2004-2005 Kentucky High School Girls’ Basketball Preview

2004 Ron Harrison

This should be another interesting year for girls’ high school basketball in the state of Kentucky.  Sacred Heart and Lexington Catholic enter the season ranked either number one or two in the major pre-season polls.  There are several other worthy contenders nipping at their heels hoping they falter.  Pre-season predictions can be extremely risky and games and championships are still decided on the court.  I have listed 20 teams that I believe will have excellent seasons, but I left out another 20 that could also be very good.  I have based my observations on past performance, returning players, transfers, and a lot of time spent at the Kentucky basketball Academy watching AAU events.  I have read everything I could find, perused the internet websites on a daily basis, and followed the Louis Meadows network on the ladies’ game.  What will happen once the season starts?  We should at least have an idea by late December as many of the top teams will be playing in major invitational tournaments.

My pre-season top 20 teams are as follows:

1.

Lexington Catholic

 

11.

Assumption

2.

Sacred Heart Academy

 

12.

Tates Creek

3.

Rockcastle County

 

13.

Ohio County

4.

Scott County

 

14.

Woodford County

5.

Henderson County

 

15.

Mercy Academy

6.

Christian County

 

16.

Paris

7.

Clinton County

 

17.

South Laurel

8.

Louisville Christian Academy

 

18.

Bullitt East

9.

Elizabethtown

 

19.

Russell

10.

Covington Holy Cross

 

20.

Pike County Central

 

#1 Lexington Catholic – Coach Greg Todd’s Lady Knights were 29-8 last season and were runner-up in the Sweet 16.  Lexington Catholic returns a deep and talented squad and will enter the season ranked either #1 or #2 in all major state polls.  They should be led this season by 6-1 Sr. Shannon Novosel (15.5 ppg 10.2 rpg), 6-0 Jr. Anaris Sickles (16.2 ppg 8.2 rpg), and 5-8 Jr. Nikki Davis (10.2 ppg 6.3 rpg).  Other players expected to play major roles are to 5-6 So. Keyla Snowden, 5-9 Fr. Natalie Novosel, and 5-5 Sr. Lesley Server.  (Server is currently rehabbing an ACL injury but could be available in January).  Coach Todd will also get help from two talented transfers from Dunbar in 5-8 Sr. Adaeze Azubuike and 5-6 Fr. Briana Green.   Lexington Catholic also has several other talented players including 5-7 Sr. Rebecca Rhule and 5-11 So. Kellie Cash who should provide quality minutes this season.

#2 Sacred Heart – Sacred Heart finished 37-1 last season and captured their third consecutive state championship.  Coach Donna Moir’s Valkyries enter the season shooting for four in a row but first must survive the competitive 7th Region.  The Valkyries will be led by 5-8 Sr. point guard Carly Ormerod, who is considered the leading candidate for Miss Basketball.  5-10 Sr. Taylor Kopple is an very athletic swingman who can play anywhere on the floor.  6-1 So. Elizabeth Campbell is greatly improved and will provide Sacred Heart with an inside presence.  5-9 Sr. Jackie Distler is an excellent long-range shooter and 5-4 Sr. Jordan Hess is a blur on both ends of the court.  The Valkyries have an excellent rotation of players coming off the bench including 5-5 Sr. Allison Denbow and 5-9 Sr. Kelsey McCarty who know how to win.

#3 Rockcastle County – Coach Chrysti Noble’s Lady Rockets finished 30-4 last season, captured the 13th Region title, and should be one of the top teams in the state this season.  5-6 Sr. Johnna Abney (18 ppg) is reportedly fully recovered from an ACL tear that ended her season in the regional championship last season.  The other members of the “terrific trio” include 5-10 Sr. Tara Rowe (15 ppg) and 5-10 Sr. Heather Hammond (14 ppg).  Other key performers include 5-9 Sara Parsons, 5-9 Sr. Katie Parsons, 5-6 Jr. Ashley Lunsford, and 5-8 Fr. Sarah Rowe.  The Lady Rockets are short on size but deep in talent, desire, and knowledge of the game.

