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Prep Notebook: Breaking Kentucky basketball tradition

Jan. 28, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

A longstanding tradition in Kentucky high school basketball is going to be altered -- for one year.

For 95 years, Kentucky fans have showed up on Saturday night to watch a championship game. That's after the semifinal twinbill earlier in the day. This year the champion will be crowned on a Sunday.

The 2013 Sweet 16 championship game will be played Sunday, March 10, at 2 p.m. in Rupp Arena in Lexington. The schedule change coincides with the University of Kentucky having a big home game on March 9 against Florida. The SEC rivals will clash that Saturday at noon.

The Sweet 16 semifinal games will move to Saturday evening. Game 1 will be at 7:30 followed by the second semifinal. That eliminates teams from having to play twice on Saturday. The change applies only to this season. The opening and quarterfinal rounds will remain on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday as in previous years. The announcement gives fans time to rearrange travel plans for the Boys Sweet 16.

The change in format will not be applied to the Girls Sweet 16, which will take place March 13-16 at E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green.

SWEET 16 PAIRINGS: In the Boys Sweet 16, the Region 16 champ will meet the Region 5 winner on March 7 at 1:30 p.m. and the Region 15 champ will face the Region 7 champ on the same day at 6:30 p.m. On the girls side, it's Region 16 against Region 10 on March 13 at 2:30 p.m. and Region 15 vs. Region 13 on the same day at 9. Pairings for boys and girls available at khsaa/riherds scoreboard.com.

ANOTHER FIRST: The inaugural KHSAA Competitive Cheer Championships were rescheduled for Feb. 23 at Western Kentucky's E.A. Diddle Arena in Bowling Green. The event was postponed from Saturday because of the winter storm.

Divisions are all-girls and co-ed. Teams advanced by winning regional titles. The KHSAA will work with housing and travel assistance for participating schools.

IRONTON BASEBALL: Larry Goodwin is the new baseball coach at Ironton High School. The Ironton City Schools Board of Education made the decision Tuesday night. Goodwin played outfield for the Fighting Tigers under coach Mike Burcham and made All-Ohio. Goodwin coached the Ohio Red Storm travel team the past three years.

PORTSMOUTH NAMES COACH: Jason Sparks is the new football coach at Portsmouth High School. He'd been defensive coordinator at Pinecrest High School in Southern Pines, N.C., the past three years. He also served as assistant head coach, special teams coordinator and strength and conditioning coach.

Sparks, who played defensive tackle at Morehead State, replaces Curt Clifford, who's coached the Spartans for more than 30 years. For Sparks, 30, and his wife Bridget, the new job is sort of a homecoming. He is from Cynthiana, Ky., and she is from Cincinnati. They have a son David Allen, who is 6 months old.

Portsmouth had a 7-23 overall record the past three seasons. The Trojans will open the 2013 season Aug. 31 at home against Lucasville Valley, which has gone unbeaten the past two regular seasons. Sparks and the Trojans will visit rival Ironton in mid-season.

COACH TO RETIRE: Piketon High School boys basketball coach Jeff Lisath has announced his retirement at the end of the season. Lisath, who also coached the Chillicothe Unioto boys and Chillicothe girls, has more than 250 wins as a coach and led Piketon to the Ohio final four in 2009. Lisath won a state title during his high school days at Portsmouth and went on to play at Miami (Ohio). He has won three league titles, six sectional titles, one district title, one district runner up and one regional title.

OFF TO SHAWNEE STATE: Fairland's Sydney Pettit will continue her track and cross country careers at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth. During her career in cross country, the Lady Dragons won Ohio three district titles, one regional crown and earned a state meet berth. Chuckie Wentz, son of Fairland track and cross country coach Chuck Wentz, is an assistant coach at Shawnee State.

David Walsh is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2759 or dwalsh@herald-dispatch.com.