2013 Kentucky Sweet 16 Boys Basketball Preview
GRAVES COUNTY EAGLES (25-8)
1st Region Champions
Head Coach: Terry Birdsong
Graves County will be making its eighth trip to the Sweet Sixteen with its last appearance coming in 2009. The Eagles earned the right to play at Rupp Arena by upending 1st Region favorite Marshall County, 58-44, during first round action of the 1st Region Tournament as Peyton Puckett (13 points), Zach Kimbler (12 points) and Tyler Starkey (12 points) combined to score 37 points in the win. Terry Birdsong’s squad then went on to defeat Lone Oak in the semifinals (61-43) before capturing the region crown with a 63-50 victory over Calloway County.
The Eagles are led by Puckett’s 13.8 scoring average while sharpshooter Jake Williams is averaging 11.8 points a contest. Williams is shooting 40.5 percent from three-point range (62-of-153) and 81.3 percent (61-of-75) from three-point range.
Graves County is 0-2 against state tournament teams (81-59 loss to Hopkinsville and a 67-64 loss to Warren Central) this season, but the Eagles aren’t strangers to pulling off the upset. They knocked off defending state champion South Laurel in 2006 and advanced to the Final Four. Graves County will enter its first round matchup on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. with a season-best six-game win streak. The Eagles’ last loss came on Feb. 11, a 66-58 loss to Carlisle County.
HOPKINSVILLE TIGERS (31-4)
2nd Region Champions
Head Coach: Timothy Haworth
Hopkinsville will be making its sixth overall trip to the Sweet Sixteen and their second straight in the process after capturing the 2nd region title over Henderson County, 59-46. The Tigers rolled through first round play of the 2nd Region Tournament with an easy 74-41 win over Webster County before getting a scare against Madisonville-North Hopkins in the semifinals. Hopkinsville squeaked out a 63-62 win.
The Tigers are led by Jordan Majors, who is averaging more than 20 points a game, while teammates Jaqualis Matlock, Trey Edwards and Jamonte Davis are solid contributors as well. Hopkinsville is one of the hottest teams in the state tournament, riding an impressive 23-game win streak into their Wednesday, 8 p.m. matchup with first round opponent South Oldham. The Tigers’ lone in-state losses this season have come against Ballard (92-69), Bullitt East (78-65) and Trinity (68-63). They are 1-1 against state tournament teams (81-59 win over Graves County and a 92-69 loss to Ballard).
OHIO COUNTY EAGLES (25-7)
3rd Region Champions
Head Coach: Paul Decker
Ohio County is making its fourth overall trip to the Sweet Sixteen and first since losing to eventual state champion South Laurel in first round action of the 2005 season. After starting the season off with 12 straight wins, Ohio County overcame a 10-game stretch where the Eagles went 3-7. They have responded by winning 10 straight games, including a 49-38 decision over Owensboro Catholic in the 3rd Region title game.
Ohio County is led by the three-headed monster of Trevor Lewis (16.9 points per game), Preston Lambrich (16 points per game) and Jonathan Wortham (12.9 points per game). BJ Morse leads the team on the boards with eight per game and he’s also averaging eight points a contest.
The Eagles are 0-1 (lost to John Hardin, 81-52) against state tournament competition and competition and will be bringing in a 10-game win streak into their Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. matchup with Graves County.
WARREN CENTRAL DRAGONS (28-6)
4th Region Champions
Head Coach: William Unseld
Look who’s back, back again — Warren Central. The 2004 state champions are making 13th trip to the Sweet Sixteen, which includes making it to Rupp Arena three out of the past four years and nine out of the past 12. William Unseld’s squad overcame a slow start (began season with a 7-4 record) and put together an impressive eight-game win streak before getting beat by Warren East for the second time during the season.
Warren Central has turned in some solid games during the postseason and won the 4th Region title by defeating Russell County, 56-48.
The Dragons are led by Chris Porter-Bunton, Nay Walker, Kaelon Dickerson and Byron Carver. Warren Central will enter Thursday’s, noon first round matchup with Montgomery County, riding an 11-game win streak.
The Dragons are 1-1 against teams that are participating in the Sweet Sixteen with a 67-64 victory over Graves County and a 78-75 loss to Johnson Central.
