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8th Region Week 10 Review: Showdown!
By Colonelmike

The 8th Region did better against out of region teams this week, going 11-6 overall. The Region was 1-0 against out of region ranked opponents, with Collins getting the week’s big victory, a 63-59 win over #7 ranked McCracken County.

Oldham County picked up the region’s other marquee victory, stopping LaRue County – ranked #55 in the state according to the RPI rankings and one of the top teams in the Fifth Region - by a final score of 49-46.

In the last couple of weeks, we’ve had some big showdowns….South Oldham vs. Collins….Collins vs. Simon Kenton…Oldham County vs. Simon Kenton…Grant County vs. Simon Kenton…South Oldham vs. Oldham County.

This week, one more. A biggie. #1 Oldham County at #2 Collins. #13 vs. #9. Winner doesn’t exactly “take all”, but the winner certainly will likely head to New Castle as the tournament favorite.

Toss it up!

On to this week’s rankings: For the first time this season, all 16 teams hold their spots.

1 – Oldham County (23-2) Last week: #1 state ranking: #11 The Colonels had perhaps the most impressive week, overall, last week, and they remain at number one in the region rankings.

Oldham went 2-0 against some stiff competition, defeating Fifth Region power LaRue County, 49-46 to start the week, before grabbing a stunning 86-68 win over fellow region 8 power Simon Kenton at home.

Grant Gibson came off the bench against LaRue to lead the Colonels with 14 points; Gibson becomes the second bench player to lead the Colonels in scoring in a game this season.
Against SK, the Colonels had the stars all aligned their way. Oldham shot 57.7% from the floor, including 11 of 19 from beyond the arc (57.9%) and 15 of 16 at the line (93.8%). Deaton Oak led the way with 23 points, and also hit 5 of 6 threes. Although Oldham continues to be a team with a wide array of capable scorers, Oak has begun to assert himself of late, leading the Colonels in scoring in five of their last eight ballgames.

Oldham extends its region-best winning streak to 14 games. Fourteen games is an impressive streak, but this one is made even more impressive by the quality of the opposition, which has included 15th region contender Paintsville, high-scoring North Bullitt, Beechwood, 31st district favorite Gallatin County, #19-ranked South Oldham, North Oldham, Sixth Region power Pleasure Ridge Park, Eleventh Region contender Tates Creek, Fifth Region power LaRue County, and Simon Kenton.

This week, Oldham travels to Collins for perhaps the most-awaited 8th region showdown of the year. #9 Collins vs. #13 Oldham County.

2/11/2020 at #9 Collins The Pegasus Sports Network - PSN 2/14/2020 at Anderson County

2 – Collins (19-6) Last week: #2 state ranking: #9 Collins started last week with an unexpected hiccup against a good DeSales team from the Sixth Region, falling, 70-58, but rebounded nicely, heading down to the Wes Strader Schoolboy Classic and nabbing a slight upset victory, defeating #7-ranked McCracken County, 63-59.
No stats were available yet for either game.

Collins has won 19 games against a really difficult schedule, and they will perhaps be the most battle-tested team in the 8th Region heading into the post-season. The McCracken victory was their fourth over a team that was ranked at the time of the game.
Collins has played a whopping six games against teams either now or previously ranked in the Top 10.

The Titans will open this week with a huge game against Oldham County in a matchup of the two highest-ranked teams in the region. Interestingly, Collins has never beaten the Colonels in Shelbyville (Oldham is 3-0 at Collins). The Titans will try to reverse that trend on Tuesday.

This week: 2/11/2020 vs. #13 Oldham County The Pegasus Sports Network - PSN 2/15/202 at Grant County

3 – South Oldham (19-7) Last week: #3 state ranking: #17

South holds at number three this week after dominating the competition last week, winning three games in contests where the Dragons were favored.

South hit over 50% in all three games last week, shooting 56.4% in a 75-35 win over Carroll County, 62.3% in an 82-50 victory over Shelby, and wrapping up the week with a 54.9% shooting performance in a 79-62 win over eleventh region foe Lafayette.

Seth Johnson had a tremendous week; the senior guard averaged 20 points in the three games, with a “low” game of 17 against Carroll. 6’6” senior Trey Hicks had a breakout game for the Dragons against Shelby, easily posting his best game of the year with a double-double, 14 points and 10 rebounds. If Hicks – a tall, mobile, reserve guard – can build on that performance, he will give South an incredible difficult matchup off the bench heading into tournament time.

