1. Bowling Green (27-2) High Rank - 1, Low Rank - 1, Average Rank - 1
It’s been 23 straight weeks at the top of the region rankings for Bowling Green, which is unsurprising given their 43 game region winning streak. The Purples have done nothing the entire year to besmirch their reputation as the frontrunner in the region, and as one of the most dominant teams in the state. The season has tracked remarkably similar to last year’s run. The Purples dropped a couple of games in the King of the Bluegrass, and didn’t lose again until the postseason. In all, Bowling Green has won 38 of their last 39 games played in January, February, or March. You could push that to 55 of their last 58, with all three losses coming to the teams that went on to win the state title. The point being, this is Bowling Green’s time of year. There is not a single weakness on this team, which has great length down low, athleticism everywhere, and oh yeah, makes 43% of their threes. They are almost indefensible for anyone. The Purples placed four players on the all-region teams, including Terry Taylor on the first team behind his 17.6 PPG and 11.9 RPG. They should roll to the 14th District title, and will cut down the 4th Region nets for the fourth consecutive year.
2. Franklin-Simpson (23-6) High Rank - 2, Low Rank - 2, Average Rank - 2
Like the Purples, Franklin-Simpson did not budge from their ranking at any point during the season. They entered the year seen as the top contender to the top, and have mostly proven it, even though they twice failed to slay the Purple beasts. No loss was more devastating in that respect than the 62-59 loss they suffered at home against Bowling Green on January 23rd, despite leading by 13 points with just over 4 minutes left. They say it’s hard to beat a good team three times, and the Wildcats will be banking on that, as they are all but certain to see Bowling Green again. Overcoming that mental block may be difficult, but it’s really the only knock on their season. Of their six losses, only their 52-36 loss to Owensboro Catholic came to a team not in BluegrassPreps’ top 10. Franklin has posted strong wins over the likes of University Heights and Doss, while putting up strong efforts against CovCath and Fern Creek, while rolling to an unbeaten District 13 slate and only falling to Bowling Green in the region. 4th Region POY Tavin Lovan has posted 25.3 PPG, carrying the team on his back. He’s gotten balanced help from the likes of Trey Radcliffe (8.4 PPG) and Carlesso Doaks (7.3), but like always, they’ll go where Tavin takes them. It’ll depend on the draw for them, but wherever they meet Bowling Green, that’s where they’ll fall. We’ll say it’s in the region finals.
3. Russellville (19-10) High Rank - 3, Low Rank - 5, Average Rank - 3
There’s a pretty sizable gap between our top two teams and #3. Russellville has been consistent this year, but aside from a stunning 69-65 win over Hopkinsville in December, they’ve mostly beaten the teams they should and lost to the ones they should. They’ve taken losses to Bowling Green (19 points) and Franklin-Simpson (22 and 21 points), showing just how far they have to go and not a lot of time to get there. Pedro Bradshaw is a standout for the Panthers again, posting 22.1 PPG and a state-leading 13.6 RPG en route to an all-region first team selection. Jacob Naylor has provided a solid compliment at 11.9 PPG, but most nights it all falls on Bradshaw to carry the load. The Panthers can be subject to some extremely low lows, such as their mere 36 points at Franklin-Simpson, on a night where Bradshaw scored 15 and no other player on Russellville scored more than 6. Russellville has not been past the first round of the region since 2013, and hasn’t advanced to the finals since 2001. With Phil Todd recently announcing his retirement following the year, this will be his last chance to duplicate what he did in that year, and get a title for a team outside the 14th. Alas, like Franklin, their road will end where they meet Bowling Green. If the draw is right, they can make the finals. They’ll at least extend their region tournament appearance streak to a record 14 in a row.
4. Warren Central (17-13) High Rank - 3, Low Rank - 7, Average Rank - 4
The Dragons have had a volatile season. Central opened the year 6-0 with marquee wins over Henderson County and Bullitt East. But after losing Ziyan Milliken to a calf injury over the holidays, the team was never the same. As the season wore on, they lost bench man Tayshaun Bibb to injury as well, leaving the Dragons with a much shorter bench than usual – which was already short entering the year. The trouble has shown up mostly on the offensive end, as the Dragons have averaged a mere 53.78 PPG in their last 18 games, only topping 60 points five times. Not that the Dragons are without pluses. For starters, they have managed to play a very tough schedule closely, with tight losses and/or fourth quarter leads over the likes of Franklin-Simpson, Russellville, and Owensboro Catholic, and ended the season with a win over John Hardin – their best win since early December. They carry the momentum of that plus winning 3 of 4 into the postseason, where they’ll meet Greenwood at Dragon Gym. Central beat shorthanded Greenwood just 9 days ago, and the Gators will remain without their top two scorers. For the Dragons to make noise they will have to get big games out of Skyelar Potter (20.2 PPG, 11.8 RPG, all-region first team) and Josh Moss (10.4 PPG), and then have contributions from at least one other player. They are #4 mostly due to a region that is very down this year, but given the right draw and circumstances, a finals run is not out of the question. Our prediction is a district runner-up finish to Bowling Green, and then a region semifinal exit as long as they avoid the 13th District winner in the quarters.