JOHN HARDIN BULLDOGS (28-3)
5th Region Champions
Head Coach: Mark Wells
John Hardin is making its second straight trip to the Sweet Sixteen and fourth overall after capturing the 5th Region championship with a 54-41 win over rival North Hardin. The Bulldogs survived some scares in postseason play, barely beating Elizabethtown in semifinal action of the 17th District Tournament, winning 62-60 and held on to beat Bardstown during first round action of the 5th Region Tournament, escaping, 68-64.
John Hardin, who is averaging 72 points a game, is led by the duo of Brandon Price (18.1 scoring average) and Daveon Green (17.4 points per game). Teammates Keon Williams (12.6 points per game) and Patrick Anderson (10.7 points per game) can also light up the scoreboard.
Green is hard to stop offensively. He’s shooting 62.3 percent (193-of-311) from the floor and he also leads the team with 6.9 rebounds per game.
The Bulldogs are 2-0 against teams in the state tournament with wins over both Johnson Central (74-50) and Ohio County (81-52). Their lone in-state losses have come against Henderson County (75-69) and Henry Clay (70-45). They will be brining a 20-game win streak into their Thursday, 1:30 p.m. matchup against Fleming County.
PLEASURE RIDGE PARK PANTHERS (25-7)
6th Region Champions
Head Coach: Dale Mabrey
P.R.P. and coach Dale Mabrey make their first appearance at the sweet Sixteen since the 2006 season. The Panthers are making their 13th trip overall while 12 of those have been under Mabry. They surprised many by upending two-time defending champion Bullitt East in the semifinals, 40-33, before winning the 6th Region championship by defeating Butler, 53-44.
P.R.P. is led by Taywan Taylor, who scored 18 points in the 6th Region title game, Richard Clemons and LaMontray Harris. The Panthers are 0-0 against state tournament teams this season and enters Wednesday’s 1:30 p.m. matchup with Holmes riding a five-game win streak.
Ballard Bruins (29-4)
7th Region Champions
Head Coach: Chris Renner
The Ballard Bruins find themselves in a familiar early-March locale: Rupp Arena. The Bruins have been the Seventh Region’s representative at the Sweet 16 four times in the last decade, quite an achievement for any team; a special achievement in a region as consistently deep as the Seventh. They reached this point by exorcising the demons of a loss earlier in the season to Trinity by defeating the Shamrocks 57-46 in the regional championship.
Ballard’s success begins with the play of its tremendous scorers. In total, Ballard is averaging 77.4 points per game, the best in the state. That scoring comes primarily from Ballard’s three well-known stars: Quentin Snider, Lavonne Holland, and Kelan Martin.
Snider, the junior point guard and University of Louisville commit, leads the Bruins in scoring at 19.6 points per game. Not only can he use tremendous speed and ball-handling ability to get to the rim, he’s shooting 38.8 percent from behind the arc this season. Senior guard Lavonne Holland averages 14.1 points per game and can score from seemingly anywhere on the floor. In the Seventh Region tournament, he proved especially adept at getting to the free throw line and being able to convert from the stripe. Kelan Martin, Ballard’s man in the middle, averages 19.1 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. He is constantly in motion and is an absolute handful for both defenders and those trying to stop him. He’s even shown an ability to hit from outside if left open, averaging nearly one made three per game.
But the real trouble lies in overly focusing on those three. Jalen Perry, Zach Caggins, Dontez Byrd and supremely talented freshman starter Malik Dow have all proven themselves capable of scoring and defending.
Ballard already holds wins against the only two teams in the Sweet 16 they faced in the regular season: Hopkinsville and Madison Central, both of which came back in December’s King of the Bluegrass.
SOUTH OLDHAM DRAGONS (24-7)
8th Region Champions
Head Coach: Steve Simpson
The South Oldham Dragons avenged a 29th District Championship loss to Oldham County in the 8th Region finals by a 58-48 win over the Colonels to get to the Sweet 16. The Dragons have a double scoring threat in Shae Goodlett (16.4ppg) and Matthew Hasley (12.6ppg). Overall the Dragons are shooting at a 43.4% clip from the floor, 38.3% from behind the arc and 70.8% from the line. The Dragons opponent Hopkinsville has one common opponent in the Collins Titans this year, where Hopkinsville took a one point victory 59-58 over the Titans back on 12/19.
