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A quick snapshot of the matchups in the 4th Region tournament:

Game 1: February 24th – Clinton County (16th District Champions) vs. Allen County-Scottsville (15th District Runners-Up)
-Series at Region: Clinton County leads 1-0
-Last Region Meeting: Clinton County 40 Allen County-Scottsville 38 - 2010 4th Region Quarterfinals

Clinton County is into their eighth straight region tournament, the longest current streak in the region now that Russell County was eliminated in district play. The Bulldogs secured their fourth district title during that streak, winning by seven over Cumberland County in a tighter than expected contest, but comfortably knocking off district host at #2 seed Metcalfe County by 23. They drew the middle option from the district runners-up, with Allen County-Scottsville checking in at #7 in our last BGP rankings – Clinton County was #4. That puts the Bulldogs in a position that has been rather rare for them over the years, that of a first round favorite. They have lost 8 of their last 9 games in the region tournament, but did win their only meeting in region tournament play against Allen County-Scottsville. The Bulldogs are 23-7 on the year, and have won 15 of their last 17 games. That included a win over 15th District champion Glasgow, who just knocked off Allen County-Scottsville in the 15th District finals. While Clinton County did not play the Patriots, they went undefeated against the rest of the 15th District, posting a perfect 4-0 record. Like most years, they enter with good tournament experience, having won the region’s All A Classic tournament and advancing to a solid effort against Shelby Valley in the state tournament. As mentioned in the postseason preview, Jackson Harlan is the engine that drives Clinton County. They’ll need a big effort from Jackson Harlan, who posted 20 and 29 points in the district tournament.

The Patriots can be one of the most dangerous teams in the entire region tournament, but since their 15-2 start, they have been wildly inconsistent. Some of that was on display in the district tournament, sometimes even in the same game. The Patriots blasted Monroe County by 15, and jumped out to a lead on Glasgow by halftime, but gave up a perfect shooting performance from the field in the third quarter to fall behind, and they couldn’t reel the Scotties back in. There wasn’t really a perfect draw for the Patriots at that point, but Clinton County will do as they are the only team the Patriots didn’t face among the possible district winner opponents available to them, and they went 0-2 against Bowling Green and Logan County. The Patriots are into the region tournament for the first time since 2013, and they have lost their last six games in region tournament play. Their last win came in 2005, and even that was their only win in the tournament since they won the title in 1996. The Patriots are 7-3 all-time against 16th District opponents in the region tournament, but have fallen in two straight. AC/S has not won more than three games in a row since their 15-2 start ended, and that particular streak was just snapped in the district final. Brett Rippy is the player to watch on AC/S – he posted 24 points on 8/11 shooting in their district semifinal win over Monroe County. Both they and the Bulldogs average around 65 PPG, so there should be a healthy amount of scoring in this matchup.

Game 2: February 24th – Bowling Green (14th District Champions) vs. Franklin-Simpson (13th District Runners-Up)
-Series at Region: Bowling Green leads 9-1
-Last Region Meeting: Bowling Green 77 Franklin-Simpson 59 - 2017 4th Region Semifinals

It’s March – well, scratch that, February (this is the earliest start for the Bowling Green-area region tournament in history) – which means Bowling Green is in the region tournament. The Purples have missed the tournament just once in the last 12 seasons. While they saw their run of four straight region titles end a season ago, they kept alive their streak of reaching a region final when they make the tournament, appearing in the final of the last 11 tournaments they’ve made. They brought home their sixth consecutive district title in their 57-49 win over Warren Central, one shy of their record for the district tournament set from 1939-1945. The Purples win in the postseason, and they win often. They win often against Franklin-Simpson too, regardless of when it takes place. They are 9-1 all-time against Franklin-Simpson in region tournament play, with the lone loss coming in the 1971 region finals. They’ve won 8 in a row, including during their state tournament run in 2017. Besides that, they have won 11 in a row against the Wildcats at any point, including this season’s 67-51 victory in January. Franklin-Simpson hasn’t so much as topped 60 points against the Purples since 2011, while Bowling Green has just once dipped below that. They’re favored heavily is what we’re saying. Given their track record, their region-best 24-5 mark, and their presence as champions of the district that has won 17 consecutive 4th Region tournaments, they’re favored for the whole tourney.

