2014-2015 Kentucky High School Basketball Preview - 4th Region
Annually we open this first part of the 4th Region preview by waxing poetic about the dominance of the 14th District over the region. Last year everyone in Bowling Green loaded up and drove 45 minutes to Barren County High to watch Bowling Green knock off Warren Central in an all-14th District region final, the eight all-14th District final in the 13 straight seasons that district has won the title. Not that there weren’t strong teams outside of the district, but the Purples and Dragons went a combined 15-0 against the other three districts – dominance continued. But after watching a few teams in the tournament last season I was left with the impression that we may finally, FINALLY, have a year where someone outside of it breaks through. Not that we’re picking that preseason. You just can’t until it happens.
Preseason 4th Region Rankings
1. Bowling Green – Bowling Green was expected to be good last year, but they surprised maybe even some of their supporters in a thrilling run to the Sweet 16 final four and nearly completing an incredible comeback against eventual state champion Covington Catholic. The Purples suffered only four losses in the 2014 calendar year, falling twice to Warren Central, that loss to Covington Catholic, and a mid-February decision against Owensboro. It was that Owensboro game that many credited with awaking a sleeping giant as the Purples came out laser focused for the rest of the year, reeling off 10 straight wins by an average of nearly 18 points per game. They lose five seniors from that team, including the twin towers of Joseph Ayers and Clay Stivers, leaving a lack of experience on the inside. But what Bowling Green has and you don’t is Tucker Sine, one of the most clutch shooters in the area last year. Sine was a bit out of nowhere during last season, ultimately leading Bowling Green in scoring prior to the Sweet 16. But he made himself known repeatedly throughout the year, coming up with big play after big play every time they needed it. He’ll have fellow senior Malik Carothers anchoring at point guard and junior Perry Ayers may finally be ready to break out. The depth may not be quite as prevalent as in some past years, but Bowling Green will still feature the same uptempo pressing style that has made them a mainstay at the top of the region. They’ve won three of the past six region titles and will look to add another.
2. Warren Central – It was a bitterly disappointing end for the Dragons last year. While not considered to be overwhelming favorites in the vein of some classic Warren Central teams from the mid-2000s, they were considered the clear choice for the crown. They backed that up with an unbeaten run through the region regular season slate, sweeping the Purples in the process. But it came to a thudding halt in the district finals with a beatdown at the hands of the Purples and after scratching and clawing to the region finals they were dealt another L by their hated rivals. The Dragons had won the regular season battle, but the hardware and postseason war went to Bowling Green. They lose seven seniors from that team including Austin Peay signee Chris Porter-Bunton. But the Dragons will still feature a long and talented lineup – but the days of going 11-12 deep from the Dragons may be done for good. The backcourt will be star studded for the Dragons. Senior Jared Savage is the lone returning starter and perhaps most versatile player, with a smooth stroke from the perimeter and the ability to drive inside. Senior Kobe Caldwell gets overlooked for some reason, but commands an offer from Winthrop. A big addition will be Tracy Hampton, a transfer from New Living Word in Louisiana, where he won a championship last season. It’s been suggested that while not as talented as last season, this unit might play more cohesively together.
3. Monroe County – If they had the history of winning on their side, this might be the pick to win the region. It wasn’t exactly smooth sailing all the time for the Falcons last year, but they made a strong run to the region semis, putting a heck of a scare into Warren Central before faltering late. They lost just a single senior from a year ago and roster an unusually high number of seniors – eight of them. The major name to know when you look at the Falcons is Geralds. Seriously, there’s three of them on the team – Dillon, Skyler (8.6 PPG), and John(3.9 PPG). If you count Devin Gearlds (one letter off) you’ve got over 25% of the team with nearly the same name. But none are more important than senior Dillon Geralds. He shoots with no conscience whatsoever and is almost unstoppable, averaging nearly 20 PPG last season. He shot almost 37% from the perimeter and finished just shy of averaging a double double in each game with 9.8 rebounds per. He’s complimented by the aforementioned Devin Gearlds who added just north of 10 PPG a year ago, and in all the top three scorers return. Monroe County has never been to a region final and you have to go back to 1981 and pre-consolidation Gamaliel to find one from the county. If they can put it all together, this could be the team that finally breaks through the glass ceiling that has seen them win only two regional tournament games in the school’s history.
4. South Warren - The blessing of being in the 14th District is you have to like your chances of winning the region if you can make it out of it. Ah, but there’s the curse – making it out. South Warren has never defeated Bowling Green or Warren Central in a regular or postseason game. There’s almost no year you can advance without beating one of them and last year it was Warren Central that knocked them out. They had their shot, with a possession in the last seconds down 2, but couldn’t come through. In addition to losing head coach Derrick Clubb, four seniors are gone from that team including talented Zach McDaniel. For this campaign they will be led by five seniors including experienced guard Jordan Buchanan and a talented junior class highlighted by guards Dayton Gumm and Bryan Cummings. But the biggest splash name will be 8th grader Marquise Walker, rated as one of the top players in the nation for his class. He moves in from Chicago and will be in the mix for a starting job at the point guard position. The Spartans also hired head coach Deron Breeze who brings a mix of head coaching experience from the KHSAA ranks as well as the AAU circuit. Classes that have had success at the lower levels are starting to finally become the veterans and it really is a matter of when, not if, the Spartans break through. And for a team that went 8-1 against non-district region competition, if they can get to WKU, they can absolutely win it.
