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Graves County vs Marshall County

These two teams met twice during the regular season. In the first game the Marshalls kept it close but still fell 53-48. The second meeting was all Graves as they soundly defeated Marshall 60-35. This game should probably be more like the fist than the second. Graves is definitely the favorite in this game and should win, but Marshall County is a scrappy team that plays very hard. They have been in most of their games this season and if they can stick around they can pull the upset. Graves has been prone to an upset as was proved earlier this year when Mayfield defeated them.

Chris Vogt is the player to watch in this game. He is 6’10” and his game has improved throughout the season. Marshall does not have the height to challenge him so they will have to figure out a different scheme to overcome his dominance inside. Ryan Mathis is who runs this team. He can hit from three, drive and dish, or drive and score. He is difficult to stop when he is on his game. The key for the Eagles will be to make sure to limit turnovers and control the paint. If they can do those two things, they will be very difficult to beat.

Marshall will rely on DJ Pigg and Dylan Walters to lead their charge. Both are guards but they play different styles. Pigg will try and beat you from deep, while Walters will play closer to the basket. Both play very hard and under control. They key for the Marshalls will be to be able to hit from long and mid range. They won’t have much of a chance driving to the bucket in the half court, so they will need to capitalize on turnovers and try to create a lot of them.

Prediction: Graves County by 6-10 points

Carlisle County vs McCracken County
These two teams only met one time this season at McCracken. The Mustangs were in control for most of the game as they won 78-67. At the beginning of the year Carlisle would have been the pick in this game, but they have not lived up to their potential despite their gawdy record. McCracken on the other hand has exceeded expectations and proved they can play with any of the teams in Region 1. McCracken hit 11 three pointers in their first game which fueled their victory

McCracken County will rely on a balanced attack on both sides of the ball. They have 5 players who average close to 10 ppg and any one of them could step up and have a big game. William Sivls had a big game against Carlisle during the regular season. Evan Hayden and Jacob Zakutney also had very nice games. The Mustangs key to the win is to control the basketball on the offensive end and set the pace. They have a very good half court offense and they will need to move the ball quickly and hit the open three when they have it. They need to crash the boards and utilize on second chance opportunities.

Carlisle County has yet to beat any team ranked in the top 4 in the region standings. This would be a great time to start, but they will have to play much better than they have been. They also have a good balance of scoring between 4 players averaging about 12 ppg. The Comets keys to winning this game are they must control the boards and not allow second and third chances. They must defend the 3 better than they have, and they must stay under control as turnovers have hurt them when playing better teams.

Prediction: McCracken County by 3-6 points

Murray vs Hickman County

Murray and Hickman County did not play during the regular season. This maybe the most lopsided game in the region. Murray has too many weapons and they are playing very, very well at this point in the season. This game may be over before halftime.

Murray is led by Region 1 POY James Boone, who has led this team the entire year. He has the ability to take the game over and carry this team on his shoulders. He has some great help from Duane Curtis and Preston English who both can take pressure off of Boone and both have stepped up this year. Tre Hornbuckle is a player that may not put up the numbers as the others, but he works hard on both sides of the ball and can keep teams in check. Murray’s key to the game is to control the game and not to overlook this game.

Hickman County has played some very good games this year, and some very bad games. The Falcons will rely heavily on Zeke Prince and Alec Spillman, both shoot the ball at about 50%. The Falcons will have to play a tremendous game to win this matchup. They will need to pressure the ball fiercely in the half court and move the ball well and in control while on offense. They need to drive and try to get the Tigers in foul trouble and get to the free throw line and try to win the game from there.

Prediction: Murray by 15-20 points.

Paducah Tilghman vs Mayfield

The Tornadoes did not lose a region 1 game this season, but Mayfield is probably the most improved team over the last half the season. PT won both matchups during the regular season by 20 points. Not sure if playing on the big court at Murray State will change anything, but the Cardinals have proved they can play with some of the top competition in Region 1.

Paducah Tilghman is led by Sayveon McEwen and Devon Hart. These two combine for 30 ppg for the Tornadoes and have a huge presence when they are on the court. PT also has some great young talent who have contributed in big ways this season in Jerome Reed and Thomas Rodriguez. Both of these guys have improved throughout the season. The key to the Tornadoes win is to play pressure defense, dominate the boards, and finish when in the paint.

Mayfield was one of the best region 1 teams since the end of January. They have played very well as a team and their defense has been a big part of that. The Cardinals are led by a trio of Carson Guthrie, Anton Lumson, and Lane Kennemore. The key to a Cardinal win will be to have a similar gameplan they played when they defeated Graves County. They need to control the pace, control the ball, and not allow PT to score easy in the paint.

Prediction: Paducah Tilghman wins by 15.

Top Players to watch

Chris Vogt, Graves County – Vogt is probably the best player in Region 1 and no doubt the hardest player to game plan for. At 6’10”, he dominates the paint averaging 17 ppg and 9.5 rpg. He play has improved throughout the year and he can make some big noise in this tournament.

James Boone, Murray – Boone is the player of year in Region 1 and showed in the All “A” Classic that he can step up to win the game for the Tigers. He is averaging 13.4 ppg and 5 rpg, but it is his leadership and ball control that is his biggest strength.

Ryan Mathis, Graves County
– Ryan is a great complement to Vogt. He is a good outside shooter and a great penetrator. He is one of the best three point shooters in the region and is called on to handle the ball responsibly.

Sayveon McEwen, Paducah Tilghman – He is what makes the Tilghman machine go. His leadership is extremely important on both sides of the ball. He averages 14 ppg and has a good outside shot and plays hard.

Devon Hart, Paducah Tilghman
– Hart is the leading scorer for the Tornadoes at 14.6 ppg. He is very good close to the basket but doesn’t have a huge range. He is a good defensive player and rebounds well for his size.

DJ Pigg, Marshall County
– Pigg is the three point specialist in Region 1 hitting more threes than free throws this year. He can hit almost anywhere outside the arc and is not afraid to shoot the ball either throwing up 244 of them this season. Probably should go to the basket more because he is an excellent free throw shooter (85%).

Dylan Walters, Marshall County – Walters is the opposite of Pigg. He scores most of his points in the pain and from the free throw line. He lead the Marshalls in rebounds, free throws, and fg%.

Daniel Tyce, McCracken County – Tyce is the “big man” for the Mustangs having numerous double/doubles on the year and averaging close to one too (9.2 ppg/8.1 rpg). He is one of the hardest players in the region and fun to watch.

Preston English, Murray
– English is Murray’s other scorer averaging 12.5 ppg and he is the teams best three point shooter. If he is on, watch out, he can change the momentum in a game quickly

Noah Norsworthy, Carlisle County – Norsworthy is a good shooting guard and leads the Comets in scoring and three pointers made. He is a good ball handler and makes good decisions on the court.

Honorable Mention: Jerome Reed, Thomas Rodriguez, Jacob Zakutney, Ethan Weatherspoon.

I will visit the semifinal games after round 1.