Franklin-Simpson is making their fourth consecutive region tournament appearance, but they have lost 8 of their last 9 in region tourney play – their sole win came in 2017 over Russell County. They carry a 2-18 mark all-time in region tournament play against the 14th District, and have not won against the district since beating Warren Central in 1996, losing twelve in a row. They start with a game against a 14th District rep for the sixth time in their last eight region tournament appearances. That’s the negative in a season of many positives. While last year’s squad snuck into the postseason, Franklin whipped Russellville 75-61 before falling short against Logan County on a layup with less than 10 seconds remaining, and a brutal no-call on their final play, falling 67-66. They bounced back to 16 wins this year after winning just seven one year ago. While they allowed 128 points in the district tournament, their 55 PPG allowed is one of the tops in the region. They allowed Bowling Green to shoot 25/42 from inside the arc in their last meeting, and Isaiah Mason dropped 21 points on them. The Wildcats simply cannot allow that sort of production on the defensive end to have a shot.

Game 3: February 25th – Glasgow (15th District Champions) vs. Warren Central (14th District Runners-Up)
-Series at Region: Warren Central leads 5-1
-Last Region Meeting: Warren Central 68 Glasgow 63 - 2018 4th Region Quarterfinals

Déjà vu. These two met in the opener just last season, and Glasgow likely is not happy to have drawn them yet again. It is inarguably the worst draw they could have gotten in terms of the runners-up. There is something to be said about playing a 14th District rep first, rather than hoping to beat them back to back in the semis and finals, but it is very tough. Glasgow is making their third region appearance since 2012, and they lost both openers since then, both against 14th District teams, both against teams that went on to win the region. Glasgow carries a 39-41 all-time record in region play, and haven’t beaten a 14th District opponent since 2002. The Scotties enter region tournament play with 20+ wins for the second straight year, and have won 9 of 11 overall. They have three players averaging over 10 PPG, led by Nick Sorrell’s 19 PPG. He topped that with 22 big points in an overtime win over Barren County in the district tournament, and added 17 to lead the team again in their district title win over Allen County-Scottsville. The Scotties were outscored by the Patriots in three of the four quarters, but they were perfect in the third, outscoring AC/S 26-12 and that was enough to lift them to a 61-56 win. The Scotties have lost 14 in a row to Warren Central, so that’s some pretty strong motivation. There’s also the matter of the two players who transferred from Glasgow to Warren Central this offseason and started for Central in the district tournament, which it’s fair to say will be strong motivation as well.

The defending 4th Region champions, Warren Central, earned the right to defend their title, though it wasn’t very pretty. With an influx of transfers, the Dragons started the year 5-0, but faltered to a 12-11 mark since. Their 17 wins are their fewest going into a region tournament since 1997 when they had just 9. They performed phenomenally against out of region competition down the stretch, but went 3-4 against region teams since late January. While earlier in the season they had some defensive struggles, they have come a long way with that, holding 12 of their last 14 opponents under 60 points. But then, their offense has suddenly come up short, as they have failed to top 60 points in their last four games, and didn’t get over 50 in the district tournament. They’ll have to do better to keep up with the Scotties, who average 64 PPG. Central carries a 23-3 all-time mark in region tournament openers, and have won 17 of their last 18. They won their first meeting with Glasgow in December, 84-62 in Glasgow. Tayshaun Bibb had a career high 21 points in that game, as Kobe Brents (formerly of Glasgow) added 16 and Dre Boyd had 15. If the Scotties allow that type of production from Bibb again – who exclusively operates at the rim – then the Dragons are a good pick for the W. Central will rightly view themselves as very much one of the favorites for the region title, but their road starts difficult and will remain that way.

