Ashland 16th Region Champions/State Preview
The Tomcats saved their best for last in winning their 33rd regional championship and first since 2002. First year head coach Jason Mays pushed all the right buttons in Morehead this past week. The Tomcats struggled to a 14-16 regular season mark playing a rugged schedule that included three Sweet 16 squads. It proved to be the right formula to produce a region title. Ashland squeaked by Lewis County in round 1, then pulled the upset of the season by knocking off Elliott County in overtime, and finished off their improbable run by beating rival Boyd County in their fifth matchup of the season.
16th region tournament MVP Devaunte Robinson leads this balanced Tomcat squad. The athletic lefty gets to the hoop with regularity. The return of freshman Cole Villers for the last eleven games was a huge boost especially in the title game as he scored 21 points. Fellow freshman Ethan Sellers also had a huge tournament for the Tomcats. Junior Ethan Hudson provides another scorer on the perimeter. He poured in 21 points in the win over Elliott County. The glue of this team is Justin Bradley. He made huge shots and provided defensive toughness in all three region wins. Senior Hunter Mays has been instant offense since he has been moved into the role of sixth man. The Tomcats have gone small since the suspension of Ryan Bryant and the result has been spreading teams out and utilizing the three-point shot.
The Tomcats will take on the pressing style of 3rd Region champion Owensboro. Mays should be familiar with the Red Devils as he was interim coach at Kentucky Wesleyan last season. Ashland will have to take care of the basketball to be successful in this game. Also the Tomcats have been using primarily a six-man rotation in the postseason. That could prove to be an issue against Owensboro's relentless pressure. If they can handle the press and convert on the back end, this Cinderella run could continue in Lexington. We will all see at 8 pm Wednesday night at Rupp Arena.