The Dragons in the past have relied pretty heavily on the 3 ball. 647 attempts behind the arc this year with most coming from Hasley (39.3%) and also from Kyle Young (36%) and Mitch Catinna (41.7%). Thge Dragons play in the late game on opneing night Wednesday at 8pm. Pretty sure that Colonel Mike and the Pegasus Sports Network will have the broadcast on their IHigh.com page.
Holmes Bulldogs (31-2)
9th Region Champions
Head Coach: Jason Booher
Three years ago when Jason Booher took the Holmes' job, he told the current seniors as sophomores that if they stuck together they could become something special. We are now in year 3 of Booher's tenure and the Bulldogs are making their way back down I-75 to Rupp Arena after running the gauntlet in the 9th region tournament. The Bulldogs knocked off 3 of the top 4 teams on their way to the 14th region championship in school history. Holmes beat tournament favorite Newcath 55-50 in the quarterfinals, then defeated Cooper 40-39 in overtime in the semi finals, and knocked off Covcath 62-60 in thrilling fashion in the 9th region championship.
The key for the Bulldogs has been the play of one of the most exciting players in the state in sophomore James "Beetle" Bolden. Bolden was named 9th region MVP after scoring 22 points in the first round against Newport Catholic, 18 against Cooper in the region semi's (including a buzzer beating 3 in overtime), and 26 pts in the 62-60 9th region championship win over Covcath. The day after taking home MVP honors, Bolden received his first Division I scholarship offer from Xavier. The quick and athletic point guard comes in to the tournament averaging 18 ppg, 4 rpg, 4 apg, and 3 spg.
Bolden gets a lot of the publicity, rightfully so, but Holmes is a very balanced team. Quan Palmer (12 ppg), and Chris Englemon (11 ppg, 9 rpg) both average double digit scoring, while senior BJ Coston averages 9 ppg and junior Quinton Chames averages 8 ppg, 7.5 rpg. The key is Holmes' depth as they have 8 guys total who average 8 or more minutes per game.
Despite the offensive balance and ability to put points up in a hurry, it is the defense of the Dogs that has led them to a 31-2 record, as they give up just 52 ppg and have a +7 rebounding advantage, out-rebounding their opponents 33-26 for the year.
The last time Holmes went to the state tournament was in 2009 when they won the state championship. The last time Jason Booher was at the state tournament, his Shelby Valley Wildcats cut down the nets at Rupp Arena. The 2012-2013 Bulldogs will look to have a similar showing starting Wednesday at 1:30 when they take on Pleasure Ridge Park, out of the 6th region.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY INDIANS (31-4)
10th Region Champions
Head Coach: Happy Osborne
The Montgomery County Indians enter the 2013 Sweet 16 having steamrolled all competition in the 10th Region, both in the regular season & post-season. Twelve points was the closest any team in the 10th could come to Happy Osborne's squad, who finished 17-0 against Regional opponents & 31-4 overall.
With Regional play behind them, the Indians now set their sights on Rupp Arena for just the second time in the program's storied history (1995 was the other Sweet 16 appearance). Leading the charge will be Mr. Basketball finalist Omar Prewitt, a 6'5" senior who tops the team in both scoring (23.3 ppg) & rebounding (8.4 ppg). The William & Mary bound swingman has put up gaudy numbers all season, but it has been far from a solo performance in Mt. Sterling. The Montgomery back court gets lost in Prewitt's shadow, but you would hard-pressed to find a better duo than the lightning fast, assist-happy Tyler Jones (6'0 Sr., 5.1 apg) & the high-scoring Bryan Wallace (5'11" Jr., 16.1 ppg). Athletic forward Darius Jones, a 6'4" junior, pulls in averages of 10.5 ppg & 4.5 rpg. Sophomore forward Chase Hall, at 6'3", rounds out Osborne's starting five.
With athleticism galore, the Indians like to employ an up-tempo style of play (75.6 ppg as a team) & can put up a lot of points in a short amount of time. Prewitt & company are also accustomed to winning, having come out on top in 20 of their last 21 contests. Combine the talented roster, the individual superstar, & then mix in Osborne's coaching savvy & you have a legitimate title contender on your hands with the Indians.
MADISON CENTRAL INDIANS (28-5)
11th Region Champions
Head Coach: Allen Feldhaus, Jr.
