4th Region Final Rankings and Postseason Preview (2-21-16)
Final Rankings and Postseason Preview
1. Bowling Green (25-2)
High Rank - 1, Low Rank - 1, Average Rank - 1
In the preseason preview we noted that the 14th District dominance this year wore a single color - Purple. Three months later, that hasn't remotely changed. Bowling Green ran everyone through the thresher this year, winning all 13 of their region contests as part of an overall 25 game win streak against 4th Region opponents. Only four of those wins came by single digit margins, and only one when the Purples were at full strength. In all, the Purples won region contests by nearly 20 PPG while playing 12 of those 13 games against teams in our final top ten. The entire Purple starting five made the All-Region team and coach D.G. Sherrill was voted KABC COY. This is our pick for 14th District and 4th Region champion, ending the year where they started it and every week in between - first.
2. Franklin-Simpson (22-4)
High Rank - 2, Low Rank - 6, Average Rank - 3
We pegged the Wildcats somewhat in description if not in our first ranking. "No team is more reliant on one player than Franklin-Simpson is on Tavin Lovan" is what we wrote prior to the year, and as their mere five point win over Allen County-Scottsville without him showed last week, they are beatable without him. But WITH Lovan's 26.8 PPG, they've been a load to handle. He is complimented by three point shooter Carlesso Doaks (10.3 PPG) and Trey Radcliffe (9.4 PPG), but the team's fate rises and falls with Lovan. Aside from a head scratching loss to South Warren, where Lovan was injured in the second half, the Wildcats rolled through their region schedule aside from a January loss to Russellville. Voted co-COY for the 4th Region awards, HC Dee Spencer's Wildcats are a virtual lock for the region tourney. What they won't have, is the benefit of having seen Bowling Green during the regular season. It remains to be seen if that lack of experience will hurt them. They open postseason play with Todd County Central, and as long as they stay opposite of Bowling Green, they're our pick for region runners-up.
3. Russellville (17-6)
High Rank - 2, Low Rank - 7, Average Rank - 4
Like the Wildcats, Russellville was undervalued entering the year. The 13th District really struggled last year, but the youth flourished this year, and Russellville helps personify that. Led by 4th Region First Team selection DeAndre Bradshaw (21 PPG, 12 RPG) and his double-double average, the Panthers were one of the aforementioned four games where a region team stayed within single digits of Bowling Green. Thanks to the height advantage that a player like Bradshaw gives them, the Panthers like to pound the ball inside, with over 78% of their attempts on the year coming from inside the arc. But, they may need a game like they had against the Purples in their first matchup to have a shot at that major upset, when they went 10/20 from three. The Panthers are athletic and have one of the best and most veteran coaches in Phil Todd. Russellville has not advanced past the second round of the region tournament since their title run in 2001, and they have fallen in nine straight region tournament contests against teams from the 14th District, reaching back to that same year. In fact, the entire 13th District has lost 22 in a row to the 14th District in region tourney play going back to 2001. The Panthers open with Logan County, and should compete well for the 13th District crown. Like Franklin-Simpson, if they can stay out of the way of Bowling Green, they've got a shot to make a deep run.
4. Barren County (22-4)
High Rank - 2, Low Rank - 4, Average Rank - 2
The Trojans began the year as the solid choice to push Bowling Green the best, and remained in the stalking position for the first five weeks of the year. But since, they've mostly taken a seat to the 13th District resurgence, which has suited Barren County just fine. They rode that to become the first region team to reach the 20 win mark this season, and along with Bowling Green, are the only ones to enter the postseason at that threshold. This rank is mostly owed to a pair of double digit losses to Bowling Green and Franklin-Simpson in January, a late loss at home to Russell County, and a host of middling opponents that didn't give us a read. The team is led by Wade Coomer, the KABC player of the year, complimented by Nick Mabe's inside presence. Both are seniors, giving them a veteran edge on the mostly young region - a real rarity this year. Barren County's head coach Warren Cunningham was the other co-COY as selected by the Fourth Region, and he guided Barren County to their fifth straight 20+ win season. The Trojans open with Allen County-Scottsville, a team they defeated by an average of 11.5 PPG in the regular season. They are the clear choice to win their district, but don't believe they will be able to return to the region finals for the first time since 2004. As long as they don't draw the 13th district loser, we believe they will have their season end in the region semifinals for the fourth straight year.
