8th Region Week 12 in Review: Walton-Verona and Collins remain 1-2

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    8th Region Week 12 Review – Walton – Collins Still 1-2

    Amazingly, the end of the season has already arrived. District tournament play begins this week, and in a few short weeks, only one team will be left standing, holding high a trophy at midcourt at Rupp Arena.

    In between is game after game after game. Fatigue, stress, adrenaline, more fatigue, guts, sweat, more sweat, still more sweat, halftime speeches, coaching adjustments, mental tests, emotional outbursts, and exhaustion.

    But – as Manfred Mann sang in his hit song, “Blinded by the Light”: “But mama, that’s where the fun is!”

    Indeed.

    Seventeen teams will start district play this week. And we’ll have some interesting matchups in the first rounds – the elimination rounds where the loser packs it in until next season. The favorites cannot relax, a single bad shooting night has doomed many a great team at the wrong time. Make it to the district finals, and there’s a little less stress – both the champions and the runner-ups of the districts make it to the region tournament – but the first rounds are “survive and advance.”

    Interestingly – there was discussion on the board in one of the threads about the size of a school equaling (or not equaling) success. Two of the top three teams in our final rankings are #12 and #14 in the region in terms of student population size.

    First, let’s look at our final 8th Region rankings. There are no changes in the top 7 or the bottom 6, but the three “tweeners” (#8-10) had some movement.

    1 – Walton-Verona (22-6, 14-1 vs. 8th region) Last week: #1 – The Bearcats hold the top spot for the final three weeks of the regular season and didn’t succumb to the BluegrassPreps curse as Collins and Simon Kenton did. And they wrapped up their regular season in style, with a convincing win over a contender and a rout of an up-and-comer.

    At 14-1 against region opponents, the Bearcats have proven their mettle against the teams that they will have to beat in order to win the region, and have earned their current ranking.

    On 2/12, Walton headed down to Crestwood to face their nemesis over the past few years.

    The hot-shooting Dragons of South Oldham had simply played at a pace Walton didn’t like, and the Dragons had won five straight in the series since 2015. The last two years, South had eliminated the Bearcats from region tournament play in the first round. Walton came to something with something to prove, and they pretty much led from start to finish in an 81-72 victory. The Bearcats won thanks to rebounds and free throws; they controlled the glass, 33-19, and had a huge 12 point advantage at the line, where they went 24 of 35 while South hit 75% at the line – but shot just 16 free throw attempts, making 12.

    Player of the year candidate Dieonte Miles had 26 points on 10 of 10 shooting, and 7 rebounds. Overall, the Cats hit 56.2% of their shots, beating the state’s highest scoring team at their own game.

    Two nights later, W-V cruised to a 70-27 victory over Carroll County, a team that has been a pleasant surprise in many ways this year. But the Bearcats showed that Carroll still has a ways to go to get a seat at the head table, hitting 57.1% from the field, and led by Kameron Pardee’s 16 points.

    That one loss to an 8th region team was to district rival Simon Kenton, so the Bearcats head into 32nd district play as the #2 seed. They will play #3 seed Grant County on 2/19 at 6 pm at Simon Kenton.

    2 – Collins (21-8, 8-1 vs. 8th region) Last week: #2 – The Collins Titans were many folks’ pick to win the region in the pre-season, and the Titans haven’t disappointed. The Titans enter the season on a four game winning streak, and got two of those last week.

    On 2/12, the Titans handled North Oldham, 66-49, hitting 53.3% from the floor, and led, as usual, by Marcellus Vail (25 points) and Dayvion McKnight (18 points / 8 rebounds). Vail and McKnight were a combined 15 of 23 from the floor and 10 of 10 at the line.

    Of course, the entire team was pretty hot at the line, going 15 of 16.

    The Titans wrapped up the season with a 56-46 win over Christian Academy of Louisville.

    Collins seems to have righted the ship at the right time; after losing 4 of 5, the Titans have now won 4 straight games. In addition, the Titans’ traditionally-tough defense has held 4 of their last 10 opponents to 46 points or less.

    This week, Collins starts district 30 play as the #1 seed. They play on 2/18 vs. #4 Shelby County at Spencer County HS at 7 pm.

