Louisville Squads sit at No. 1 and 2 in State of Kentucky

Clint Wickliffe (15) pulled a rebound and put it back up for two. (Photo by Damon Atherton)

Clint Wickliffe (15) pulled a rebound and put it back up for two. (Photo by Damon Atherton)

The 2016-17 boys basketball regular season is more than half-way complete, and it’s quite clear who the powerhouses are in the sixth and seventh region. The Shamrocks of Trinity stand as the top team in the seventh region at 18-3, and are ranked No. 1 in the state according to MaxPreps. Not far behind are the Tigers of Fern Creek, ranked No. 2 in the state of Kentucky by MaxPreps, and currently sit as the top team in the sixth region at 19-2.

It’s the tale of two programs who came into this season with high expectations. Last season, Trinity ended up defeating its arch nemesis St. X to reach the state championship, and to some, it may have been a toss-up as to who would come out of the seventh region, considering the region was not as strong as it had been in recent years.

This season though – after playing under the bright lights in Rupp Arena last year – Trinity is not only confident, but maybe the favorite, to hoist the state championship trophy come March. They have a team filled with experience, and nine seniors on a roster who want to make some noise in their final season as a high school basketball player.

The Rocks took a hard hit the beginning of the season after losing their floor general, Jacob King, to an injury. Trinity prevailed, winning eight of their first nine games, which included winning the King of the Bluegrass tournament over the holidays.

What’s intriguing was that during the span, Trinity would clash with Fern Creek twice, which would become the makings to see who, perhaps, the best team in Kentucky is. In their first match-up, it was Fern Creek who ‘upset’ Trinity, beating them 65-61. Trinity was led by its leading scorer Jay Scrubb (16.0 pts a game) who tallied 15 points, but it was the Creek’s Chance Moore who led his Tigers to one of its biggest wins in program history.

It became a milestone that helped solidify things Fern Creek already knew were true about their team and this season. That is: they’re very talented, can play with anyone in the state, and should be considered a real threat to any of their competitors.

The Rocks would avenge that loss in the KOB tournament. Still without Jacob King, Trinity was able to convert at the charity strike, hitting 18 out of 20 free throws, which made the difference in the game. They won that contest, 66-63, and capitalized on Fern Creek’s miscues at the line, who hit only 16-for-26.

Well, what’s happened now that we have crossed over into the year 2017? There’s a new President, but what has remained the same is the Shamrocks and Tigers are neck and neck as the state’s top two teams. Fern Creek has lived up to their mantra: We Run the Six, going 12-1 since their loss to Trinity back in December, with the only loss coming to Hopkinsville.

Trinity has gotten stronger with the return of Jacob King in the line-up. They’ve gone 10-2 since winning the KOB tournament, with one of the losses coming at the hands of Oldham County, losing a close one 60-59.

Who was the other loss to you might ask? Well, it came at the hands of a vicious Fern Creek Tiger bunch, who didn’t forget their loss back in December. Yes, in their third game already this regular season, Fern Creek beat Trinity in the third go-around, 65-58 in overtime, in the Louisville Invitational Tournament, propelling them to their first LIT Championship in program history.

What have we learned from three meetings between the top two teams in the state? Well, both are really good, and each contest seems to be a seesaw, back-and-forth affair. It’s hard to say which team is better than the other from their match-ups. But what we can take away, is that both teams have tons of experience, led by big time guards and forwards, and both have a level of focus to not simply settle for a regional championship, but to be affirmed as the best team in the state of Kentucky.

In terms of wins and losses, Fern Creek has the upper hand, but possessions at the end of a game, free throws and overall execution all make a world of a difference when these two heavyweights have stepped onto the hardwood.

Perhaps in March, fans wouldn’t mind seeing the saga continue, a Part Four between the Shamrock and the Tiger, in a game where it would be win or go home. VT