#2 Louisville Ballard (19-2) at #4 Louisville Male (18-4)
Friday January 31 at 7:30 p.m.
Ballard won the prestigious King of the Bluegrass Tournament in December. The Bruins defeated Male 71-58 to win the Louisville Invitational Tournament three weeks later. Male is led by Mr. Basketball candidate Tyren Moore and freshman Kaleb Glenn. Glenn played at Ballard last year but is now playing for Male. Ballard features a high-pressure attack and a deep bench. Gabe Sisk and Jack Edelen are a pair of freshmen to watch. Big man Maker Bar is loaded with potential. He was the named MVP of the Louisville Invitational Tournament.
Fun Fact – In 2001, Male and Ballard were both ranked in the USA Today Super 25 poll. Since they play in the same region, only one team could make it to the Sweet 16. Male went on to defeat Ballard but ended up being upset by Lafayette in the state finals. Ballard was led by Adam Chiles and Brandon Bender. Chiles went on to (briefly) play for Tubby Smith at UK and Bender (very briefly) played for Pitino at UofL. Male was led by Larry O’Bannon and Michael Bush. O’Bannon went on to play for UofL and Bush was a star running back on the Cardinals football team. O’Bannon went on to battle Patrick Sparks in the controversial awesome UK vs UofL game in Freedom Hall on December 18, 2004. O’Bannon made 2 free throws with 15 seconds left to give UofL a 1-point lead, but Sparks hit three free throws to win it for the Cats. There was a significant delay before Sparks took the shots, giving Tubby just enough time to ask him what he wanted for Christmas.
Other Games to Watch:
#9 Highlands (19-1) at #6 Covington Catholic (18-4)
Saturday, February 1 at 4:00 p.m.
Covington Catholic is one of the best places to watch a high school game. You won’t find a more entertaining student section. Grant Disken and Neil Green are two players to watch for Cov Cath. Sam Vinson (24.6 ppg) is lighting up the scoreboard for the Bluebirds.
#4 Elizabethtown (17-1) at #3 John Hardin (23-1)
Tuesday, February 4 at 7:30 p.m.
Elizabethtown spoiled John Hardin’s undefeated season with an 81-74 win back on January 21, before losing their only game of the season to Louisville Butler four days later. John Hardin’s Alex Matthews (23.7 ppg, 10.4 rpg) is one of the best rebounders I have ever seen. Elizabethtown is loaded with juniors, most notably Jaquais Franklin.