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12th Region Week 8 Review: Shifting Sands


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Week 8 was yet another exciting one in the 12th Region. There were several games that came down to a last-second shot, some near upsets of state powers by 12th Region teams, and some terrific individual performances.


The not-so-shocking revelation for the week: there is a really good team or two in the 45th District who will not be playing in the 12th Region Tournament. Danville looks to be on path for the #1 seed in that District, while Boyle and Lincoln may be battling for #2, and Garrard County will have a say before all is said and done. I would not want to be the team that draws any 45th team in the Region Tournament, whether as a District Champion or Runner-Up.


An early look at some likely Regional Tournament participants outside the 45th: West and Mercer from the 46th, Somerset and Pulaski from the 47th, Wayne and Southwestern from the 48th. I suspect, however, that there may be at least one District upset this year to shake up this picture.


The Player of the Year (POY) race is still up for grabs. Mercer County’s Carter Baughman is putting up the best scoring numbers, seems to be getting the most attention and some well-deserved promotion. West Jessamine’s Dalton Bruner has quietly been transforming his game, he does not receive as much publicity but has recently showing signs of maturing into an all-around player and fitting into the team concept better than in the past. Wayne County’s Aubrey Weaver is also flying under the radar; his versatility is similar to Bruner’s, he contributes in all facets of the game and is possibly the best all-around athlete of the three, very strong. Although it is still too close to call, I would currently rank Baughman first (best perimeter shooter), Bruner second (best defender and creative scorer), then Weaver (most well-rounded).


Here is a look at the Week 8 results, rankings, and Week 9 key match-ups:


1. Danville – Now winners of ten in a row, the Admirals are simply playing consistently better than anyone else in the Region. Despite the season-ending loss of Senior Guard Tevin Kavanaugh, Danville currently looks the part of Region favorite and is getting some state-wide notoriety as the continue to creep up the various rankings. The Admirals did get a tough battle from Somerset in the 12th Region All ‘A’ Classic this past Tuesday, the game was tied 19-19 at halftime before Danville turned it up a notch in the second half and prevailed 58-48. Danville then cruised to a 67-40 win over host Washington County and will represent the 12th Region in this week’s All ‘A’ Classic at EKU in Richmond. Sophomore Guard Dante Hayden was on fire against Washington, tossing in 33 points. In what should be one of the best first round matchups in the All “A”, the Admirals open up with Elliot County, one of the top teams in the 16th Region. It should be interesting to see how Danville, one of the best defensive teams in the state, contains one of the state’s leading scorers in Senior Guard Korbin Spencer (29.2 PPG). The Admirals have a good chance of not only representing the 12th Region well and advancing through the tournament, but to win the All “A” Classic outright, and it’s hard not to look ahead to a possible semifinal matchup against state top-10 University Heights and Senior Guard Dekeyvan Tandy.


2. Wayne County – Perhaps it was just an off week, but the Cardinals did not look like the #1 team in the 12th Region during Scott County’s Toyota Classic. Facing three athletic teams that all play fast and aggressive, Wayne seemed a step slow and a bit uncomfortable with the frantic pace of their three losses. In the tournament opening loss against Frederick Douglass (71-63) they were physically dominated for much of the game, the Broncos applied nonstop ball pressure that clearly bothered the Cardinals, and they seemed to get every 50-50 ball and rebound. Senior Guard Jadon Pryor took a violent charge in the 3rd Quarter that took him out of the remainder of the Douglass game; he also did not play in the following games against Lafayette and Christian County, and Wayne County missed him. Throughout the tournament the Cardinals not only turned the ball over more than usual, they also struggled getting into any flow offensively, and the absence of Pryor was not the only reason they struggled. All three teams applied ball pressure that pushed Wayne County away from the basket and out of their sets, and all three opponents did a good job anticipating the interior passes the Cardinals are so adept with. The Cardinals dropped game two to Lafayette 75-62, and then took a surprising 69-61 loss to Christian County to complete the disappointing week. Two bounce back opportunities are up this week with home games against Southwestern and Casey County before the schedule toughens considerably, it remains to be seen if this past week was an anomaly or if teams have figured out a formula for beating the Cardinals.


3. Boyle County – A 6-10 team ranked 3rd in the Region? Yes, as the return of Juniors Reese Smith and Grant Hotchkiss has completely changed the dynamic of both the 45th District and the 12th Region. Despite still being a relatively young team, the Rebels clearly have the look of a contender. In a 58-48 loss to state top-10 Collins this past Tuesday night, the game was tied late and the Rebels were in a good position to win but gave up a quick run in the final two minutes to the more experienced Titans. Boyle bounced back in a convincing fashion, pummeling District foe Garrard County 72-47 in a game where they trailed early then dominated from the 2nd Quarter on. In a Region that is down a bit this season in overall athleticism, the addition of these two Juniors allows the Rebels to return to being one of the more physical defensive and rebounding teams in the 12th. Smith can dominate a game without scoring a point. We will see in the next two weeks if this is where Boyle County belongs in the rankings as they face a challenging lineup of opponents: Mercer, Lincoln, West Jessamine and Danville.