The Dragons will try to build on their success last week…South has not had a winning streak longer than four games this year; the Dragons are currently riding a three game streak. But South seems to have things going their way; they’ve won 6 of their last 7 contests, shooting over 50% in six of those games, and scoring 65 points or more in all seven.

The Dragons only have three games left on their schedule; just one of those is scheduled for this week, but it’s a good one as Sixth Region power DeSales comes to Crestwood one week after knocking off #9 Collins by a dozen.

2/10/2020 vs. DeSales The Pegasus Sports Network - PSN

4 – Simon Kenton (16-9) Last week: #4 Got a chance to watch SK again this past week, and – although the game against Oldham County did not go well for the Pioneers – I still like what I’m seeing from Trent Steiner’s crew.

Simon Kenton went 2-1 last week. The Pioneers got a convincing 60-42 win in Warsaw over their nemesis from the past few years, the Gallatin County Wildcats. Kelly Niece warmed up for what turned into a fantastic week for him, leading SK with 17.

The Pioneers then ran into an absolute buzz saw in Buckner. Oldham County absolutely shot the lights out of the gym, blitzing out to a 25 point advantage before winning by 18 over SK.
The irony of the game was that Simon didn’t play badly on offense; the Pioneers hit 50% from the floor and Kelly Niece had 27 in the loss. Foul issues for Jon Hensley, however, took the Pioneers’ best rebounder out of the game for an extended period of time, and that hurt on the defensive end.

SK wrapped up the week with a 75-71 win over an improving Scott County. Niece finished the week in style with a 38 point effort.

Simon hit 50% in the first two games, and 60.5% from the field against Scott County.

Simon Kenton is getting hot at the right time. SK haw now won 8 of its last 11 games and is averaging 70.2 ppg during that stretch. Simon Kenton finishes the season with four straight home games and has the opportunity to have momentum on its side heading into the district 32 tournament.

This week:
2/11/2020 vs. Campbell County – the Camels are just 12-12, but came up with a big upset over top-20 Bourbon County in their last game.
2/14/2020 vs. Scott High.

In the Hunt… The differences between the four teams in Tier Two are razor-thin. All four have question marks that must be answered – but if those questions are resolved, these teams can make big runs, perhaps all the way to Rupp Arena.

5 – North Oldham (13-11) Last week: #5 North had an up-and-down week last week, but holds put at number five.

The week started with a big opportunity for the new-look Mustangs, but that start turned into a major stumble as North was walloped by #4 Ballard, 102-66.

The result was a stunning reminder just how much Justin Powell brought to the Mustangs before he was lost for the season due to injury. On 12/23/2019, in the finals of the King of the Bluegrass Tournament, Ballard beat North by just 10 with Powell in the lineup.
North actually shot well against Ballard, hitting 53.1% from the floor. Freshman forward Ian Higdon led the Mustangs with 13 points.

The Mustangs got back on track later in the week with a big 8th Region win over a surging Grant County squad, 74-66. Dallas Roberts led the way with 23. “Rico” Carr-Cole tallied 19.
North head coach David Levitch on where his team stands:

“We have Austin (“Rico”) Carr Cole in the starting lineup,” Levitch said. “(He) and Dallas (Roberts) have been playing very well together scoring the ball. Our team is just very young and they are getting better. We have played an extremely tough schedule and it has prepared them well. We have been shooting the ball well.”

Carr-Cole scored in double-digits in both of last week’s games, with 11 against Ballard and 19 against Grant. The sophomore guard, just promoted to the starting five, is now averaging 10.4 ppg, third-best on the team.

The opposition seems to be figuring out Tyler Higdon, though. The senior center, who leads North in scoring, had a difficult week, scoring only 11 points total in the two games and grabbing a total of only eight rebounds.

This week, North steps out of region for two games:
2/11/2020 vs. Central 2/14/2020 vs. Meade County

6 – Spencer County (16-7) Last week: #6 You expect a contender to be putting together a run just prior to the post-season, and Spencer County is certainly doing just that. The Bears extended their winning streak – the second-longest in region 8 – to five games by getting two narrow wins last week.