#4 Scott County – The Cardinals finished 24-5 last season and Coach Steve Helton’s squad should compete for the 8th Region title this season and for top state honors.  Scott County returns a lot of talent from last season, goes 10-12 players deep, and emphasizes an uptempo style of play.  5-6 Jr. Chelsia Lymon averaged 21 ppg last season and is a blur on the court.  5-10 So. Rebecca Gray averaged 20 ppg last season and is one of the best long-range shooters in the state.  6-0 Jr. Suzie Owens transferred from Lafayette last season and has the ability to shoot the ball and rebound.  The Lady Cardinals have several players expected to contribute including 5-4 Fr. Kayla Moses who gets positive results on the court.  Scott County should be one of the elite teams in the state this season, especially if they get a defensive presence in the paint.

#5 Henderson County – The Lady Colonels finished 28-4 last season and Coach by Jeff Haile’s squad should compete for the 2nd Region championship and a lofty state ranking.  They will be led by Miss Basketball candidate 5-9 Sr. Ashley Hawkins, who averaged 18.3 ppg and 6.1 apg last season.  5-7 Sr. guard Krista Hatfield (8.6 ppg) is an excellent three point threat and 5-11 Sr. center Whitney Waddell averaged 5.9 ppg and 5.9 rpg.  5-2 Jr. guard Sierra Gilbert averaged 7.6 ppg.  Other players to watch include 5-7 Jr. Aurelia Quarles, and 5-5 Fr. Rinesha Soaper.  Coach Haile enters the season with a 389-112 record and needs 11 wins to reach the 400 win plateau.

#6 Christian County – Coach Don Dillard’s Colonels finished 32-4 last season, and despite graduating several key performers should challenge for the 2nd Region title again this season.  6-0 Jr. Arnika Brown is an extremely gifted athlete who can play any position on the floor and is one of the best underclassmen in the country.  6-1 Jr. Lydia Watkins rebounds, defends, and scores in the paint area and has the ability to run the floor.  Christian County has several young players who must step up to fill the void left by the graduation of Corkey Stiger and Shaleea Petty.

#7 Clinton County – Coach Ronnie Guffey’s Lady Bulldogs finished 25-9 last season, captured the All “A” Classic last season, and should be favored to capture the 4th Region title this season.  They will be led by the Guffey twins, 5-8 Sr. Paige (23.1 ppg) and 5-8 Sr. Amber (19.0 ppg).  5-8 Sr. Brittany Abbott is another deadly three point shooter who missed last season due to an injury.  They will get help in the paint from 5-10 Sr. Dorothy Papineau.

#8 Louisville Christian Academy – The Lady Centurions finished 24-7 last season and Coach Don Rice’s squad has the talent and experience to challenge Sacred Heart for 7th Region supremacy this season. They return everyone from last year’s team and add 6-2 Sr. Maggie McKemie who had to sit out a year after transferring from Manual.  McKemie has the ability to play anywhere on the floor.  5-7 Jr. Meredith Marsh can score from anywhere and possesses excellent court vision.  5-8 Sr. Jessie Marshall is a consistent threat from beyond the arc.  The frontcourt will be capably manned by 6-4 Sr. Ashley Fishback, 5-8 Sr. Ali Shubert, and 5-9 Sr. Kristen Blake.   Other players expected to contribute include 5-8 Sr. Danielle Kom, 5-7 Jr. Mollie Magee, 5-10 So. Abby Tappendorf, 5-7 So. Courtney Smith, and 5-6 Fr. Brooke Willoughby.

#9 Elizabethtown – Coach Tim Mudd’s Lady Panthers finished 26-6 last season and are favored to capture the 5th Region crown this season.  E-town has an excellent frontline in 6-1 Jr. Kabrenda Warfield, 6-0 Sr. Robyn Jennings, and 6-0 Sr. Sara SextonJennings has the ability to score both inside and out.  Sexton is aggressive in the paint on both ends of the court and attacks the basket with a nice spin move.  5-6 Sr. Lara Donnelly is an excellent leader and team player who can shoot the ball.  5-4 Sr. LaTasha Turner runs the point guard position.