    3 – Gallatin County (24-5, 17-4 vs. 8th region) Last week: #3 – Jon Jones has another great thing going in Warsaw. After winning 26 games last year and 20 the year before that, this team is at 24 wins and has a solid chance of eclipsing last year’s total.

    The Wildcats are currently riding the longest winning streak in the region at 12 games – the longest winning streak for a Gallatin County team since the 2006-7 squad put together a 12 game winning streak (and narrowly missed a 13th straight win when they lost in overtime to Shelby County).

    The seniors on this squad are accustomed to winning. The senior class of 2019 have won 81 games over four seasons. The 2009 four year seniors were also part of 81 wins, and the 2010 seniors totaled 86 wins. These three groups of seniors have been the most successful in Gallatin history since 2000, but this year’s squad has a legitimate chance of bypassing the other two.

    Gallatin had one of the busiest schedules to end the year, playing an incredible 9 games in 14 days. Last week, they played 4 games. They pounded Trimble County from the outside, hitting 10 of 19 threes en route to a 76-42 win. They then hosted Lloyd Memorial and posted a 62-58 win with Trey Coomer scoring 31 points.

    On 2/14, Gallatin played a resurgent Anderson County squad, winning 54-51 as again the team hit over 50% from beyond the arc (10 of 19). The Cats wrapped up the regular season against Shelby, winning a narrow 54-52 decision.

    Although the narrow wins over the final three opponents might give one pause, I attribute this more to the heavy schedule than anything else. Those last four games were played over five nights.

    The Wildcats will be favored to win their third consecutive 31st district crown; they begin their defense at 6 pm on 2/19 at Carroll County HS against the winner of the Eminence / Owen County game.

    4 – Oldham County (17-12, 7-3 vs. 8th region) Last week #4 – The Colonels were limping towards the post-season, but found passion and energy in their final regular season game last week.

    Oldham, facing a murderers’ row schedule in the final two weeks of the season – came into their final regular season game after losing to Highlands on the road by 2, Collins by 7, defending state champion Covington Catholic by 11 on the road, and Bardstown by 3 on the road. Four losses to top-caliber competition by a total of 23 points is tough, but Oldham managed to bounce back on senior night.

    The Colonels were favored against Boyle County, but the outcome of the game was never in doubt, as Oldham raced to an 11-0 advantage early and was never seriously threatened after that. The Colonels hit 50% from the field and took advantage of a physical Boyle squad, hitting 23 of 25 free throws. Senior Matthew Teague led the way with 24 points, but he got plenty of help, with sophomore Tyler Slone scoring 12, sophomore Sam Campbell adding 10, and senior Cole Mesker tallying 10.

    Oldham is still sometimes spotty on offense, but they have established a difficult lineup to defend, as several players are capable of scoring in double digits on any given night. Right before the Boyle win, against Bardstown, the Colonels had five players score in double figures. This balance is seeming to become the norm in Buckner, but this team’s defense is going to have to continue generating offense for the Colonels to make a run at defending their 8th region championship this year.

    The #1 seeded Colonels go for their ninth consecutive 29th district crown this week, and will open play against #4 seeded North Oldham on 2/19 at South Oldham HS at 7:30 pm. It’s a tough test for a #1 seed, having to face a county rival, who played Oldham tough in the regular season. But North was upset by Trimble County this winter, and the Mustangs and Colonels find themselves facing off against neighborhood rivals in an elimination game.

    NOTE: Oldham’s 8 consecutive district titles is second only to Madisonville North-Hopkins, who has won their district 9 straight times.

    5 – Simon Kenton – (17-9, 6-2 vs. 8th region) Last week: #5- Like Oldham County, the Pioneers were falling all over themselves heading towards tournament play, losing five in a row.

    Also like Oldham County, the losing streak was against top-tier competition: Gallatin County, Oldham County, Campbell County, Scott High, and Covington Catholic.

    Last week, SK faced off against defending state champ Covington Catholic, falling, 64-43. Poor shooting plagued the Pioneers, who hit only 35.9% from the floor.

    But two nights later, Simon Kenton bounced back, ending the losing skid, with a road victory over Holmes, 72-53. Jeremy Davis had 34 points, and was 9 of 18 from beyond the arc in the win. Jon Hensley added 10 points.

    People may not be noticing this, but SK has had a pretty good season with a young crop of talent. Their key players are mostly underclassmen, including Kelly Niece (leading scorer), Colton Lair, Jon Hensley, Logan Schultz, Jeremy Davis. Of the top performers on the team, only Robbie Krohman is a senior.