5. Barren County (16-14) High Rank - 5, Low Rank - 9, Average Rank - 7
The Trojans are another example of a team that probably wouldn’t be this high if this were last year, but Barren has been playing good ball down the stretch, to the tune of 10 wins in their last 13 games. That was a wild swing up in a season that had multiple swings for Barren County. After starting 4-0, they lost 11 of their next 13 before that final 13 game stretch. So there is some degree of which Trojan team shows up. The good news is, they’ll open with Glasgow, a team they walloped by an average of 18 PPG, and they are easily playing the best ball of any team in the 15th District – a district the Trojans finished a perfect 6-0 against. Unlike last year’s veteran heavy squad, the Trojans have only two seniors, most notably Branson London, the team’s third leading scorer at 8.9 PPG. But it’s all-region third team selection Jared Coomer that leads the way with 16.1 PPG. Coomer is a lanky forward that does just about everything for the Trojans, from posting up, to three point shots, to leading them in rebounds. Freshman Will Bandy (8.9 PPG) is another player to watch. By nature of their district, Barren County is almost a lock for the region tournament, but with so much youth – albeit talented youth – they’re a team targeting a future run. An ideal draw for the Trojans would be the 16th District rep, be it the champion or runner-up, but will likely be eliminated with any other draw. We expect a quarterfinal exit.
6. Clinton County (20-9) High Rank - 5, Low Rank - 7, Average Rank - 6
Clinton County has been a steady eddy all year long, never rising about 5th and never falling below 7th in the rankings. They have a lot of wins, but many of them in unimpressive nature over unimpressive teams. They were blown off the map by Franklin-Simpson (20 points) and Greenwood (22 points), and their best win was likely a December victory over Barren County, who they fell to just three days ago in a rematch. Overtime wins over Monroe County and Allen County-Scottsville, as well as a subsequent overtime loss to Monroe County pain similarly bleak outlooks for their ability to compete with the top of the region. However, the Bulldogs did show up to play in one meeting with the current upper echelon of the region, a 78-72 OT loss to Russellville in the All “A” tournament. All of that makes it a bit difficult to peg Clinton County. They’re one of just three twenty win teams, and have Jackson Harlan, an all-region third team selection. But given that six wins came against the atrocious 16th District, and another three wins came against other teams in the 11-17 range of our ranks, it’s hard to trust them. They’re 2-5 against the rest of the region’s top ten. The Bulldogs have been to five consecutive region tournaments, but have yet to win a game at any of them, and are just 2-13 in their last 13 appearances. They’re going to walk all over the 16th District teams in their way, but they will only be favored at region if they draw the 15th District runner-up. The odds say they go out in the region quarters, and there is no doubt they leave by the end of the semifinals.
7. Greenwood (18-12) High Rank - 3, Low Rank - 11, Average Rank - 5
The Gators carry more intrigue than perhaps any team below Franklin-Simpson. Their narrative was one of triumph just two short weeks ago, before everything flipped upside down. Greenwood started the year in 11th due to doubts about the pieces around Crump. Immediately the Gators showed they were a force to be reckoned with, jumping out to a 7-2 start with single digit battles against both Franklin-Simpson and Bowling Green. It all culminated in an overtime loss to Bowling Green that the Gators had virtually lock and stock, but let slip away due to missed free throws. But then came a suspension of Dawson Crump (17.6 PPG, all-region 1st team) and Chris Agro (10.5 PPG), the two leading scorers on the team. That suspension will run through the district tournament. It leaves only Alex Fee (9.6 PPG, all-region 3rd team) standing among a big three that had Greenwood considered as the second biggest threat to the Purple reign. Those suspensions have made them a heavy underdog to Warren Central, who beat them by 12 at Greenwood in the second game without Crump and Agro. But the intrigue comes from the possibilities if Greenwood could find their way past Central. If that happens, then likely by the opening of the region tournament Greenwood would be whole again, with some added experience to their reserves in tow. They’d perhaps be even better positioned for a run than they would have been. A player like 8th grader Isiah Mason has had a chance to see minutes, including dropping 16 points on Monroe County. Perhaps the added depth could key a big run. Our prediction is that Greenwood will exit stage left with a loss to Warren Central, but don’t count Greenwood out, especially given how first year HC Bob Pels has coached them up. IF they get by Central, they can make the region finals, and maybe even a true Cinderella run out of the region.