5. Clinton County – In this space last year it was noted how the Bulldogs had terrible luck with region draws after they played region favorite Glasgow in 2012 and the team with the best record Barren County in 2013. So naturally after polishing off an unbeaten 16th district campaign with a thrilling victory over Russell County in the district title game they were rewarded with Warren Central, the preseason favorite fresh off of a humiliating loss. It went about the way you’d expect for a team this snakebitten. So, once again, Clinton County picks themselves back up after a sterling campaign that saw them go 22-3 outside of a rough December stretch of five straight losses. Who better to aid them than senior guard Keifer Dalton. Dalton is one of those players that you feel has been around for seven years because he has been such a factor for so long. Indeed Dalton is in the top 5 all-time scorers at Clinton County and was voted player of the year by the 4th Region coaches association. He loses his wingman Colby Langford (also one of the top 5 scorers all-time at Clinton County), but is joined by fellow senior Lance Claywell, who averaged double digits a season ago. The Bulldogs have five seniors that have helped keep the program at the top of the region ranks, and they’ll look to cement their legacy by taking home their first win in a regional game since 2010 – and hope for more.
6. Barren County – The Trojans missed a golden opportunity last season, hosting the first region tournament not to be played at WKU in over a decade, giving them a shot to take the title from the comforts of home. After riding homecourt advantage in the quarters against Russell County, a large partisan crowd saw it come to an end with a thud as Bowling Green dismantled them 71-55 in the semifinals. They lost a lot of talent off of that team, but coach Cunningham has a knack for reloading the bench for the Trojans. Junior Wade Coomer will join five seniors including forward Kaleb England and center Sawyer Matthews in trying to keep Barren County in the mix.
7. Russell County – Arguably the biggest loss for the Lakers was head coach Willie Feldhaus, long considered possibly the best coach in the region. They never won a 4th Region title under Feldhaus, but he took them back to a championship game for the first time in over 50 years and annually were a threat to end the 14th District dominance. Replacing him is John Tinsley, a 4th Region veteran that slides over from a second stint at Glasgow. The best big man in the region anchors the Lakers, Nick Coffey. Coffey is an imposing inside presence and has committed to play football at WKU. In this region, a single big man can be the difference and will be a significant edge. They also return the uber-talented sophomore Kel Stotts, but have a modest senior class of only three seniors. This may be a team more suited for the coming years.
8. Allen County-Scottsville – The Patriots went through a trial by fire last season after losing four starters from the year before, but return the core of a team that showed some strong fight last season, highlighted by a road win over eventual district champion Barren County. Center Dyllan Harper will give them a size advantage down low and is a veteran presence for a still rather young Patriot team. Like last season, they’ll struggle to escape the 15th district, but on any given night can give as good as they get.
9. Franklin-Simpson – Last year was a hideous year for the entirety of the 13th District and the Wildcats were no exception. They crawled to an 8-19 record that saw them win just 2 games in region play outside of the district. But they will enjoy the positives of playing a predominantly young class – they only graduated two players and have almost everyone back. The big name will be Tavin Lovan, a sophomore for the Wildcats that will ultimately be a four year starter in the red and blue. He averaged in the high teens last season to lead Franklin-Simpson in scoring – after averaging in double digits as an 8th grader - and will only get harder to handle as time moves on. The bad news for Franklin? They’ll still be younger than the average teams with only two seniors yet again.
10. Greenwood – The Gators were part of a fun round robin last season that saw them split with rivals Warren East and South Warren to form a three way tie, but they ended up being the first victim in the Purple march to the title. Greenwood loses Dylan Dewitt from last season’s edition, but new head coach Jordan Carter returns emerging sophomore Alex Fee in addition to senior Alex Schneller to help Greenwood improve from a 12-16 campaign.
11. Russellville – Coach Phil Todd will return almost his entire team from last season’s 13th District champions.
12. Warren East – New head coach Brandon Combs comes over from the staff at Bowling Green but must contend with the loss of six seniors in the region’s toughest district.
13. Glasgow – The Scotties face an uphill battle after losing six seniors and their coach.
14. Logan County – Like the rest of the 13th District they were very young last year but have a much more experienced edition this time around. Anything can happen in the 13th District.
15. Todd County Central – The Rebels had a pair of three game winning streaks last season. They went 1-19 otherwise and lost their last five games. And that was WITH Jon Michael Brown who scored over 23 PPG.
T-16. Cumberland County & Metcalfe County – Last season these two teams split their meetings for their only wins against region competition.
Top Players in the 4th Region
1. Keifer Dalton, G, Sr. (Clinton County) – What other choice could there be than the defending POY in the region?
2. Dillon Geralds, G, Sr. (Monroe County) – Geralds simply cannot be stopped if he is on his game.
3. Nick Coffey, C, Sr. (Russell County) – The best post player in the region yet again.
4. Tucker Sine, G, Sr. (Bowling Green) – Sine is captain clutch and one of the hardest working players in the region. He leaves everything on the floor.
5. Tavin Lovan, G, So. (Franklin-Simpson) – Same statement as last year – a superstar in the making.
6. Jared Savage, G, Sr. (Warren Central) – Savage has the dimensions to be a matchup problem for almost anyone that tries to guard him.
7. Kel Stotts, G, So. (Russell County) – Stotts is a pure scorer that will remain a fixture of these rankings for the next two years.
8. Kobe Caldwell, G, Sr. (Warren Central) – Caldwell is one of the few region players to hold a bona fide D1 offer.
9. Jordan Buchanan, G, Sr. (South Warren) – Buchanan is a physical guard and the most experienced Spartan player.
10. Malik Carothers, G, Sr. (Bowling Green) – Carothers is the distributor for the always potent Purple offense.
Last edited by DragonFire; Nov 7, 14 at 09:28 AM.
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