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12th Region: District Tournament Previews and Predictions


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District-by-District Preview and Predictions


45th District:

Why Danville will win– Depth, athleticism and defense, they were 6-0 in the District giving them a possible mental edge over the District opponents. Sophomore Guard Dante Hayden has NBA range, opening up driving lanes for Thornton and post scoring opportunities for St. Martin and Wood. Quite simply, they have the best overall roster of players and should be the favorite to win both the 45th District and 12th Region Tournaments.

Why Danville will lose – Stretches of poor shot selection sometimes show up under pressure, and they have shown an inability to guard Garrard County (Sebastian in particular). The Admirals gave up 80 points only twice all season, both were to Garrard (albeit one was in double OT), the Golden Lions may be their Achilles heel.


Why Lincoln County will win – An excellent defensive team, particularly when the play zone, their lightning-quick perimeter defense makes them very difficult to move the ball against, they are very effective at forcing teams out of rhythm. And they have quietly become a much improved three-point shooting team, if they choose to they can put five players on the floor who can all knock down shots from deep.

Why Lincoln County will lose – The Patriots occasionally have inexplicable lapses of effort and focus, there have been some head-scratching losses this season. Strong rebounding teams can sometimes own the boards over Lincoln, after Bodner they are a diminutive team; physical rebounding teams like Danville can cause issues.


Why Boyle County will win – Opponents have no answer for Reese Smith, either on stopping him from getting to the rim or keeping him off the boards. The Imfeld brothers can catch fire from the perimeter, opening things up for Smith, making the Rebels very difficult to contain. They are consistently strong defensively and can negate an opponent’s top scorer better than anyone.

Why Boyle County will lose – The Rebels seemed destined to be a top tier contender, but losing Slone (transfer) then Hotchkiss (after only five games) during the season keeps them in the second tier and facing a very difficult opening District game. They beat the Patriots with Hotchkiss on the floor, then lost to them after he was back out, the District elimination game will likely look more like the latter game. The Rebels may be a seasoned point guard away from advancing.


Why Garrard County will win - Braden Sebastian is nearly unstoppable once he gets going, and supporting players like Jones and Burkhart have been stepping up with consistent support down the stretch. Big games can be won with big time players; Sebastian is a difference-maker and just seems to have what it takes in big games. The Golden Lions are hungry and have a lot to prove, this gives them the energy required to take home the District crown.

Why Garrard County will lose – They do not play defense consistently on a high enough level to win the tournament, they have periods of time where they tend to trade baskets and rest a bit on the defensive end of the floor. They also have had a tendency to surrender turnover-generated big runs by their opponent, one big run given up in an elimination game can mean – well, elimination.


BOLD PREDICTION: District Champion – Danville, Runner-Up – Lincoln County.


46th District:

Why Mercer County will win – The Titans are coming in hot, winning 8 of 10 games down the stretch. 12th Region Player of the Year Carter Baughman is a difference-maker, he will almost always have a stretch of the game where he scores at will. If the officials are calling the game tightly then Baughman, Lewis and Drakeford will live at the FT line and Mercer will outscore most opponents. When the Titans settle in to a comfortable pace and knock down perimeter shots, they are very difficult to defend.

Why Mercer County will lose – Rebounding can be a problem, but the Titans have won games while being outrebounded several times this season. Disruption of their offensive flow, whether by a zone requiring offensive patience (e.g. Lincoln County) or a general sloppy pace to the game (e.g. Bourbon or Casey) can occasionally cause Mercer to force things, resulting in turnovers or rushed shots.


Why West Jessamine will win – The Colts have the talent and depth to win, and much like with Southwestern last season they are coming out of a slump just before tournament time. When this team causes havoc on the defensive end, the energy level skyrockets, and when their energy gets flowing they can really score the ball. They have the depth and athleticism necessary to actively generate mayhem, and when the game pace becomes chaotic the Colts are one of the top teams in the Region. They defeated LCA, and nearly Madison Central, with this style. Tournament play certainly can get chaotic, particularly in a small gym like at Burgin, perfectly suiting West’s best style of play.

