4th Region Final Rankings and Postseason Preview (2-17-18)
Final Rankings and Postseason Preview
1. Warren Central (25-4)
High Rank - 1, Low Rank - 1, Average Rank - 1
The Dragons sat at the top of our ranks to open the preseason, dethroning Bowling Green after a 23 week run at the top. Central has done very little to dissuade that ranking this season, with perhaps the only moment of doubt coming after a 66-57 loss to Bowling Green in late January. The Dragons ran up a 13-1 region record, with only that loss to Bowling Green and a road win at Greenwood coming by single digit margins. Their season record is good enough for one of the best in the history of Warren Central, a reflection of the effort and desire borne from last season’s unconscionable loss in the district tournament at home. While not invincible, the Dragons are the clear frontrunner. They are led by 4th Region player of the year Skyelar Potter, who averages 24.2 PPG while shooting 56% from the floor, in addition to 10.8 RPG. He also set a Dragon record for most charges taken during a season – he’s a complete player. Jordan Cousin (14.3 PPG) and Micale Mee (10.3 PPG) complete a trio of scorers for the Dragons, who still lack the depth they have enjoyed in the past. Going only about 8 deep, they cannot afford injury or foul trouble. There is likely not a team in the region other than Bowling Green that can beat them, and none can do it if they are at their best. Our prediction is that they will get their first title trophies since 2013, ending Bowling Green’s run at the top in both the district and region.
2. Bowling Green (19-10)
High Rank - 2, Low Rank - 3, Average Rank - 2
Despite a mass exodus from last season’s state champions – including some unexpected losses like Zion Harmon and Tre Jones, the Purples have held their heads high and continued the standard of excellence we’ve grown accustomed to from them. Nothing about their style has changed under new HC Derrick Clubb, aside from them usually springing their trademark full court press in the second half rather than beginning to end. The four time defending champions saw the end of all their long winning streaks, be it region, district, or home, but have only fallen twice in region play, to Barren County and Warren Central, both at home. After starting just 5-5, the Purples reeled off 11 wins in their next 13 games before cooling off with a 3-3 finish. Jarius Key has been the engine that drives the team, dominating the paint with 18.6 PPG and just shy of 10 RPG. A big factor in their success has been the emergence of Ziyon Kenner, who has proven to be a serviceable slasher to the rim in averaging 10.7 PPG. Kenner played basketball at Christian County before sitting out last year at Bowling Green and focusing on football. His presence has been an undeniable boost, as was transfer Isaiah Mason (6.8 PPG), a freshman that joined the powerful Purple freshman crop that will secure their success for years to come. They are by far the biggest threat to Warren Central, and they very well could bring home their fifth consecutive region title. If they were to do that, it would not be surprising to see their streak reach eight in a row. Our prediction is that they meet Warren Central two more times, falling in each to finish as runners-up. But winning begets winning, so no one should be shocked if they cut down the nets again.
3. Clinton County (17-11)
High Rank - 3, Low Rank - 9, Average Rank - 6
Last year there clearly was a sizable gap between the top two teams and #3, and this year is no different. Clinton County has a solid team, but honestly, they just sort of ended up here. The Bulldogs have one of the widest swings in ranks this year, dropping to ninth just after Christmas on the strength of a double digit loss at home to South Warren, and rising all the way to third after a double digit win over Barren County in the season’s final week. Everything gives the sense that the Bulldogs are a competent team that is capable of a semifinal run but probably not further, but could also easily crash out in the region quarterfinals as they did for five straight years before advancing to the semis last year. Clinton County is led by Jackson Harlan, whose 27.1 PPG is one of the top scoring averages in the state. Harlan is a sharpshooter, knocking down nearly 40% of all three point attempts. He is assisted by Seth Stockton (13.4 PPG), but those are the only two Bulldogs averaging more than 6 PPG. The highlight of the season was undoubtedly their home win in the All A finals over former district rival Monroe County, and that Clinton County will advance to the region tournament is certain thanks to a 6-0 record in the 16th District, earning a matchup with Metcalfe County. An ideal draw for them would be to get the 13th District runner-up in the quarterfinals, but there is no draw that would be favorable to get to the finals. Our prediction is that if they avoid the 14th District runner-up, they’ll reach the semis for the second straight year.
