With the girls’ 13th Region championship tournament set to tipoff later today (Monday), I have decided to do a special web-only column where I give my official predictions for how I think things will go.
Monday’s action will include two first round games at the Corbin Arena. In game one, scheduled to begin at 6:00 p.m., the 52nd District champion Harlan County Lady Black Bears (25-2) will face the 51st District runner-up Pineville Lady Mountain Lions (18-11). Immediately following that contest, the 50th District champion South Laurel Lady Cardinals (25-5) will play the 49th District runner-up Jackson County Lady Generals (13-17).
I don’t expect either of these games to be super-competitive, with both Harlan County and South Laurel advancing to play each other in the semifinal round this Friday evening.
As for the bottom half of the girls’ bracket, 51st District champions Knox Central (12-14) will be playing 50th District runner-up Whitley County (24-6) Tuesday evening at 6:00 p.m. That will be followed by 49th District champions North Laurel (25-7) taking on 52nd District runner-up Harlan Independent (16-15).
Once again, I think the outcomes of these games are pretty clear-cut, with Whitley and North advancing to square off in the second semifinal round game on Friday.
Things get quite a bit tougher to predict in the tournament semis, but I believe that South Laurel will knock off Harlan County in game one. Many will call this a bold prediction, as the Lady Black Bears are the overall favorites to win it all this year, but I think that the Lady Cards have what it takes to play their way into Saturday’s region championship game.
Same can be said of my next pick, which is Whitley County defeating North Laurel to earn the other spot in Saturday evening’s tournament finale. The Lady Colonels were only able to top the Lady Jags by three points, 61-58, in their last meeting at WCHS on February 13, and it will more than likely be another close one here, but I personally believe that Coach David Estes and company will find themselves contending for a regional title when it’s all said and done.
If my predictions are correct, and it is Whitley going up against South Laurel for the fourth time this season in the 13th Region championship game, then I am going to have to go with the Lady Cardinals. It’s hard to choose otherwise considering the Lady Colonels have fallen to their 50th District foes three times already by a combined score of 196-138. That is not a huge margin, and the fourth time could absolutely be the charm if these two teams get the chance to go at it again, but in my opinion it’s only a possibility, not probability.
Final prediction – South Laurel defeats Whitley County for 2018 13th Region championship.
To read my predictions for the 13th Region boys tournament, be sure to pick up this Wednesday’s print edition of the News Journal!