Game 4: February 25th – Logan County (13th District Champions) vs. Metcalfe County (16th District Runners-Up)
-Series at Region: Series tied 1-1
-Last Region Meeting: Logan County 67 Metcalfe County 60 - 1997 4th Region Quarterfinals

The Cougars carry the longest current win streak in the region into the region tournament, having won their last six. They have been scoring at will, averaging nearly 74 PPG in their last five games. That included just their second district tournament win over Franklin-Simpson ever, and their first in a district final (where the two had never met), winning 67-66 in Todd County. Dalton Thompson worked his way in for a game-winning layup with 5 seconds left in the matchup, lifting the Cougars to their first district title in four years. Now they look to climb a bigger mountain – their first region tournament win since 1998. With apologies to Metcalfe County, they got the draw to do it. The Cougars are 3-1 all-time in region tournament play against teams form the 16th District, last losing in 1985. The Hornets are the only team with a losing record in the tournament field, while Logan County is tied with Bowling Green for the most wins in the region with 24. Logan County averages 65 PPG, while Metcalfe County allows just shy of 70. It’s an ideal draw. The Cougars like to play uptempo and feature some good length on the team. They can match up with anyone in the field, and while they need to not get caught peeking ahead, their easier path to the semis makes them a legitimate dark horse for the title. They won their only title in 1984, and went on to win the state tournament.

I’m not trying to besmirch Metcalfe County, who is a genuinely uplifting story. As mentioned in the pre-district preview, Metcalfe County exceeded the win total of their last four seasons combined, and reached the region tournament for the first time in eight years. They ended Russell County’s 13 year run of reaching the region tournament, becoming the first team in the region to ever defeat the Lakers in the district semifinals, doing so in a 62-58 overtime win. They’d likely have preferred to have given Clinton County a better run in the finals, but while the stated goal for the team is going to remain the pursuit of a region title, the Hornets have already accomplished and exceeded the realistic goals for the team. Metcalfe County is seeking their first region tournament victory since they knocked off Greenwood with a 25 foot buzzer beater en route to the 2006 region finals. They carry a 12-24 all-time record in region play, but won their last game against a 13th District opponent in the tournament, beating Franklin-Simpson – also in 2006. The Hornets are 5-5 in their last ten games, and will hope for some hot three point shooting like they had against Russell County, when they dropped in 8/17 from the perimeter. Boston Devore remains the team leader in scoring, averaging 16 PPG.

A couple of anecdotal notes that don’t fit well into the previews:
-I mentioned that this is the earliest region tournament start in the history of the Bowling Green-area region. This year, they also start on Sunday. It is extremely uncommon, as there have been only three Sunday games ever played in the tournament prior to this year. One was the 2013 region final, and the other two came in the 1948 semis.

-This collection of teams has never been in the region tournament at the same time. The last time Clinton County and Metcalfe County made it in the same season was 1973. Allen County-Scottsville was still just plain old Allen County and Scottsville, and Logan County was split into five different schools. Bowling Green, Franklin-Simpson, and Warren Central all played together in the 14th District at the time.

-While some districts did so prior to 1999, by that year, each district in the region was seeding their district tournaments. This year was the first year ever that the higher seed won each and every game played in the region. All four #1 seeds are champs, all four #2 seeds are runners-up. So it’s been a good year for chalk. By the last BGP region rankings, Glasgow is the only district champion not favored. It’ll be interesting to see how far the trend goes.

-Three 20+ win teams are at the top of the bracket, with Clinton County, Allen County-Scottsville, and Bowling Green all exceeding that mark.

-The non-14th District teams will be trying to put an end to the streak of 17 straight region tournament titles for the 14th, but this collection of teams does not have much recent experience in advancing to the title game. Franklin-Simpson last made it in 2009, Metcalfe County in 2006, Glasgow in 2000, Allen County-Scottsville in 1996, Logan County in 1984, and Clinton County waaaaaaaaay back in 1960. Bowling Green and Warren Central have combined for 26 appearances since 2001. Someone will have to defy the (recent) odds.

-The 14th District has not lost to a 13th District representative since 2001, when Russellville beat Warren Central in the title game. That’s 26 straight wins, the longest such streak by one district against another by nine whole games. Bowling Green opens with 14th District runner-up Franklin-Simpson, and by BGP rankings, Warren Central will be expected to meet 13th District champion Logan County in the region semifinals.