    Simon Kenton, the #1 seed in district 32, gets to play on their home court as they face #4 seed Williamstown on 2/18/19 at 6 pm at the SK gym.

    6 – Spencer County (19-10, 7-3 vs. 8th region) Last week: #6 – The Bears ride into the post-season with the second-longest winning streak in region 8 (7). Last week, they picked up two wins to close out the regular season, beating Bethlehem, 58-19, on the road, and getting past Bullitt Central on 2/15/19, 65-56, at home.

    No stats were available yet for the BC game, but Spencer overwhelmed Bethlehem with boardwork and strong shooting at the line and beyond the arc. Despite shooting just 39.0% overall, the Bears hit 13 threes and were an impressive 11 of 14 (78.6%) at the stripe. They also wiped the glass clean, grabbing 34 rebounds. Jackson Cole had 24 to lead the way, along with 8 rebounds. He hit 6 of 16 threes. Sam Conley added 17, Gage Mabry had 11, and Jacob Seawright 10 as Spencer spread the scoring wealth around.

    This season is looking eerily like 2018, when the Bears won their last 11, but lost in the first round of District 30 to Anderson County. In 2019, the Bears are on a 7 game winning streak, and will play Anderson County in an elimination game at 7 pm on 2/19/19 on the Spencer County hardwood.

    The Spencer gym is relatively small – and very loud. Expect the place to be packed.

    7 – South Oldham (19-9, 8-5 vs. 8th region) – last week #7 – The Dragon offense is alive and well, but the defense isn’t keeping up.

    This team was a team coach Steve Simpson wasn’t sure of. Lots of new faces in new roles. Surprise! The Dragons lead the state in scoring at about 80 ppg. It was one thing to see the Dragons average 80 ppg during, say, the first 8-10 games. But wait, the naysayers said, until the full season passes. Will the average still be 80+ ppg?

    The answer? Yes. And the Dragons still lead the state in scoring.

    Unfortunately, South’s defense has struggled to keep up. Last week, South played two games, first facing Walton-Verona in Crestwood. The Dragons hit 12 of 25 threes (48%) and scored 72 points, but were dominated on the boards, 33-19, and outscored by 12 at the line in the 81-72 loss. Four Dragons scored in double figures, including Seth Johnson (20), Luke Morrison (17), Nick Cranfill (12), and Thomas Downs (11 points).

    On 2/14/19, South hit the road for their last regular season game, and got the fight of their life against Henry County, playing their final home game of the season.
    South won, 104-96. It was the second time the Dragons had eclipsed the 100 point mark this season, and they did it with tremendous shooting and great balance. South shot 54.8% from the field, hit 16 of 39 threes (41.0%), and was an astounding 20 of 21 (95.2%) at the line.

    Luke Morrison hit 8 of 15 from the field for 26 points and Seth Johnson had 24 to lead South. Thomas Downs – who has really come into his own of late – tallied a double-double, with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Downs was 3 for 3 beyond the arc. Nick Cranfill was the fourth Dragon in double figures, with 15.

    But the Dragons again got beat on the boards, this time by 9, 41-32.

    South, seeded #2 in the 29th district, will face #3 seed Trimble County on 2/20 at 7:30 pm on the Dragons’ home floor in Crestwood.

    8 – Grant County (19-11, 7-6 vs 8th region) Last week: #9 – The Braves move up a spot this week after two wins to close out their regular season.

    The Braves toppled Owen County on 2/11/19, 74-45, behind 49.2% shooting and 9 threes. Six different players hit at least one three. Jack Epperson scored 21, Luke Dawalt had a double double with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Three nights later, the Braves stretched their overall winning streak to four in a row with a 107-58 rout of Eminence. Grant shot 53.2% and hit 14 of 33 three point shots in the game. Dawalt and Jonas Alger both had 20 points; Alger hit six threes.

    Defense is still the Achilles’ Heel of this Grant County squad – the squad is giving up 65.4 ppg - but the offense is clicking. Coach Utter has probably his best squad going into the post-season, and don’t be surprised if the Braves make it to New Castle.

    At 19-11, this is the winningest Grant County team since the 2012-13 team went 24-6, finishing runner up in the 32nd district to Simon Kenton, before losing in the first round of the 8th Region tournament to Oldham County. That team was led by Tyler Carr and his 19.5 ppg average.