The Bears began the week with a 72-68 victory over the North Bullitt Eagles. Lucas Hornback became the first Bear in the last fifteen games to lead Spencer in scoring other than Sam Conley as he posted a 19 points / 8 rebounds line.

Spencer County then had to go to two overtimes, but the Bears managed to figure out the Anderson County defense and offensive slowdown, 49-46. Spencer County had an out of bounds play with 1.2 seconds left in the second overtime and buried a three at the buzzer to get the win. Jake Whitlock and Sam Conley tied for team scoring honors with 15.

Coach Jason Burns likes the momentum his team has put together:

“We’ve started to get back to the consistency we had going before Christmas, so I like where we’re at,” he observed. “Momentum and more importantly playing at our best is very important these last few weeks leading up to the district tournament.”

The Bears finish with 5 of the lesser opponents on their schedule, giving them an excellent chance to have a ten-game winning streak heading into District 30 tournament play.

This week:
2/11/2020 at Shelby County 2/14/2020 at Bullitt Central 2/15/2020 vs. Henry County

7 – Grant County (15-8) Last week: #7 The Braves have won 6 of their last 7 and continued their late-season surge last week. Key has been the development of players outside the “big 3” (Vickers, Dawalt, and Epperson). In the preseason, we identified Guffey, Hammonds, and Robinson as some of the important names that Braves fans would need to get to know, and they seem to be coming through.

Last week, it was junior Blake Robinson that had the big week. He tallied 21 against Ryle in a 75-65 win to start the week, on 6 of 9 shooting. In an 87-63 victory over Henry County, Robinson scored 14 points on 6 of 11 shooting. And he finished the week with 17 points on 6 of 10 shooting in a narrow, 74-66 loss to North Oldham on the road.

For the week, Robinson averaged 17.3 ppg while shooting 60% from the field. He led Grant in scoring against Ryle and North.

The loss to North ended Grant’s longest winning streak of the year at six games. Since January 1, Grant County has gone 9-3, with losses to Beechwood, Conner, and North Oldham, and a big win over Simon Kenton.

A win tonight over Walton-Verona cements the number one seed in the 32nd district tournament for Grant.

Last year’s Grant County team went 19-12, but did not advance out of the district tournament. With six games left in the regular season, the Braves have a real chance to eclipse that win total in the next two weeks; Grant County will be favored to make it out of the district this year.

This week is a busy week for Grant County, with four games:

2/10/2020 vs. Walton-Verona 2/11/2020 at Gallatin County 2/13/2020 vs. Boone County 2/15/2020 vs. #9 Collins

8 – Woodford County (15-11) Last week: #8 If Hunter Penn is back, this team is probably under-ranked.

We found out just exactly how much the senior center for the Yellowjackets means to this team. When Penn went out with an injury during the Walton-Verona game on January 20th, things went south in a hurry for the Jackets. Shooting dipped drastically – the Yellowjackets went from being the best-shooting team in the region to managing barely 33% from the floor in games without Penn.

Obviously, as shooting percentages dropped, the scoring average fell. And as the scoring fell, the losses mounted.

But Woodford rebounded last week to stop the slide.

The Yellowjackets – without Penn – eked out a 52-51 victory over Great Crossings in a scoring-challenged game. Nobody hit double figures for Woodford; the Jackets were led by Ashton Myles-Devore and Jared Courntey, each with 8 points. Woodford hit only 38.2%, but was buoyed by efforts on the glass, led by Riley Gardner’s 11 rebounds, as Woodford outrebounded Great Crossings, 35-25.

Woodford then bounced Shelby County, 73-54, for their second win in a row.

Woodford County is the only team in Kentucky to have beaten Oldham County (the Jackets won by 6 in Versailles in December). With Penn in the lineup, their offense is dangerous, and they find good shots. With Penn, Woodford is an outside threat to win the region.

Without Penn, it’s been a tough road for the Yellowjackets; three of their four losses with Penn on the sidelines have come at the hands of region 8 contenders Collins, Spencer County, and South Oldham. With Spencer County and Collins in Woodford’s district, the Jackets might not even make the region tournament if Penn doesn’t return.

This week – a tough week against West Jessamine (14-9, winners of five straight), a top 20 Henry Clay team, and a former top 20 team in St. X.

