The field for the 2010 boys’ state tournament may not have a favorite, but it’s definitely top-heavy.
When the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Boys’ Sweet Sixteen tournament opens Wednesday at Rupp Arena in Lexington, half of the teams competing on the first day will be ranked in the Top 10.
“It isn’t a secret that the top half of the bracket is loaded with more top teams,” said Chris Renner, Ballard coach. “So does this mean the team that comes out of the top half of the bracket should be the favorite or does it mean the team that comes out of the bottom half might have a better shot since they might have had an easier road?”
The first round continues Thursday with the quarterfinals on Friday and the semifinals and final Saturday.
“Ballard and Scott County are 1 and 1A,” said Warren Central coach Tim Riley, whose Dragons open the tournament by taking on East Carter (23-5).
Ninth-ranked Warren Central (22-8), the 2004 state champ, is led by junior forward George Fant (15 points, 8 rebounds).
The Raiders, who have won 11 of their last 12, are led by senior forward Colt Barnhill (20 points, 9 rebounds).
In Wednesday’s second game, Ballard, which won the last of its three state titles in 1999, meets Shelby County (24-5), which hasn’t won a state championship since taking its second title in 1978.
The Bruins (29-4), who have won 14 of their last 15, are led by senior guards Ian Chiles (18 points) and Keisten Jones (15 points). The Rockets, who have won 13 of their last 14, are fueled by senior forward Donovan Johnson (16 points) and freshman guard Darryl Hicks (13 points).
In Wednesday evening’s first game, Newport (29-5) will take on No. 6 Christian County (29-4).
The Wildcats, who have won 12 of their last 13 including a victory over defending state champ Holmes in the Ninth Region final, are led by senior center Casey McDaniel (14 points).
The Colonels, who have won 15 of their last 16, are paced by junior guards Anthony Hickey (15 points) and Donovan Kates (15 points).
Wednesday’s final game pits Scott County (27-6), the 1998 and 2007 state champ, against Corbin (27-3).
The Cardinals, who have won 20 of their last 21 games, are led by senior guard Chad Jackson (16 points) and senior center Dakotah Euton (15 points, 9 rebounds). The Redhounds, who have won 23 of their last 24 games, boast senior guards Isaac Wilson (17 points) and Madison Johnson (21 points).
Thursday’s first game pits West Jessamine (26-7) against Muhlenberg County (20-10).
The Colts are led by senior guard Jarrod Polson (17 points). The Mustangs, in the first year of the merger of the county’s former North and South high schools, are led by senior guard Joe Gabbard (19 points).
Thursday’s second game pits Paducah Tilghman (27-6) against No. 7 Shelby Valley (28-4), the lone ranked team in the bottom half of the bracket.
The Blue Tornado, which has won 11 in a row, has a balanced attack led by junior guard Josh Forrest (14 points, 8 rebounds). The Wildcats, who have won 15 of their last 16, are led by senior guard Elisha Justice (19 points). Thursday evening’s first game matches Mason County (23-6), the 2003 and 2008 state champ, against North Hardin (27-4).
The Royals, who have won 10 in a row, are led by 6-foot-8 junior forward Treg Setty (13 points, 7 rebounds). The Trojans, who have won 12 of their last 13, are paced by senior forward James Berry (13 points).
In the final first-round game, Butler (19-11) meets Knott County Central (26-6).
The Bears, who lost six of eight games before the district tournament, are led by senior guard Thomas Blakemore (17 points). The Patriots, who have won 11 of their last 12, are led by senior guard Stuart Stamper (18.4 points).