It already has been a solid season for the Kentucky Country Day boys’ basketball team, which won two tournaments during Christmas break and beat Butler earlier this month for its first victory ever in a Louisville Invitational Tournament.
But coach James Booker said the highlight of the regular season will come this week when KCD participates in the All “A” Classic state tournament at the Frankfort Convention Center.
“We wanted to get into the LIT and all that, but the All ‘A’ has been our big focus,” Booker said. “I think the LIT was great preparation for the All ‘A’ because it put us in a big-game environment. That was valuable experience.”
KCD beat Collegiate 80-44 on Sunday to capture the All “A” Seventh Region title and earn its first trip to the state tournament since 2007. The Bearcats will face Green County at 11:30 a.m. Thursday in the first round.
The All “A” state tournament will tip off Wednesday with eight first-round girls’ games and continue through Sunday’s finals. Also qualifying from Louisville were the Holy Cross boys and girls and the Collegiate girls.
All “A” events are limited to the smallest 120 high schools in Kentucky, based on enrollment in grades 9-12.
Here’s a brief look at the tournaments:
* KCD features four starters averaging in double figures — freshman guard J.R. Mathis (16 ppg, 4 apg), sophomore guard Colin Ferguson (14 ppg, 5 rpg), junior guard Malyiek McCray (14 ppg, 6 rpg, 3 apg) and senior forward Zach Lyles (12 ppg, 9 rpg). Senior center Jay Green (5 ppg, 5 rpg) rounds out the starting lineup.
McCray, son of former University of Louisville star Scooter McCray, transferred from Ballard before this season. Mathis started for KCD as an eighth-grader last season.
“He has a good basketball IQ and is probably our best shooter from the outside,” Booker said of Mathis. “When the ball is in his hands we know good things are going to happen. He makes good decisions and keeps us together as the point guard.”
* Holy Cross (14-4) got its first victory in an All “A” state tournament last year, beating Pikeville before falling to Newport Central Catholic in the quarterfinals. The Cougars returned all five starters from that squad and are led by senior guards Dominique Mack (22.7 ppg) and Jack Schmitt (11.8).
They’ll will face University Heights in the first round at 10 a.m. Thursday.
“They’re very athletic and very quick and want to play up-tempo, which we do, too,” Holy Cross coach Mike Durham said. “It will come down to who executes better and doesn’t turn the ball over.”
* Newport Central Catholic (16-3) is the defending All “A” champion and, at No. 7, is the only team in the field in the Top 20 of The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings.
* Holy Cross and Collegiate received tough draws for Wednesday’s first-round games.
Holy Cross (10-7) will face No. 15 Glasgow (14-6) in the tournament opener at 8:30 a.m. The Cougars, who are in the event for the fifth straight year, are led by senior guards Josie Hockman (15.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg) and Rebecca Miller (15.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg) and sophomore guard Olivia Morabito (13.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg).
Collegiate (7-5), in the event for the second straight year, will face defending champion Owensboro Catholic (18-2) at 1 p.m. Junior guard Mikaela Wright leads the Amazons.
* Glasgow is one of three Top 20 teams in the field, joining No. 12 Newport Central Catholic (17-2) and No. 14 Murray (20-2).