Following a week of uncertainty, the Owensboro Catholic boys and Hancock County girls are set to begin their respective journeys into the All ‘A’ Classic small-school basketball state tournament.
The annual competition was originally called off due to inclement weather last week, but demand from coaches, players and parents throughout Kentucky forced organizers to rethink their decision. As a compromise, the first two rounds will be hosted by individual schools, with the semifinals and championship at Eastern Kentucky University’s McBrayer Arena.
Catholic (12-3) will travel to face the 4th Region’s Clinton County (14-2), which hasn’t played since Feb. 13 — a 58-56 loss at Russell County that snapped a seven-game winning streak. The Aces, meanwhile, enter on a four-game winning streak of their own, including Saturday’s 54-48 win over Henderson County.
“This is going to be a tough game,” Catholic coach Tim Riley said of the matchup against the Bulldogs, who feature three players averaging double-figure scoring.
They’re led by 6-foot-5 junior wing Nick Delk, who scores 17.5 points per game, alongside 6-3 senior guard Chase Stines (11.4 ppg) and 6-1 senior guard Nick Brown (10.6 ppg).
The Aces will counter with a group led by 5-8 junior point guard Brian Griffith, who scores 23.8 points per game. Ji Webb, a 6-5 junior forward, averages 14.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per outing, while 6-4 senior wing Gray Weaver adds 12.9 points per contest.
It’s been a rollercoaster of a season so far in regards to scheduling games in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Riley said, but he’s been pleased with his team’s mental focus throughout the turbulent campaign.
“It’s just been a constant to try to find dates, finding who needs a game, where we need to go — things like that,” Riley said. “All I promised them from the get-go is if you guys work hard, I’ll work all the time to get our next game.
“You just do the best you can and try to make the best of it.”
Hancock County (4-7), coming off Saturday’s 60-52 win at Madisonville North Hopkins, will travel to take on Metcalfe County (7-4).
“They’ve got a decent record and a couple girls that can shoot, but I think we match up really well with them,” HCHS coach Kevin Husk said.
Metcalfe County, also dubbed the Lady Hornets, is paced by a trio of guards in freshman Kassady London (13.1 ppg), junior Jaycie Harper (12.1 ppg) and junior Braelyn Davis (10.6 ppg).
Hancock County is led by a pair of talented scoring guards in sophomore Bailey Poole (13.7 ppg) and eighth-grader Karmin Riley (13.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg).
Though both teams have experienced their fair share of cancellations and rescheduled games, Husk feels good about his squad’s outlook.
“Of course, in a season where you can’t practice regularly or play a game for two weeks sometimes, you never know what’ll happen,” he said. “You just roll with it. We’re looking forward to the opportunity.”