4. Monroe County (18-9)
High Rank - 3, Low Rank - 4, Average Rank - 3
A recurring theme in this preview will be inconsistency. Monroe County might be the most consistently inconsistent team from this point on. They started the year in fourth, never dropping below that mark, but never rising above third. They’ve had some tremendous highs, from sweeping Barren County with the second matchup being a 25 point blowout to a 53-52 win over 3rd region contender Owensboro Catholic. There have been other moments, such as their three point loss to Allen County-Scottsville which simply defies explanation. The Falcons had beaten ACS by 17 earlier in the year – ON THE ROAD. And yet they took a loss at home to their semifinal game in the district tournament. That in no way should repeat but who would have thought it would happen the first time? Monroe averaged a healthy 10.7 point margin of victory on the year, and as expected they have received standout play from Billy Michael Dyer, whose 17.5 PPG narrowly lead the team. But this year there’s a Robin to his Batman (or maybe even another Batman), which is the biggest reason why his scoring has dropped by nearly 5 PPG. Chandler Clements (17.4 PPG) has lightened the load for Dyer, giving the team another bona fide scoring threat to draw attention away from Dyer. While ranked below Clinton County, Monroe is likely a much bigger threat to make the finals due to greater depth and diversity of scoring. They shoot an acceptable 35% from the perimeter, with Tucker Kirkpatrick scorching the nets with 47.5% shooting from three. The Falcons are our pick to win the competitive 15th District, and while we don’t think they could beat Warren Central, they might be a threat to Bowling Green. If Monroe can stay away from Central, they’re a threat to make the finals. We think they go out in the semis.
5. Barren County (19-10)
High Rank - 2, Low Rank - 7, Average Rank - 4
Barren County is the only team besides Warren Central and Bowling Green to rise above the rank of #3 this year, doing it for a single week in January. They owed that to the megaton 68-64 win on the road at Bowling Green, which raised their record to 8-5 and ended years of frustrating losses to the Purples. Everything appeared to be going great. Riiiiiiiight up to their next game, a 13 point home loss to Adair County. Then a 30 point running clock beating by Warren Central. Then a 6 point loss to Warren East. And finally the slide culminated with a 25 point loss to Monroe County. It was as hideous as the Bowling Green game was pretty, and it still appeared to take the Trojans a couple weeks to recover. They righted the ship with 11 straight wins, but it was a sign that while the Trojans were capable of much, they could also find themselves drummed out of the postseason immediately. They open postseason play with rival Glasgow, who they swept on the season with margins of 8 and 7 points. The tournament is at Glasgow, which is not an ideal scenario. They’re led by Jared Coomer’s 16.9 PPG, a strong number but not quite the leap we were expecting from the clear focal point for the team. Will Bandy (11.4 PPG) and Parker Stephens (9.2 PPG) are also key in their run. The Trojans still rest their laurels on their defense, allowing just over 55 PPG. Their zone defense is never fun to go against, but if a team heats up from the perimeter, they’re toast. Their opener against Glasgow is pretty much a tossup, but they should get by that, finish as runners-up to Monroe County, and then they’re looking for anything by the 14th District champions in the quarterfinals. Our prediction is for them to go out in the quarterfinals, but a semifinal run is possible. If they can recapture the magic of their Bowling Green victory, maybe, just maybe, they can return to the finals.
6. Logan County (15-13)
High Rank - 6, Low Rank - 11, Average Rank - 8
The Cougar season is already a success by most metrics, though they’ll undoubtedly be looking for more. They have clinched their first winning season since 2015, compiled a 5-1 record in official 13th District play (they met Franklin-Simpson in a holiday tourney that did not count towards the standings), securing the #1 seed in the 13th District tournament. They are entering the postseason with great momentum, winning their last four and 8 of 11. And they have the privilege of hosting the district tournament at home, where they are 8-2 on the year. They are led in scoring by Austin Rayno’s 16.6 PPG, but feature three other players who have averaged 9.6 PPG or more – Kelby Epley (12.8 PPG), Tommy Krohn (10.4 PPG), and Mykal Hampton (9.6 PPG). Logan County averages just over 64 PPG, though they have allowed more than they’ve scored despite their winning record. They will square off with Franklin-Simpson in the district semifinals, which is actually an unfavorable draw by the season results. The Wildcats did knock off Logan County twice in December, but have seen their play steadily decline. Logan County was dominant in a 74-49 win at home over Franklin in mid-January, a game that saw 13 Cougars score. Our prediction is that Logan County will return to the region tournament for just the second time since 2012, but unless they draw the 16th District runner-up, their season will end in the quarterfinals.
