LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Despite several event cancellations in Lexington this week, the girls high school basketball state tournament tipped off on Wednesday at Rupp Arena.
This is just the second time the KHSAA Girls’ Sweet 16 has been held at Rupp, and Wednesday night’s game features two local rivals.
Franklin County and Anderson County face off in the 8:00p.m. game, both teams playing at Rupp for the first time.
The two schools are just 15 minutes apart, and the players and coaches know each other well. They say they are rivals and friends.
“I think it will make for a great atmosphere. I think both fan bases will travel really well and I think it will be a special atmosphere,” said Clay Birdwhistell, Anderson County High School Head Girls Basketball Coach.
The 30-5 Anderson County Bearcats bested the 27-7 Franklin County Flyers in the regular season. However, in the postseason, anything can happen.
“We got manhandled the first time we played them, they out-physicaled us, they outsmarted us, they out-energied us, all of those things have to improve and the key to our success in the post season has been rebounding and that has to continue,” Franklin County High School Head Girls Basketball Coach Joey Thacker said.
While there's been a lot of buzz about the coronavirus this week, Thacker says his girls are staying focused on the game. Birdwhistell said aside from using some extra hand-sanitizer, his team is also trying not to worry about it and just focus on basketball.
For players on both teams, the chance to compete in an iconic venue like Rupp is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“It's kind of shocking. When we won it was just kind of a dream, it's a dream, this isn't real, we're really going to Rupp. It's just amazing, I'm excited,” Franklin County Senior Guard Jasmine Simpson said.
Tip-off is set for 8:00. Both teams say they expect to see big crowds despite any coronavirus concerns.