Madison Central, the champions of the 11th Region after beating Lexington Catholic 67-46, enters the Sweet 16 as one of the favorites to bring home the title come Sunday afternoon. The Indians (28-5) have all the ingredients needed to win it all – a Mr. Basketball candidate, senior leadership and an experienced leader in Coach Allen Feldhaus.
Senior point guard Dominique Hawkins, one of the five finalists for Mr. Basketball and one of just two (Omar Prewitt of Montgomery County is the other) who made the Sweet 16, leads Madison Central with 20 points a game and is starting to draw interest from both Kentucky and Louisville. Hawkins had 18 points in the finals against Lexington Catholic, but was huge against Henry Clay in the semifinals, particularly in the fourth quarter. He finished with 24 points, including a three-point play and free throws as the Indians scored the final eight points during the 60-56 victory.
Hawkins is joined in the starting lineup by four other seniors – Ken-Jah Bosley, Quan Taylor, Daniel Parke and Hunter Stocker. Bosley, an EKU football recruit, pours in 19 points per game. He led the Indians with 22 points in the win over Lexington Catholic and had the go ahead layup off a steal in the win over Henry Clay. Taylor, 12 points and eight rebounds per game, is a freak athlete and versatile performer, with the ability to guard both inside and outside. Off the bench, Madison Central brings even more experience with senior George Walker and junior Demarcus George. Sophomore Sam Jones also contributes for the Indians.
The Indians is 2-1 against other Sweet 16 participants, having beaten Montgomery County 78-61 and Fleming County 85-72 while losing to Ballard 88-86. Madison Central opens the Sweet 16 Wednesday at Noon against 12th Region champion Wayne County.
WAYNE COUNTY CARDINALS (27-7)
12th Region Champions
Head Coach: Rodney Woods
The Rodney Woods led Wayne County Cardinals have a 27-7 record and won the 12th Region tournament with victories over Pulaski County(#1 in the region), West Jessamine(#4 in the region) and Somerset(#6 in the region). Wayne County is led by sophomore Peyton Woods who is averaging 17 points a game and freshmen Corey Stearns and Trey Blevins who are averaging 15.8 and 12.2 points respectively. Peyton Woods is also shooting 50% from the field, 44.7% from three point land and 82.6% from the free throw line. Corey Stearns is the team's leading rebounder at 6.9 rebounds a game as well.
Rodney Woods has this team at Rupp Arena a year or two earlier than expected and while they are 'young and inexperienced' this isn't the first time Rodney Woods has been to Rupp Arena and they will have their hands full right out of the gate against Madison Central. Rodney Woods has guided Wayne County to 8 regional titles in his time there and was last at Rupp in 2011 when Wayne County advanced to the quarterfinals. While anything is possible Madison Central has been ranked no lower than #5 in the state by all respected state rankings all season long. If Wayne County is somehow able to get past Madison Central then the rest of the state should be on lookout for the Wayne County Cardinals. They are 1-0 against tournament teams and that is an 81-53 victory over 13th Region champion Clay County. If Wayne County is able to do the unthinkable and knock off Madison Central then expect them to become the darlings of the tournament. Also, don't be surprised to see this group return to Rupp in the next year or so as well.
CLAY COUNTY TIGERS (26-6)
13th Region Champions
Head Coach: Robert Marcum
After an 11-year absence, the Clay County Tigers (26-6) are back at the Sweet Sixteen. Robert Marcum’s squad suffered some early ups and downs this season , but finished the season strong by knocking off 13th Region favorite Harlan County in the regional finals, 84-76.
Clay County is making its first appearance in the Sweet Sixteen since the 2001 season and 28th overall. “This team has really worked hard to get where it is right now,” Marcum said. “We struggled some during the middle part of the season, but we began to turn things around and now we are going to Rupp Arena.
“We know it’s a different stage now, but I believe we will be ready,” he added. “I really like how we are playing.”
The Tigers are led by a sophomore and a handful of seniors, as sophomore Chip McDaniel leads the team with an 18.3 scoring average. He lit up the 13th Region competition during the regional tournament by scoring a tournament-best 78 points in three games. He’s also one of the best free throw shooters in the state. He’s shooting 86.6 percent on the season (136-of-157) and 38.4 percent from three-point range (66-of-172).
