Balanced field set for 12 Games of Christmas
by Scott Brown, Sports Editor Email Scott
Dec 15, 2004 | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A balanced field will be on display next week at the Fourth Annual People’s Security Finance 12 Games of Christmas girls’ basketball tournament at Wildcat Gym.

Play begins Monday afternoon and will continue through Wednesday.

The field include three teams from the First Region – Ballard Memorial, Heath, and Christian Fellowship – and two from Region Three – McLean County and Hancock County.

Livingston Central and Dawson Springs join Trigg County as Second Region teams in the tourney catered to Class A size schools.

Trigg and CFS are the only two schools to have participated in the tournament each of the four years. Livingston Central and Dawson Springs are making their third appearance, while McLean County is back for a second go-around.

Ballard Memorial and Hancock County are making their first trip to Cadiz to play in Wildcat Gym.

"We have seen McLean County and Ballard Memorial in our preseason scrimmages so we know what they can bring to the table," said Lady Wildcat head coach Amy Breckel.

"We’ve also seen the other three (Christian Fellowship, Livingston Central, and Dawson Springs), but don’t know much about Heath and Hancock County."

Trigg County (2-1) opens play Monday afternoon against Christian Fellowship (0-2) in the 4:15 p.m. opener.

The game is a rematch of the Nov. 30 game won by Trigg 45-24 at Wildcat Gym.

Trigg County has since beaten Providence and lost 56-32 to Caldwell County last Friday.

The Lady Wildcats are 10-0 against the Lady Eagles in the series, including last month’s win. However, the two teams have not met in the 12 Games of Christmas since 2001.

The Lady Eagles are led by guard Julie Cassity, who still holds the tournament record with 30 points and six 3-pointers in 2002.

Cassity scored 33 points in three games last year, while teammate Amber Solomon averaged 15 points in the tourney.

CFS ended a seven-game tournament losing streak last year with a win over University Heights. They also took McLean County to the horn before losing 57-55.

Breckel is hoping the Lady Wildcats can use the tournament as a stepping stone for the second half of the season since they will not play again until Jan. 4.

"We’d like to go into the new year on a high note and maybe win the tournament. We’ve struggled right after Christmas the past few years, and we’re hoping to change that," she said.

Senior guard Felicia Crenshaw and sophomore Laquisha Boyd led the Lady Wildcats in scoring at ten and nine points a game respectively, but have seen their court time curtailed by foul trouble.

"I hope we can use our depth in the first couple of games, but you want to use that depth at your convenience and not because you’re in foul trouble," Breckel said.

The Lady Wildcats have never finished worse than third place in their tournament, but will face a tough road if they want to duplicate their past success.

In the other half of their bracket, McLean County (1-2) will meet Ballard Memorial (1-3) at 5:45 p.m.

McLean County finished fourth in last year’s 12 Games of Christmas, falling to Livingston Central by one point in the third place game.

The Lady Cougars struggled to a 5-24 record last year, but have three starters back for first-year coach Kim Swift, who spent 14 seasons as an assistant coach at Russellville.

5-11 junior Emily Burden leads the Lady Cougars in scoring at 13 points a game, one more than her average last year.

Junior guard Celeste Logsdon is second on the team in scoring at 8.6 points, while 5-11 junior Courtney Ayer averages 7.6 points.

Ayer averaged 11 points and 11 rebounds in last year’s tournament, while Logsdon averaged 9.6 points. Burden didn’t play in the tournament due to an injury.

McLean’s lone win came against Whitesville Trinity in the season opener. They have since lost to Webster County (55-52) and Owensboro (58-26).

Ballard Memorial features the potent scoring duo of April Carter and Kayla Cooper.

Carter leads the Lady Bombers in scoring at 17 points a game, while Carter averages 10.5 points. Andrea Shelman contributes 6.5 points a game.

Ballard has played two teams in the tournament – losing 54-46 to Heath and defeating Dawson Springs 42-40.

Those two teams will square off in the 7:15 p.m. contest.

Heath (2-0) features Kayla Vance, who has scored 28 points in their first two games. Vance is listed as the top All-A player in the First Region, according to the All-A Classic web site, while Heath is listed behind Murray and St. Mary, the last two winners of the 12 Games of Christmas.

Hannah Klope, a transfer from Christian Fellowship, played in last year’s tournament and is averaging 9.0 points a game this year.

Dawson Springs (1-2) picked up their first win of the season Friday against Livingston Central.

The Lady Panthers struggled to a seventh place finish in last year’s tournament and were the runner-up in the 2001 event.

Chelsea Mills leads the Lady Panthers in scoring at 15 points a game, while Ashli Lanham, Dawson’s leading scorer last year, and Amanda Carlton both average 11 a game.

Lanham was the only Lady Panther to average double figures in last year’s tournament at 11 points a game.

The 8:45 p.m. nightcap features Hancock County (2-3) and Livingston Central (1-2).

Hancock is ranked fourth among All-A schools in the Third Region, one spot ahead of McLean County.

The Lady Hornets feature the top scorer among tournament teams in Stevie Kirk, who is scoring at a 19.6 ppg. clip.

Lara Jackson, ranked second among Third Region All-A players, is averaging 11.6 points, and Jessica Seaton is averaging 9.2 points.

Hancock has suffered close losses to Butler County and South Spencer, Ind., but has beaten two teams that have combined to win one game.

Livingston Central has dropped a pair of games to Marshall County and Dawson Springs, but hammered Hopkinsville 59-31 on Dec. 3.

The Lady Cardinals are led by sophomore Lauren Whetstone, who is averaging 10 points a game.

Ashton Cosby is averaging seven points a game for Livingston, who finished third in last year’s tournament.

Lagan Johnson, who averaged 14 points in the tournament last year, is off to a slow start, scoring at just five points a game.

"I think it’s a pretty balanced field of teams. It will be hard to pick a winner now," Breckel said.

However, it will be hard to repeat last year’s balance among the teams. Five of the 12 games were decided by single digits and three were decided by five points or less.

After Monday’s first round games, four more games will be played on Tuesday starting at 4:30 p.m.

On Wednesday, the consolation round begins at noon and continues through to the 4:30 p.m. championship game.
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