Walton-Verona 8th Region Champs / State Preview

  1. ColonelMike's Avatar
    Better late than never...

    Walton Verona scored a couple of "firsts" by winning the 8th Region over defending champ Oldham County.

    One, they became the first school not in the 29th or 30th district to win the region since the region was re-districted in 2006.

    Two, they become the first "A" school to win the region since Carroll County in 1972.

    All of which made Coach Grant Brannen a very happy man.

    The Bearcats' 6th year coach has steadily built up the W-V program. After a 4-20 record in 2013-14, his first season - the worst record in the region that year - he improved the team to 14-14 in year two and a winning season (18-11) and an 8th region berth in 2016.

    The next two seasons featured records of 26-7 and 26-6 and Walton won the first two of what would become three consecutive district titles. But each year, the Cats were knocked out in round 1 of the region by South Oldham.

    The key here was that each year was bringing some improvement.

    This year, a win in the region tournament would have been a step up, but the Bearcats did much more than that. They are 27-5 after defeating Henry County and Spencer County, both by double digits, and then outlasting the Colonels by 9 in the finale.

    Talk about a BIG STEP UP.

    The Bearcats showed balance and good shooting throughout the tourney. They shot 54.4% against Henry, 62.2% against Spencer, and 61.3% against Oldham. An inside-oriented team, they still needed to hit a few threes, and they did that, too: over three games, they hit 17 of 38 for 44.7%.

    The inside 1-2 punch of Kam Pardee and Dieonte Miles excelled: both were in double figures in all three games, with Pardee averaging 16 ppg and 5.7 rebounds, while Miles averaged 15 ppg. The interior passing between the two was exceptional, and led to a lot of baskets from point-blank range.

    But the "Big 2" had support. Grant Grubbs had 10 against Henry; Garrett Jones scored 18 against Spencer, and Jones led the team in scoring and rebounding in the final, scoring 16 and grabbing 6 boards.

    It was an exciting end to an exciting tournament - at the Roy L. Winchester Gymnasium, which has now hosted 399 consecutive boys' 8th region games, the longest such streak in the state.

    We can now look forward to Walton's opening game in the Sweet 16; they open the event with the first game oin Wednesday against Knox Central from the 13th.

    I haven't seen Knox Central, but their stats speak volumes. The Panthers are 30-4 and champions of the 51st district and 13th region. They have won 13 straight games, and own victories over teams such as Highlands (66-53), North Laurel (23-12) by 5 points and by 22 points in the region final, and Barbourville (21-10) by 31.

    Four players - three of them seniors - on the roster average in double figures, led by senior Jaylen Adams, a 6'3" guard, who averages 17.4 ppg and 6.4 rebounds. Senior Nick Martin, a 6'6" shooting forward, averages 17.2 ppg and 7.2 rebounds, followed by senior Dane Imel, a 5'10" guard, at 13.3 ppg. Junior Zachary Patterson, a 6'2" guard, averages 13.3 ppg

    Nobody else averages more than 4.8 ppg, but led by the above four, the Panthers come into the tournament averaging 77.4 ppg and giving up just 58.4 ppg. Like Walton, the Panthers shoot exceptionally well, hitting 50+% of their field goals. The two players who have taken the most shots - Adams and Martin - are hitting 53.4% and 61.4% from the field, respectively.

    Three other players who have shot at least 40 attempts are shooting over 50% as well.

    The Panthers only shoot 13 threes a game, but they're hitting a respectable 36.9% of the long shots. Adams, Patterson, and Imel have all shot over 100 threes this year (OK, OK, Imel actually only shot 90), but all three are legitimate threats, with Imel clicking in at 41.1%.

    The Panthers shoot 72.6% from the line, and they do a good job of getting there, averaging 22.6 free throw attempts a game. Five of their seven players who have taken the most shots are hitting over 70%, and a sixth is clicking in at 68.5%.

    Scoring hasn't been a problem in the thirteenth in many a year, and Knox Central was no exception this year. The Panthers have scored over 70 points 24 times, over 80 points 15 times, and over 90 points 5 times. (in fact, they scored over 90 points in four straight games in February, over Somerset, Jackson County, Williamsburg, and Knott County Central.)

    Perhaps not surprisingly, the Panthers have never lost when scoring 70 or more points.

    Coach Tony Patterson is in his third year at the school, with an overall record of 74-21. His first team, in 2016-17, went 17-11 and won District 51, but lost in the region semi-finals. His second team improved to 27-6, and again was district champs - but again lost in the region semi-finals. In an eerie similarity to Walton-Verona's recent history, the Panthers were also beaten by the same team in the region the last two years, the Corbin RedHounds. This year, like Walton-Verona, the Panthers took the "next step", recording a 30-4 record, winning the district, and claiming the Region 13 title with a convincing 80-58 rout of North Laurel - a team that they had beaten by just 5 points fifteen days earlier.