Why West Jessamine will lose – When the Colts sit back and attempt to out-execute or outthink opponents, they often struggle. Help side defense becomes a problem as off-ball defenders spectate, on-ball defenders get stuck on their heels knowing that they are on an island, and opponents become the attacker and can dominate game flow and comfortably run their half-court sets. This translates to a slower pace on the offensive end, where the Colts tend to fall into 1-on-1 mode and become easy to guard, and eventually Bruner and Stepp begin forcing shots and team morale erodes.


Why East Jessamine will win – Sophomore Guard Ben McNew has been shooting near 50% from the three-point arc over the last month, including a 7-9 effort against crosstown rival West Jessamine in their last matchup. With McNew lighting it up, this opens up penetration opportunities for Senior Guard Kenzel Wadkins, giving East an often unstoppable guard combination. Senior Forward and double-double machine Tyler Pitney anchors the middle to give the Jaguars some balance, and Sophomore Wing Zion Thomas brings energy with rebounding and grabbing 50/50 balls. With a little bit of everything to offer, East has the potential to take the District crown.

Why East Jessamine will lose – With limited depth inside, the Jags get in trouble when Pitney picks up too many fouls, which can occur often. East also tends to get out of control with the ball, they can turn it over against pressure and will often fall into a ‘drive and hope’ mindset; if their opponent doesn’t bail them out with a foul they tend to toss up some questionable shots. The Jags often rely upon individual offensive skills in the half-court, so a good help-oriented defensive team or a team who forces their guards to expend energy beating pressure will give them trouble.


Why Burgin will win– Third winning season since 1943, Coach Don Irvine retiring at the end of the season, hosting the District Tournament – the magical season can culminate with a historic District win.

Why Burgin will lose – Mercer County just has too much for the Bulldogs.


BOLD PREDICTION: District Champion – West Jessamine, Runner-Up – Mercer County.


47th District:

Why Somerset will win – The Briar Jumpers own two wins over their biggest District competition, Pulaski County, and have played a challenging schedule which should have helped prepare them for the rigors of District and Regional Tournament play. Somerset has a knockdown 3-point shooter in Senior Chase Walker, an athletic playmaker who can create his own shot in a pressure situation with Sophomore Kade Grundy, and some physicality and rebounding with Bruner, Acey and Burton. The Briar Jumpers have been competitive in every 12th Region game, they are a young team who have matured and are a threat to not only win the District but to advance deep in the Regional Tournament.

Why Somerset will lose – Aside from the two wins over Pulaski and an exciting upset of Madison Central, the Briar Jumpers have struggled to win their close games. Free throw shooting in the tight games has been a minor issue, but the key things needed to make a key play down the stretch – a defensive stop, offensive patience required to get a good shot, making savvy and veteran decisions – have been missing at times. At some point in tournament play, Somerset will need to win a close game and they don’t have a good history of doing so this season.


Why Pulaski County will win – Because of a balanced attack, the Maroons have a number of players who can score, and in a variety of ways. Junior Guard Colton Fraley is still their primary scoring option, but as probably the best truepoint guard in the Region he can also distribute and involve his teammates just as effectively as he can score. Pulaski is not a great shooting team, but when they are clicking they get really good shots on most possessions, and having a top tier point guard is always an advantage during tournament play. The Maroons will have the flexibility to beat opponents in a variety of different ways.

Why Pulaski County will lose – A cold-shooting night can end the season for the Maroons, and they have had several this season, Lincoln County in particular gave them fits with their active 2-3 zone. Pulaski has also had some trouble defending teams with athletic perimeter players, Lincoln and Mercer and recently Christian County caused some problems with active perimeter attacks that were able to get to the rim and create kick-out opportunities for open three-pointers.


Why Casey County will win – Senior Guard Maximo Reyes is one of the best all-around players in the Region, he is a difference-maker who can impact the way a close game finishes. When the pace is active, Reyes can get on a roll scoring, dishing, creating plays. His teammates can then feed. Sophomore Forward Spencer Baird has improved his decision-making as the season has progressed and now gives the Rebels a solid secondary threat that helps open things up for Reyes. Casey is a hot team that gained a lot of confidence in an impressive road win at Mercer, and although they have lost to Somerset twice this season, they are playing much better now than at the time of those losses.

