli Disney, Natalie Gallagher, Kristen Fothergill, Brooklyn Ashurst, Jaclyn Jewell and Melanie Wilson.
Both Kayla and Miranda Wilson were calm as can be when Bell County turned up the pressure, meanwhile Ashurst turned in one of the best defensive efforts I’ve seen in a while. Sure, Bell County’s Maci Morris scored 27 points, but every one of them was hard-earned.
So congrats to coach Parsons, who will now try to lead her team to a state championship. That’s right, a state title. Doesn’t sound too far-fetched to me.
Clay County Tigers are crowned 13th Region champions
After an 11-year wait, Clay County is back in Lexington with hopes of capturing its second state championship. Many people called me crazy when I picked the Tigers to win the region, but if you actually sit back and look at the region, they are the most talented and experienced team. Yes, North Laurel had a handful of players returning from last season’s 13th Region championship team, but the Tigers were oh, so close to winning the 13th Region crown last year before losing to the Jaguars in overtime in the finals.
Hat’s off to tournament MVP Tyler McDaniel. He was clutch along with teammate Stephon Lyttle, who hit some key shots down the stretch. I also thought Marty Bowling played great. He’s definitely one of the best players in the region.
Boys State Tournament pick
Well, I look for Madison Central of come out of the top bracket and Ballard to come out of the bottom with Ballard finally cutting down the nets at Rupp Arena while continuing the 7th Region’s dominance at the Sweet Sixteen.
13th Region Boys Coaches Association Awards
The omission of Corbin guard Hunter Grubb in the 13th Region Coaches Association awards 1st or 2nd Teams didn’t surprise me, but actually shocked me. I actually thought he was accidently left off the teams, but after making a phone call, I found out he wasn’t. Grubb was one of the most consistent players in the 13th Region this season on offense and defense and I’m just confused on either the 1st or 2nd team.
It makes no sense to me at all.
Harlan County High School as the host of the 13th Region Tournament
First off, Harlan County High School’s gym is top-notch. I really like the facility and appreciate the help of people like John Henson, who went out of his way to make things OK for myself and other media members covering both the boys and girls tournament. The people that were helping host the tournament were nice and courteous, but there are some things that stick out.
If I were host, I would make sure I offered everything The Arena has offered the past three years, especially Wi-Fi for media members. I know I left at 3:15 p.m. each day to cover two games and it would have been a whole lot easier if I could have emailed game stories and pictures back to the office in Corbin, instead of driving back to try and meet deadline. Harlan County’s sports editor John Middleton did throw out the offer of allowing me to go to the Harlan Daily Enterprise’s office and do my work from there (which was greatly appreciated), but I figured I would just make the long haul back. John Henson also tried to help me out as well in his classroom at Harlan County High School, but we couldn’t get connection.
With that said, many schools just didn’t have many students in their respective student sections during their games. Yes, both Clay County and Harlan County had a lot during the boys regional finals, but the girls title game didn’t have as many as I expected – maybe it was the price of the student tickets.
I’m not sure, but the one complaint that I heard from many attending or that didn’t attend the regional tournaments this season, was how long the drive was and I have to agree. It’s just too far away for many, but I do see where Harlan County is coming from. A drive to The Arena is a long one for their respective teams, too.
So can we meet in the middle?
I’d say, yes.
Harlan County’s facility is a nice one and so is The Arena. Maybe when it’s the 52nd District’s turn to host the tournament, if the respective team that is host wants to have it at Harlan County, then everyone should be for it.
But with that said, the 13th Region Boys and Girls Tournaments need to be centrally located, somehow, someway, but I’m not sure that can or will ever happen.