ColonelMike's Avatar
8th Region Week 7 Review – A Wild Finish is Shaping Up

OK, we have 8-10 games left in the regular season, but this season quickly became the helter-skelter, topsy-turvey, coin-toss of a region I predicted in the Season Preview. I’m not bragging about my great prediction abilities – no, I think my three cats could have correctly predicted that it was going to take a long time for a true favorite to step up.

Of course, that’s assuming we ever will reach that point, with a single favorite.

Personally, I think we’ll be heading to New Castle with a wide-open tournament, and plenty of opinions about who the favorite should be. This is going to be a tournament that shouldn’t be missed.

Just for giggles: Collins was last week’s number 1….Collins beat Grant County….Grant beat Oldham….Oldham beat South Oldham….South Oldham beat…Collins. And only the Collins win over Grant was decided by more than 6 points.

Or how about this….Simon Kenton beat Walton-Verona by 3….W-V held off Oldham County by 6…and Oldham County beat South by 3. If those are your 1 - 4, keep in mind that South lost to SK by just 5.

And although Gallatin has yet to beat any of the top 5, they lost to Collins by just 2 and Oldham by just 1.

At this point, six teams seem to have separated themselves from the rest of the region…but there are at least five other teams that have shown the potential to make a strong run in the region, or at least play big-time spoiler. While these five are definite dark horses, each has enough talent to get hot for three games.

In fact, right now, I’d say that only 6 teams are probably looking ahead to next year, with very little chance of winning the region this year. But who knows? These are high school players, not pros, and high school teams are subject to extreme highs and deep lows. The 8th Region’s history is chock-full of region tourney upsets….

This past week, several teams had opportunities to make statements, but each time one got a signature-type win, they turned around and stumbled over their own two feet.

Keep in mind, this ranking is meant to represent the teams as they stand TODAY. It is NOT a prediction of the year-end rankings.

1 – Collins (14-4, 5-1 in the region) Last week: #1 – Collins started last week with their first region loss, a 68-62 loss at home against the surging South Oldham Dragons. The Titans, led by Dayvion McKnight’s 25 points / 8 rebounds, had a double digit lead in the second half, but faltered late against the hot-shooting Dragons. The Titans rebounded later in the week, whipping cross-town rival Shelby County, 76-50 as McKnight had a double-double (19 points / 10 rebounds) and three other Titans reached double figures (Tyler Turner 15, Marcellus Vail 12, and Dan Kidwell 10).

Collins stays at #1 in the rankings largely because they have the most impressive resume in the region so far, including six quality wins over Gallatin County, #2 Trinity, Madison Central, Male, Madisonville-North Hopkins, and Grant County.

Collins, winners of 5 of their last 6, have a busy week:

1/15/19 at Boyle County 1/18 at Anderson County 1/19 vs. Simon Kenton

2 – Simon Kenton (12-4, 4-0 region 8) Last week: #2 – Simon cracked the BluegrassPreps top 20 last week at #19, and promptly got destroyed by #15 Cooper, 71-33. However, coming off back-to-back wins over Walton-Verona and Highlands, perhaps a letdown could be expected. And – as a team that relies heavily on the jumper – if the shooting goes south, SK will be prone to the occasional double-digit loss this year.

The Pioneers ended the week with a win over Dixie Heights, 86-61.

SK is the only team left in the region that has yet to lose in region play – although they’ve only played four region games – but they have impressive wins over South Oldham (at South) and Walton-Verona among those four wins, and they have also beaten non-region 8 foes Lafayette and Highlands.

SK’s three KY losses include losses to #13 South Laurel and #15 Cooper.

Simon Kenton remains at number 2 as this is one of the most cohesive, best-shooting Pioneer teams I’ve seen in a long time.

This week will tell a lot about SK: 1/15 @ Williamstown 1/18 vs. Grant County 1/19 vs. Collins

3 – Walton-Verona (12-2, 8-1 in region 8) Last week: #3 – Walton’s two losses to KY teams this year have come at the hands of ranked teams, #3 Ballard and #19 Simon Kenton. They have yet to beat a ranked team (according to bluegrasspreps.com), but they have a 6 point win over Oldham County, a 16 point win over Gallatin County, and a 12 point win over previously-ranked Madison Central.

Last week, the Bearcats got a pair of victories in the 8th region All-A tourney, beating Williamstown 80-42 and Trimble County, 69-54.

There’s no doubt that the Bearcats are good, but there’s also no doubt that they are really missing last year’s all-region point guard, Brennan Stanley, who led the team in scoring and three point shooting. Last year, Stanley alone made 67 threes (48.2%), and the team made 205 total on the season. This year’s Walton-Verona squad has hit just 58 for 32%, and the player with the most 3 pointers is Garrett Jones, who’s 13 of 51 (25.5%).