Seniors Marty Bowling (averages 11 points, 11 rebounds a game), Stephon Lyttle (averages 11 points, seven boards a game) and Kody Reed (10.1 points per game) are solid as well.
Clay County is 0-1 against state tournament competition with a 81-53 loss against 12th region champion Wayne County. Additionally Clay brings an impressive 15-game win streak into its Thursday, 8 p.m. matchup with Knott Central. “I don’t know much about Knott Central, but I know they’ve got a very good player and they’re going to be hard to beat,” Marcum said. “I like our team’s chances, though. We are playing really well right now.”
KNOTT COUNTY CENTRAL PATRIOTS (29-5)
14th Region Champions
Head Coach: B.B. King
For the second straight year the Knott County Central Patriots are heading back to Rupp Arena and the Sweet 16 boys basketball tournament. Knott County Central won the 14th region tournament by defeating Leslie County, Estill County and Perry County Central in the championship game. The Patriots advanced to the second round of the boys sweet 16 last year where they fell to Oldham County 36-34. The Patriots returned all but 3 starters from that team. Knott County Central will face the Clay County Tigers, who won the 13th region, in the first round of the 2013 boys sweet 16 basketball tournament. Knott County Central heads into the Sweet 16 at 29-5.
Players to watch for the Patriots are standout sophomore guard Camron Justice, sophomore forwards Simon Christian & Evan Hall, as well as senior guard Blake Shrum.
JOHNSON CENTRAL GOLDEN EAGLES (22-10)
15th Region Champions
Head Coach: Tommy McKenzie
Johnson Central is going back to a familiar place, Rupp Arena. The Golden Eagles defeated Sheldon Clark in the 15th Region Championship game to earn the right to go to Rupp. This will be Johnson Central's second straight year of making the sweet 16, last year's sweet 16 appearance ended quickly as they lost to John Hardin 49-36 but this year isn't as easy as they will open up against the 7th region winner, Ballard Bruins. Ballard has only 4 losses on the season, 3 of those where to out-of-state opponents and the other one was a one point loss to Louisville Trinity. The Bruins are one of the states top ranked teams and the favorite to win the KHSAA state championship., so it's not gonna be an easy task for Coach Tommy McKenzie and his Golden Eagles. The player to watch for the Golden Eagles is 6'10 JR Center, Shane Hall. Shane is getting looks from Alabama, Purdue, Indiana and Louisville. Johnson Central and Ballard will face-off on March 7th at 6:30 PM from Rupp Arena.
FLEMING COUNTY PANTHERS (28-6)
16th Region Champions
Head Coach: Mark Starns
With a record of 28-6, the Panthers believe that their schedule outside the 16th has prepared them for the big stage. Obviously it didn't hurt them when it came to the 16th region tournament. After a relatively easy opening round defeat of Lewis County, the second round turned into a memorable battle, reminiscent of last season when Ashland knocked them out of the tourney in overtime. This time, however, the Panthers pulled one out in double OT vs. Ashland to advance to the championship where they handled Rowan County in the title game 60-45. Coach Mark Starns, in his first season at Fleming, had to be tickled to death with all of the talent he had.
The Panthers are led by 16th region tournament MVP Darion Burns. The stage at Rupp may be his real coming out party. Absolutely dynamite in transition, and coming off of 30 points vs. Ashland in the semis and 21 vs. Rowan in the final, he's primed to shine in the spotlight. However, the player with the most upside for the Panthers is silky smooth Troy Steward. The 6'4" wing can get to the rack and drill the trifecta. He will likely be the key to the success in Rupp for Fleming. If he's engaged, Fleming will be no pushover for John Hardin. Junior Austin Crisp, who transferred from Montgomery County, has been Mr. Consistent. He's never out of control, and just does what it takes to win. He'll guard, rebound, score and provide a calming influence when he's on the floor. Toss Desmond McAdams and Brady Saunders in the mix and Fleming is very solid. They are young, but very poised. Despite a difficult draw right out of the gate, don't be surprised if Fleming makes noise, and ultimately gets the upset to move to the round of 8. If the Panthers can stay close on the glass, they will likely be in the game. They do lack a significant post presence, but don't lack one bit of terrific transition.
Last edited by JV; Sep 14, 13 at 11:30 PM.