2/11/2020 vs. West Jessamine 2/14/2020 at #18 Henry Clay 2/15/2020 at St. Xavier

The Third Tier – At least two of the below should make it to the Region 8 Tournament:
Let’s see….Gallatin beat Anderson County…Anderson beat Walton-Verona…Walton-Verona beat Henry County….Henry County beat…Gallatin County(!)…and around and around and around we go.

9 – Gallatin County (12-12) Last week: #9
The return of some injured Wildcats will likely mean an improved Gallatin effort over the final five games….

Gallatin County dropped a 60-42 decision at the hands of Simon Kenton to kick off last week, in a game that saw the Pioneers rule the backboards, 36-18. Jarin Rassman (again) led the Cats in scoring with 17…but the five-game losing streak came to an end later in the week. Rassman again had 17 as the Wildcats pounded Eminence, 78-39 in a game in which the Cats hit 58.1% from the floor.

Gallatin County is now 7-1 against 31st district competition, but just 5-11 against all others.

Gallatin County coach Jon Jones indicated that the final stretch will be key.

“We need to finish strong,” he said. “All of our remaining games are games we can compete in. Obviously, Grant is playing well but we match up well with the rest of our opponents.”

“Some good has come from our struggles,” he continued. “Some younger players are stepping up. I think it will make us better by district time.”

This week will be a big week for the Wildcats as they face four opponents, including arguably the toughest of their remaining opponents, the Grant County Braves. A win over the Braves would be a huge momentum-builder for Gallatin heading into the districts.

This week: 2/1/2020 vs. Grant County 2/13/2020 vs. Trimble County 2/14/2020 vs. Owen County 2/15/2020 at Ludlow

10 – Anderson County (14-8) Last week: #10 Anderson County has lost six straight games, the second-longest losing streak in the 8th Region. And yet, they hold tight at #10 in the rankings, in part because of the Bearcats’ gritty efforts during that stretch.

During the slide, Anderson has lost to some more-than-credible opponents: Woodford County, Gallatin County, North Oldham, Collins, Somerset, and Spencer County. The Gallatin loss was by just 8 points; Collins beat the Bearcats by just 5 in a game decided in the final 10 seconds; Somerset won by only six points, and Spencer defeated Anderson by just 3 points in double-overtime on a three point shot at the buzzer.

And it’s hard not to notice that some of the region’s elite scoring offenses have struggled against this Anderson defense. Collins scored just 41 points. Spencer scored 49 – in two overtimes. Simon Kenton scored just 44. Walton-Verona had a “monster” game – 50 points for the W-V Bearcats. And Grant County scored – gasp – 28 points. (in a 32 minute game).
Only six teams so far have scored over 50 points against Anderson County, and only one – North Oldham – has eclipsed 60 points. (The Mustangs scored 74 in a 74-31 rout.)
Anderson will have the opportunity to break the losing streak this week, and will wrap up the week against the top-ranked team in the 8th Region.

This week: 2/11/2020 vs. Carroll County 2/13/2020 vs. Owen County 2/14/2020 vs. #13 Oldham County

11 – Walton-Verona (12-12) Last week: #11 No surprises last week as Walton-Verona defeated three teams they were expected to beat. The Bearcats beat Williamstown by 18, Villa Madonna by 32, and Trimble County by 13 in pulling even on the season at 12-12.

Mike Hester’s squad is taking care of business; the Cats are pretty much winning when they are supposed to and losing when they are supposed to. The team is shooting the ball well; W-V shot over 51% in each of last week’s three games. The top three scorers on the team are two sophomores and a freshman. The future is bright.

But can the Bearcats sneak into New Castle, getting past both Grant County and Simon Kenton? Walton has struggled this year against the upper-tier programs,

Leading scorer Brant Smithers is certainly doing his part…the sophomore averaged nearly 23 points per game last week and hit 13 threes, including a 6 for 9 night beyond the arc against Williamstown.

This week: 2/10/2020 at Grant County 2/11/2020 at Lloyd Memorial 2/13/2020 vs. Ryle 2/14/2020 at Madison Central

12 – Henry County (14-11) Last week: #12 The Wildcats have won 6 of their last 7 as we head to the final two weeks of the regular season.