#10 Covington Holy Cross – Coach Rob Kues team finished 25-6 last season and should be a strong contender for the 9th Region title as well as one of the top teams in the state.  6-0 Sr. Brittany Bass is a force in the paint on both ends of the floor.  5-8 Sr. Amie Noll is an excellent point guard who can handle the ball, pass, or score.   5-10 Jr. Rachel Lantry has the ability to light up the scoreboard.  This team has a nice supporting cast with some promising young talent and could make a lot of noise in the state this season.

#11 Assumption – The Rockets are coached by Bob and Martha Todd and finished 18-9 last season.  Assumption plays in the very competitive 7th Region and will be one of the contenders to battle Sacred Heart for the crown.  The Rockets are still relatively young as they have only one senior.  They should be led by 6-1 Jr. Amber Norton who averaged 18.5 ppg and 10.5 rpg last season.  Other players expected to contribute include 6-0 So. Thia Gholson, 5-9 Jr. Liz Todd, 5-10 Jr. Kelly Mitchell, 5-8 Sr. Kelly Miller, and 5-8 So. Eileen Kennedy.  Never underestimate the Todds as this team should be quicker with better defense this season.

#12 Tates Creek – Coach Jan Ulmer’s Commodores finished 22-8 last season and should be one of the top contenders in the 11th Region this season.  The Commodores return everyone and will start a veteran group of seniors.  6-2 Sr. Brittany Pittman is an excellent scorer, defender, and rebounder.  6-2 Sr. Kristen Pendleton has the ability to take the ball to the basket and is a good rebounder, defends well in the paint, and is a good interior passer.  5-7 Sr. Philneshia Lindsey penetrates well and can nail the outside shot.   5-7 Sr. Derrica Morton and 5-8 Sr. Shaquita Dowlen provide defense, quickness, and scoring from the wing positions.  5-4 Sr. Ginneria Harley is also expected to provide a spark coming off the bench.  Tates Creek will count on a mixture of upperclassmen and some promising newcomers to add depth this season.  The Commodores have upgraded their schedule and should be tournament ready by the end of the season.

#13 Ohio County – The Lady Eagles finished 25-7 last season and Coach Brad Johnson’s squad has the talent to compete for the top spot in the 3rd Region this season.  Ohio County will be led by 6-0 Sr. Julie Leach, who averaged 24 ppg last season and is also an aggressive rebounder.  5-8 Sr. Amanda Critchelow is also considered to be one of the top players in the region.  Coach Johnson utilizes a deep rotation with several players capable of making key contributions.

#14 Woodford County – Coach Jay Lucas’ Lady Yellowjackets finished 21-10 last season and should once again be a strong contender in the 11th Region.  5-9 Sr. Destiny Mattingly averaged 20.3 ppg last season and should be recovered from a nagging knee injury.  5-7 Jr. Brittany Henderlight averaged 11.5 ppg last season and is a deadly outside shooter.  5-7 8th grader Katy Cooke burst on the scene last year and led Woodford County with 45 three point baskets.  Other players expected to contribute include 5-11 Sr. Emily Freibert, 5-9 Sr. Autumn Wilson, and 5-9 Jr. Amber Penny.  This team is lacking in height but has good speed and is a deadly outside shooting team.

#15 Mercy Academy – Coach Mark Evans’ Jaguars finished 22-8 last season but graduated seven players from last year’s squad.  Coach Evans will enter the 7th Region wars this season with a smaller but quicker squad.  Some players expected to be key contributors include 5-11 Jr. Jenny Petrie, 5-8 Sr. Courtney Hall, 5-9 Jr. Emily Napier, 5-7 Jr. Mallory Luckett, 5-10 Sr. Sha’Lori Moore, and 5-8 Jr. Brittany Buss.

