The Roy Winchester Gymnasium on the campus of Henry County High School has been hosting the 8th region tournament for quite sometime, I am thinking 1962-63 may have been the first year? A history guru, "Calling Colonel Mike"..... may know for sure. In that span there has been some of the best basketball that our state has ever witnessed. The coaches and players that have been a part of this region are incredible, and these teams are hoping to cement themselves into that conversation. I would go out on a limb and say that the favorite has not won this region in the last 4 years, and the 29th District has laid claim to the regional title 5 of the last 6 years. Could this be a year an All A school gets over the hump? Can the 30th district make a charge to a regional crown? Who is going to be this year's Cinderella? I am going to discuss each team, players, and coaches. I will give my best swami impersonation, and maybe pick the regional winner right this year, BUT don't count on it. There are (6) teams with a chance at their 20th win this season this week, proving we have a very balanced regional tournament.

Oldham County Colonels (29th District Champions, 26-5)
This team can beat you in a lot of different ways, but they rely heavily on their defensive pressure. The Colonels do not have a rim protector, but they have ball pressure and lots of it. They must force TO's to ignite their transition, and easy opportunity's. They say defense wins Championships and that is what the Colonels are hoping this year. I really believe how the stripes call the region will determine a lot for the Colonels. This makes the 7th straight year that the Colonels have won the 29th district and that alone is an incredible feat. Lets talk about the players in Buckner. This team is ran by Jackson Gibson (12.4ppg), his ability to get teammates shots, and get his own is better than anyone else in the region, only a junior, I look for him to be a POY candidate moving forward. Senior Ishmael Jones (13.4ppg) and Senior Ryan Heelen (7.6) both lead this team very well. Jones is relentless with ball pressure and getting to the rim, while Heelen is Mr. Big shot for the Colonels. The other 2 juniors Travis Henderson (9.0ppg) and Zach Larimore (13.2ppg), both average double digits, and are capable of big nights. Both can step out and shoot the 3, get you on the glass, or beat you off the dribble, making them a match up nightmare. Jones, Gibson and Larimore were all selected to the All 8th region team, a feat that is hard in itself.

South Oldham Dragons (29th District Runner-Up 25-5)
Coach Simpson probably is still mad that the Dragon's did not capture the 29th District Championship BUT if he can cut the nets down next week I think it will help ease his pain. These Dragons may shoot the ball better than last year's team, and saying that is just nuts. Last year's Dragon's made 367 (39%) , while this years team has made 354 (41%), if the Dragons can win the region I have a feeling they may reach 400 which is unbelievable. They are led by POY, walk on Louisville commit Jo Griffin (21.5ppg) (4.6reb). JoJo makes us old guys feel good, because he plays so hard, plays for his teammates, and does it with a lot of character. If the Dragons are going to win the region, he can not do it by himself. Bigger games the Dragons seem to watch JoJo, something that has cost them against the Colonels. They have a junior all region performer in Devin Young, (16.7ppg), making over (80) 3's at 47%. He can get going and score in bunches. They have another sharp shooter in Aaron Franklin, (11.9ppg), making (90) 3's at 45%. We can not forget about senior Dyllon Hoover (9.0ppg), also with around (50) 3 point makes, Dyllon makes hustle plays for the Dragons when they need it. This Dragon team shoots 73% as team from the charity stripe, making them dangerous in this tourney. Coach Simpson has won 3 of the last 4 regions, I think it gives this Dragons team a distinct advantage.

Anderson County Bearcats (30th District Champions 19-11)
A couple weeks ago, a lot of people on this board had ridden off the Bearcats, but as I said in my posts, the coaching staff at Anderson has been doing this for a while, and they have righted the ship at the most opportune time. Coach Drury is seeking his 3rd regional title in his tenure. His last came with a player named CJ Penny, just a coincidence that he has another Penny on this team in Cobe Penny. Only a junior Cobe Penny (23.2ppg) leads the charge heading into this weeks regional. He is capable of putting a team on his back, as he did last year and making it to the finals. The Bearcats have a senior in John Paul Garmon (11.8ppg) that makes all the dirty work plays for the Bearcats. They have another pair of junior duo's in Gritton (11.9ppg) (10.4reb), and Pittman (10.2ppg) that have been big contributors in this stretch run. If my calculations are correct Gritton is one of two players averaging a double-double in the region, impressive indeed.

