Bluegrasspreps.com 10th Region Champions Campbell County Camels Preview
Campbell County Camels
28-5 (15-0 region)
Coach - Aric Russell (8th year at Campbell County, 164-81 as CC coach)
The Camels, number 3 in the (my) preseason regional rankings, were the only squad to go undefeated in region play this season. They lost two first-team all-region players in Cole Hegyi and Garren Bertsch as well as center Brad Geiman to graduation; who accounted for nearly 40 points and over 13 rebounds per game. They were unceremoniously bounced in the 2018 regional tournament in the first round on a last-second shot by Mason County's Pig Williams, then suffered an even crueler fate last year in last year's regional final at the hands of Scott's Jake Ohmer on the final play of the game. But for those two buckets, the Camels would be representing the 10th for the fourth time in the past five years; falling in the Sweet 16 first round to Covington Catholic in 2015 and to Johnson Central in the 2014 first round.
The Camels started this season on a tear. After dropping the season opener to 9th-region powerhouse Cooper, they reeled off ten straight wins and worked their way into the state rankings. The biggest win of that streak was a 78-70 win at preseason region #1 Clark County, followed up by another road win, this time at 2017 All-A state champion Paris. The Camels had a hiccup against Boyle County in the Gatway holiday tourney at Mount Sterling, then righted the ship for another six straight before dropping consecutive contests for the only time all season to Walton-Verona and Covington Catholic. A one-point loss at Simon Kenton was the last loss of the regular season.
Campbell breezed by Calvary Christian in the 37th district semis, then squeaked by rival Scott by a single point to take the district crown. A 70-60 ho-hum win over Harrison County in the regional quarterfinal set up the much-awaited semifinal contest against Clark County. The game didn't disappoint, as the Camels built a sizable lead behind the hot shooting of senior point guard Joel Day. The Cardinals fought back to send the game to overtime, where Day iced it at the free-throw line, going 13-15 from the charity stripe for the game and finishing with a game-high 31 points; and setting up a third game against bitter rival Scott. The Camels prevailed in that one on the strength of junior forward Reid Jolly's 21-14 double-double; and [play University Heights in the opening round of the Sweet 16 on Thursday.
At 4'4", Jolly plays the post but will occasionally step out and shoot the three (6-15 on the season), as he did down the stretch in the Clack County regional semifinal. He is the squad's leading scorer at 18.1; leading rebounder at at 9.9, and has connected on a team-high 62.8% of his field-goal attempts. The term "warrior" comes to mind when watching him battle down low against taller opposition. Day provides a steadying influence at the point, and is deadly from the free-throw line at 87.6%. He averages 14.9 ppg and is 41.1% from behind the arc. Word on the street is that he has been dealing with a back injury for some time but is good to go. Tanner Clos is the newest member of the Camels' 1,000-point club, reaching the milestone in the regional final against Scott. Clos is the team's second-leading scorer (15.5), rebounder (5.2) and connects from the field at a 52.4% clip. Drew Wilson (younger brother of Matt, currently at Army) is the team's fourth double-digit scorer at 10.1 ppg. Jesse Russell (2.8/2.0) Tanner Lawrence (5.0, 3.9) and Nathan Schaefer (2.3/1.8) split most of the rest of the minutes.
On paper, the Camels are evenly matched with University Heights in the Sweet 16 opener. Look for a disciplined, well-coached team that will run when given the chance but prefer to keep the game in the 60s. Team shooting is probably the team's strong point; at 50.4% for the season and 73.5% from the line. They will knock down open looks! Should be an interesting contrast of styles.