4. Lincoln County – The Patriots defeated 45th District foe Garrard County on Tuesday this past week, 67-58, where Freshman Guard Jaxon Smith had a bit of a breakout game with 23 points as he was able to repeatedly break down the Garrard defense with his dribble penetration. Smith had similar success against Boyle County in their matchup on January 11, and the development of this consistent scoring option for the Patriots bodes well for the future. The remainder of the week was not kind to Lincoln, however, as they got hammered in back to back games Friday and Saturday against beatable 11th Region competition, losing 75-47 to Madison Central and 78-51 to Paul Laurence Dunbar. Much like the team ranked immediately below them, Lincoln County has been inconsistent through much of these season, at times looking like a top team in the Region (wins over West, Mercer and Pulaski were impressive) and at times looking like they could be one-and-out in the 45th District Tournament. The Patriots play McCreary Central on Tuesday this week, then have a huge game at Boyle County this coming Friday night.


5. West Jessamine – The Colts dropped two tight contests this week, both where they had a shot attempt to tie the game at the buzzer, 78-76 at home to Madison Central and 54-51 at 46th District rival Mercer County. In a season where most close games seem to end up in the 40’s, the Colts game against Madison Central game was highly entertaining and tight throughout, with both teams playing at a high level. The Colts three-pronged perimeter attack (Dalton Bruner, Yallen Woods, Michael Thalacker) shot a combined 11-22 from the 3-point line and a perfect 17-17 from the FT line, but an astounding 24-point 2nd half outburst by Central’s Quae Charlton and a couple of timely Isaiah Cozart dunks sealed the win for the Indians. As aesthetically pleasing as this was, the District rivalry game Friday night against Mercer County was the opposite – both teams played sloppily, with turnovers and poor shooting, missed layups and FT’s, from both Mercer and West. Playing three big games in a row leading up to the showdown with Mercer may have taken a toll as the Colts seemed drained of energy in the Friday night loss. A perhaps well-timed layoff is ahead as West does not play again until Friday night, at home against Madison Southern, followed by a game vs. Southwestern on Saturday. The Colts are still hanging below the radar as a top Region contender, but in the three games prior to the ugly loss at Mercer they looked like a team that is starting to gel – particularly on the offense side of the ball, shooting percentages are improving as a direct result of improved ball movement and shot selection. If this trend continues, West will be a very tough matchup come tournament time.


6. Mercer County– The Titans only played one game this past week, they had the week to prepare for their big game against West Jessamine on Friday night and came away with a hard-fought 54-51 victory. Mercer did not play their best game against the Colts, but willed their way to a win with effort and some big FT’s down the stretch from Senior Carter Baughman and Junior Kaelin Drakeford. Baughman opened the game on fire and helped push Mercer to an early lead, but as he cooled off the Titans really struggled to score and West was able to claw their way back into the game. A handful of effort plays – hustle plays, key rebounds and 50-50 balls that went Mercer’s way in the 4th Quarter – made a big difference in the win. Mercer’s challenge continues to be finding consistent scoring beyond Baughman, the remainder of the team is cumulatively shooting less than 40% from the field for the season. The Titans will need to address this if they are going to contend for the 12th Region title. Mercer has a big test this coming Tuesday as they host new #3 Boyle County, followed by another home game against 46th District rival East Jessamine on Friday.


7. Somerset – The Briar Jumpers played only one game this past week, a competitive 58-48 loss to #1 Danville in the 12th Region All “A” Classic. Tied 19-19 at halftime, Somerset was not only competitive but very much in the game; Danville’s athleticism took over down the stretch, but the Briar Jumpers also have some size and strength in the paint and somewhat neutralized the Admirals inside. Aside from Boyle County, Somerset may be the most improved team in the 12th Region since the start of the season, and are poised to continue their climb up the rankings. The Briar Jumpers are a young team, they are physically strong in the paint and have one of leading Sophomore scorers in the Region with Kade Grundy (17.3 PPG), along with one of the top shooters in the Region in their lone Senior, southpaw Guard Chase Walker. Somerset plays only one game this week, Friday night at Barbourville.


8. Pulaski County – The Maroons have played well since their 71-41 beat down at Lincoln County a couple of weeks ago, winning three straight and going 1-0 this past week with a 90-74 road win at Casey County. Pulaski’s road trip continues this week where they should be able to extend the winning streak, they play Tuesday night at Russell County and Friday at Rockcastle County. The Maroons do not have an overwhelming schedule down the stretch and should be able to post a nice record going into District and Regional play.


9. Garrard County – The Golden Lions took two tough District losses this week, 67-58 at Lincoln County and 72-47 at Boyle County. Senior Forward Charles Jones was a beast in the paint against Lincoln County last Tuesday night, going for 22 points and 14 rebounds, but the perimeter quickness of Lincoln gave Garrard some trouble and the Patriots did a good job containing Junior Braden Sebastian. Against Boyle County on Friday night, Garrard County roared out of the gate and led at the end of the 1st Quarter, but the Rebels dominated from that point forward. The athleticism of Boyle, led by Reese Smith, caused issues for the Golden Lions as they struggled to get good shots and turned the ball over at a much higher rate than usual. Garrard has dropped five of six games but has a chance to get things on track in coming weeks as they start a six-game home stand. Richmond Model and Bluegrass United (home school) are up this week.