The new-look Bearcats are featuring a formidable inside game with Dieonte Miles (15.9 ppg) and Kameron Pardee (12.7 ppg). On the perimeter, the primary threat is Trey Bonne. All three are hitting between 56-63% from the field.

This week: 1/15 vs. Gallatin County (8th region All-A) 1/17 vs Spencer County 1/18 vs. #16 Campbell County

4 – Oldham County (11-6, 4-2 region 8) Last week: #5 – Oldham played just one game last week, but it was an eye-opener. Playing at home in a packed gym against arch-rival and district foe South Oldham, the Colonels took a 22-20 lead at the buzzer to end the first period and never trailed from that point on, opening up a 13 point lead before hanging on for an 83-80 victory over the Dragons.

Senior Cole Mesker, who missed the first few games of the season, seems to have found his shooting stroke, as he led the way with 21 points and hit four threes. All-purpose player Matthew Teague also cracked twenty points, scoring 20 in the contest.

Oldham struggled a bit in December, as expected, but may have come out of that brutal schedule better than expected as the four new starters settled into their roles. Arguably, Oldham has more quality wins than any other 8th region team except for Collins, as the Colonels have defeated Gallatin County, Highlands, Taylor County, Central Hardin, Butler, and South Oldham. Taylor County was undefeated when Oldham defeated them, Central Hardin was ranked, and Butler was the pre-season favorite in the 6th region.

Oldham’s only two losses in the 8th region were narrow defeats at the hands of Walton-Verona (by 6) and Grant County (by 3 on a last second, desperation shot).

Samuel Campbell seems to be the up-and-coming contributor for Oldham; the sophomore guard had 8 points and 5 boards against South off the bench.

Even more importantly, the Colonels’ shooting – which was less-than-stellar in December – seems to be on the uptick.

This week: 1/14 vs. Bullitt Central 1/18 at North Oldham (district seeding game) 1/19 vs. North Bullitt

5 – South Oldham (14-4, 5-2 region 8) Last week: #4 – South Oldham had an up-and-down week, physically, mentally, and emotionally, as they travelled to play Collins in Shelbyville, and then drove 5 miles down highway 146 to play arch rival Oldham County.
Win both, and South, who has won 6 of 7, probably is ranked no lower than 3 this week. But the up-and-down week leaves South down one spot to #5.

The week started great for the Dragons, as they rallied from a second half double-digit deficit at Collins to come home with a 68-62 win. Junior Luke Morrison scored 25 in the game, including 4 of 8 beyond the arc and 5 of 5 at the line. The win exhibited perhaps South’s greatest assets this year: they shoot the ball exceedingly well, hitting 50.3% overall on the season, even though over half of their shot attempts are coming from beyond the arc. South is hitting 42.1% from beyond the arc, and 76.9% from the stripe. The Dragons are the top-shooting region 8 team at the charity stripe.

But the six game winning strike the Dragons were riding – which included victories over Male and Collins – came to a halt on Friday as the Dragons fell to Oldham County, 83-80.

Oldham County got a tap-in at the buzzer ending the first quarter to take a 22-20 lead and never looked back. Oldham would stretch the lead to 13; South would pull to within one point, but never could get over the hump despite a herculean effort by Morrison, who scored 43 points, and hit seven threes.

This week: 1/19 – The Dragons have a long layoff until their next game, at home against Spencer County.

6 – Gallatin County (12-4, 6-3 region 8) Last week: #6 – Gallatin has another solid year going. The Wildcats are one of the hottest teams in the region, having won 6 of their last 7, including the championship of the Smoky Mountains Classic. They are undefeated against their District 31 rivals, going 5-0 in seeding games, giving them a decided advantage in the battle for the #1 seed.

Last week, Gallatin defeated Carroll County for the third time this season, but each game has been close. This time, in the 8th region all-A tournament, Gallatin prevailed, 68-59.

Gallatin won in part thanks to the long bomb, nailing 10 of 23 threes (43.5%). They also made Carroll pay for fouls, hitting 16 of 19 free throws (84.2%).

Troy Coomer, averaging 17.2 ppg, had 21 points and 6 rebounds in the win, and he got help from Justin Rassman (12 points), Hayden Dickerson (12 points), and Bryant Caldwell (11).
Gallatin is still working for a signature win, but they’ve been close, losing to Oldham County by just one point and Collins by just two points. They’ll have more chances, with games coming up against Walton-Verona, Simon Kenton, South Oldham, and Grant County.