8. Monroe County (15-12) High Rank - 5, Low Rank - 9, Average Rank - 9
The Falcons opened the year with a bang, notching a close overtime loss against Franklin-Simpson, which catapulted them to their high rank of 5. However, they immediately fell back down to 8th, which is where they stayed much of the year. Monroe County has often had all the looks of a team that was the best in the 15th District, but they could not solve Barren County, who beat them by a combined four points in two meetings, including a quadruple overtime win at Monroe County in early December. And while they proved they could play with a lot of the middle tier in the region, they also played down to some opponents, such as an early February loss at the buzzer to Allen County-Scottsville, their opponent in the 15th District tournament. The Falcons are yet another team with a single dominant player, in this case Billy Michael Dyer, whose 23.3 PPG is among the best in the region, and pushed him to an all-region second team selection. There is some danger in facing Monroe County, in that they shoot the lights out from the perimeter, shooting 40.7% as a team. Dyer is a volume 42.8% shooter from the arc, while Tucker Kirkpatrick has shot 47% on 83 attempts. If they can get hot, who knows what might happen. But if they go cold, they could just as easily lose to the Patriots in the first round. We think they finish as district runners-up, and exit in the quarterfinals of the region tournament, where they’ll be the second most sought-after draw.
9. Warren East (12-15) High Rank - 6, Low Rank - 11, Average Rank - 8
We’ve covered in depth the January-March woes of the Raiders, none worse than this season’s 2-12 finish, with their only wins coming over Glasgow and Cumberland County. They enter on the heels of five straight losses, and fell all the way into the 4/5 game of the 14th District tournament. That put them against South Warren, who they just lost to on February 7th, and on the same side as #1 Bowling Green, who have defeated them an astounding 45 straight times. No Raider player was alive the last time East made the region tournament in 1997, and most likely none of them were alive the last time East defeated Bowling Green (in 1998). If either of those streaks are to end, they will need a mammoth effort from Trequon Patterson (21.6 PPG, all-region second team) and Patrick Satterfield (12.5 PPG). The pair combined for 53 points the first time they faced Bowling Green, which they still lost by 22 points. Clearly, they will need a third contributor as well. Our prediction is that they don’t get it, and fall to the Purples in the semifinals by at least 20 points.
10. Todd County Central (9-16) High Rank - 10, Low Rank - 16, Average Rank - 11
The Rebels have continued their rebuilding project, and while their win total is the same as last year, they have shown far more competitive fight, as well as taking home their first district win since 2014. The Rebels are led by junior Nolan Barrow (14.4 PPG) and sophomore John Calvery (10.3 PPG), and the team will be well positioned to perhaps put together a run next season when Franklin and Russellville take a step back. The Rebels showed well in a late January loss to Franklin, but unfortunately drew Russellville, who has beaten them by an average of 24.67 PPG in three meetings. A district semi finish is where they’ll end, but they’ve come up a ways since two years ago when they had just three wins.
11. Allen County-Scottsville (10-18) High Rank - 11, Low Rank - 16, Average Rank - 13
The Patriots moved to their third head coach in three years, with veteran Lex Lindsey rallying the troops to a 10-18 record and a surprising 3-3 finish in the 15th, good enough to earn Lindsey co-COY honors in the region. There were several strong results in the back half of the year for the Patriots, such as close losses to Greenwood and Clinton County, as well as a big district win over Monroe County, their opponent in the district semis. We predict they don’t manage to take down the Falcons twice, but the Pats will return two of their three leading scorers for next season, perhaps making them ready to make a push against Barren County.
12. Logan County (7-19) High Rank - 9, Low Rank - 15, Average Rank - 10
Hopes were pushed high after an opening win against Warren East, but aside from an early December win over Hopkins County Central, there weren’t many high points for the Cougars. They did seem to pick up some better play in the last few weeks of the year, with close overtime losses to Barren County and Russellville, as well as narrowly falling by two points to a surprisingly good Edmonson County team, but Logan County won’t have any hope on the road against a Franklin-Simpson team that beat them by an average of 23 PPG.
