2014 14th District Tournament Preview
In theory, we should have a pretty good picture of how the 14th District is going to play out. For the first time since 2009 there is an outright #1 (Warren Central) and there is also an outright #2 (Bowling Green). For the first time since 2007 a team went unbeaten in the district (Warren Central). Central beat everyone, Bowling Green beat everyone but Central. Both teams have combined to win every single one of the district tournaments since 1997. Plus, this is the 5th district tourney that has been held at Warren East, and both Warren Central and Bowling Green have won two apiece in the previous four. It would seem we have a pretty good picture of who is going to advance.
That of course doesnít mean that things CANíT happen. Last year Greenwood stunned everyone by coming out of the woodwork to win two games and reach the finals following a year in which they didnít win a single district game. It was the first time ever that the #1 seed did not advance to the region tournament when Warren East had another year tacked onto their region drought. Warren Central became the first #3 seed ever to win the district tournament, an oddity made possible by the three way tie. The 14th District comprises five of the top 10 teams in the region Ė you just never know what might happen.
To the matchups.....
14th District Tournament at Warren East High School
#4 South Warren vs. #5 Warren East Ė Neither team really wanted to be here, but here they are. The home team won each game in their season series, with Warren East taking the most recent game 60-48 in 2OT just two weeks ago. The Raiders have won just one postseason game at home ever, and only one postseason game period since 1997, in the 4/5 game over South Warren in 2012. But that obstacle might be trumped by the one South Warren faces, namely that they havenít won a district game that wasnít played on their homecourt since December 2012 (7 straight losses), and thatís the only one theyíve won since December 2010 (losing 17 of 18). Thatís in addition to the stigma of having never won a postseason game at all, most notably when they were stunned by Greenwood in the 4/5 game last year. Both of these teams have talent but have been inconsistent. But itís the Raiders that have typically played higher caliber ball, going 13-2 outside of the district. The homecourt is an important advantage, one I think proves to be the difference. Prediction: Warren East by 5
Predicted Matchup #5 Warren East vs. #1 Warren Central Ė Looking at the margins in their two regular season games, this one has the appearance of a bit more of a mismatch than it really is. At Warren Central, the Dragons jumped on the Raiders early and blew the doors off in a 73-29 win. But when they played at Warren East in early January, it was a 46-43 game at one point in the third quarter before the Dragons pulled away in the 4th Quarter to win comfortably 80-58. Centralís game plan in the first two matchups were to allow the Raiders perimeter looks and shut down anything inside. The Raiders obliged by generally shooting poorly, but that time in the third quarter that they drew close to Central was fueled by several makes in a row. If the Raiders can get hot from three, they can make the strategy backfire. Itís also important for them to shorten the game and not allow Centralís depth to wear them down. And of course, handle the press. In the end though, thereís a reason Warren Central is the undisputed region favorite. They have three of the best players in the region and a deep supporting cast. They run you to death and then run some more. And outside of two years, the Dragons have flat dominated the series since the 90s.
Should South Warren beat Warren East, it could be tougher to predict. The Spartans put a scare like no other into the Dragons when they played at South Warren, leading them in the fourth quarter, tying the game with less than 10 seconds left, and losing on a borderline foul with no time remaining to send Porter-Bunton to the line for the winner. But thereís the key Ė at South Warren. The home/away splits from the Spartans are striking, none moreso than their performances against Warren Central and Bowling Green. At home, they played each game within a point, and lost to BG in double overtime. On the road, they lost by 31 and 21 respectively. The only consistent thing about the Spartans this year has been inconsistency, with some great performances balanced by inexplicable losses to the likes of North Hardin and Todd County Central. When outside their friendly confines, itís just impossible to envision them beating Warren Central.
Prediction: Warren Central by 17 over Warren East or Warren Central by 11 over South Warren
#2 Bowling Green vs. #3 Greenwood Ė The coaches of these teams may not have known it, but this was fated. Greenwood opened in 1990. Warren East hosted their first district tourney after that time in 2002, and every four years since. In all three (2002, 2006, and 2010), these two teams have met in the district semifinals. Greenwood won the first two, Bowling Green won the last. Thereís even a bit of symmetry in that current Greenwood head coach Jason Stonebraker played his final game as a Purple in their loss to Greenwood in the 2002 district tournament. It had been three years since these teams played in the postseason, and there was no better place for them to renew that rivalry. The two teams have met 13 times in the postseason with Bowling Green leading the series 8-5, winning the last 3. Itís their 11th postseason elimination game, with the teams splitting the previous 10 at five apiece. The recent history though, is much more decidedly in Bowling Greenís favor. They won both matchups this year by an average of 13 PPG, have won 4 straight against Greenwood, and have won 13 of the last 14 against them. The games are typically tough, tight games, but the Purples have typically won.
Looking at their season against other teams paints much the same picture. The Gators have proven capable at times of playing with some top teams, but havenít really won any of those games. Their record is just 9-7 outside district play. Meanwhile Bowling Green was the first 4th Region team to reach the 20 win plateau and is undefeated in region play outside of their losses to Warren Central. Thereís really not a bad loss on Bowling Greenís schedule, falling to BGP Top 20 teams like Trinity and Elizabethtown in addition to strong region contenders John Hardin and Owensboro, both on the road. All signs point toÖÖ Prediction: Bowling Green by 9
Predicted Matchup #1 Warren Central vs. #2 Bowling Green Ė Itís really the only logical choice. Some of the other teams have shown themselves capable of playing with these two in stretches, even make them sweat it to the very last. But the mark of a good team is that even when youíre not your best or not dominating, you still get the W. If these two make it here, theyíve achieved the goal they care far more about, making region. Last year this game was forced to a district semifinal, and some felt that when Warren Central won they had already won the region. Certainly these two are expected to compete not only in this game but the region final. In addition to the previous stat about winning every district since 1997, these two have alternated district titles every year since 2007, no one ever winning two in a row. Last year was Warren Centralís turn. Might Bowling Green win it this time as they did four years ago at Warren East?
In each of the first two matchups it was a single stretch that did the Purples in. In their first matchup at Bowling Green, it was the first four minutes of the 4th Quarter. The Purples had led most of the game to that point, but Rondell Green and Jared Savage took the game over, pushing the lead to 11, before a furious rally by Bowling Green fell short. In the matchup at Warren Central, it was most of the 3rd quarter, when following a Tisdale three to draw within 23-22 the Purples gave up 12 points in a row, a deficit they were never able to shave to less than 4 afterwards. In all, the Dragons have won five straight against Bowling Green, the longest streak in the series for either team since 2005. But itís always tough to maintain a stretch like that. Neither team has truly brought their best game for the matchup, and whichever can find it first will be the winner. While past performance is not always a reliable predictor of the future, you have to go with the Dragons until the Purples prove otherwise. Bowling Green would probably just as soon that be the region final if it is only to happen once. Prediction: Warren Central by 5
Tags for this Thread