    To get to the region this year, Grant will have beat Walton-Verona. The two meet on 2/19 at 6 pm at Simon Kenton HS. Walton handled Grant earlier this season, but if the Bearcats have an off shooting night, the high-scoring Braves could pull off the upset.

    9 – Anderson County (14-12, 6-5 region 8) Last week: #10 – The Bearcats struggled a little bit the last week of the season, dropping two of three, but overall, this team seems to be trending upward. Prior to losing their last two of the season, the Cats had been on a five game roll.

    Last week, Anderson beat Eminence, 80-47, to start the week, before falling in a squeaker at Gallatin County, 54-51. They closed out their season with a loss to Franklin County, 47-35.

    The Bearcats look for a little revenge in the first round of the 30th district tourney, as the #3 Cats face the #2 seeded Spencer County Bears in the elimination round. The game will be played on 2/19 at 7 pm in the Spencer gym.

    10 – North Oldham (13-17, 2-9 vs. 8th region) Last week: #8 - North Oldham dropped their final two games of the season. Heading into the final week, the Mustangs had a chance to win two and even their record at 15-15 heading into the posts-season, but it just didn’t work out that way against Collins and DeSales.

    Collins handed the Mustangs an early-week 66-49 loss, ending a four-game North winning streak, and DeSales dealt the Mustangs a 66-59 loss to end the season. North was done in in both games by poor shooting; 37.8% against Collins and 35.6% against DeSales.

    8th grade point guard Dallas Roberts led the Mustangs against Collins, scoring 16. But the player of the week had to be William Hare, who had a double-double against Collins (12 points / 10 rebounds) and nearly had another against DeSales, garnering 12 points and 9 boards.

    The Mustangs’ defense seems to be dramatically improved, but the offense is sometimes spotty. A key loss was senior Grant Adelson, a dangerous outside shooter, who was lost for the season with a broken foot a few games back. Thomas Ashton has largely taken his spot and has played fairly well in the backcourt with Roberts.

    This week, North – the #4 seed – will take on #1 seeded Oldham County in the 29th District tournament on 2/19/19 at 7:30 pm at South Oldham HS.

    11 – Shelby County (8-20, 3-8 region 8) Last week: 11 – This is not your father’s Shelby County Rockets team. Shelby has one of the richest basketball traditions in the 8th region, and they won a state championship carrying the 8th region’s banner in 1978 (Charles Hurt, Norris Beckley, and company)

    The Traditionalist in me hates to see traditional power Shelby in danger of finishing with less than 10 wins, but the Realist in me reminds me that all schools – even the big ones like Shelby – go through cycles when they simply aren’t as good as they usually are.

    Last week was bittersweet for the Rockets as they dropped their final two regular season games, but by slim margins.

    On 2/13/19, they lost to DeSales, 64-53. Shooting woes contributed; Shelby hit just 33.3% of their shots and 60% at the line. Taurius Robinson (18 points), Cameron Armstrong (15), aned Kaleb Hulker (13) led the way for Shelby, whose overall lack of offense has derailed them much of the year.

    The offense failed them again two nights later, wasting a fantastic defensive effort on the high-scoring Gallatin County Wildcats in a 54-52 loss in Warsaw.

    The Rockets are skating on thin ice going into the post-season. They’ve lost 9 of their last 11 games, averaging just 52 ppg during that stretch. As the #4 seed in district 30, they have to play the #1 seed, the cross-town rival Collins Titans. Collins won both regular season games, by 15 points and by 26 points. But the game is on a neutral floor – Spencer County HS – and anything can happen when rivals collide. Game time 7 pm on 2/18/19.

    12 – Henry County (11-17, 7-10 8th region) Last week: #12 – Henry County went 1-2 in its final three regular season games.

    The Wildcats opened last week by defeating Ludlow, 61-55. Ethan Lankford had 24 and Dandre Wright had 20 points and 10 boards.

    The Cats dropped their last two, however, by a combined 11 points.

    On 2/12/19, they fell to the Raiders of Trimble County, 79-76. Lankford exploded for 41 points, hitting 13 of 16 shots overall and 6 of 9 threes. Wright added another double-double, with 21 points / 10 rebounds, and talented sophomore Trevor Hardin added 10.