    The Panthers had a different player lead them in scoring in each of the three games. Imel had 14 points in the first round rout of Jackson County. Martin had 20 points and 6 boards in the second game - the "closest" anyone came to the Panthers, as Knox Central beat Corbin by 10. In the finale, Adams had 29 points and 10 boards, hitting 10 of 17 shots and 9 of 12 at the line.

    Throughout the tourney, the Panthers made it to the line at least 21 times each night, going 16 of 23 (69.6%) against Jackson County, 15 of 21 (71.4%) against Corbin, and 23/30 (76.7%) against North Laurel.

    The size matchup will be interesting. Miles (6'10"), Pardee (6'4"), and Brooke (6'9") for Walton, going up against Martin (6'6") and a slew of Panthers listed at 6'3" on their roster. If Martin gets in foul trouble early, then this could be a game that Walton wins easily. Their entry passes to the high and low posts, combined with their interior passing, will put tremendous pressure on Martin, and if he goes out, Knox gets a lot smaller in a hurry. 6'3" is tall compared to guys like me....but Miles would have a whopping 7 inches on him, and the lob to the inside would be there.

    On the other hand, if this turns into a free throw shooting contest, the Panthers would seem to have the clear advantage. Although the Bearcats have shot them MUCH better of late - especially Garrett Jones, who's been on fire at the line - the body of work over the season at the charity stripe indicates that this is the potential Achilles' Heel for Walton. We'll see. The Rupp Arena goals - which appear to hang, suspended in "space" - have turned even the best of shooting teams into hapless rim-rattlers.

    Nerves are always on parade in round one (and sometimes in later rounds, too!), and I consider this to be in Walton's favor. Subtract percentage points in the shooting on account of nerves - and I like Walton's inside game a lot more than I like Knox' game, which will have to produce some from the outside against the Walton bigs.

    At the end of the day, I like Walton in this game because of their schedule. Among the 20-win teams they've played: Oldham County, South Oldham, Spencer County, Gallatin County, Scott County, Lexington Christian, Campbell County (29 wins!), Beechwood (29 wins), Knott County Central, plus 19 win Grant County and 18 win Simon Kenton. The Bearcats have been tested numerous times, by up-tempo teams, by set, pattern offense teams. Against teams that press and teams that play half-court defense. They've played teams from the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 14th regions, seeing different styles. And by and large, they were successful against them all.

    Biggest key throughout the tourney - Dieonte Miles has to stay out of foul trouble. Foul trouble doesn't just take a double-digit scorer and a wicked shot-blocker out of the game, it may take Walton's best passer out. When he is at the high post distributing the ball, you can see what I mean.

    PICK: Walton-Verona 58, Knox Central 48


    Key players: Walton-Verona - Dieonte Miles and Kam Pardee - if both stay on the floor and relatively foul free, they provide the 1-2 punch that makes W-V "go" at both ends of the court.

    Knox Central - Having not seen this team, I'm a tad handicapped here, but it would appear that Jaylen Adams and Nick Martin will be critical. Adams - as demonstrated by the stats - is an explosive scorer. Against one of the stingiest scoring defenses in the state, Knox needs Adams to perform well. And Martin will probably have to stay out of foul trouble. If he has to leave the floor for any length of time, the three Walton bigs will have a field day.

    If Walton wins, they will have to have their "A" game ready against either Campbell County or undefeated John Hardin. Walton played Campbell, and won that game in a contest where they shot nearly 60%. Both teams are talented, and either matchup will be a toss-up. At the end of the day, I think John Hardin may be too strong inside for Campbell, and that pits the Bulldogs against the Bearcats.

    Alex Matthews is something special at JH, but I think he's going to be worn down in a game he'll have to pretty much play in for 32 minutes. If JH can force the pace, they win this game. But if Walton - who has shown the ability to play different styles this year - controls the pace (and maybe even if they don't), they win.

    I guess I'm predicting a second consecutive Final Four appearance for the 8th Region !

    Unfortunately, I think that's where it ends for the Bearcats. I expect Trinity to be their obstacle to the finals, and although the Rocks have been strangely up-and-down this season, they've finished strong, and looking at what they've been able to do at times to some very good teams.....well, make it Trinity in an extremely close nail-biter: Trinity 58, Walton-Verona 52

    CM
    Last edited by ColonelMike; Mar 5, 19 at 07:58 PM.

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by ColonelMike View Post
    Better late than never...

    Walton Verona scored a couple of "firsts" by winning the 8th Region over defending champ Oldham County.