13. South Warren (6-22) High Rank - 12, Low Rank - 16, Average Rank - 15
The Spartans squandered a lot of potential in the last few years, and entered this year devoid of even that. Things went from bad to worse immediately when they lost leading returner Dylan Beckham to injury in December, but have been bolstered by his February return (9.5 PPG on the year), and have paired him with leading scorer Jaxson Smith’s 9.6 PPG. Still, this was a team that scored below 40 points nine times and below 30 points three times. They won’t repeat their upset of Warren East, exiting in the 4/5 game of the 14th District tournament.
14. Russell County (6-23) High Rank - 11, Low Rank - 14, Average Rank - 12
This was a year the likes of which the Lakers had not seen since entering the region back in 2006. It is by far their worst record since joining the region, and you have to go all the way back to 1999 to find a worse one, when they went 3-22 as members of the 12th Region. The Lakers have never missed a fourth region tournament, and will need to win on the road at Cumberland County to keep the streak alive, where they just lost 13 days ago. Russell County did beat the Panthers twice this year, and our prediction is that they get it done again, and then exit immediately in the region tournament. But consider this the shakiest of all the region participant predictions.
15. Cumberland County (7-19) High Rank - 12, Low Rank - 16, Average Rank - 16
No matter what happens, this is a successful year for the Panthers, who just last year snapped a 44 game losing streak and then lost the next 16 games after that. Their seven wins are the most for the team in four seasons, and they beat Russell County for the first time since 2009, their last time they made the region tournament. They’ll have to do it again if they want to end that streak as well. They have homecourt to attempt it.
16. Glasgow (4-23) High Rank - 10, Low Rank - 16, Average Rank - 14
Glasgow showed some life in December with a close loss to Greenwood and starting 2-5, but lost their next 15 games before mercifully getting home games against Metcalfe County and Caverna. It was a terrible year for the Scotties any way you slice it, and they’ll exit against rival Barren County in the first round of the district tournament. The Trojans defeated them by 10 and 26 points this season.
17. Metcalfe County (0-29) High Rank - 17, Low Rank - 17, Average Rank - 17
We probably didn’t appreciate enough that when the Hornets fell to Betsy Layne 84-83 in double overtime on December 29th that their only real chance had just passed them by. Metcalfe County’s losing streak has reached 30 games, and that loss was the only one by less than 12. Just two seniors depart Metcalfe County after this year.
Top Players in the 4th Region 1. Tavin Lovan, G, Sr. (Franklin-Simpson) – Lovan remains at the top yet again, taking home POY honors for the 4th Region. He averaged just 25.3 PPG this season, down from last year. It was still 11th highest for the state.
2. Terry Taylor, F, Sr. (Bowling Green) – The engine that drives the Purples. His 17.6 PPG led the team, and he can play anywhere on the floor. Have fun guarding him from three where he shoots 49.1%.
3. DeAndre (Pedro) Bradshaw, F, Sr. (Russellville) – The Belmont-signee led the state in rebounds per game, and averaged 22.6 PPG. Like Taylor, he can and will shoot the three, and has great handles.
4. Dawson Crump, G, Sr. (Greenwood) – His suspension at the end of the year is a real shame, possibly depriving us of seeing one of the best ballhandlers and shooters in the region in the postseason. He dropped 38 on Bowling Green in his potential last game.
5. Zion Harmon, G, 8th (Bowling Green) – Skepticism abounded about the phenom, but he more than backed it up with 16.4 PPG. A 40% three point shooter, he is among the state’s leaders in FT% (87.5%).
6. Skyelar Potter, F, Jr. (Warren Central) – Potter couldn’t quite maintain his pace from beginning of the year, but still averaged 20.2 PPG to lead the Dragons. He’s a POY candidate for 2017-18.
7. DeAngelo Wilson, G, Sr. (Bowling Green) – Wilson could easily be higher on this list, as he hit his stride in a big way midseason. Wilson slashes into the paint with blinding speed, and gets to the rim despite his height.
8. Billy Michael Dyer, G, Jr. (Monroe County) – Dyer is a big scorer for the Falcons, and shoots 42.8% from the perimeter, despite having attempted 145 shots from the arc.
9. Kyran Jones, F, Sr. (Bowling Green) – This is off of where we usually have had Jones, but with Harmon’s ascension, he hasn’t been asked to do nearly as much this year. His 11.3 PPG are still third on the Purples.
10. Jared Coomer, F, Jr. (Barren County) – Coomer was the only returning starter from last year’s region runners-up, and backed it up with a 16.1 PPG average.