The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings suggest the Marion County High School girls’ basketball team will make history this week.
The Lady Knights, who have never won a state championship, kept the No. 1 spot in the final ratings of the season and are favored to win the Houchens Industries Girls’ Sweet 16 that tips off Wednesday at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green, Ky.
Marion County is 35-0 and trying to become the state’s first undefeated champion since Marshall County in 1984.
The Lady Knights head a field that includes eight of the state’s top nine teams, joining No. 2 Anderson County, No. 3 Mercy, No. 4 Notre Dame, No. 5 Henderson County, No. 6 Manual, No. 8 Bowling Green and No. 9 Madison Central.
No. 14 Lincoln County, No. 18 Ashland Blazer and No. 20 Owensboro Catholic are also in the field.
If the ratings hold, Marion County would face Anderson County in one semifinal with Mercy playing Notre Dame in the other, and Marion would face Mercy in the final.
The first round of the Sweet 16 will feature four matchups of top-10 teams — Marion County-Bowling Green and Anderson County-Henderson County on Wednesday, and Manual-Mercy and Madison Central-Notre Dame on Thursday.
Three of those are rematches from the regular season. Marion County beat Bowling Green 66-43 on Dec. 23, Mercy defeated Manual 54-46 on Jan. 15, and Madison Central knocking off Notre Dame 61-56 on Dec. 16.
* KABC girls awards announced: The Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches announced its top girls’ players and coaches for the season.
Mercy’s Whitney Hartlage (Sixth Region) and Ballard’s Tearra Banks (Seventh Region) received Player of the Year honors from the Louisville area.
Butler’s Larry Just (Sixth Region) and Eastern’s Josh Leslie (Seventh Region) were Coach of the Year selections from the Louisville area.
The complete list of honorees, with players listed first and coaches second:
First Region – Chelsey Shumpert (Paducah Tilghman); Roderick Thomas (Paducah Tilghman); Second – Ellie Fruit (Henderson County); Parker McCalister (Webster County); Third – Becca Greenwell (Owensboro Catholic); Mike Harper (Muhlenberg County); Fourth – Madison Clements (Monroe County); Brad Bonds (Allen County-Scottsville); Fifth – Makayla Epps (Marion County); Trent Milby (Marion County); Sixth – Whitney Hartlage (Mercy); Larry Just (Butler); Seventh – Tearra Banks (Ballard); Josh Leslie (Eastern); Eighth – Courtney Sandlin (Walton-Verona); Holly Roberts (Gallatin County); Ninth – Leah Schaefer (Highlands); Aaron Stamm (Conner) and Jaime Walz-Richey (Highlands); 10th – Macie Spence (Montgomery County); Piper Lindsey (Mason County); 11th – Larryn Brooks (Madison Central); Robert Cooksey (Madison Central); 12th – Jessica Hardin (Wayne County); Chrysti Noble (Rockcastle County); 13th – Cheyenne Madden (Clay County); Richard Jones (Lynn Camp); 14th – Kelah Eldridge (Letcher County Central); Mark Collett (Leslie County); 15th – Brianna Fraley (Shelby Valley); Rodney Rowe (Shelby Valley); 16th – Kaylyn Gambill (Ashland Blazer); Hagar Easterling (East Carter) and Troy Lee Thomas (Bath County).
* Greenwood is No. 1 in the first Kentucky Softball Coaches Association Top 25 of the season.
No. 3 Mercy, No. 4 Ballard and No. 7 Oldham County represent the Louisville area in the top 10.
Softball and baseball seasons opened last Wednesday.
The Top 25 softball poll (first-place votes in parentheses):
1. Greenwood (8), 2. Owensboro Catholic (10), 3. Mercy (7), 4. Ballard (3), 5. North Laurel, 6. Scott County, 7. Oldham County, 8. Christian County (1), 9. Lafayette, 10. Bowling Green, 11. Reidland, 12. Ryle, 13. Boyle County, 14. Male, 15. Lone Oak, 16. Marshall County, 17. Pleasure Ridge Park, 18. Paul Dunbar, 19. Livingston Central, 20. Madison Central, 21. South Laurel, 22. Boyd County, 23. Central Hardin, 24. Bullitt East, 25. Harrison County
* Eastern’s Cody Williams, Cody Wolfe and Jacob Stewart signed to play football at Georgetown College.
* Bowling Green’s Daniel Sansom and Allen Gonsalves have committed to play football at Campbellsville University.