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8th Region Week 1 in Review

OK, I may not get any other prediction right this year, but I'm already right about one thing: this poll may be the most "fluid" we've seen in a while. I think it's going to see significant movements, including some teams that may sink early, only to rise again late in the year. (or this may be the year the joke about a blind squirrel finding an acorn every now and then may apply to this ranking!)

Last year, I felt really comfortable with that pre-season preview, and, in the end, the final rankings were a practical mirror of that pre-season ranking.

This year, we already have some significant movements. There are a couple of surprises early, and the 8th region "youth movement" is already making its presence felt. But this is just week 1, and it's waaaaaaay too early to tell how Region 8 is going to shake out.

There's not a lot to report on yet; most teams have played 2-3 games; only Grant (4 games) has played more. And most teams have not yet posted any stats; the ones that have generally haven't posted all their stats yet.

Still, for the moment, 1-2-3 remain the same:


1 - Collins (2-0) Last week: 1 As expected, the pre-season favorites got out to a solid start, defeating Harrison County by 12 and edging fellow 8th region power Gallatin County by just 2 (avenging last December's loss to the Wildcats). The Titans have not yet posted any stats. Things get interesting this week as the Titans travel to Louisville to face the top-ranked 7th Region team, Trinity, followed by games at Franklin County (a projected bottom-tier 11th region team that already owns a victory over the 6th region favorite, Butler), and an early-season battle against county rival Shelby County.

2 - Walton-Verona (2-0) Last week: 2 The Bearcats are also 2-0 after week 1, after whipping one of the better 9th region teams, Dixie Heights by 18 and then topping Xenia, OH by 8. Judging purely by the score against Dixie Heights, it seems as if the Cats are in good form early. Pardee had 17 against Dixie and Miles 15 and they got good supporting scoring from the rest of the team. Miles is getting extra defensive attention - obviously - but that doesn't seem to be holding him back much. W-V had several football players who are really just now getting into "basketball shape". Next up: A showdown with 31st district favorite Gallatin County on 12/3, followed by road trips to Trimble County on 12/5 and Anderson County on 12/7.

3 - Oldham County (2-0) Last week: 3 I was curious about how the Colonels would open the season in December. On the negative side, only one starter returned, but on the flip-side, the subs from last year all got significant varsity minutes at crucial times due to coach Coy Zerhusen's 10-11 man rotation. With a brutal December schedule, I still thought it was possible Oldham could head into 2019 with a losing record before they "gelled". Well, those other four starters' experience last year - plus the time they spent as teammates on one of the best JV teams in the region - seems to have paid off as Oldham owns a 12 point win over North Hardin and an impressive 7 point win over Spencer County, a young but talented squad from District 30. Oldham has some stats posted; the lone returning starter Christian Harper led the team with 23 points against North Hardin. The team didn't shoot real well in that game, but found the way to the line, where they hit an impressive 23 of 31 for 74.2%. This week: at Trimble County on 12/7 and at home against Highlands on 12/8, a game that will be broadcast on internet video at The Pegasus Sports Network - PSN.

4 - Simon Kenton (1-0) Last week: 5 SK moves up one this week less because of what they did - the Pioneers played just one game - but Spencer County (previously ranked 4th), dropped after losing their last two games. Simon Kenton handled Mason County from the Tenth Region easily last week, winning by 25 points. We'll learn more about what this year's SK team is made of in Week 2, as they play Ryle on 12/4 and Lafayette on 12/7. Lafayette - generally ignored in most pre-season Eleventh Region polls - pulled off a stunning 22 point win over the #2 ranked 11th Region team, Madison Central, last week.

5 - Spencer County (1-2) Last week: 4 The Bears fall one after a rough week that saw them drop 2 of 3 games. An easy 21 win over KCD was followed by a surprising 3 point loss to Franklin County and a 7 point loss to Oldham County. The Bears might have fallen further, but unheralded Franklin County stunned sixth region favorite Butler and the 7 point loss to Oldham looked better when you consider that Oldham pretty much owned the first half in bursting to what was once a 17 point advantage. This Spencer team is going to have to find ways to deal with a lack of height and depth, but they're young and will only get better. Since their four primary sophomores played extensively last year, expect that learning curve to go up fast. Spencer has just one game this week, on 12/8 vs. Taylor County, a team that was picked in the middle of the Fifth Region pack, but which is 3-0 after week 1.