7. Greenwood (16-14)
High Rank - 6, Low Rank – 12, Average Rank - 9
Greenwood is one of the most dangerous teams below the obvious ones at the top. They are also the team that you could just as easily see go down in a fireball to someone they shouldn’t. Their variance from 6 to 12 in our ranks represents one of the widest swings on the year, and it is due to their typical ability to play up to an opponent but also to play down and lose to those they shouldn’t be near. Of note on the year, Greenwood has defeated Monroe County, Clinton County, and fiercely battled with Bowling Green and Warren Central in each matchup. They’ve also lost to Logan County twice, South Warren, Russellville (by 28!), and endured closer than expected battles with Franklin-Simpson and Allen County-Scottsville. In fact, they trailed ACS by huge margins both times, requiring comebacks. Those wild swings are personified in their dynamic guards Jack Roberts (17.5 PPG) and Luke Littrell (15.6 PPG). Those two will hit some absolutely ridiculous shots, pulling from 25 feet when they’re feeling it, and grow on scorching streaks. They may also score less than five on off nights. Big man Ben Carroll provides a bit more consistency, reliably adding 15.0 PPG and pulling down 7.3 rebounds a night. He brings a strong defensive presence in the middle and can swing outside to knock down a three when needed. The Gators have finished the season on an uptick, with wins in 8 of their last 11. They start in the 4/5 game with South Warren, who they shockingly fell to in December. Their January game sums up Greenwood – the Gators started the game up 20-0. The lead got as low as 7 before halftime. It can come and go that fast for Greenwood. They host the district tournament, where they’re 10-5 on the year. The last time the tournament was at Greenwood, they made a magical run to region out of the 4/5 game. If they could duplicate that feat, they could conceivably run as far as the region semifinals. But the more likely result is bowing out after a 15th consecutive loss to Bowling Green.
8. Glasgow (20-8)
High Rank - 3, Low Rank - 8, Average Rank - 5
Though their season has experienced a downtown in the last month, the Scotties remain one of the greatest success stories of the year. They are one of just two teams to enter the postseason with 20+ wins, and that total gives them more than they’ve had in all but one season since 2002. They’ve locked down their first winning season since 2014 with more wins than the previous three seasons combined. A 500% increase on the previous season’s wins is success any way you cut it. Still, they’re 4-5 in their last 9 after starting 16-3, which have tempered their hopes some. Most of those losses were understandable (Barren County, Monroe County, LaRue County), though their loss to Caverna was less so. Adding on their three wins by a combined 5 points that preceded the skid, and it can be argued they’ve been slumping since mid-January. The Scotties feature incredible balance, with five players averaging between 8.8 PPG and 13.7 PPG. Kobe Brents (13.7), Nick Sorrell (12.1), Dalvin Smith (11.2), Jaden Franklin (10.5), and Peyton Mills (8.8) account for basically all the team’s scoring. Brents is a sharpshooter who is hitting on 40% of his three point attempts while averaging seven attempts a game. Dalvin Smith reflects Glasgow’s redemption arc, returning after two seasons off due to football injuries, providing the Scotties with great athleticism and some monster dunks. Their misfortune is to draw Barren County in the district semifinals, a team that has defeated them 13 times in a row. On the plus side, Glasgow is at home, where they are 10-3 on the year. If they rediscover the magic they opened the season with, this is a team that could rise to the region semifinals with the right draw. But our prediction is that they will need to be satisfied with a fantastic 20 win season and look to the future – they lose just two seniors.
