I just got back from the draw....I was testing in the Henry gym (it's a different setup for me there)....I made it to the meeting just as they adjourned, but saw the draw.
Just a few initial "first blush" thoughts....
Anderson County vs. Henry County
- Anderson slowed down the tempo in the 30th district and the result was two upset wins over Spencer County and Collins. The Bearcats have been to the regional finals the last two seasons, and got arguably the best overall draw in the tournament, facing the lowest-rated team in the opening round. A win over Henry County and the Cats are just one game out of their third straight final. Remember, Anderson defeated South Oldham by 2 in December, so Drury's team may have a definite preference over who they would face in the second round, should they advance - but then again, they'd have to find out a way to slow down the high octane South offense as such a matchup would be a real tempo battle. Regardless, Penny, Pittman, and Gritton have to step up together if AC is to make this a three-game trip.
Henry County - the Wildcats didn't play the Bearcats this season, but have to be happy with their draw, as the erratic Bearcats have not been consistent all season. Henry has the gritty, blue-collar defense that could put them in a position to pull out a late win. That said, Henry has to find more offensive consistency than they had against Gallatin County in the 31st district tournament, where they managed a season-low 22 points and hit only 5 of 14 at the line. HC will have the mystique of the Roy on their side, as well as the home crowd, but the Cats' will have to shoot the ball well on their home rims to pull this upset.
Walton-Verona vs. South Oldham
These two played a great game just a few short days ago, when the Bearcats outlasted the Dragons, 62-56, at W-V on 2/13/18. Both teams struggled from the field, as South hit 41% and WV just under 40%. South, impressively, largely kept up with the Bearcats on the glass, as Walton won the rebounding battle just 35-31. Kameron Pardee hit 6 of 12 from the floor (14 points) and grabbed 11 rebounds as he was a difference-maker for Walton. Walton is ranked #11 in the most recent Kentucky High School Sports - Latest Articles
statewide ranking, and is the top-ranked team in the most recent Kentucky High School Sports - Latest Articles
region 8 rankings.
This game will feature arguably the region's best half-court defense against one of the most explosive scoring offenses.
If the officials call this one loosely, the edge goes to W-V, a strong, physical squad. If it is decided at the line, I like South's chances - not only does South hit 72.4% at the stripe as a team, but 5 of the top 8 players in South's rotation hit 71% - 83% at the stripe, with Devin Young - who has taken 73 more FTA than anyone else on the team - hitting over 81%.
Gallatin County vs. Simon Kenton
SK won the regular season matchup by 12, but things have changed since then. Andrew Robinson, who was a key part of that SK win (14 points on 6 of 11 shooting and 6 rebounds) is now out with an ACL tear.
SK clearly won that game. The taller Pioneers dominated the glass, 37-19, and outshot a strong-shooting Gallatin County team, 52% - 46%. Even that was a little deceptive; outside of Troy Coomer, who hit 7 of 11 shots, the Wildcats managed to hit only 11 of 28 shots from the floor and 2 of 12 from beyond the arc. The result was one of the lowest-scoring games for Gallatin this season. Zach Kelch had a great game for SK, with 18 points and 12 rebounds in the contest.
Gallatin's best weapon is their teamwork and team shooting. The Wildcats will be hard-pressed to battle Kelch on the inside one on one, so look for some creative defenses from Jon Jones to keep the ball out of Kelch's hands. On the glass, Gallatin will likely go after missed shots "en masse". The bottom-line is that Gallatin must make shots this time around - and from more players - if they hope to reverse the score of the last game.
Simon Kenton must duplicate the last game without Robinson. I think we'll see a little more of Kelly Niece taking control on the perimeter this game... Gallatin will try to make him look like a freshman....his ability to continue to play above his "pay grade" - as he has all year - may be the ultimate difference-maker.
The other key has to be Kelch. The big senior has had foul issues at times this year, and if Gallatin can get him in foul trouble, that evens things up in a hurry in this game.
Oldham County vs. Collins
Ooh-boy. What a matchup in the first round. Two of the top-three ranked teams in the 8th go at it as the defending champs - and winners of two of the last three titles - tangle with one of the most successful teams in 8th region history, Oldham County.
Chris Gaither has done a magnificent job with this Titans team, and they are certainly the most prolific Collins team, offensively, in school history. The Titans are tough on the defensive end, and have four solid double-digit scorers in their starting lineup, featuring strong glass play (McKnight and Fort) and solid outside shooting (Feltner).
Oldham County has won 124 games in 4+ seasons under current coach Coy Zerhusen, including five consecutive district crowns. The Colonels thrive on Zerhusen's pressure 2-2-1 full court press, which is very dangerous with premier defenders Andre Brewer and Jackson Gibson out front. Oldham has been one of the region's best offensive team's this year, ranking in the state top 6 in field goal percentage and scoring over 70 ppg.
This has become a good rivalry over the years; Oldham leads the all-time series, 7-2, but Collins has the edge, 2-1, in region tournament games, including a 62-59 win against Oldham last year in New Castle.
These two teams will put 6 of the All-Region players on the court: Gibson, Travis Henderson, and Zach Larimore for Oldham; Fort, Feltner, and McKnight for Collins.
Oldham won the regular season game in Shelbyville, rallying from 14 down to win, 49-46, despite missing the services of Jackson Gibson.
This one is a true toss-up, but certain elements will be key: Oldham's ability to control the glass - and maybe more importantly, to keep Fort and McKnight off the glass. Collins ability to get anything from their bench, which has not been a big offensive contributor this year, especially if the Titans run into foul trouble. Speaking of foul trouble, Oldham needs to keep Christian Harper on the floor....the junior forward has been electric for the Colonels late in the season, but has struggled with fouls.