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The 12th Region Tournament kicks off Monday evening at Lincoln County High School.

The 8 teams fortunate enough to make it and first round matchups are:

Monday, February 25, 6pm-Pulaski County vs Wayne County

Monday, February 25, 7:45pm-West Jessamine vs Lincoln County


Tuesday, February 26, 6pm-Southwestern vs Mercer County

Tuesday, February 26, 7:45pm-Boyle County vs Somerset



Semifinals will be Friday, March 1 at 6pm and 7:45pm


Finals will be Saturday, March 2 at 7:30pm


The teams:


Pulaski County(23-6)


Pulaski County won the 47th District Championship with an 83-63 victory over rival Somerset. Pulaski County is led by McDonald's All American nominee Taylor Gover who is averaging 22.4 points a game for the Maroons. Pulaski County also is led by Kody Johnson and Tyler Goins as well as they average 16.9 points and 13.6 points a game. These three players have been the Big 3 for Pulaski County since their freshmen years and with this being their senior season the sense of urgency for this group to finally win the 12th Region Tournament has never been higher. Their first round matchup against Wayne County is easily the toughest first round opponent in the tournament. Pulaski County faced Wayne County once this season and that was a 74-72 loss at Wayne County. While I am certain the Maroons have revenge on their mind they can't be too happy with their draw. Will the Pulaski Big 3 finally win a trip to Rupp Arena? Stay tuned......


Wayne County(24-7)


Despite losing to Southwestern in the 48th District Championsip game Wayne County was one of the top 2 teams in the 12th Region for most of the season. Led by sophomore Peyton Woods and his 17 points a game along with freshmen Corey Stearns and Trey Blevins at 15.7 and 12.3 points a game Wayne County proved to better than expected this season. Seniors Dagan Shelton and Landry Woods provided key contributions that may not have shown up in the scoring column every night and junior Jason Perkins is also another key Cardinal who provided stability for the young Cardinals. Wayne County went 2-1 against Southwestern this season and also have a victory over Pulaski County so Wayne County definitely has what it takes to win the 12th Region provided they get past Pulaski County in their first round matchup.


West Jessamine(17-11)


The 46th District Champion West Jessamine Colts have consistently been the fourth or fifth best team in the 12th Region this season. While they don't boast any wins over the top teams in the region they have proven to have been competitive against the likes of Wayne County and Southwestern. They have faced their first round opponent, Lincoln County, once this season at that game was a 64-62 victory for West Jessamine. Just like their game on Monday against at Lincoln County their victory over Lincoln County was at Lincoln County. West Jessamine should expect a rowdy crowd on hand as they try to survive and advance Monday evening in the nightcap game at 7:30. Led by one of the top players in the region in senior Chase Fain and his 19.5 points a game West Jessamine has the ability to make a run and roll to Rupp. Daulton Peters will also be one of the top guards in the tournament as well. Coach Damon Kelley has proven to know what it takes to get the Colts to Rupp. They are good enough to make it there. We'll see if they can do it.



Lincoln County (15-17)


The Lincoln County Patriots had what can be described as a rough season. They played what I believe is one of the toughest schedules in the 12th region and are a better team that their record implies. The 45th District runner Up is led by sophomores Jacob Conway and Timmy Taylor this young Lincoln County team is laying the seeds for a foundation of success in the future. Are they good enough to win the region this season? Possibly. The tournament is on their home court so they do have that advantage. If Lincoln County can get a great week from Conway, Taylor and their lone senior Luke Hill then it is not entirely out of the question for Lincoln to make a quick run and advance to Rupp. Considering the season they have had even a victory or two in the tournament can go a long way for future success. They do have the talent to win and compete this upcoming week.