9. Warren East (16-12)
High Rank - 5, Low Rank - 12, Average Rank - 7
Compared to some of the past few years, the Raiders 7-7 mark after January 1st is not that bad. They’re just 25-50 in the latter half of the season since the start of 2014. That swoon can often be attributed to playing Bowling Green and Warren Central four times in those months, but they have had struggles against other teams as well. This year the latter half saw them neither win nor lose more than two in a row. They did manage to hold on to the #3 seed in the district tournament, which after the draw matched them with Warren Central. While that is not a good draw, they have “only “ lost 14 in a row to the Dragons, in contrast to the mammoth 48 game skid against Bowling Green. If the Raiders are to pull the upset, they will need a huge game from leading scorer Tashawn Neal. Neal averages 16.6 PPG, and shoots an outstanding 43.9% from three. Earlier in the year in an upset of Owensboro Catholic, he hit SEVEN. Neal loves the corner, and if he can get hot, they can do some damage. Scoring has been a struggle lately for the Raiders, with the team failing to top 60 points in any of their last six games, and only climbing into the 50s twice. In their 14 game losing streak to Warren Central the Dragons have only failed to score 60 or more a single time. They have to find the touch somehow. Our prediction is that they don’t find enough, and they’ll still be searching for their first region tournament berth since 1997.
10. Todd County Central (16-12)
High Rank - 8, Low Rank - 13, Average Rank - 11
Todd Central is arguably an even greater success story than Glasgow. The Rebels had not posted double digit victories in nine years. They haven’t had a winning season since 2004, which they’ve now clinched. The last box to check is a return to the region tournament, where they haven’t been since 2003, the second longest drought in the region. The Rebels came out on fire, with a 5-0 start, before settling in for .500 ball for the remainder of the season. They posted a 4-2 record in district play, earning the #2 seed and a matchup with Russellville, who they defeated by 36 and 7, the latter result coming just 11 days before their semifinal matchup. Nolan Barrow and John Calvery carry the scoring load with 17.1 PPG and 1.34 PPG respectively. Barrow is shooting almost 47% from three point range. Russellville eliminated Todd County Central in the semis seven times during this drought. Our prediction is that Todd makes their triumphant return to the region tournament before bowing out in the quarters.
11. South Warren (14-13)
High Rank - 6, Low Rank - 16, Average Rank - 10
South Warren got a three with less than ten seconds left to knock off Russellville this past week, giving them a winning record to enter the postseason for the first time since 2013. They’ll have to upset Greenwood on the road to keep that winning record, which would be just the third finish above .500 in school history. They split with the Gators, falling by 9 at Greenwood, the site of the district tournament. Winners of just 5 out of their last 13, Tyler Martin is relied on for a heavy burden, averaging 20.2 PPG. South teams are at their best when they can slow the tempo and get into a defensive battle, but even that’s been difficult, with the Spartans allowing over 66 PPG. They have a slim chance at upsetting Greenwood to get to the semis, but they have no shot at Bowling Green. Our prediction is they exit in the district quarterfinals for the second straight year.
12. Russellville (7-18)
High Rank - 9, Low Rank - 13, Average Rank - 12
Russellville along with Franklin was the hardest hit team by graduation from last year, and their slide has gotten faster after the start of January. Franklin-Simpson is the only opponent the Panthers have beaten in the new year, going 2-0 against the Wildcats and 0-11 against everyone else. Russellville is on a five game skid, including a loss to their opponent Todd County Central. Russellville has the longest streak of region tournament appearances in the history of the region, advancing to the last 14 tournaments. Our prediction is that road ends here despite the efforts of Jacob Naylor (17 PPG) and the next Russellville superstar, freshman Anthony Woodard (15.9 PPG).
13. Russell County (10-20)
High Rank - 13, Low Rank - 15, Average Rank - 15
Graduation and transfers smacked the 2016-17 Lakers in the face, and they have not yet fully recovered. Russell County is 6-18 outside of 16th District play, and snapped a six game skid on the last day of the regular season. Tate Richardson’s 15.5 PPG leads the team and Brayton Scales is right behind with 14.8 PPG. Those are two of ten seniors on the squad, a foreboding sign for the future. Their ten wins improves on last season’s total, and they’ll remain favored over Cumberland County to keep their region tournament streak alive – they haven’t missed since entering the region in 2006. Our prediction is they keep that streak alive, and then lose two in a row to exit the postseason.