#16 Paris – Coach Terence Brooks Ladyhounds finished 26-9 last season and captured the 10th Region championship.  Coach Brooks returns four starters: 5-6 Jr. Taylor Christman, 5-7 Sr. Natalie Tubbs, 5-4 Sr. Iona Caulder, and 5-8 Jr. Alishia Tucker.  Other players to watch include 5-5 Jr. Whitney Mitchell, 5-6 Jr. Laurie Mitchell, and 5-8 Sr. Sarah Yeiser.  Paris will find a center among several contenders and as usual they will utilize speed, defense, and a three point attack.

#17 South Laurel – The Lady Cardinals finished 24-7 last season and Coach Konnie Snyder’s squad is one of the favorites to capture the 12th Region crown this season.  The Lady Cardinals will be led this season by 6-0 Sr. Taran Johnson and 5-6 Sr. Mallory Jones.  Other players expected to be key contributors are 5-10 Jr. Amber Neace, 5-9 Sr. Brittany Turner, and 5-6 So. Whitney Smith.  5-7 Jr. Kayla Baker, 5-7 Jr. Kayla Valentine, 5-7 So. Courtney Hamm, and 5-9 So. Devon Burchette are expected to log quality playing time this season.

#18 Bullitt East – Coach Chris Stallings’ team finished 28-5 last season and captured the 8th Region title.  The Lady Chargers return ten players, including four starters from last season.  5-6 Sr. Abby Thompson will start her third season running the point.  5-8 Sr. Jacquelyn Bleemel and 5-6 Sr. Holly Huber will join her in the backcourt.  5-4 Jr. Jennifer Beichler and 5-5 So. Kathleen Thompson add long-range shooting and a scoring spark off the bench.  5-8 Fr. Whitney Henley and 5-7 Fr. Kellie Harrod will compete for playing time.  6-0 Sr. Katie Followell (10.5 ppg) returns in the frontcourt with 5-11 Sr. Kasi Harrod and 5-8 Sr. Ashton Smith.  They will be backed up by 5-11 Sr. Mollie Bolin, 5-10 So. Jennifer Fletcher, 5-10 So. Kelli Thompson, and 5-9 Fr. Kayla Phipps.  This team has returning depth and experience, and should compete for regional honors.

#19 Russell – Coach Merle Kidwell’s Lady Devils finished 25-8 last season, return their top eight players, and are favored to capture the 16th Region crown this season.  5-8 Jr. Kala Faulkner is an ultra-quick scorer who averaged 22 ppg last season.  5-5 So. Britt Faulkner is a top defender and an excellent athlete.  6-0 So. Jessica Fortman averaged 11 ppg and 7 rpg as a freshman.  6-1 Jr. Christen Daniels averaged 10 ppg and is an excellent post player who runs the floor well.  6-0 So. Chinwe Okoro is a strong post player who averaged  defender and an excellent averaged 9.8 ppg and 6.0 rpg.   5-7 Sr. Christina Williams is coming off two ACL injuries but when healthy can stroke the three pointer.  5-5 Fr. Samantha Sparks is a good shooter and defender.  This is a very athletic team with solid post play.  (It has been reported that Kala and Britt Faulkner are no longer members of the Russell basketball squad.)

#20 Pike County Central – The Lady Hawks finished 21-11 last season, captured the 15th Region championship, and Coach Tammy Tussey returns all five starters.  Some key players include 5-6 So. Haley Ratliff (18.3 ppg), 5-5 Sr. Mishay Weddington (10.5 ppg), 5-3 Fr. Paige Lowe (8.3 ppg), 6-0 Sr. Taylor Brown (7.6 ppg), 5-8 Sr. Elizabeth Birchfield, and Fr. Kayla Lowe.  Coach Tammy Tussey also expects help at the forward/center position from 6-1 Jr. Ashley Vanko (a transfer from Chicago).  This team has good size in the paint and guards who can play at both ends of the court.

 
Conclusion

This preview was supposed to be posted on December 5th, 2004.  However, due to a heavy workload of games, events, and event previews I am two weeks late.  This preview is based on info received prior to the season and does not take into consideration games played to this date.