Coaches hope the crowd is equally impressive, but that the emotions are somewhat subdued by comparison, when Scott County and Great Crossing basketball teams play the season's second round in “Battle of the Birds” on Friday night.
GCHS will host this installment, which will be a boys' and girls' doubleheader for the first time.
The Lady Cards and Warhawks tip off the Valentine's Day festivities at 6 p.m., with the boys to follow at approximately 7:30 p,m.
Both games will be broadcast live by Birds' Nest Broadcasting at news-graphic.com and on the NFHS Network, with Kal Oakes and Derek Varney on the call.
A bipartisan throng of more than 2,000 fans witnessed GC's historic 64-52 win at SC on Thursday, Dec. 19.
The Warhawks used 3-pointers and free throws to pull away in what was a tense, back-and-forth contest from the opening tap.
“I feel like we had all that hype and everything that went along with that first game. That makes it cool. That's what an in-town rivalry is supposed to be like,” Scott County coach Tim Glenn said. “Now we just need to go and play a basketball game against another good team. That's what we need to make it, and if we do that, it's a lot easier. We still have guys looking like a deer in the headlights from the first game.”
County basketball divided into two programs with less than exquisite timing, after a veritable dream team won three consecutive Region 11 championships and made back-to-back appearances in the KHSAA Sweet 16 title game for the Cardinals.
The winner of the rematch between Scott County (12-13) and Great Crossing (13-14) will get back to the .500 mark after the latest installment in what has been a rugged schedule for both outfits.
“I just hope for that the same thing happens again, that the community turns out,” Great Crossing coach Steve Page said. “Valentine's Day potentially could have an impact, and the fact that both teams have already played once could have an impact. But I feeling we'll have a big crowd in here, and the kids deserve it on both sides. Hopefully we give them a good show like we did last time.”
Both coaches characterize it as a big game while pointing out the larger task at hand.
SC still has a chance to collect the District 42 top seed if it can beat Sayre and Henry Clay and win a coin flip next week. GC already owns that top spot in District 41 and covets a region berth in its maide voyage.
“I would love to see us finish on a good note this week. Next week's the one,” Glenn said, “We are better than when we played last time. We just need to be consistently better.”
“We're even closer now to where it really, really counts in Kentucky, when you play that first district (playoff) game,” Page echoed. “To have an atmosphere Friday night like there will be for the district, win, lose or draw, for either one of us it can do nothing but help our teams.”
Scott County girls' coach Steve Helton only half-joked that he was hoping for “five feet of snow” to cancel the rematch after his Lady Cards defeated the Lady Warhawks and his longtime right-hand man, Glenn Wilson, 100-76, at the Toyota Classic on Jan. 24.
Morgan DeFoor erupted for a school-record 54 points in that game. SC went on to defeat Simon Kenton and win the tournament, and the Lady Cards carried a 13-game winning streak and top-10 state ranking into Wednesday's game at Walton-Verona.
For its part, Great Crossing (12-12) has recovered from an 0-5 start with no seniors on its roster to emerge as one of the top five teams in the region.
If you'd like round three in either case, hold onto your hats: While the schools were assigned to different districts to begin the new era, there's a strong chance they could draw one another at regions, assuming they get there.
Kal Oakes can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.