14. Franklin-Simpson (6-21)
High Rank - 8, Low Rank - 15, Average Rank - 13
Life without Tavin Lovan was every bit as bad as Franklin might have predicted. An 0-4 start carried some optimism with close results against Monroe County (6 points), Greenwood (2 in OT), and Clinton County (8), and a solid December saw two wins over Logan County and some solid efforts such as a 1 point loss to Warren East. But from January on, this was a team that struggled to score and posted only a single win, a 46-39 victory over Allen County-Scottsville. This will go down as their worst season in 20 years. Dee Ragland is the only Wildcat to average in double digits, posting 12.2 PPG. Franklin failed to score more than 50 points nine times out of their last 16 games. They visit Logan County in the district tournament, where it is expected they will close their season.
15. Allen County-Scottsville (9-18)
High Rank - 11, Low Rank - 15, Average Rank - 14
It wasn’t an outstanding season for the Patriots, but they did prove competitive in a pair of losses to Greenwood, tough battles with Logan County and Glasgow, and the highlight of the year was undeniably their upset road win against #1 seed Monroe County. They match up with the Falcons again in the district tournament. That February 2nd win might work against them there, since the Falcons are likely to be keyed up for that. The best news for ACS is that leading scorer Brett Rippy is just a junior, giving a solid piece to build around next season.
16. Cumberland County (4-24)
High Rank - 14, Low Rank - 16, Average Rank - 16
On December 5th, Cumberland County was 3-1. Unfortunately, a January 2nd win over Metcalfe County was all they got the rest of the way. They’ll try yet again to knock Russell County out of the region tournament for the first time, returning for the first time since 2009 themselves, but they’ll have to rediscover something that they haven’t had since that great start.
17. Metcalfe County (4-24)
High Rank - 17, Low Rank - 17, Average Rank - 17
The important thing for Metcalfe County is that they ended a 38 game losing streak when they knocked off Christian Fellowship 73-59 on December 15th. They won the next night as well, and ultimately won three of four after ending the streak. They enter the postseason in the midst of an 11 game losing streak, where they’ll exit against Clinton County.
Top Players in the 4th Region
1. Skyelar Potter, F, Sr. (Warren Central) – Potter averaged over 24 PPG and was recently named the KABC Player of the Year for the Region.
2. Jarius Key, F, Sr. (Bowling Green) – Key stepped out of the shadow of last year’s heralded group, posting 18.6 PPG. Athletic and long, a dynamic man in the middle.
3. Jackson Harlan, G, Jr. (Clinton County) – Incredibly, Harlan is just a junior. Leads the region in scoring with 27.1 PPG. He’s a 39.5% three point shooter and an 83.8% FT shooter.
4. Jared Coomer, F, Sr. (Barren County) – While he didn’t see a big jump in scoring from a year ago, he still posted 16.9 PPG. He can score in the paint, midrange, or from behind the arc.
5. Jordan Cousin, G, Sr. (Warren Central) – Cousin made a huge leap this season, averaging nearly 50% shooting from the floor. Brings the most length of any Dragon.
6. Chandler Clements, F, Jr. (Monroe County) – Clements is the more efficient of the Monroe duo, averaging 17.4 PPG while shooting nearly 56% from the floor.
7. Billy Michael Dyer, G, Sr. (Monroe County) – Dyer’s volume has dropped this year along with his points per game, but he’s still one of the top scorers in the region.
8. Jack Roberts, G, Jr. (Greenwood) – Roberts is still prone to play the hero, such as when he dropped 30 points on Allen County-Scottsville to account for more than half his team’s total points.
9. Nolan Barrow, G, Sr. (Todd County Central) – Barrow fills it up from behind the arc, just barely shooting better from inside than he does outside.
10. Tashawn Neal, F, Sr. (Warren East) – Neal is a consistent three point shooter, and saw his average jump by nearly 10 PPG.
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