This week: 1/15 vs. Walton-Verona in the 8th Region All – A tourney, 1/19 vs. Owen County

7 – Grant County (14-5, 4-3 region 8) Last week: #8 - The Grant County Braves did not play last week. By the time they play their next game, Grant will have had a 12 day layoff; we’ll see how they react.

Grant County is on track to win 20 or more games, the first time they have achieved that mark since the 2012-13 season, when Grant finished 24-6 under coach Jim Hicks. Tyler Carr was the leader of that team, averaging 19.5 ppg. That year’s squad finished as runner-ups in the 32nd district and lost in the first round of the region to Oldham County.

The next game for Grant County: 1/18 at Simon Kenton (district 32 seeding game)

8 – Spencer County (8-8, 1-2 region 8) Last week: #9 – The Bears move up one spot this week despite going 1-1 last week; losing 77-70 to Bullitt East and winning 62-14 over Eminence.

The 14 points scored by Eminence was the fewest points scored by the Warriors in any game this season.

The Bears are about to head into arguably the toughest part of their regular season schedule. On 1/17, the Bears travel to face the Walton-Verona Bearcats in a classic matchup of quickness vs. size. On 1/18, the Bears travel to Crestwood to face the South Oldham Dragons. Spencer has been “that close” to a big win this year, losing to Madison Central by 3, Ballard by 9, Oldham County by 7, and Taylor County by 6 points.

9 – North Oldham (8-10, 0-4 region 8) Last week: #10 - First-year coach David Levitch appears to be slowly getting his team to understand his system, as North won 2 of 3 games last week.

Luke Barry is becoming a major contributor on the offensive end of the court, giving North another offensive weapon. In fact, Barry led the Mustangs in scoring in all three games last week, scoring 16 points in a 69-64 win over North Bullitt, 19 points in a rout of Ryle, 93-61, and 13 points in a heartbreaking 46-45 region 8 loss to Shelby County.

Tyler Higdon is becoming a force on the glass, recording double digit rebounding totals against North Bullitt (12) and Shelby County (14). He’s averaging 7.7 / game on the year so far and trending upward.

With three players averaging double figures (Grant Adelson 12.5 ppg, Dallas Roberts 12.8 ppg, and Tyler Higdon 10.1 ppg), North is quickly becoming hard to defend as Barry (8.8 ppg) is rapidly closing in on a double-digit average.

Combined with the fact that North is one of the region’s top free-throw shooting team (72.2%), the Mustangs are turning into one of the region’s better offensive teams.

With seeding games versus Oldham County and South Oldham remaining, the Mustangs still have the chance to forge a three-way tie for first place and put the #1 seed up for a tiebreaker.

This week: 1/15 at Anderson County 1/18 Oldham County 1/19 at Henry County

10 – Carroll County (8-7, 6-4 region 8) Last week: #7 – The Panthers take the biggest drop this week, primarily through bad luck.

Carroll had a respectable week last week, hammering Eminence, 70-42 in the 8th Region All-A tournament, in a game in which the Panthers hit 50% from the floor, led by Dalton Furnish’s 21 points. They then performed competitively against defending 31st district champs Gallatin County, losing 68-59 in the All-A tourney to the Wildcats. David Duncan scored 18 and Keishaun Mumphrey had 17 points and 10 boards in the loss.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, leading scorer Wyatt Supplee (23.2 ppg) went out with a hand injury; he’s expected to return later this year, but how long he’ll be out is unknown, and winning without him will be a challenge for the Panthers.

This week: 1/15 vs. Owen County 1/19 at Iroquois (Iroquois is 0-4 against 8th region teams this year, falling to South Oldham, North Oldham, Gallatin County, and Henry County)

11 – Anderson County (8-8, 2-2 vs region 8) Last week: #11 – Anderson dropped two games last week, falling to a pair of average teams. The Bearcats lost to Casey County, 55-51, then lost to Somerset, 60-48.

So far, it’s been a matter of the Cats beating the teams they should and losing to the ones they were expected to lose to. But last week were two very winnable games, and Anderson dropped both.

Offense has been a problem; Anderson County has scored over 60 points only once in the last 8 games, during which time they’ve gone 4-4…neither impressing or depressing their fans. Tyler Rice is the only Bearcat averaging in double figures, averaging 12 ppg.
Ahead are some major obstacles that will give Anderson the chance to prove their mettle, as they’ll be facing Collins, Gallatin County, and Woodford County. The Gallatin and Woodford games are on the road.