6 - Gallatin County (2-1) Last week: 7 The Wildcats won 20 games two seasons ago, and 26 last year. This year they are off to a fast start after beating Holmes (by 1), Silver Grove (by 51), before losing a heartbreaker to region favorite Collins by 2. This team already looks like it's going to be a sharp-shooting team like last year's; stats from two games show four players hitting for double figures: Wyatt Bowen is averaging 18 ppg / 6.5 rebounds; Devin McAlister is averaging 15.5 ppg, Troy Coomer is averaging 13 ppg and a team-high 8.5 rebounds, and Jarin Rassman checks in at 10.5 ppg. Of course, that's just a two-game sample, but if you're coach Jon Jones, you have to love the early balance. The shooting percentages are looking solid for so early in the season as well: 49% fro the field, 38+% from beyond the arc. Strangely, the Cats are struggling a bit at the line at 61.7%, but it is, after all, very, very early. This week: 12/3 - @ Walton Verona in a classic showdown, 12/7 - @ Henry County, and 12/8 - @ Iroquois.

7 - South Oldham (2-1) Last week: 6 I still have a nagging feeling that I'm going to regret pegging South this low, but the bottom line is that the Dragons haven't had the chance to prove themselves yet. After graduating 9 seniors last year, you might think the cupboard is bare; but the Dragons have a plethora of extremely talented youngsters moving into key roles, and junior Luke Morrison is already asserting himself into a leadership role after ceding that to others the past two years. South whipped Collegiate by 36 on opening night - a night they dedicated the court to head coach Steve Simpson, a coach who came to South nearly two decades ago and transformed the entire school culture when it came to basketball. The Dragons dropped a 15 point decision to DeSales before rebounding to beat Shelby by 29. The Dragons have an interesting matchup with Grant County in Crestwood on 12/7, a game that will be broadcast on internet TV by Pegasus Sports at The Pegasus Sports Network - PSN. They then will play Lexington Bryan Station on 12/8.

8 - Anderson County (2-0) Last week: 8 For the first time in just about "forever", the Bearcats took to the floor to start this season without Glen Drury stalking the sideline. The region is all the poorer for this, but new coach Bryan Hyatt has this year's squad off to a good start as they beat Henry County in New Castle by 13, before rolling over Bellevue by 31 points. Like many of the other teams, AC has yet to post any stats. AC doesn't move as these were both games they were expected to win....this week will be a different story. On 12/7, the Bearcats challenge Walton-Verona, a team that absolutely manhandled them last year. Anderson then challenges Bethlehem on 12/8 in the Bardstown Tip-Off Classic.

9 - Grant County (3-1) Last week: 9 The Braves were the busiest 8th Region team last week, and they unleashed a strong offense, averaging 71.5 ppg in those four games. They whipped Trimble County by 41, defeated 9th region foe Ryle by 10, before struggling with turnovers in a game against soon-to-be 8th Region rival Woodford County by 24. They concluded the week at Calvery Christian, winning by 18. Grant will be heavily favored this week to get their fourth win as they face Williamstown on 12/4, before traveling to Crestwood to play South Oldham on 12/7, a game that will be broadcast on internet TV on Pegasus Sports The Pegasus Sports Network - PSN.

10 - North Oldham (3-0) Last week: 13 North Oldham is our big mover this week, surging from #13 in the pre-season rankings to #10. The Mustangs graduated 9 seniors last year, and got a new coach - former Mustang star and University of Louisville guard David Levitch - just one week before practice. There were more questions in Goshen than in a Trivial Pursuit game. North may or may not threaten Oldham and South Oldham in the 29th district, but they've certainly started the season in fine fashion. North hasn't started a season 3-0 since the 2011-12 season, when they opened with wins over Bullitt Central, Mercer County, and Collins. This year, the Mustangs, led by Grant Adelson's 18.3 ppg, topped Iroquois by 10, Frankfort by 1, and Louisville Holy Cross by 16. Levitch indicated the Frankfort game was particularly valuable to his team; the Mustangs trailed by 10 with four minutes to play. Dallas Roberts - an 8th grader - is running point for the Mustangs, and he's also average 13.3 ppg, second-best on the team. Trinity transfer Tyler Higdon is giving the Mustangs a mobile big man, who's averaging just under 10 ppg. This week, the Mustangs host the Male Bulldogs on Tuesday, 12/4, a game that will be aired on internet TV by Pegasus Sports (The Pegasus Sports Network - PSN). On 4/7, North takes on Bardstown, and they wrap up a really challenging week with Ballard on 4/8.