5. Russell County (17-8)
High Rank - 3, Low Rank - 8, Average Rank - 6
Russell County has had a successful, if not heralded, season under John Tinsley. The Lakers fell in one of their earliest tests of the year, dropping a road game at Greenwood that mostly kept them supressed in the rankings. But they proved their mettle in a 66-58 overtime win at Barren County just 10 days ago, a solid tune up for their region run. They enter the postseason winners of four of five games including that result over Barren County, and are led by All-Region Second Team selection Kel Stotts, a dynamic junior guard. As 16th District champions, running through with an unbeaten slate that saw them win by 9+ in all six of their district games, they open with Metcalfe County, who they will roll over. No team has an easier path to the 4th Region tournament than Russell County. They're our pick for 16th District champions, and a perfect draw for them would see the 15th district runner-up in the first game with the 13th District champion playing the 14th District runner-up. Given those circumstances, a region final run is not out of the question. Regardless of the opponent, the Lakers are always strong on the fundamentals, and a tough out.
6. Warren Central (17-11)
High Rank - 4, Low Rank - 6, Average Rank - 5
Against a tough schedule, the Dragons record suffered greatly compared to where it has been in recent years. Warren Central saw win streaks come to an end against Frankin-Simpson, Barren County, and Greenwood, with the former two coming by double digits on the road and the latter an ugly home loss where they blew a 15 fourth quarter lead. This is not the team we are used to, and now they will enter the postseason without the services of their starting point guard, who has been dismissed from the team. They do have big man Darrell Bowman, a Third Team All-Region selection that makes nearly 70% of his shots. The fatal weakness for Central is often their love of the three point attempt, which they do not make at a good clip. When they're falling, they are capable of playing with anyone - Bowling Green included. When they're not, well, they could find themselves out in the semis of the district, where they open with Warren East. We think they'll get past that game, but that the run of six straight region final appearances will come to an end, and with it, a seven year run of 20+ win seasons. The Dragons go out in the region quarters.
7. South Warren (13-14)
High Rank - 4, Low Rank - 10, Average Rank - 8
Coming into the year, the Spartans looked capable of so much more than this. With players like Dayton Gumm (All-Region Second Team) and Brandon Stacker (All-Region Third Team) returning, along with new head coach Tony Hopper, it appeared that the postseason success would finally come. Alas, though they enter the postseason winners of five of six, it came too late to help them avoid the 4/5 game in the 14th District tournament. They open with Greenwood, a game they should win, but that would line them up against Bowling Green, a team they have never beaten, and which drubbed them by 44 the last time they met. The season ends in the district semifinals against the Purples.
8. Warren East (14-14)
High Rank - 6, Low Rank - 11, Average Rank - 7
The Raiders came out of the gates on fire, starting 8-1. But the wins have been tough to come by since, finishing with just six wins in their last 19 contests. That included a run of six straight losses before they won their season finale, the last game that will be played in their current gym. The Raiders are led by All-Region First Team selection Kaleb Britt's 19.9 PPG, and also feature MacKenzie Strange (13.3 PPG) and Patrick Satterfield (12.3 PPG). Warren East loves the three ball, attempting one on 35% of all attempts, but making only 32% of those shots. That leads to a very volatile team. They played Bowling Green on back to back nights, losing by 42 and 16. The difference? In the first game they were 0/15 from three - the second 5/12. They open with a very beatable Warren Central, but the three ball will have to drop for them to get back to the region tournament for the first time in 19 years. That would be a realistic and attainable goal for this team.
9. Clinton County (14-12)
High Rank - 7, Low Rank - 11, Average Rank - 9
The Bulldogs enter the postseason going in the wrong direction, in a year where they suffered from the absence of graduated Keifer Dalton, the leading scorer in program history. Clinton County lost their last four games and six of eight. Included in that run was a loss to Glasgow in the All "A" Classic, a tournament they were picked to win. They open with Cumberland County, a team they beat by an average of 22 PPG, but the region quarters is their absolute ceiling.
10. Greenwood (12-17)
High Rank - 8, Low Rank - 14, Average Rank - 11
Like the Spartans, the Gators may have waited too long to hit their stride, although in their case, they had an early stride paired with a late stride, but a terrifyingly low middle. Greenwood started 6-4 and finished 5-3, but sandwiched that around a 1-10 run. Results such as December victories over Russell County and South Warren along with a rare road win over Warren Central give them hope, but they are stuck in the 4/5 game of the district tournament, where even a win over South Warren would just put them up against the Bowling Green juggernaut. Coach Jordan Carter will need to some all-time great performances from All-Region Third Team selection Dawson Crump to give them a shot. Our prediction is an exit in the first game against South Warren.
