In his 20th season as the girls’ basketball coach at Elizabethtown High School, Tim Mudd has seen his share of dominant state championship teams: Sacred Heart (2002-04), Lexington Catholic (2005-06) and Marion County last season.
But with the current season about to reach its midpoint, he has yet to see a team emerge as the clear-cut Sweet 16 favorite.
“I think it’s a good year in Kentucky just to be good,” Mudd said. “There’s just not that Marion County or Lexington Catholic or Sacred Heart of the past. Those teams were exceptional and were at another level. … There’s just not that team out there this year, but I do think there are a lot of good teams.”
If The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings are any indication, Mudd has the best one right now. His Panthers received the No. 1 spot Thursday when the first Litratings of the season were released. They were 10-3 entering Thursday’s home game with Adair County.
“It’s a nice honor, but I think ratings are mostly for the opposing team,” Mudd said. “We have a good group and they’re working hard, but we’re incredibly young. … Hopefully, if they get some coaching they’ll be better.”
Anderson County (11-2) is No. 2, followed by Butler (11-2), Lafayette (9-1) and Franklin County (10-3). The Litratings rank every team in the state using a formula based on record, strength of schedule and other factors. Games against out-of-state opponents are not included.
E’town won the Republic Bank Classic at Lexington Catholic, beating Anderson County in the final, and went 1-2 in the American Division of the prestigious Naples (Fla.) Holiday Shootout. One of the losses was 64-28 to St. Louis Incarnate Word, which is ranked No. 1 in the nation by USA Today.
The Panthers are 9-1 against Kentucky competition, having lost at Mercy 55-52 on Dec. 17. They avenged that loss by beating Mercy 66-47 on Dec. 22 in the quarterfinals of the Republic Bank event.
E’town is led by 6-foot-2 Erin Boley, who is averaging 18.7 points and 10.5 rebounds and is ranked among the nation’s top sophomores. Reauna Cleaver, a 6-2 junior, adds 11.5 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. The Panthers have just one senior on the roster in guard Kinsey Mudd, the coaches daughter.
Boley and Cleaver — both being recruited by high-level college programs — provide matchup problems for most opponents.
“They don’t even have to pass the ball to create opportunities for other players,” Mudd said. “A lot of teams have to really help inside and suck in … and in turn that gets our guards some good looks.”
The Litratings also are used to determine the 12 Louisville-area teams for the Republic Bank/Coca-Cola Louisville Invitational Tournament set for Jan. 28-Feb. 1. Earning bids were Butler, Sacred Heart, Ballard, Bullitt East, Manual, Eastern, Mercy, Male, Assumption, Pleasure Ridge Park, Central and Christian Academy. Anderson County, Franklin County, LaRue County and Notre Dame already had been chosen to represent the rest of the state.
North Bullitt and Bullitt Central were high enough in the Litratings to earn LIT spots but decided before the season not to participate, tournament director Joyce Seymour said.
The first three rounds of the LIT will be played at Bellarmine University’s Knights Hall. The semifinals and final will be at Christian Academy.