11 - Shelby County (1-2) Last week: 10 The Rockets, with a new coach, dropped their first two games of the season, falling to North Bullitt by 4 and South Oldham by 29. But the Rockets rebounded to pound Eminence by 41 as they head into week 2. This week: 12/4 vs. CAL and 12/7 @ Collins

12 - Henry County (0-2) Last week: 12 The Wildcats fell by 13 to Anderson County and to Western Hills by 8 in Week 1. The Cats play Frankfort Christian on 12/4, and then begin play in the KY 2A Championship Sectional Tournament against DeSales on 12/5. Henry will have to go above and beyond to do well in this tournament, which is loaded: Warren Central (ranked #1 in the fourth region), Larue County (ranked #1 in the fifth region), John Hardin (ranked #2 in the fifth region), and Pendleton County (ranked #3 in the 10th region) are all involved. Henry wraps up next week on 12/7 against 31st district rival Gallatin County.

13 - Trimble County (1-1) Last week: 14 The Raiders were slammed in their season opener, falling to Grant County and the Braves' high-flying offensive attack by 41, 93-52. But they recovered, and showed a lot of grit in outlasting Carroll County, 68-66, in overtime. The Raiders will need every bit of that grit in order to have success this week; the Raiders will be favored against Owen County on 4/4 in a road game, but will close their week out with two home games against two of the top-ranked region teams, as they will host Walton-Verona on 12/5 and district rival Oldham County on 12/7.

14 - Carroll County (0-1) Last week: 11 Like SK, the Panthers have only played one game so far after one week, losing a hotly-contested overtime matchup with Trimble County, 68-66. The fatal flaw from 2017-18 - poor shooting - reared its ugly head again as the Panthers hit just 38.9% from the field, and 17 of 38 (44.7%) from the stripe. Wyatt Supplee picked up where he left off last year, leading the way in the scoring column, as he had 20 points, including three threes. The Panthers are next in action on 12/4 @ Eminence in a district matchup and 12/6 @ Owen County, also a district matchup. Carroll should be favored in both; a sweep would put them at 2-0 in district seeding play and position them well to contend for a region tournament berth.

15 - Owen County (1-1) Last week: 15 Owen split their two games during the opening week, losting to Lloyd Memorial by 27 points, before beating Frankfort Christian by 16. Last year's Owen County team get its third win until January 18th; this year's Rebels have a chance to get a little momentum - and start to forget about last season - with a week 2 schedule that Owen should be competitive with: 12/4 - Trimble County, 12/6 - Carroll County, and 12/8 @ Williamstown. Sweep those three games, and Owen will have some serious momentum, and will be just one win away from equaling last year's win total of five.

[B]16 - Eminence (0-2) Last week: 16 [B] The Warriors struggled mightily out of the gate, falling by 41 to Shelby County and by 39 to Brown. Eminence needs to regain confidence against a manageable schedule in Week 2. The Warriors face Williamstown on 12/7 and June Buchanan on 12/8.

17 - Williamstown (1-2) Last week: 17 Williamstown has already shaken one monkey off its back: Last year, the Demons didn't win a game until 2/12/18. This year, win number one came in game 2. Williamstown lost to powerful Pendleton County, one of the Tenth Region's best teams, by 30, but bounced back to get a road win over Dayton by 5. They wrapped up last week with a loss to Ludlow by 23. The Demons can show that they are getting better with a strong performance this week: 12/4 @ Grant County, 12/7 @ Eminence, and 12/8 vs. Owen County.

Key Games this Week

12/3 - Collins @ Trinity - top-ranked 8th Region team vs. top-ranked 7th region team

Walton-Verona vs. Gallatin County - 32nd district favorite vs. 31st district favorite

12/4 - North Oldham vs. Male - Male owns six consecutive victories over North, but almost all have been decided by less than 10 points. The Pegasus Sports Network - PSN

12/7 - Simon Kenton vs. Lafayette - SK struggled to get "quality wins" last year; this Lafayette team looks to be an underrated team that may surprise in the 11th.

South Oldham vs Grant County - Two teams that know how to put the ball in the hole. (The Pegasus Sports Network - PSN)

Anderson County vs. Walton-Verona - W-V manhandled AC last year; how much has AC improved?

Henry County vs. Gallatin County - Henry appears the most likely team in the 31st to have the chance to knock off the favored Wildcats. Can they?

See you next week!

CM