10. East Jessamine – This was a rough week for the Jaguars with losses to Lexington Catholic (63-42) and Thomas Nelson (57-55), extending their losing streak to five games. The biggest loss may have been with Senior Tyler Pitney, East’s leading scorer and rebounder, who had to be helped off the floor after an injury in the Lexington Catholic game and sat out of the Thomas Nelson game. I am not sure of the extent of the injury, but losing Pitney would be a serious blow to the Jaguars if he is out for any extended period of time. Pitney is an animal on the boards, he gets nearly half of his team’s rebounds; hopefully the injury is not serious. East has a very busy week, playing at Rockcastle County on Monday night, at Marion County on Tuesday night, hosting Mercer County on Friday and Pulaski County on Saturday.


11. Southwestern - The Warriors defeated McCreary Central 61-59 this past Thursday night behind 36 points from Junior Forward Brayden Sims. Southwestern traveled to Richmond on Saturday and lost 66-56 to a rapidly improving Madison Southern team that has now won five games in a row. The Warriors host Cordia on Tuesday this week, then travel to Wayne County on Friday and to East Jessamine on Saturday afternoon where they will face West Jessamine in the North/South Shootout Classic.


12. Casey County – The Rebels had only one game this week, at home on Tuesday against Pulaski County, where they lost 90-74. Casey has three winnable home games this week, hosting Danville Christian, Adair County and Russell County.


13. McCreary Central - The Raiders are showing some steady improvement in recent weeks, and even though they went 1-3 this past week they were competitive in every game and almost took down Southwestern on the road. After a Monday loss to Huntsville Scott (TN), McCreary defeated Rockcastle County 66-53 before dropping a close one at Southwestern, 61-59. A home defeat against Bell County (56-51) closed out the week. A tough game at Lincoln County awaits the Raiders on Tuesday, followed by a Thursday game at Lynn Camp and a Saturday game at Cumberland County.


14. Rockcastle County – The Rockets have now lost eight in a row, losing three road games this week at Wayne County (83-43), McCreary Central (66-53) and Marion County (84-55). Rockcastle now gets three home games, starting with East Jessamine on Monday, Oneida Baptist on Tuesday and Pulaski County on Friday.


15. Burgin – The Bulldogs defeated Danville Christian 66-42 in the opening round of the 12th Region All ‘A’ Classic this past week, then lost 78-61 to host Washington County in the semifinals. Burgin hosts Evangel, Eminence and White Academy (TN) this week.


16. Danville Christian – The Warriors lost 66-42 to Burgin on Monday, in Washington County, to kick off the 12th Region All ‘A’ Classic. On Saturday they traveled to Tennessee where they lost to White Academy, 65-51. This week the Warriors will play at Casey County on Tuesday, Evangel Christian on Thursday, then back home on Saturday to face Berea.


17. Kentucky School for the Deaf (KSD) – KSD almost got their first win of the season, battling Oneida Baptist tough this past Tuesday night before falling 67-63. A road trip to Mississippi for the Mason-Dixon Tournament is up next.


Key 12th Region Games of the Week:


Tuesday, January 22

Boyle County at Mercer County, 7:30 p.m.


Thursday, January 24

Danville vs. Elliot County, 5:00 p.m. at EKU (All ‘A’ Classic)


Friday, January 25

Lincoln County at Boyle County, 7:30 p.m.

East Jessamine at Mercer County, 7:30 p.m.


Saturday, January 26

West Jessamine vs. Southwestern, 3:45 p.m. (played at East Jessamine)

Pulaski County at East Jessamine, 7:15 p.m.

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For mercer Lewis and Drakeford scored 11 of Mercer's 13 points in the 4th qtr. Against Bourbon the game before Lewis lead Mercer with 20, Baughman had 15 and Drakeford had 14. They have had balanced scoring lately not sure it is accurate that they don't have scoring outside of Baughman. Interesting also that teams ranked 2-5 went 2-9 over the week with only two wins coming over Garrard .

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For mercer Lewis and Drakeford scored 11 of Mercer's 13 points in the 4th qtr. Against Bourbon the game before Lewis lead Mercer with 20, Baughman had 15 and Drakeford had 14. They have had balanced scoring lately not sure it is accurate that they don't have scoring outside of Baughman. Interesting also that teams ranked 2-5 went 2-9 over the week with only two wins coming over Garrard .


Good points, those two have definitely been the next level of offense for Mercer.

I didn't make it clear enough in the article, I was attempting to refer more to scoring efficiency and shooting percentages than point totals.

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Why not include Danville's Dontae Hayden for player of the year? He's leading the best team in the Region in scoring.

I consider POY to be a Mr. Basketball finalist, so Seniors only. If it were open for non-Seniors, Hayden and a few others would certainly be mentioned.

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