    The season came to a close with a shootout loss to South Oldham, 104-96, on the Cats’ home court. Amazingly, all of the Cats’ 96 points were scored by four players: Lankford 40 (his second straight 40+ point game!), Trevor Hardin (37 points / 15 boards), Wright (17), and Parker Stephens (2). It was the Wildcats’ second-highest point total of the season, but it just happened to come on the night they played the highest-scoring team in KY basketball.

    The Wildcats will play the Carroll County Panthers in the #2 vs #3 seed game in the 31st district. This means that they will not have to play #1 seed Gallatin County until possibly the championship game – meaning the winner of this game will advance to New Castle. Henry would like nothing better than to play a regional tournament game on their home court, but this will be a battle as Carroll beat Henry by 10 and Henry beat Carroll by 9 in the two teams’ regular season matchups.

    Bottom-line regarding Henry County: They can flat-out shoot the ball (54.1% overall) from the floor, but they struggle at the line, hitting only 51.2% of their charity stripe opportunities.

    Semi-final this week in District 31: 2/19/19 7:30 pm. Henry County vs. Carroll County at Carroll County.

    13 – Carroll County (12-12, 9-8 region 8) Last week: #13– The Panthers are a much-improved team this year, and have a legitimate opportunity to return to the 8th region basketball tournament for the first time since 2006, when the district runner-up Panthers lost to North Oldham in the first round of the 8th Region Tournament.

    Carroll split two games last week, opening the week with a 74-69 double overtime thriller of a win over Collegiate. Wyatt Supplee continued to be explosive since his return from an injury as he scored 39 points. David Duncan added 15 points and 9 rebounds.

    The Panthers came back down to earth in their final regular season game, though, as they fell to Walton-Verona, 70-27. Supplee again led the team, scoring 15 of their 27 points, but Carroll shot just 21.6% overall, 18.8% from beyond the arc, and shot just 12 free throws, making 8. On the glass, they could only muster 15 rebounds against the taller Bearcats.

    I’m not sure what has happened to Keishaun Mumphrey, who was averaging 14.3 ppg (second-best on the team) and 8.0 rebounds (tops on the team), but he hasn’t played in the last three games. The Panthers’ post-season hopes take a serious hit if Mumphrey can’t play.

    The Panthers open district tournament play on 2/19/19 at 7:30 pm vs. Henry County on the Panthers’ home court.

    14 – Trimble County (13-14, 8-10 8th region) Last week: #14 – The Raiders had the chance to finish over .500 last week, but dropped two of three games.

    The Raiders played Gallatin County to start the week, and simply couldn’t slow down the red-hot Wildcats, who won, 76-42. Grant Weaver scored 20 for Trimble, the first time in 11 games that the team’s leading scorer wasn’t named Reese Webster.

    The next night, the team traveled to New Castle to take on the Henry County Wildcats, and came away with an upset victory, 79-76. Evan Stevens had nearly half of Trimble’s points as he erupted for 36. Weaver had 14, Ben Stevens had 11, and Austin Cissell 10 to lead the way for Trimble. With Webster scoring only 3 points, this was an encouraging picture.

    But the Raiders dropped their final game, on the road at Lloyd Memorial, where they fell to the Juggernauts, 77-40. No stats were available.

    This week, the Raiders will have their hands full in the District 29 semi-finals. They face South Oldham, a team which really seems to have the Raiders number, even when Trimble is really good. Trimble will try to pull the upset on 2/20/19 at 7:30 pm at South Oldham HS.

    15 – Williamstown (9-21, 2-9 vs. 8th Region) Last week: #15 – Well, Williamstown didn’t reach 10 wins last week; I thought they would. But they did have an enjoyable week, winning two of three games.

    The Demons started the week with a 53-50 victory over Bellevue. But the second game of the three proved to be too much. Owen County – a team Williamstown had defeated by 17 in December – set the Demons down, 62-40. Williamstown then finished their regular season with a 64-62 win over Menifee County.

    No stats were available for any of the three games.

    Coach Reitz is slowly building his program. From 2 wins last year (both by 1 point) to 9 wins (so far) this year, Williamstown is working their way back to relevance again.