Last week, the Cats grabbed victories over Bluegrass United (homeschool), Eminence, and Washington County. All three wins were expected as Henry was favored in all three. The lone loss last week came to Grant County.

Henry’s on a real uptick right now and looks like a solid pick to play in the 8th Region tournament

This week: 2/14/2020 vs Shelby County 2/15/2020 at Spencer County

13 – Carroll County (10-15) Last week: #13 Carroll County is stumbling a bit; the Panthers have lost five of their last six.

Last week was a busy week for Carroll as they played four games. The Panthers weren’t real competitive against South Oldham (75-35 loss) and Trinity (76-40 loss), but played toe-to-toe against Williamstown (68-62 victory) and Whitefield Academy (a 3 point defeat).

Keishaun Mumphrey added two more double-doubles to his credit this year, getting 14 points / 10 rebounds against South and 29 / 15 versus Williamstown.

Wyatt Supplee led the team in scoring 3 of the 4 games, including a 36 point effort against Williamstown.

This week: 2/11/2020 at Anderson County 2/13/2020 at Collegiate

The Longshots…

14 – Owen County (5-18) Last week: #14 Owen dropped two games last week, falling by 26 to Franklin County and 32 to Louisville Holy Cross. No stats were available at this time.

Devin Duvall is a patient coach; he knows his team is young beyond belief.

“A majority of our rotation is players from our Sophomore, Freshman, and even 8th grade classes,” he said. “The varsity experience that these players are gaining should only prepare them more for the future. It has been an eye opener for many of them as they learn the physicality, speed, and intensity of varsity basketball.”

This week: 2/11/2020 at Dayton 2/13/2020 at Anderson County 2/14/2020 at Gallatin County 2/15/2020 vs. Trimble County

15 - Williamstown (9-14) Last Week: #15 The Demons were pretty competitive last week, but fell to Walton-Verona by 18 and Carroll County by six points, before defeating Covington Latin, 88-30.

Williamstown still has seven games left in the season. This week:

2/10/2020 at St Patrick 2/11/2020 at Bellevue 2/13/2020 at Lloyd Memorial

16 – Shelby County (4-19) Last Week: #16 Shelby County wasn’t competitive last week in two games, losing by 32 points to South Oldham and by 29 points to Woodford County. It just wasn’t the Rockets’ week.

Austin Griffin scored 16 to lead the way against South Oldham; Trenton Burchfield had 16 to lead the way against Woodford. Burchfield had a great night beyond the arc, hitting 4 of 6 shots.

The Rockets will try to pick up some momentum before what is expected to be a highly-competitive 30th district tournament at Anderson County HS. This week starts off with a district seeding game against Spencer, in which the Rockets will be the underdogs, but Shelby may be more competitive in their final two games of the week.

This week: 2/11/2020 vs. Spencer County 2/13/2020 vs. Western Hills 2/14/2020 at Henry County

17 – Trimble County (5-18) Last week: #17 The Raiders picked up a convincing victory last week over Eminence, 72-40, before losing in a reasonably competitive game to Walton-Verona by 13.

The Raiders shot over 50% in both games.

Trimble got good balance against Eminence, with Reece Webster scoring 20, Dylan Jennings 12, and Josh Petty 10. Webster (19) and Jennings (15) led the way again a few nights later against Walton.

Trimble faces two teams from the 31st district this week, both games on the road.
2/13/2020 at Gallatin County 2/15/2020 at Owen County

18 – Eminence (4-22) Last week: #18 Eminence went 0-3 last week, and now has the region’s longest losing streak at 7 games. The Warriors struggled against Trimble in a 72-40 loss, and fell to Gallatin County, 78-39.

Eminence rallied at the end of the week, giving their arch-rivals from New Castle a bit of a run before falling by 11, 65-54.

Eminence has been unable to put up many W’s this year, but the Warriors are showing signs of improvement. Eminence is 1-7 over their last 8 games, but lost by just 4 to Owen County and by 8 to Williamstown during that stretch. The 11-point loss to a vastly improved Henry County squad was also encouraging.

Eminence will be a heavy underdog Tuesday against Collegiate, but then wraps up the season at home against Kentucky Country Day and Williamstown.

This week: 2/11/2020 at Collegiate 2/12/2020 vs. KCD