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So it’s come to this! The final 8 left in the toughest region in the state. Everyone knows if you can get through this gauntlet and make it to Rupp Arena you can chase a bigger dream. One team has dominated this region all year but over the last week we’ve seen that it’s not an open and shut case as we all previously thought!

Paul Laurence Dunbar vs. Frankfort
The Panthers enter this matchup as the 41st District champions and with a school record 27 wins. The Panthers have been ranked towards the top of the region all year long and have lived up to the hype thus far. The three headed monster of Juanya Frank, John Tillman, and DeJuan Davis lead this Panther squad as they look for their first regional tournament win in 15 years.

Dunbar enters as the 43rd District Runner Up but nobody is over looking the Bulldogs. In the past week PLD picked up wins over Scott County and Lafayette. For the first time all year the Bulldogs are healthy and most of that is on senior guard Jared Gadd who willed his team into the regional tournament with an epic performance against Lafayette in the district semi finals.

This is an interesting matchup with some underlying story lines. Coach Scott Chalk spent 9 years at Frankfort High in the late 90s and early 2000s and helped lead the Panthers to 3 straight district titles before departing. Coach Chris OBryan is in his first year at Frankfort and has his Panthers setting records left and right! I expect this game to be one of the best first round region games in all of Kentucky.

Scott County vs. Madison Central
This game is a rematch of an earlier game where Scott County defeated Madison Central after trailing by 16 points in the second half. Another absolute beast of a game in the 11th Region tournament, this is one that should come down to the end.

Scott County enters as 42nd District Runner Up and having lost 2 of their last 3 games. Back for the Cardinals is senior big man Michael Moreno who wasn’t available the last time these two teams met. When the cards are shooting the ball well they are nearly impossible to beat. As shown in their recent losses though when the outside shot isn’t falling the Cardinals are susceptible to being beat.

Madison Central enters as champions, again, of the 44th District. You would be hard pressed to find a team that has played a tougher schedule in the state then the Indians. Led by big man and Mr. Basketball finalist, Isaiah Cozart, the Indians are one of the toughest defensive teams in the Region.

This is another game I expect to come down to the wire. Can the Cardinals get back on track and prove they are the best team in the region and the state? Or will the Indians and Mr. Cozart exact revenge and move on in their quest for a Region title?

Madison Southern vs. Henry Clay
Madison Southern enters this matchup as runners up of the 44th District. This game will be a y’all task for the Eagles as they have yet to show all season they can play with or beat a team they aren’t supposed to. Head Coach Austin Newton will get a taste of his first Region tournament and hopefully help build experience for the Eagles in future years.

Henry Clay enters as the champions of the 42nd District and quite possibly the hottest team in the state of Kentucky. The Blue Devils have a balanced attack led by Marques Warrick, Keaston Brown, and Harris Hawkins. In what should be a good warmup for the Blue Devils they will look to continue their winning ways against Madison Southern.

This is the only first round game I don’t expect to be close. Look for the Blue Devils to roll in this one.

Woodford County vs. Lexington Christian Academy
The Yellow Jackets come in to their final 11th Region tournament as the runners up of the 41st District. Woodford County has been a tough team all year long and challenged some of the big dogs but never could quite get over the hump. Brandon Cromwell and Anthony Tabor are going to need to be big for the Jackets to win this one.

LCA enters the Region tournament as the 43rd District champions for the 3rd straight year. Senior Kyle Rose, a Mr. Basketball finalist, passed Taveion Hollingsworth as Lexington’s all time leading scorer last week and looks to continue his high scoring ways this week.

This game has potential to be a really close contest but I feel like the Eagles are just playing too well right now. Look for LCA to pull away in the 4th and win this game.

PREDICTIONS
Paul Laurence Dunbar over Frankfort
Scott County over Madison Central
Henry Clay over Madison Southern
LCA over Woodford County

Scott County over Paul Laurence Dunbar
Henry Clay over LCA

Henry Clay over Scott County

All Region Team
Kyle Rode - LCA
Isaiah Cozart - Madison Central
Marques Warrick - Henry Clay
Diablo Stewart - Scott County
Juanya Frank - Frankfort
Harris Hawkins - Henry Clay
Glenn Covington - Scott County
John Tillman - Frankfort
Brandon Cromwell - Woodford County
Ben Johnson - Lexington Catholic

Players of the Year
Isaiah Cozart and Kyle Rode

Coach of the Year
Daniel Brown - Henry Clay

For anyone interested in watching some of these games but can't make it out in person the following games will be streamed live online.

Woodford County at Lexington Christian Academy will be on PrepSpin via YouTube

Paul Laurence Dunbar at Frankfort will be on Facebook Live via the Frankfort Plant Board's page.