    This week: 2/18/19 at 6 pm vs. Simon Kenton at Simon Kenton

    Owen County Rebels (4-23, 3-14 region 8) Last week: #16 – I realize Owen blasted #15 Williamstown a week ago. But looking at the overall body of work, Williamstown – who beat Owen handily in their previous meeting – had the much better resume and so they get #15 over Owen.

    The Rebels split their last two games, beating Williamstown, 62-40, a win that halted a nine game losing streak. They finished their season with a 79-54 loss to Thomas Nelson.
    Owen County should be much more competitive next year. Isaac St. Clair (11.3 ppg) is a sophomore, Teagan Moore is an 8th grader (10.1 ppg), Tennyson Hensley (5.8 ppg) is a freshman, Isaac Wash (5.7 ppg) is a freshman, and Brendon Lewis (5.3 ppg) is a junior. Only Isaac Smith, who averages 10.6 ppg and 8.9 rebounds, is a senior.

    The Rebels open up 31st district play against Eminence on 2/18/19 at 6 pm at Carroll County HS. The winner plays defending champion Gallatin.

    Eminence (3-25, 0-16 8th region) – last week: #17 – The Warriors were unable to pull a region win out of the hat this year, and last week wasn’t the time to do so. Eminence faced Grant County and Anderson County, and lost to both.

    Owen lost to Anderson County in the first game last week, 80-47.

    The Rebels then dropped a 107-58 decision to Grant County, who exploded on offense.

    No stats were available for either game.

    The Warriors will face Owen in the play-in game of the district 31 tournament at 6 pm on 2/18/19 at Carroll County HS.

    District 29 – at South Oldham HS, Crestwood
    2/19 7:30 pm #1 seed Oldham County vs. #4 seed North Oldham
    2/20 7:30 pm #2 seed South Oldham vs. #3 seed Trimble County
    2/22 8:00 pm championship

    Predictions: Oldham vs. North is a tough matchup as two county rivals have to go at it in an elimination game. Oldham has simply been playing under Coy Zerhusen so much longer than the Mustangs have played under their first-year coach David Levitch, that I think Oldham wins by doing what they do best: pressure defense for 32 exhuasting minutes. North’s 8th grade point guard Dallas Roberts is really good, and he’s going to be great, but I think Oldham will wear him down.

    South vs. Trimble is simply a bad matchup for Trimble. They match up much better against North Oldham, or even Oldham, than South, whose specialty is a fast-paced tempo. And – although I think Trimble will score points, it’s awfully hard to keep up with the highest-scoring team in KY.

    In the finals, if Oldham shoots a decent percentage, their defense will do the rest. South, though, will have learned from their 3 point loss (83-80) to Oldham County in the regular season.

    Finals Prediction: Oldham wins its 9th straight district title in a one possession game against South.

    [B]District 30 – at Spencer County HS, Taylorsville[B]

    2/18 7 pm #1 seed Collins vs. #4 seed Shelby County
    2/19 7 pm #2 seed Spencer County vs. #3 seed Anderson County
    2/22 7 pm championship

    Predictions: Rivals cause funny things to happen in games, and Shelby vs. Collins is a huge rivalry. Shelby’s defense has also been playing much better of late, but Collins’ defense is suffocating and one of the best in the region. Matched up against a Shelby offense that struggles to score, Collins is the favorite here.

    Spencer County has seen Anderson County rain on their parade too many times. Spencer won by 21 points a few short weeks ago, but Anderson has gone 5-2 since then. The Bears held the Bearcats to 37 points, their second-lowest point total of the season in that victory. Anderson simply hasn’t been consistent this year at all; if Spencer plays their game and stays out of foul trouble – the Bears’ bench isn’t all that deep – the Bears should prevail.

    Finals Prediction: If Spencer’s shooting eye is calibrated right, they’ll make this an interesting game for a while. But Collins’ sticky defense – combined with the dominating size of their guards out front – will just be too much for the Bears. Collins by 14.

    District 31 – at Carroll County HS, Carrollton

    2/18 6:00 pm #5 seed Owen County vs. #6 seed Eminence
    2/19 6:00 pm #1 seed Gallatin County vs. Owen/Eminence winner
    2/19 7:30 pm Carroll County vs. Henry County
    ?? ?? Championship

    In the region’s only five-team district, things will probably be interesting in every game except the final.

    Owen County and Eminence both experienced rough seasons, but they are matched up well and should provide an entertaining play-in game. Look for Owen to outscore the Warriors in a low-scoring affair.