This week: 1/15 vs. North Oldham 1/18 vs. Collins (district seeding game)

12 – Shelby County (5-11, 1-5 region 8) Last week: #12 – Shelby had a busy week last week, playing three games. They lost to Bourbon County, 69-51, hitting just 32.1% from the field and 2 of 12 (16.7%) beyond the arc. They were then defeated by Collins, 76-50, before ending with the week on an uptick, edging North Oldham, 46-45, in a defensive struggle. Taurius Robinson scored 16 points and grabbed 9 rebounds in a dominating performance against North, but again Shelby failed to shoot the ball well, connecting on just 34.7% of their shots, including just 5 of 17 threes (29.4%). Worse, they faltered at the line as well, hitting just 7 of 13 for 53.8% in a game that easily could have gone either way.
Still, this was Shelby’s first win so far against an 8th Region team.

The Rockets have yet to win two straight games this season, and that may not change unless the offense starts to click; to date, the Rockets have scored less than 50 points in five games and 53 points or below in 11 of their 16 games.

This week, Shelby takes on a pair of 11th region teams, and this week might be their best opportunity to start putting together a winning streak. 1/16 vs. Franklin County 1/18 vs. Lexington Sayre.

13 – Trimble County (6-9, 5-6 region 8) Last week: #13 – Trimble played two games in the 8th region All – A tournament last week, beating Owen County, 71-50 before falling to Walton-Verona, 69-54.

Defense has been Trimble’s Achilles Heel this year, as the Raiders are giving up 71.9 ppg, ranking 16th in the 17-team Region 8. (Eminence at 73.9 ppg gives up the most points per game.)

Trimble at times has showed potential this year: They defeated Carroll County (when Carroll was at full strength), knocked off district rival North Oldham in Goshen (ending a 17 game losing streak to North), and gave Walton-Verona a lot closer battle in the 8th region All-A tournament than anyone expected.

Reece Webster continues to show that he’s one of the region’s premier players. Against Walton-Verona, in the Raiders’ last game, Webster scored 18 points, grabbed 6 rebounds, and hit 3 of 6 three pointers.

But the Raiders also showed one of their biggest weaknesses against W-V; playing against one of the region’s premier front lines, Trimble managed just 19 rebounds total.
Having lost 6 of their last 8 games, Trimble will get a bit of a scheduling break over the final third of the season. Although they do face Gallatin County twice and Spencer County once, the Raiders will face 8-9 teams that will be very winnable games, providing the Raiders with a chance at a winning season and momentum heading into the 29th district basketball tournament.

This week: 1/15 – Gallatin County 1/18 – vs. Henry County 1/19 at Williamstown

14 – Williamstown (5-13, 2-2 Region 8) Last week: #14 – The Demons hold pat at #14 this week after dropping their only game this past week in the 8th Region All-A. Walton-Verona defeated Williamstown, 80-42, in their tournament matchup.

Senior guard Cole Kemper continues to make an impression, though. The senior guard had 23 points against the Bearcats, hitting 53.8% of his field goals, and 5 of 10 threes. Unfortunately, he simply didn’t get much scoring support, as the team hit – as a unit – hit only 25.5% of their shots.

This week: 1/15 vs Simon Kenton 1/19 vs. Trimble County

15 – Henry County (5-9, 2-3 region 8) Last week: #15 – Henry County played just one game last week, scoring a 75-41 win over Walden. The Wildcats have won 2 of their last 3, but they still haven’t put a two game winning streak together.


This week may provide the opportunity Henry County needs. They will be favored on 1/15 against Eminence and should be competitive with Trimble County on 1/18. The Wildcats wrap up this week on 1/19 against North Oldham.

16 – Owen County (2-12, 1-8 region 8) Last week: #16 – Owen dropped their only game last week, 71-50, to Trimble County in the 8th region all-A tournament. Shooting certainly played a role as Owen County hit just 36.4% of their shots and were just 10 of 19 at the line (52.6%).

Teagan Moore led the way with 16 points. For Owen, this was part of the “silver lining”, as six different Rebels have led the team in scoring in the last six games.

This week: 1/15 at Carroll County 1/19 at Gallatin

17 – Eminence (1-13, 0-9 in region 8) Last week: #17 – The Warriors’ season of frustration continues as Eminence’s losing streak hit nine games, longest in the region. First, Carroll County defeated the Warriors, 70-42, in the 8th Region All-A tournament. They then dropped a decision to Spencer County, 62-14, scoring the fewest points that they have scored in a game all season.

With the team hitting just 31.3% of their shots, 26.9% of their threes, and 55.6% of their free throws, it’s hard to see this team making the region this year. But if they’re going to make a move, it would seem like the next few games offer that opportunity. If not, the Warriors – once one of the region’s most powerful teams – will have to steer towards next year.

This week: 1/15 vs. arch rival Henry County 1/18 vs. Lloyd Memorial

‘Till next week,
CM