Southwestern(22-8)


Southwestern defeated Wayne County in the 48th District and is the reigning 12th Region Champion. Defending their crown and repeating is something they are certainly capable of. Southwestern returned four of their most important players in David Kapinga, Justin Edwards, Isaiah Collier and Justin Schulz. While it has been evident that they miss their strong senior class from a season ago it would be foolish to believe that Southwestern isn't capable of repeating. Not many point guards can match up with David Kapinga and when Justin Edwards is at the top of his game these two form a dangerous duo that not many teams have an answer for. Southwestern did go 1-4 against Wayne County and Pulaski County but they did defeat everyone else that they have faced in this region tournament. That list includes three victories over Somerset, one over Mercer County, one over West Jessamine and one over Lincoln County. Southwestern received a favorable draw(especially with Pulaski County and Wayne County facing each other in the first round) but nothing is guaranteed.


Mercer County(16-13)


Mercer County finished as the runner up in the 46th District Tournament losing to West Jessamine. Mercer County is led by freshman Will Hager and junior Russell Sims who are both averaging about 13 points a game. Senior John Ingram is scoring around 12 points a game and Mercer County receives key contributions from an assortment of other players as well. Coach Brian Britt has Mercer County right where he wants them as they are not a favorite to win the region(let alone their first game) but the experience they will receive will go a long way to establishing future success. Russell Sims has had a 40 point game this season and if he gets going he will be fun to watch and is capable of carrying the team to victory. Will Hager is also a player to keep an eye on as he will be in the 12th Region for another 3 years andwill no doubt leave his mark as time goes on. The odds are against Mercer County to defeat Southwestern but it would be a monumental win if it were to happen.


Boyle County(15-12)


The 45th District Champion Boyle County Rebels are led by senior Brett Jones and sophomore Hagen Tyler. The Rebels are one of the best defensive teams in the 12th region which is normal for any Coach Steve Adams led team. The Rebels are an enigma as it is well known that strong defensive teams tend to do better in the postseason than strong offensive teams but they only have 3 victories against these 12th region tourney teams and all of those victories are against Lincoln County. The Rebels have been known to go on scoring droughts in games at times but their defense has always kept them in those games. They are definitely good enough to win the region I just wonder if they know or believe they are good enough to win the region. The saying is that defense wins championships and the Rebels also have unfinished business from last season. The drive to Lincoln County isn't far from Boyle County and the Rebels have had a good amount of success at Lincoln County as well. Can they pull it out?


Somerset(18-9)


The Somerset Briar Jumpers have had a great season. The 47th District runner up enjoyed a victory over rival Pulaski County and they are also the regining 12th Region All A Champions as well. Led by Tyson Williams and Ryan Dishman the Briar Jumpers likely have the strongest frontcourt in the tournament. They also boast one of the strongest defenses in the region as well. Through 27 games the Briar Jumpers have only given up 1500 points as a team. With victories over Wayne County and Pulaski County, Somerset has the talent and ability to make a run to Rupp. Especially with that defense that they use to keep them in games when their offense isn't clicking. If they make it past Boyle County then do not count out the Briar Jumpers. They may surprise you.




Players to watch:

Pulaski County-Taylor Gover, Tyler Goins, Kody Johnson

Wayne County-Corey Stearns, Trey Blevins, Peyton Woods, Dagan Shelton

West Jessamine-Chase Fain, Daulton Peters, Will Henderson

Lincoln County-Jacob Conway, Timmy Taylor, Luke Hill

Southwestern-David Kapinga, Justin Edwards, Justin Shulz, Isaiah Collier

Mercer County-Will Hager, Russell Sims, John Ingram

Boyle County-Brett Jones, Hagen Tyler, Micah Miniard

Somerset-Tyson Williams, Ryan Dishman, Ryan Weddle, Cam Cheuvront




Predictions:



First round:
Pulaski County over Wayne County

West Jessamine over Lincoln County

Southwestern over Mercer County

Boyle County over Somerset


Semifinals:

Pulaski County over West Jessamine

Southwestern over Boyle County


Finals:

Pulaski County over Southwestern