Why Casey County will lose – The Rebels lack depth and just don’t have a consistently strong scoring threat beyond Reyes, Baird and Junior Guard Micah Pendelton. After those three, Casey is not a good shooting team and they can often struggle getting points in the paint.


Why Rockcastle County will win – The Rockets love the three-pointer and they shoot it quite well, on any given night if their shooters are hitting then they are a threat to upset anyone.

Why Rockcastle County will lose – Rockcastle struggles on the boards and is usually outrebounded, they just don’t have the size or physicality to make a deep run in the tournament.


BOLD PREDICTION: District Champion – Pulaski County, Runner-Up - Somerset.


48th District:

Why Wayne County will win– In a three-team District lacking any strong competition for them, the Cardinals should win their lone game comfortably. Wayne County is one of the best offensive teams in the Region, when they can move the ball without a lot of pressure in the half-court they are fun to watch and can score proficiently. Weaver just makes plays, Gehring knocks down shots, Spencer can at times be un-guardable in mid-range; if the remaining players play their roles, the Cardinals could be considered the favorite to win the 12th Region Tournament.

Why Wayne County will lose– The Cardinals do not like ball pressure, and they do not fare well against athletic, physical teams. If McCreary Central or Southwestern can morph into a team with these characteristics this week, Wayne County would be challenged.


Why Southwestern will win – The Warriors own two victories over McCreary Central and played Wayne County tough in both matchups, losing 64-63 and 66-55. As the defending 12th Region Champions, Southwestern does not have a Senior on the roster but has shown the potential to knock off Region contenders (the road win over Lincoln County being most impressive). If the Warriors match one of those performances, they have the capability of knocking off both 48th District opponents and could return to the 12th Region Tournament to defend their crown.

Why Southwestern will lose – Southwestern narrowly escaped both games with McCreary Central this season and have to face the Raiders on their home court to open District play. If Sims gets in any foul trouble, the Rebels may struggle on the boards and they are not a good enough shooting team to overcome such diversity.


Why McCreary Central will win – Home court advantage for the District Tournament may be helpful, particularly considering how close the Raiders have been in all four District games this season. If Senior Guard Nick Longmire and Junior Guard Alex Heath are making three’s, McCreary can beat either one of their District opponents on a given night, and it only takes one good night to advance to the Regional Tournament.

Why McCreary Central will lose – The Raiders struggle with size and rebounding, and both Wayne and Southwestern have an advantage over them in the paint. Braden Sims for Southwestern is a particularly tough matchup for McCreary and could be the catalyst for an end to the Raider’s season.


BOLD PREDICTION: District Champion – Wayne County, Runner-Up – Southwestern.

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Thank you for your coverage all season! Who’s everyone have? I expect a wild Postseason in 12th.


I am biased but really like Mercer. Have been in the region finals last 3 years, winning it in 2016. 2019 12th region POY and potentially the 2020 POY also. I also like the guys around those two. Go Titans!

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I am biased but really like Mercer. Have been in the region finals last 3 years, winning it in 2016. 2019 12th region POY and potentially the 2020 POY also. I also like the guys around those two. Go Titans!


Definitely a good pick. Although, I think 2020 POY will either be Boyle’s Reese Smith or Garrard’s Brayden Sebastian.

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Definitely a good pick. Although, I think 2020 POY will either be Boyle’s Reese Smith or Garrard’s Brayden Sebastian.



Those are two very good players! Ours is very good AND I am biased.... he is a pretty good quarterback under the Friday night lights!

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Those are two very good players! Ours is very good AND I am biased.... he is a pretty good quarterback under the Friday night lights!


Hopefully, he has a healthy overall year next season. It’s been hard to gauge his play being banged up early on! He’s a nice two-sport player for sure.

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Anybody have the info on the 12th region POY winners over the last 10 years?


2018 - Trevon Faulkner - Mercer County

2017 - Peyton Gover - Southwestern

2016 - Trey Blevins – Wayne Co.

2015 - Hagen Tyler - Boyle Co.

2014 - Daulton Peters - West Jessamine

2013 - Taylor Gover - Pulaski Co.

2012 - Cody Collins - East Jessamine

2011 - Gavin Dunagin - Wayne Co.

2010 - Aaron Watts - McCreary Central

2009 - Ethan Spurlin - Lincoln County

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