    One, they became the first school not in the 29th or 30th district to win the region since the region was re-districted in 2006.

    Two, they become the first "A" school to win the region since Carroll County in 1972.

    All of which made Coach Grant Brannen a very happy man.

    The Bearcats' 6th year coach has steadily built up the W-V program. After a 4-20 record in 2013-14, his first season - the worst record in the region that year - he improved the team to 14-14 in year two and a winning season (18-11) and an 8th region berth in 2016.

    The next two seasons featured records of 26-7 and 26-6 and Walton won the first two of what would become three consecutive district titles. But each year, the Cats were knocked out in round 1 of the region by South Oldham.

    The key here was that each year was bringing some improvement.

    This year, a win in the region tournament would have been a step up, but the Bearcats did much more than that. They are 27-5 after defeating Henry County and Spencer County, both by double digits, and then outlasting the Colonels by 9 in the finale.

    Talk about a BIG STEP UP.

    The Bearcats showed balance and good shooting throughout the tourney. They shot 54.4% against Henry, 62.2% against Spencer, and 61.3% against Oldham. An inside-oriented team, they still needed to hit a few threes, and they did that, too: over three games, they hit 17 of 38 for 44.7%.

    The inside 1-2 punch of Kam Pardee and Dieonte Miles excelled: both were in double figures in all three games, with Pardee averaging 16 ppg and 5.7 rebounds, while Miles averaged 15 ppg. The interior passing between the two was exceptional, and led to a lot of baskets from point-blank range.

    But the "Big 2" had support. Grant Grubbs had 10 against Henry; Garrett Jones scored 18 against Spencer, and Jones led the team in scoring and rebounding in the final, scoring 16 and grabbing 6 boards.

    It was an exciting end to an exciting tournament - at the Roy L. Winchester Gymnasium, which has now hosted 399 consecutive boys' 8th region games, the longest such streak in the state.

    We can now look forward to Walton's opening game in the Sweet 16; they open the event with the first game oin Wednesday against Knox Central from the 13th.

    I haven't seen Knox Central, but their stats speak volumes. The Panthers are 30-4 and champions of the 51st district and 13th region. They have won 13 straight games, and own victories over teams such as Highlands (66-53), North Laurel (23-12) by 5 points and by 22 points in the region final, and Barbourville (21-10) by 31.

    Four players - three of them seniors - on the roster average in double figures, led by senior Jaylen Adams, a 6'3" guard, who averages 17.4 ppg and 6.4 rebounds. Senior Nick Martin, a 6'6" shooting forward, averages 17.2 ppg and 7.2 rebounds, followed by senior Dane Imel, a 5'10" guard, at 13.3 ppg. Junior Zachary Patterson, a 6'2" guard, averages 13.3 ppg

    Nobody else averages more than 4.8 ppg, but led by the above four, the Panthers come into the tournament averaging 77.4 ppg and giving up just 58.4 ppg. Like Walton, the Panthers shoot exceptionally well, hitting 50+% of their field goals. The two players who have taken the most shots - Adams and Martin - are hitting 53.4% and 61.4% from the field, respectively.

    Three other players who have shot at least 40 attempts are shooting over 50% as well.

    The Panthers only shoot 13 threes a game, but they're hitting a respectable 36.9% of the long shots. Adams, Patterson, and Imel have all shot over 100 threes this year (OK, OK, Imel actually only shot 90), but all three are legitimate threats, with Imel clicking in at 41.1%.

    The Panthers shoot 72.6% from the line, and they do a good job of getting there, averaging 22.6 free throw attempts a game. Five of their seven players who have taken the most shots are hitting over 70%, and a sixth is clicking in at 68.5%.

    Scoring hasn't been a problem in the thirteenth in many a year, and Knox Central was no exception this year. The Panthers have scored over 70 points 24 times, over 80 points 15 times, and over 90 points 5 times. (in fact, they scored over 90 points in four straight games in February, over Somerset, Jackson County, Williamsburg, and Knott County Central.)

    Perhaps not surprisingly, the Panthers have never lost when scoring 70 or more points.

    Coach Tony Patterson is in his third year at the school, with an overall record of 74-21. His first team, in 2016-17, went 17-11 and won District 51, but lost in the region semi-finals. His second team improved to 27-6, and again was district champs - but again lost in the region semi-finals. In an eerie similarity to Walton-Verona's recent history, the Panthers were also beaten by the same team in the region the last two years, the Corbin RedHounds. This year, like Walton-Verona, the Panthers took the "next step", recording a 30-4 record, winning the district, and claiming the Region 13 title with a convincing 80-58 rout of North Laurel - a team that they had beaten by just 5 points fifteen days earlier.

