Fern Creek, Ballard set to meet in Sweet 16

Fern Creek, Ballard set to meet in Sweet 16

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Fern Creek, Ballard set to meet in Sweet 16

Fern Creek's Chance Moore (22) dunks the ball during the first round game of the KHSAA Boy's Sweet Sixteen against Hopkinsville.

Fern Creek’s Chance Moore (22) dunks the ball during the first round game of the KHSAA Boy’s Sweet Sixteen against Hopkinsville.

The Fern Creek and Ballard boys basketball teams will meet at 8 p.m. Friday in the quarterfinals of the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Sweet 16 at Rupp Arena.

It will be the first meeting of the Sixth and Seventh region champions in the Sweet 16 since Trinity beat Bullitt East 52-32 in the first round in 2012.

Fern Creek (34-2) – No. 5 in the state in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings – and No. 6 Ballard (29-6) have met three times this season, with the Tigers winning all three.

James Schooler is in his fourth season as Fern Creek’s head coach after spending two seasons as an assistant at Ballard under head coach Chris Renner

“Personally, I’m tired of playing coach Renner,” Schooler said with a laugh. “We’ve played them a lot. It will feel like when I worked on staff with him. I would take one team and he would take another, and we would go at it in practice. It’s just another great game. I love going up against my old mentor because he has a lot of tricks up his sleeve.”

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Renner said he’s happy for the Fern Creek community as its team is playing in the state tournament for the first time.

“I’m kind of wishing I didn’t teach coach Schooler some of my tricks,” Renner said. “I don’t want to say he was little brother, but he was a big part of our program. Coach Schooler and I developed a good relationship. I’m looking forward to that matchup, but I might have taught him too much.”

Perhaps the most memorable moment of the teams’ previous meetings this season came Jan. 14 when the Tigers won 46-31 in the semifinals of the Louisville Invitational Tournament at Valley. Ballard held the ball for the entire third quarter, and Renner left the bench to purchase a soda at the concession stand.

“We’re not going to hold the ball again … I don’t think,” Renner said of Friday’s rematch. “I might go up and get an ice cream cone this time. No, I’m not going to do that. We’re going to try to do what we do well and see if that’s good enough to beat them.”

Here’s a look back at each of the three meetings this season:

Dec. 20 (Fern Creek 87, Ballard 82, King of the Bluegrass fifth-place game at Fairdale)

Jan. 14 (Fern Creek 46, Ballard 31, Louisville Invitational Tournament semifinal at Valley)

Jan. 25 (Fern Creek 86, Ballard 71 at Fern Creek)

Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and jfrakes@courier-journal.com.

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