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SHEPHERDSVILLE - Last season, boys’ and girls’ basketball teams in Bullitt County played in a different post-season format than any other sport for the first time ever.
That has all changed for this school year as eight sports will now be included in a new state alignment that puts some local sports — soccer and volleyball — into Jefferson County regions and districts for the first time ever. For other sports...baseball and softball...the changes are more tweaks in the way they have done post-seasons since 2006.
What will stand out vividly to local sports fans is that for a majority of sports now is that the three local teams will not compete in the same post-season tournaments, at least at the district level. Bullitt Central and North Bullitt will now be in District 23 while Bullitt East is in District 24.
Both of those districts are still in the same region - the Sixth Region.
As of now, the only sports in which the local schools will compete in the same post-season will be in football and tennis in the more traditional sports. The three area programs will be in the same post-season groupings for bowling and wrestling as well as swimming and probably archery.
The ‘new’ Sixth Region alignment will cover volleyball, girls’ soccer, boys’ soccer, girls’ basketball, boys’ basketball, baseball and softball as well as cheerleading.
How long this alignment will be in place is anyone’s guess. As has been the case for the past few years, the grapevine is filled with rumors of a major state realignment that will move the Bullitt County schools out of Jefferson County. But at this point, those are just conjecture.
As with any change of this sort there is both good news and bad in terms of possible post-season success.
In this round of realignment, it will be the local girls’ teams, especially Bullitt East, that will face some tougher situations as they will now have to compete with state-power Mercy on a regular basis. The changes should be less dramatic on the boys’ side of things with the exception of soccer.
From the frying pan into the fire.
That is what the area teams find themselves forced to do as they will now have to compete against one of the state’s strongest programs in Mercy. The Jaguars won the state title in 2009 and were the runners-up in 2010.
That will fall into Bullitt East’s lap first. The Lady Chargers played Mercy last night in the first meeting ever between the two schools. Worse, the Lady Chargers have already lost a match to Whitefield Academy, so if they lose to either Jeffersontown or Fern Creek later this season, they would have to face Mercy in the district semi-finals and not the finals.
Having Mercy in the Sixth Region is tough for everyone else. Still, you have to remember that over the past decade the Bullitt County teams could not get past the Oldham County schools at the regional level. There were times where the two Bullitt County teams advancing to the regional tournament reached the semi-finals and then both lost to an Oldham County team.
You could make the point that a local team has a better chance of getting to a regional final in this alignment than in the former one.
No sport will have a bigger change in its post-season than soccer. While the new alignment facing Bullitt County teams was more just an adjustment to the Sixth and Seventh Regions in most sports, for soccer it was a compete statewide realignment.
That is great news for local teams which have had trouble getting past the strong programs in Nelson County over the past decade. No girls team has gotten out of district play in eight years and only twice was Bullitt East able to do that in boys’ play and that was only a pair of district runner-up spots.
Now, Bullitt East is not only a district threat on the boys’ side, but a regional one as well. While Mercy will be tough to beat on the girls’ side, the best of the Bullitt County squads could well be the second best team in the region in many seasons.
Plus, for schools like Bullitt Central, which have struggled to find their niche in soccer, the possibility of post-season success could well spur interest in the sport in terms of participation.
The girls’ 23rd District could have just three teams in the post-season. Evangel does not have a team and Moore, which played just two matches last season, has not played a game yet this season.
The new alignment is not good news for any team in the Sixth Region. The addition of Mercy is going to make a post-season run for any of the other teams a tough job to say the least.
Mercy is the defending state champion in softball. It doesn’t take a very long memory to recall that the Jaguars blitzed then Sixth Region champion Bullitt East 16-1 in the first round of the state tournament back in June. That Mercy team started a number of freshmen, but the Jaguars will have a new head coach this season.
The new alignment should be good news for North Bullitt and Bullitt Central at the first level, but then not so good in week two of the post-season.
While the new alignment here is major, it probably won’t affect the top tier teams as Butler, Pleasure Ridge Park and Bullitt East are all in different districts.
North Bullitt and Bullitt Central could benefit to some extent as Moore and Evangel are not strong baseball teams. Of course, since Bullitt East had won eight straight district titles in groupings that included the Eagles and Cougars, any change that takes the Chargers out of the picture is good news for those teams.
2012-2013 Sixth Region Alignment
This alignment covers volleyball, boys' soccer, girls' soccer, boys' basketball, girls' basketball, baseball and softball.
Pleasure Ridge Park