    The Panthers had a different player lead them in scoring in each of the three games. Imel had 14 points in the first round rout of Jackson County. Martin had 20 points and 6 boards in the second game - the "closest" anyone came to the Panthers, as Knox Central beat Corbin by 10. In the finale, Adams had 29 points and 10 boards, hitting 10 of 17 shots and 9 of 12 at the line.

    Throughout the tourney, the Panthers made it to the line at least 21 times each night, going 16 of 23 (69.6%) against Jackson County, 15 of 21 (71.4%) against Corbin, and 23/30 (76.7%) against North Laurel.

    The size matchup will be interesting. Miles (6'10"), Pardee (6'4"), and Brooke (6'9") for Walton, going up against Martin (6'6") and a slew of Panthers listed at 6'3" on their roster. If Martin gets in foul trouble early, then this could be a game that Walton wins easily. Their entry passes to the high and low posts, combined with their interior passing, will put tremendous pressure on Martin, and if he goes out, Knox gets a lot smaller in a hurry. 6'3" is tall compared to guys like me....but Miles would have a whopping 7 inches on him, and the lob to the inside would be there.

    On the other hand, if this turns into a free throw shooting contest, the Panthers would seem to have the clear advantage. Although the Bearcats have shot them MUCH better of late - especially Garrett Jones, who's been on fire at the line - the body of work over the season at the charity stripe indicates that this is the potential Achilles' Heel for Walton. We'll see. The Rupp Arena goals - which appear to hang, suspended in "space" - have turned even the best of shooting teams into hapless rim-rattlers.

    Nerves are always on parade in round one (and sometimes in later rounds, too!), and I consider this to be in Walton's favor. Subtract percentage points in the shooting on account of nerves - and I like Walton's inside game a lot more than I like Knox' game, which will have to produce some from the outside against the Walton bigs.

    At the end of the day, I like Walton in this game because of their schedule. Among the 20-win teams they've played: Oldham County, South Oldham, Spencer County, Gallatin County, Scott County, Lexington Christian, Campbell County (29 wins!), Beechwood (29 wins), Knott County Central, plus 19 win Grant County and 18 win Simon Kenton. The Bearcats have been tested numerous times, by up-tempo teams, by set, pattern offense teams. Against teams that press and teams that play half-court defense. They've played teams from the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 14th regions, seeing different styles. And by and large, they were successful against them all.

    Biggest key throughout the tourney - Dieonte Miles has to stay out of foul trouble. Foul trouble doesn't just take a double-digit scorer and a wicked shot-blocker out of the game, it may take Walton's best passer out. When he is at the high post distributing the ball, you can see what I mean.

    PICK: Walton-Verona 58, Knox Central 48


    Key players: Walton-Verona - Dieonte Miles and Kam Pardee - if both stay on the floor and relatively foul free, they provide the 1-2 punch that makes W-V "go" at both ends of the court.

    Knox Central - Having not seen this team, I'm a tad handicapped here, but it would appear that Jaylen Adams and Nick Martin will be critical. Adams - as demonstrated by the stats - is an explosive scorer. Against one of the stingiest scoring defenses in the state, Knox needs Adams to perform well. And Martin will probably have to stay out of foul trouble. If he has to leave the floor for any length of time, the three Walton bigs will have a field day.

    If Walton wins, they will have to have their "A" game ready against either Campbell County or undefeated John Hardin. Walton played Campbell, and won that game in a contest where they shot nearly 60%. Both teams are talented, and either matchup will be a toss-up. At the end of the day, I think John Hardin may be too strong inside for Campbell, and that pits the Bulldogs against the Bearcats.

    Alex Matthews is something special at JH, but I think he's going to be worn down in a game he'll have to pretty much play in for 32 minutes. If JH can force the pace, they win this game. But if Walton - who has shown the ability to play different styles this year - controls the pace (and maybe even if they don't), they win.

    I guess I'm predicting a second consecutive Final Four appearance for the 8th Region !

    Unfortunately, I think that's where it ends for the Bearcats. I expect Trinity to be their obstacle to the finals, and although the Rocks have been strangely up-and-down this season, they've finished strong, and looking at what they've been able to do at times to some very good teams.....well, make it Trinity in an extremely close nail-biter: Trinity 58, Walton-Verona 52

    CM
    No big deal, but WV did not play Beechwood this season.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4 Quarters View Post
    No big deal, but WV did not play Beechwood this season.
    Sorry 'bout that. I was looking at the schedules of the top teams they played - didn't want to identify someone as strong only to find they tailed off at the end of the year and finished 15-13...LOL

    Anyway, I was on Campbell County's page and saw they played Beechwood but got it turned around and wrote down that WV had played them.

    Good catch.

    CM

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