While attending the first round of the girls' 15th Region tournament this week, I came to realize one thing...the future of the region is very bright!
It was youth that shined the brightest in the tournament's first four games. One performance that stands out to me, albeit in a loss, is that of Pike Central sophomore center Kassidy Prater. In the Lady Hawks' first round overtime loss to Paintsville, Prater scored 13 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. Late in the fourth quarter and continuing into overtime, she was the focus of Pike Central's offense.
Prater wasn't the only underclassman that played well though, obviously. Shelby Valley freshman guard Taylor Rowe has shown all season long that her outside shooting is as good, if not better, than anyone in the region, and she continued to prove that Monday night. Rowe connected on five three pointers and had 21 points...in the FIRST HALF! She finished with 24 as the Lady Kats rolled into the semifinals with a 99-53 win over Prestonsburg.
And then you have Magoffin County sophomore point guard Jamie Castle. As a freshman, Castle was selected as one of the top 10 players in the 15th Region. She is about as calm and cool as you can get when it comes to being clutch. In the Lady Hornets' 49-45 first round win over Belfry, Castle led Magoffin with 20 points, but it was one shot in particular that stood out to me. With Magoffin County trailing by two midway through the fourth quarter, Castle buried a three pointer to give the Lady Hornets a one point lead.
Four teams remain in the girls' 15th Region tournament, and of the 20 players in those four starting lineups, only four are seniors. This Saturday night one team will punch their ticket to the girls' Sweet 16, and you can bet it will be the youth movement leading their team to Bowling Green.