    Carroll County and Henry County may be the most interesting of all the first round games in the 8th region. These two split two games, with Carroll beating Henry by 10 and Henry beating Carroll by 9. If Mumphrey is out though, the home court advantage may not be enough to save the Panthers against a Henry team that can really shoot the ball.
    Gallatin versus Owen / Eminence. Sorry; there’s not going to be a mystery here. Gallatin would have to shoot dismally and suddenly turn the ball over repeatedly. This just isn’t likely to be the year Owen or Eminence advance.

    Finals Prediction: Gallatin County vs. Henry County. Henry is 0-2 vs. Gallatin this year, and the big reason was the Gallatin defense, which held the Wildcats to just 54 and 55 points in the two games. I love what I see happening in New Castle late in the season as they’ve found new shooters. Since their last game with Gallatin, Henry County has averaged 73.9 ppg over ten contests. However, I can’t overlook the fact that Gallatin won both matchups convincingly, and Gallatin’s defense is better than most of the defenses they’ve seen in the last 10 games. The Gallatin County Wildcats have a ton of shooters, too. In the end, the better defense holds the day: Gallatin by 15.

    District 32 – Simon Kenton HS, Independence

    2/18 6 pm #1 seed Simon Kenton vs. #4 seed Williamstown
    2/19 6 pm #2 seed Walton-Verona vs. #3 seed Grant County
    2/21 7 pm championship

    This could be a really fun tournament. Williamstown is vastly improved over last year, but the young Demons will be no match for SK, who should be able to win without tipping their hand regarding any surprises they may have up their sleeves. Expect the Pioneer subs to play early and often, as SK wins by 25.

    Walton-Verona vs. Grant County, on the other hand, has some real potential. W-V beat Grant County by 17 just a couple of weeks ago, but Grant has one of the most prolific offenses in the region. If W-V struggles from the field, or shoots their team average at the line (which isn’t very good), or comes in expecting to cruise, then this one could be ripe for an upset. Grant very much has the ability to shoot the lights out, and they have a lot of different scorers that makes them difficult to guard. Grant must find a way to at least compete on the glass and avoid turnovers to have a chance at the upset.

    Finals Predictions: Walton-Verona over Simon Kenton by 6. Walton becomes the only district champ that didn’t go into the tournament as a #1 seed.

    Top 10 Region 8 Players: (in no particular order).

    Luke Morrison, South Oldham – scary shooter; leads the region - #5 in KY - in scoring at over 25 ppg Morrison has a variety of moves to the basket, but he’s become an elite three point shooter, hitting near 50% of his threes.

    Dieonte Miles, Walton-Verona
    – has really refined his game over last year, although, in all fairness, he didn’t get to play much last year. Graceful with the ball around the basket, he shows tremendous touch as he displays all the moves of a traditional back-to-the-basket center. When moved to thee high post, shows a remarkable ability to pass to the open man. Has some range, but is a surprisingly poor free throw shooter, hitting less than 60%.

    Troy Coomer, Gallatin County – Does whatever is needed. Stocky and strong enough to wade inside and rip down rebounds, Coomer also has a remarkable shooting touch. One of the best deep-ball threats in the region.

    Kelly Niece, Simon Kenton – arguably the best shooting guard in the region, Kelly Niece is what you simply call a SCORER. Finds ways to beat you off the dribble or with the jumper. Adept ballhandler.

    Reese Webster, Trimble County
    – the best player you probably haven’t heard of. Smart ballhandler for the Raiders, he’s had to essentially play two roles – the 1 and the 2. Leads the team in scoring consistently, and has a solid shooter’s touch beyond the arc.

    Kameron Pardee, Walton-Verona – 6’4” forward who moves extremely well without the basketball. Finds the gaps in the zones and is able to make his man lose him in a man-to-man, Pardee is frequently open and has a strong move to the basket off the pass.

    Dayvion McKnight, Collins – Freakishly athletic, McKnight can post up, rebound, and muscle the ball into the basket against bigger, brawnier players. One of the top players in the state in rebounding, he is generally good for a double-double every ballgame. Only real weakness is that he doesn’t really have an outside shot, which he’ll probably need in college.