11. Logan County (10-13)
High Rank - 10, Low Rank - 13, Average Rank - 12
The Cougars open with rival Russellville in the 13th District tournament. They hung tight in regular season losses of 12 and 7 to the Panthers, but should see their season come to a close with a third loss at Russellville. Noah Whittinghill's 15.6 PPG lead Logan County, who enter postseason play losers of 5 out of their last 7.
12. Monroe County (8-17)
High Rank - 8, Low Rank - 12, Average Rank - 10
Their slow descent as the season wore on bottomed out here, at their lowest rank of the year. The Falcons have dominated their first round opponent Glasgow, obliterating them by 38 & 25 points. Monroe County should be a strong favorite to reach the district finals and punch their ticket for Diddle, but their reward will be that they are the most sought-after first round opponent at region.
13. Glasgow (10-17)
High Rank - 12, Low Rank - 15, Average Rank - 13
Though they appear to be overmatched against Monroe County, the Scotties already have a region title on the year, that coming in an unlikely run to the region All "A" Classic title. By that measure, first year coach James Willett's season will be a success. James Kingery's 14.4 PPG lead Glasgow.
14. Todd County Central (9-19)
High Rank - 13, Low Rank - 17, Average Rank - 15
It's not going to translate into postseason success against opponent Franklin-Simpson, but there's a lot of positives in the season for the Rebels. They snapped a 28 game losing streak with a six game win streak, winning nine of their last 14 games. All nine of those wins came after January 1st, which is nine more than they had after January 1st last season.
15. Allen County-Scottsville (6-22)
High Rank - 12, Low Rank - 15, Average Rank - 14
The Pats have had a rough go of it under first year HC Hilton Isable, but have made it hard on a few opponents this season, extracting close losses against Warren Central, Franklin-Simpson, and Clinton County. But it hasn't translated to wins often, with a 3-20 slate against 4th Region teams. Barren County will likely end their season on the Patriots' home floor on Tuesday.
16. Metcalfe County (3-22)
High Rank - 14, Low Rank - 17, Average Rank - 16
The tough years continue for Metcalfe County, who haven't advanced to region since 2011. They did have a signature win over Clinton County in December, their first win over a district opponent besides Cumberland County since that year. Unfortunately, they weren't even lucky enough to draw the Bulldogs in the district tourney, instead facing Russell County, a team they haven't beaten in 8 years.
17. Cumberland County (1-24)
High Rank - 15, Low Rank - 17, Average Rank - 17
Ignore everything else - Cumberland County snapped a 44 game losing streak when they beat Metcalfe County in January. That was the most important thing about the season. They will face Clinton County in the district tournament and lose, but they beat last year immediately in January.
Top Players in the 4th Region
1. Tavin Lovan, G, Jr. (Franklin-Simpson) - Same spot this young man occupied entering the season. His ridiculous 26.8 PPG is sixth highest in the state.
2. Terry Taylor, F, Jr. (Bowling Green) - Taylor averages 16.6 PPG on a team that has four players averaging in double digits. His 12.3 rebounds per game are good enough for third in the state.
3. DeAndre (Pedro) Bradshaw, F, Jr. (Russellville) - Bradshaw gives the Panthers a double-double basically every game, averaging 21 PPG and 12 RPG.
4. Kyran Jones, F, Jr. (Bowling Green) - Though he fell to a second team selection on the all-region teams, Jones averages a double double for the Purples, giving them another incredible scoring and rebounding presence.
5. Wade Coomer, G, Sr. (Barren County) - Coomer is a Coastal Carolina signee, the KABC POY for the region, and a selection to the All-Region First Team.
6. Thomas Booker, G, Sr. (Bowling Green) - An injury to his wrist robbed him of a large portion of the season, but the All-Region Third Team selection dropped 40 points in his first two games back, and averages 11.5 PPG on the season.
7. Kaleb Britt, G, Sr. (Warren East) - The All-Region First Team selection dropped in 19.9 PPG while shooting over 42% from behind the arc.
8. Kel Stotts, G, Jr. (Russell County) - Stotts continues to light up the scoreboard for the Lakers.
9. Dayton Gumm, G, Sr. (South Warren) - The unquestioned general on the floor for the Spartans and by far their #1 scoring option.
10. Darrell Bowman, F, Sr. (Warren Central) - An incredible reclamation project for the Dragons, the big man averages 16.4 PPG and shoots 73% from inside the arc.
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