Originally Posted by denniscarguy
South has had a bad habit so far this year of starting slow. It cost them in a loss to DeSales and they had to scramble to come from behind to beat Lafayette Thursday. So neither the big SK lead early, nor South's second-half explosion surprised the SO faithful.
That said, this was the best team South has faced so far, and you just can't spot Trent Steiner's team an 18 point lead in the second quarter and have a high expectation of winning. Most teams "wear themselves out" trying to climb that mountain and few have the stamina to close it out. South came close - cutting an 18 point lead to 1 in the fourth quarter at 78-77 - but never quite got over the hump.
SK built its early lead after the two teams were tied at 12. The Pioneers ripped off the next 13 points to take a 25-12 lead at the end of one, and pushed the margin to 18 in in the second.
South rallied to make it a 13 point game at the half, and slowly kept cutting into the lead in the second half, before running out of time.
- These two teams will be heard from before an 8th region champ is crowned. It is very conceivable - depending upon how each team develops - that this could be a preview of the region final. I still see Walton-Verona as the top team in the region RIGHT NOW, but there's a long way to go before we all head to the Roy.
- Two 8th Region Player of the Year candidates put on absolutely awesome displays. Kelly Niece just missed 30 points, and when South tried an aggressive 2-3 zone, Nice showed a really soft touch with ball as he penetrated repeatedly and tossed up short runners. Luke Morrison - fresh off a 29 point effort vs. Lafayette on Thursday - threw in 37 points for South, including 5 threes. Based on what I've seen so far this year, Morrison was WAY underrated in the preseason coaches' poll of top region players. He's hitting threes, crashing the glass, is a terrific FT shooter, and is solid on putbacks. He may not win the award, but I think he needs more consideration with the pre-season favorites, Miles and Niece.
- I like the new style of play Trent Steiner has adopted at SK. He's adjusted his standard of the past in favor of an uptempo pace, including lots of three point attempts. This squad takes advantages of the strengths of the players he has. In fact, we are seeing this style - once almost exclusively a South Oldham trait - in several 8th Region schools now, including Spencer County, Grant County, and SK.
- Both teams have plenty of shooters. Although two players stood out for both teams (Niece and Davis for SK; Morrison and Seth Johnson for South), both teams had other players take critical shots at critical times with no apparent lack of confidence. I was especially impressed by the supporting roles played by Schwarts and Hensley for SK and Cranfill and Michel for South.
-Creighton Michel of South - a 6'6" freshman - is playing with more and more confidence. He's going to be one to watch as the season progresses.
-South Oldham lost despite shooting 50% overall from the field, 45.5% from beyond the arc, and 8 of 10 (80%) at the line. They hit 15 three pointers, with Morrison connecting on five.
-The game featured two of the three longest-tenured 8th Region coaches, with Steve Simpson in his 19th season at South (2nd longest in the region, behind Jon Jones at Gallatin) and Trent Steiner is the third-longest tenured coach in the region.
-The game was fairly called. I thought the officials allowed both teams get away with too much contact, but as long as the game is called consistently, any coach or player can adjust.
-Both teams displayed poise you don't normally see in mid-December. SK never seemed rattled, even after the 18 point lead was down to just 1, and South never seemed to panic, even after a disastrous first half.
- The half-court 2-2-1 employed by SK worked like a charm for the Pioneers in the first half. It kept South from getting the fast breaks they do so well, and they trapped the minute the ball crossed the mid-court stripe. But in the second half, South found the holes in it and moved the ball with quick passes that led to open looks.
-Finally, kudos to Kelly Niece for the gutsy play in the final seconds. Right after missing the front end of a one-and-one to give South a chance, he came up with the play of the game with the steal / FTs.
I've called 6 boys games this season, and only one was decided by double digits (Male over North Oldham). Since then, we watched South beat Grant by 5; Oldham beat Highlands by 4, South beat Lafayette by 8, Trimble knock of North Oldham by 2, and now SK over South by 5. If the whole season is like this, the 8th Region 2018-19 is going to be one long, wild ride!!!