Basketball

Sweet 16 | Henderson Co. vs. Knott Co. Central

Henderson County Lady Colonels head basketball coach Jeff Haile talks to his players during a time-out. 24 January 2015

Henderson County Lady Colonels head basketball coach Jeff Haile talks to his players during a time-out. 24 January 2015

GAME 5: KNOTT COUNTY CENTRAL VS. HENDERSON COUNTY, NOON THURSDAY

KNOTT COUNTY CENTRAL

* Coach: Jeff Honeycutt.

* Record: 28-6.

* Nickname: Patriots.

* Location: Hindman.

* Region: 14th.

* Enrollment: 587.

* Litkenhous Rating: 83.3

* Sweet 16 trips: 4th (1-3).

* Last trip to State: 2005 (lost to Iroquois 98-72 in first round).

* What to look for: The Patriots turned their season around after consecutive double-digit losses to Harlan (65-55) and Harlan County (75-58) in the WYMT Mountain Classic. Since those losses and a long heart-to-heart meeting, they’ve won their last 18 games. Coach Jeff Honeycutt said the players started to play more like a team, instead of five individuals. “These kids — they really started to sacrifice for each other,” he said.

* Key player: The leader is 5-foot-9 point guard Jada Higgins, who has started since she was an eighth-grader. “She just does a great job of leading our team,” Honeycutt said. “She’s really athletic and jumps really well.” Higgins was part of the school’s 400-meter relay that qualified for the state track and field meet.

* Coach-speak: Honeycutt said the Patriots have plenty of offensive firepower. “Any of our five starters can score 20 points in a game at any time,” he said.

STARTERS

4-Allie O’Hair

6-0, Jr., 7.7 ppg, 5.1 rpg

14-Jada Higgins

5-9, So., 11.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg

21-Hannah Hollifield

5-10, Sr., 7.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg

22-Kristen Waugh

5-5, Sr., 11.3 ppg, 1.7 rpg

24-Alexis Stone

5-9, Sr., 7.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg

KEY RESERVES

20-Breanna Harrington

5-9, Jr., 5.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg

2-Keara Mullins

5-8, 8th, 6.3 ppg, 1.5 rpg

► ALSO: Here’s the bracket for the Girls Sweet 16

► MORE: Litkenhous likes Butler to take the title

HENDERSON COUNTY

* Coach: Jeff Haile.

* Record: 27-5.

* Nickname: Colonels.

* Location: Henderson.

* Region: Second.

* Enrollment: 2,026.

* Litkenhous Rating: 100.5 (No. 17 in state).

* Sweet 16 trips: 14th (11-13).

* Last trip to State: 2016 (lost to Elizabethtown 63-36 in first round).

* What to look for: The Colonels could be without their top scorer and rebounder in Alisha Owens, who suffered a knee injury against Webster County in the regional final. “She’s athletic,” coach Jeff Haile said. “She can work her way around the basket. And, she can finish.” If they have to go without Owens, the Colonels will depend on a couple of forwards, Emma Lander and Alyssa Dickson. Both scored 13 points in the 54-49 win over Webster County in the regional final. Haile said he looked at tapes on Knott County Central earlier in the year and later on. “They look liked they’ve gotten a lot better,” he said. “They’re big and they like to get the ball inside, too. We’ve really got to keep them off the boards.”

Key player: Owens is being recruited by Illinois State, Georgia Southern, Bellarmine and several other schools. Haile said Owens possibly suffered a torn ACL, pending MRI results. Lander, meanwhile, is returning from a pulled hamstring and likely will play against Knott County Central.

Coach-speak: “It would be devastating to us,” Haile said of the possibility of playing without Owens. “But this is why we have a team. We have other players.”

STARTERS

5-Jalee Carter

5-4, Jr., 3.6 ppg, 3.4 rpg

23-Breanna Chester

5-5, Sr., 5.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg

15-Alyssa Dickson

5-8, So., 7.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg

20-Emma Lander

5-8, Sr., 16.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg

40-Alisha Owens

5-11, Sr., 19.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg

KEY RESERVE

30-Emilee Hope

5-5, Fr., 6.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg

– Kenzie Winstead