February 26th, 2011

Road To Bowling Green Heats Up Monday

Chris Jung

Senior Writer


Road To Bowling Green Heats Up Monday
photo from the KHSAA

Mercy and Sacred Heart paired up in opening round

The Mercy Academy and Sacred Heart Academy basketball teams both started the season with high hopes and expectations of a state championship.

And in order to take one step closer to that ultimate goal, the Jaguars and Valkyries will have to play a 2010-11 rubber match on Monday in the postseason, as the two state powerhouses pulled one another during the Sixth Region Tournament draw.

The defending state champion Mercy Jaguars defeated SHA 53-51 back on Dec. 22 in the Republic Bank Classic semifinals, but the Valkyries won Round 2 three weeks ago, 77-68, on Feb. 4 at Bellarmine University.

The draw was by far the highest profiled of all the first-round matchups that were blindly chosen at Holy Cross High School on Saturday afternoon.

"Going into it, you're hopeful that two of the top-ranked teams in the state are playing in the other bracket, and that you're in the other bracket," said Mercy Head Coach Evans. "I think the second game (of the regional tournament) is always a trip game. I think that probably for both Sacred Heart and us, having these few days to get ready is the silver lining if there is any siliver lining. But it's still really a tough draw."

Mercy, who finished the regular season 21-6 and runner-up in the 25th District Championship to DuPont Manual, is led by seniors Juliann Miller and Lauren Faris. SHA finished its regular season 21-5, but was victorious in its first two games of the postseason, defeating Ballard 53-51 and capturing the 27th District title on Thursday.

Sacred Heart features a five-senior starting lineup (Maddie Peabody, Morgan Clemons, Monica McGreal, Annamarie Campbell, and Hannah Washle) that used a big third quarter during its last outing against Mercy, resulting in the nine-point victory in the rivalry game.

"They were spectacular in the third quarter (during our last game against them). Any time somebody puts 20-something points up on us in that third quarter, that's pretty special. They were the better team that particular night. We just hope that maybe down the road we'll be the better team next time we see each other."

Evans also referenced SHA's teams chemistry when discussing his regional first-round opponent.

"They're a bunch of seniors that like each other. They communicate extremely well," said Evans. "Donna (Moir's) just done a great job with them. Their staple is their defense. But they can run the court in transition and score on you. They can spread you out in your presses and hurt you that way."

All of the Sixth and Seventh Region first-round tournament games will be played at Atherton High School, before the tourney location is moved to Bellarmine.

Evans has mixed feelings about the Mercy-SHA matchup being played at Atherton.

"My preference would be that all of the games would be on Bellarmine's floor," said Evans. "I think we've fared fairly well playing on big courts, but you've got to remember the last time we were on a big court, Sacred Heart beat us. I think that both of us can benefit in different ways from the smaller court, both Sacred Herart and us. I just think it's going to come down to the team that rebounds, and takes care of the baskeball, and makes a few shots. I don't think it's going to be any big secret about the game."

The other Seventh Region, Catholic team that learned its fate on Saturday was Assumption High School.

The Rockets, which finished runner-up in the 26th District Tournament on Friday, finished its regular season 14-13 and will take on the state's No. 1 team - DuPont Manual High School - in the first round of the regional tourney.

Assumption was 0-2 against Manual this season, losing to the Crimsons 66-23 on Dec. 10 and 68-55 on Jan. 27 in the quarterfinals of the Louisville Invitational Tournament. Head Coach Stephanie Greathouse's team is led by lone senior Maggie Hartlage and junior Morgan Foley, who has emerged as a key offensive weapon for AHS down the stretch.

SEVENTH REGION GIRLS TOURNAMENT COMPLETE SCHEDULE

Quarterfinals (Monday, Feb. 28 - all games at Atherton High School)

  • Fern Creek (15-12) vs. Jeffersontown (23-4); 3:30pm
  • Sacred Heart Academy (23-5) vs. Mercy Academy (22-7); 5pm
  • DuPont Manual (27-4) vs. Assumption (15-14); 6:30pm
  • Christian Academy (15-11) vs. Ballard (12-14); 8:15pm

Semifinals (Thursday, March 3 - all games at Bellarmine University)

  • Fern Creek/J'town vs. Sacred Heart/Mercy; 3:30pm
  • Manual/Assumption vs. CAL/Ballard; 5pm

Finals (Saturday, March 5 @ Bellarmine University; 5pm)

In the Seventh Region, Head Coach David Jackson and his Presentation Academy squad drew the team that is the likely favorite to advance out of the tournament - Butler High School.

The Toppers advanced to the 23rd District Tournament finals Thursday before falling in the last few minutes of the game to eventual district champion Central. Pres went 11-12 during the regular season and is led by Bailey Reeder, Shelby Adams, and lone senior Rachel Russ.

The Butler Bears, who will be seeking its 25th win of the season when they take on Presentation next week, is a fast team that relies heavily on disrupting opposing teams' rhythm up-and-down the entire court.

"We've got to handle their pressure and their quickness. That's the key," said Jackson. "Larry (Just's) going to have them ready to play. They'll pressure the ball full-court. They go deep and play a lot of kids. There's not a lot of drop off, so it's hard to tell when they do sub. Hopefully we can use our excitement of being in the region carry us and hopefully play well against them."

As far as playing the role of "underdog," Jackson said he thinks his team understands what they are up against in this first-round challenge.

"I'm sure (the girls) know how good (Butler is)," said Jackson. "Hopefully they'll take it as a challenge and we'll have a couple good days of practice. (The girls) were hoping for somebody else (in the first round), but we didn't really talk much about it. Everybody's in the same boat. You've got to win three games, and that's kind of what we focused on. Hopefully we'll step up and play well."

Presentation's rival, Holy Cross High School, ended up on the same side of the bracket as the Toppers, but the Cougars will have to defeat Bullitt Central in the first round to advance.

Holy Cross, which won the 6th Region All "A" Classic at the end of January, has won 21 games this year despite not featuring a single senior player on its roster. The Cougars are led by juniors Kim Mingus, Maya Hardin, and Julie Skaggs, but has also received integral contributions from sophomores Sydney Morabito and Morgan Wimberg.

The Cougars have already played Bullitt Central once this season and came away with a 49-47 win at home back on Dec. 7, which was Holy Cross' third game of the year.

SIXTH REGION GIRLS TOURNAMENT COMPLETE SCHEDULE

Quarterfinals (Tuesday, March 1 - all games at Atherton High School)

  • Butler (24-4) vs. Presentation Academy (12-13); 3:30 pm
  • Holy Cross (21-7) vs. Bullitt Central (15-10); 5pm
  • Central (18-10) vs. PRP (19-11); 6:30pm
  • Bullitt East (23-8) vs. Doss (4-22); 8:15pm

Semifinals (Thursday, March 3 - all games at Bellarmine University)

  • Butler/Presentation vs. Holy Cross/Bullitt Central; 6:30pm
  • Central/PRP vs. Bullitt East/Doss; 8:15pm

Finals (Saturday, March 1 @ Bellarmine University; 7pm)

Stay tuned to LouisvilleCatholicSports.com every day next week for complete regional basketball coverage.

 

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