Waterways across the Commonwealth will become prep sportsâ€™ newest venue as the Kentucky High School Athletic Association recently announced that bass fishing will be sanctioned starting in 2013.
KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett said it was â€œa natural fit, given the number of Kentuckians of all ages who enjoy fishing and the outdoors.â€
Like the recent additions of cheerleading and bowling, Tackett hopes the sport-activity will tap into a new demographic.
â€œWhat these activities bring to the table is a group of people who are not already baseball players or soccer players â€“ itâ€™s a totally new group of participants. Weâ€™re not cannibalizing anything and that is a tremendous accomplishment,â€ said Tackett.
Kentucky becomes just the second state to offer the sport, after Illinois.
Tackett expects 65 to 70 schools will field teams in the inaugural season, which will run from late February through mid-April. The first state championship will be held at The Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.
â€œAll the data shows that participants in interscholastic activities get better grades, they attend class better â€¦ there are all kinds of (benefits),â€ said Tackett. â€œWhy not bring more people into that fold?â€
Defending state champion Allen County-Scottsville garnered 22 of 33 first-place votes and topped the Kentucky Softball Coaches Association pre-season poll.
The Lady Patriots edged Ballard 3-2 in last yearâ€™s championship game and finished with a record of 41-4-1.
The Bruins, who went 39-6 in 2011, are No. 2, followed by Mercy at No. 3.
â€œI think Allen County is definitely deserving of number one,â€ said Ballard coach Alan Jones. â€œThey lost a lot of people â€¦ but until someone beats them, as far as Iâ€™m concerned, they are number one.â€
Along with Ballard and Mercy, the Seventh Region boasts No. 10 Male, No. 23 Eastern and No. 25 Assumption.
Other local teams in the Top 25 are No. 11 Pleasure Ridge Park and No. 17 Oldham County.
After realignment shifted powerhouse Mercy into the Sixth Region before this season, the Butler High School girlsâ€™ basketball team â€” regional champs in 2010 and 2011 â€” didnâ€™t care much for their new role as underdog.
â€œWe knew we had to prove something,â€ said senior Cora Moore. â€œThey (Mercy) came into our region and all the talk was that Mercy was going to beat Butler. We had to prove them wrong.â€
In the final of the Class Act Sixth Region tournament last Saturday the Bearettes did just that.
Moore tossed in 14 points, including 3-of-3 shooting from behind the arc, and junior Alexis Stallard had a game-high 16 points as Butler toppled Mercy at Bellarmineâ€™s Knights Hall to earn a third straight trip to Bowling Green.
After falling to Mercy by a score of 65-56 in the regular season, Butler retooled on defense and held the Jaguars to only 47 points, their second-lowest total all season.
â€œI felt like all year long we had the potential to play with a lot of the top teams in the state,â€ said Butler coach Larry Just. â€œTonight it just happened to come together.â€
In the Seventh Region final Manual got 14 points and eight rebounds from senior LeAsia Wright en route to a 65-43 win over Assumption.
The win sent the Crimsons back to the state tournament for a second straight year. The Crimsons fell to Rockcastle County 62-60 in last yearâ€™s championship game.
The 51st Houchens Industries/KHSAA Girlsâ€™ Sweet Sixteen tipped-off Wednesday and runs through Saturday at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green. The championship game is slated for 9 p.m. (EST) Saturday.
The Trinity High School hockey team fell short in its bid for a sixth Kentucky High School Hockey League title, losing to Owensboro 4-1 in the final at the Lexington Ice Center on March 4.
Senior center Chris Kelly put the defending champion Ice Rocks up 1-0 in the first period, but Owensboro rattled off four unanswered goals, including three on power plays.
â€œItâ€™s hard to win from the penalty box,â€ said first-year Trinity head coach Mark Gustafson.
Several local players were named first-team all-state, including Jason Watts and Ryan Macht of Oldham County, Jared Boos (Eastern), Mike Klyczek (Trinity) and Terry Bellot (St. Xavier).
Honorable mention:Â Burke Davis of Eastern and Trinityâ€™s Ramsey Mayne and David Hymes.
Contact columnist Chris Cahill at email@example.com.