    Matthew Teague, Oldham County – Has adapted to whatever role Oldham needs him to play. Can play the point guard role, or the wing, and has even been known to post up with his back to the basket like a center. Has a will to win that may be unmatched in the region. Biggest strength is his uncanny ability to get his body and the ball to the rim.

    Sam Conley, Spencer County – one of the “young guns” coming up, Conley is one of three young men in the region this year that could graduate some day with 3,000+ points. (the others are Kelly Niece of SK and Dallas Roberts, an 8th grace PG averaging 14 ppg for North Oldham) Has the ability to play multiple positions. He’s working on his jumper; if he can improve in that category, he will be quite the multi-threat.

    Seth Gordon, South Oldham – this year’s surprise. Coach Steve Simpson didn’t know how well he’d handle his hybrid role of point guard and scorer. Pretty well, apparently. Gordon runs the South offense well, and is equally adept at driving the lane or pulling up for a three. If sent to the line, he’s nearly an 80% free throw shooter.

    Others of Note: Trevor Hardin, Henry County; Keishaun Mumphrey, Carroll County, Marcellus Vail, Collins, Christian Harper, Oldham County; Luke Dawalt, Grant County

  2. #2
    scon36's Avatar
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    Didn’t Mumphrey get injured in Carroll’s game at Henry? Possible concussion?

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    I noticed you mentioned Troy Coomer as “Trey”. Freudian slip?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ColonelMike View Post
    Seth Gordon, South Oldham – this year’s surprise. Coach Steve Simpson didn’t know how well he’d handle his hybrid role of point guard and scorer. Pretty well, apparently. Gordon runs the South offense well, and is equally adept at driving the lane or pulling up for a three. If sent to the line, he’s nearly an 80% free throw shooter.
    This should be Seth Johnson, not Gordon.

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    Great write up, you can always nit pick here and there but overall this is a great piece of work. Just for note, Walton-Verona beat South Oldham last year at Walton-Verona so they did not hold a 5 game winning streak against WV.

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    Great article. Looks like a region with a marquee senior or two then a ton of talented underclassmen.

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    Great article as well but Grant Co won the 32nd district in both 2014 and 2015.

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    I am planning on making the trip to Spencer County for the first time ever on Friday night for the finals. Can I expect to get in or have trouble getting a ticket?

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    ColonelMike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mack The Knife View Post
    I noticed you mentioned Troy Coomer as “Trey”. Freudian slip?
    LOL....no, more like a clumsy finger slip, but I like your reason better!

    I did get it right in the "Top 10 Players" listing, though...!

    CM
    Last edited by ColonelMike; Feb 18, 19 at 09:32 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheDeuce View Post
    This should be Seth Johnson, not Gordon.
    Yeah - poor kid, I've called him that several times on the air. Over the years - dating all the way back to when South opened in 1989 - I recall only two "Seths" that played either football or basketball for South.

    Unfortunately, Seth JOHNSON came along second, and I've called him Seth Gordon all year. My color commentators are beginning to have a lot of fun with it...

    CM

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    Quote Originally Posted by bluecats View Post
    Great write up, you can always nit pick here and there but overall this is a great piece of work. Just for note, Walton-Verona beat South Oldham last year at Walton-Verona so they did not hold a 5 game winning streak against WV.
    Yeah, I mis-read some of my old records and got that incorrect. South had actually won 4 of the last 5.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ConverseAllStar View Post
    Great article. Looks like a region with a marquee senior or two then a ton of talented underclassmen.
    I really agree. There are some really nice seniors - there always are - but the freshman, sophomore, and junior classes may be better before all is said and done. I know an awful lot of coaches who have told me that they are excited about their team over the next 2-3 years.

    CM

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingLow View Post
    Great article as well but Grant Co won the 32nd district in both 2014 and 2015.
    You are correct....but what are you referring to in the article??

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    ColonelMike's Avatar
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    BTW, I just remembered the player I forgot to mention along with the "top 10": Jarin Rassman of Gallatin County.

    I was in a hurry to submit the article as I was technically already a bit late, and I totally forgot to mention him. Jarin's fun to watch - and definitely deserving of post-season honors.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Indiana Patrick View Post
    I am planning on making the trip to Spencer County for the first time ever on Friday night for the finals. Can I expect to get in or have trouble getting a ticket?
    Better get there early. Small gym makes for a great environment! If Spencer County is in that game the whole county will be there.

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