Collins Titans (30th District Runner-up 20-12)

This Chris Gaither team has battled the injury bug for most of the season, but have all of their pieces back heading down to New Castle this week. How healthy they are remains a mystery. Nagging injury's can take a toll on a player, but with regional tournament adrenaline can be a deciding factor in pushing through. The Titans know how to win on this floor as they won the HCIT back in December. The Titans are led by a couple senior's in Dominique Turner (11.3ppg) and Charles Cochran (15.8ppg). These 2 are extremely long, and ahtlertic. They make a living off slashing and driving, and second chance points. In the open floor they are great at finishing and gives the Collins Titans a chance to win this region next week. Lets not forget the junior duo of Feltner (11.9) and Fort (10.4). These 2 are coming off major injury's, and are the Titans 3 point shooter's, something they will need to advance. But the hopes of a regional crown may come at the expense of a freshmen in Dayvion McKnight (7.0ppg). This freshmen does not look to score but he lives in the paint, which gets shots for his teammates, and offensive rebounds for the big's. If he can handle the atmosphere it gives the Titans a chance.

Gallatin County Wildcats (31st District Champion 19-12)

Coach Jon Jones has his Wildcats back into the regional tourney, where they have played the spoiler in the past. The Wildcats just cut the nets down in the same gym where the regional tourney is played, and counting the regular season game against Henry, this will be the 5th game in that gym, which could come in handy this week. The Wildcats are led by all region performer Mason Wilson (18.9ppg) (6.7reb), he lives as the FT line, and why not, he shoots around 84%. Mason plays extremely hard for the Wildcats as most of them do. The Wildcats also have a junior in Justin Rassman (10.9ppg) that can keep you honest with his 3 point shooting. Typical Gallatin County team, with 5-6 guys averaging 4-6 points and you have a recipe for winning in Warsaw. The Wildcats are patient on offense and will grind you on defense, something that Jon Jones has perfected.

Eminence Warriors (31st District Runner-up 14-13)
Coach Dale Brown has to be commended for a job well done in his first year at the helm of the Warriors. Eminence finds themselves back in the regional tournament, and boast one of the best scorers in all region performer Kemyrn Jenkins (27.5ppg). He can score in bunches, drives, makes 3's and can kill you on the offensive glass. If you focus on Jenkins you will pay dearly with (2) seniors in Dixie(12.3ppg) and Jones (11.4)ppg. Both are capable of 20 point nights, and can beat you if you let them. They have an sophomore in Dotson that averages a double-double in (10.5ppg) and (11.7reb), only the second player to do so in the region. This Warrior team has played a weaker schedule that may hurt them this week, but with these 4 kids you better not overlook them.

Walton Verona Bearcats (32nd District Champion 26-6)

This Bearcat team is 2-2 in Championships thus far, and hope to make it a clean sweep in the next couple weeks with a regional title. Coach Brennan who won coach of the year in the 8th is showing you why. He has guided the Bearcats to 26 wins, which is (8) more than last season after losing some quality seniors from that team. This Bearcat team will not be going away anytime soon as they are a young team, and getting to this regional tourney will do nothing but help them in the future. They are led by Junior Zach Clinkenbeard (13.0ppg) (7reb) per game. Zach just does a little bit of everything for this team. They also have a big sophomore in Deionte Miles (12.0ppg) (6reb) and a ton of blocked shots. Deionte can change shots around the basket making it difficult on teams. Those 2 deserve a lot of credit for success but lets not forget that the Bearcats have 5 guys averaging (5-6ppg) each that do not get a lot of attention in Anderson, Jones, Lay, Moran and Pardee. Only one of these guys in Moran is a senior, so the Bearcats return almost everyone next season.

Williamstown Demons (32nd District Runner-up 17-15)

This Williamstown team is led by another ex- UK player in Roger Hardin, one of my favorites I might add. Coach Harden also has done a masterful coaching job this year. When the Demons lost Cippolone to Lloyd Memorial I felt bad for the Demons, because I thought they had lost their shot at a regional run, and man was I wrong. This Demons team battled injury as well, but just kept fighting and will be in New Castle this week for the first time in a very long time. The Demons are led by junior guard Brennan Stanley (18.5ppg). Stanley is another player that can score in alot of different ways on you, 3 pointer, driving and living at the FT line. Another Junior if Fox (11.1ppg) (8.1ppg) gives the Demons a big man that they have not had for a while, who can make shots around the basket difficult. The Demons have 2 seniors in Jump (11.1ppg) leads team in 3 point makes, and Parsons (7.8ppg) (6.7reb) per game. The Demons only boast 2 seniors as well, and return lots of kids for next season. They are not going to be an easy out this or next season.

Predictions

Wednesday 3/1

Gallatin County 58 vs Williamstown 56
Oldham County 64 vs Collins 63

Thursday 3/2
Anderson County 72 vs Eminence 54
Walton-Verona 52 vs South Oldham 60

Monday 3/6 (semi's)
Gallatin County 48 vs Oldham 61
Anderson County 60 vs South Oldham 70

Tuesday 3/7 (Finals)
Oldham County 68 vs. South Oldham 72

I can not go against the Dragons and Coach Simpson, I hope I didn't curse them. Good luck to all the teams, players, and coaches.