Yet to play a home game this season, the Ballard High School boys’ basketball team is handling its “Road Warrior” status just fine.
The Bruins are 5-0 against Kentucky competition, sport a 10-3 record overall and last month won the prestigious Kingdom of the Sun Tournament in Ocala, Fla.
And on Monday, Ballard received the No. 1 state ranking in the first Courier-Journal Litkenhous Ratings of the season.
“I like being No. 1 at the end rather than in the first Litkenhous Ratings,” Bruins coach Chris Renner said. “We’re not really worried about other teams at this point. It’s about us getting better daily in practice and in games.”
The Litratings are a computerized ranking of every team in the state based on strength of schedule, margin of victory and other factors. The ratings do not include games against out-of-state opponents.
Ballard leads a group of eight teams from the Louisville- and Lexington-area regions (Sixth, Seventh and 11th) atop the rankings. Defending state champion Trinity is No. 2, followed by Bullitt East, Henry Clay, Scott County, Madison Central, Pleasure Ridge Park and Fairdale.
No. 9 Hopkinsville, from the Second Region, is the top-ranked team from outside of the Louisville- and Lexington-area regions.
“It’s shaping up to be a very interesting postseason, especially in the 11th, Sixth and Seventh regions,” Renner said. “I can see a number of teams possibly coming out of all three of those regions.”
Ballard owns victories over four Top 20 teams — Scott County, Madison Central, Hopkinsville and No. 11 Butler — and defeated Deerfield Beach (Fla.) 72-67 on Dec. 29 in the championship game of the Kingdom of the Sun Tournament.
The Bruins were runners-up in the King of the Bluegrass Holiday Classic at Fairdale, falling to Nashville (Tenn.) Christ Presbyterian 83-71 in the final on Dec. 23.
All of Ballard’s games have been played away from home, with 10 at neutral sites and three on the road. The Bruins’ first home game is scheduled for Jan. 22 against Seneca.
“That will help us in the long run,” Renner said. “But in the short term, most teams shoot the ball better at home and develop confidence because they shoot better at home. We haven’t had that.”
Ballard is shooting 48.2 percent as a team — a solid number, Renner said — but he expects the team’s 3-point mark (31.7 percent) to improve with more home games.
“Quentin (Snider) hasn’t shot extremely well from the 3-point line, and he just needs a home game where he knocks down seven or eight 3s,” said Renner, whose team will return to action tonight at Central. “He does it every day in practice.”
Snider (19.8 ppg) is among three Ballard players averaging more than 14 points per game. Fellow junior Kelan Martin is averaging a double-double (20.9 ppg, 10.5 rpg), and senior Lavonne Holland is pitching in 14.3 points per outing.
The Sixth (Bullitt East, PRP, Fairdale and Butler) and 11th regions (Henry Clay, Scott County, Madison Central, Lafayette) lead the way with four teams each in the Top 20.
No. 16 Holmes (16-0) of the Ninth Region is the only undefeated team remaining in Kentucky but faces a tough test today at No. 12 Covington Catholic (13-1).
* Note: The first girls’ Litratings are scheduled to appear in Friday’s paper.