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7th Region Week 12 Review, Team and Player Rankings, and District Tournament Previews


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Another regular season is in the books, and it was another great year in the Seventh Region. Trinity, led by KABC Seventh Region Player of the Year David Johnson, had another outstanding season and ends the regular season where it started, at the top of the rankings. Traditional power Ballard also had another solid season, although it heads into the post-season with perhaps more questions than usual.

 

But the biggest news in the Seventh Region concerns the teams who may challenge those two this post-season. The Waggener Wildcats, coached by Seventh Region Coach of the Year Bryan O’Neill, had their best season in school history, including Waggener’s first ever win over the Ballard Bruins. The Male Bulldogs, who played without Howard Fleming for a good portion of the season, beat both Trinity and Ballard within a one-week period. And then Seneca beat Male to end the regular season.

 

So who knows what will happen in the post-season. The nice thing is that the post-season starts in just a few hours. Let’s go!

 

TEAM RANKINGS

 

1. Trinity Shamrocks (22-7)

 

I think Trinity is ready for the post-season, posting two impressive wins over quality opponents this week. With David Johnson leading the way with 22 points and 14 rebounds, the Rocks easily got past Kyle Rode and Lexington Christian 71-43. Trinity then beat the Central Yellowjackets 71-39. Johnson, who I believe is the best player in the Commonwealth, leads Trinity in scoring, rebounding, and assists. Trinity is the no. 1 seed in the 27th district tournament and faces Atherton on Wednesday.

 

2. Waggener Wildcats (26-3)

 

Seventh Region Coach of the Year Bryan O’Neill has done a great job with the Waggener program since taking over prior to the 2011-12 season, culminating in this season’s record-breaking year. The team’s 26 wins is easily the most in school history. Waggener did struggle a bit this week in a 53-52 win over Doss, but the Wildcats then had an easier time with Shawnee (a 71-53 win) and Manual (a 76-58 victory). Waggener faces Seneca in a 27th district tournament semi-final game on Wednesday.

 

3. Male Bulldogs (20-9)

 

Male played without Howard Fleming the last week of the regular season. His absence did not matter against Atherton, with Male reaching the 20-win level with a 69-38 win, its 8th win in a row. However, Fleming may have been missed on Friday night against Seneca, when Male lost to the Redhawks 69-62. Coach Tim Haworth, who has had an outstanding first year as the Bulldogs’ head coach, expects Fleming to be back for the post-season, which starts for the Bulldogs with a match-up against Brown in the first round of the 26th district tournament.

 

4. Ballard Bruins (19-11)

 

Ballard won two of the three games it played this week, starting with an 83-67 win over the Manual Crimsons. Rashad Bishop led the Bruins with 19 points in that one. Ballard crossed the river and lost to Jeffersonville (IN) 77-73 before returning to Kentucky and beating the Central Yellowjackets 64-59. While Ballard may not be entering the post-season playing as well as in some recent years, but it would be foolish not to respect Coach Renner and the Bruins during the post-season. Ballard opens the 28th district tournament against the KCD Bearcats on Tuesday.

 

5. Seneca Redhawks (18-9)

 

Seneca had an interesting last week of the regular season, losing to Eastern 60-53 but then turning around and beating Male 69-62. Perhaps the lesson to be learned from this week for the Redhawks is that there are several teams who can beat Seneca, but there also are a lot of teams that Seneca can beat. Seneca is led by its big three of Richard Ninamou (17.1 ppg and 9.5 rpg), Carl Parker (14.7 ppg and 9.3 rpg), and Timothy Gordon (13.2 ppg) The Redhawks can prove that they can beat the best teams in the Seventh Region when they play the Waggener Wildcats in a 27th district tournament semi-final game on Wednesday.

 

6. Central Yellowjackets (16-8)

 

It was not a great week for Central, which started the week with a 69-62 overtime loss to Eastern. Coach Doug Bibby was ejected in the Eastern game and, as a result, was suspended for the Yellowjackets’ next two games, both of which were losses. Trinity overpowered Central 71-39. The Yellowjackets were more competitive against Ballard, but ended up losing to the Bruins 64-59. Central, which enters the post-season on a 4-game losing streak, plays the winner of the St. Francis-Portland Christian first round game in the 25th district tournament on Wednesday.

 

7. St. Xavier Tigers (16-9)

 

St. X split the two games it played this week, beating Holy Cross 60-47 before losing to Floyd Central (IN) 66-49. The Tigers, who are led by Sebian Dillard and his 17.2 ppg, have lost 3 out of their last five games heading into the post-season. St. X opens play in the 26th district tournament against the Collegiate Titans.

 

8. Eastern Eagles (14-14)

 

Eastern had its best week of the season this week, going 3-0 and finishing an even .500 for the season. And two of the wins were against teams considered to be among the best in the Seventh Region. The first win this week was a 60-53 win over Seneca, a game in which Ben Craig led the Eagles with 21 points. Next up was a 69-62 overtime win over Central, with Ben Craig and Jacob Robinson scoring 23 points each. The third win, a 67-47 victory over Shawnee, included Ethan Coury scoring 23 points. Coach David Hensley has done a great job with this team. The Eagles open the 28th district tournament against the CAL Centurions.

 

9. Christian Academy of Louisville Centurions (13-15)

 

The Centurions played well against Collins from the Eighth Region before falling to the Titans 56-46. CAL bounced back to beat Washington County 60-53, finishing just short of a winning season but taking a big step forward from last year’s 6-win season. CAL plays Eastern to open the 28th district tournament on Wednesday.

 

10. DuPont Manual Crimsons (9-19)

 

The Crimsons were the victims of poor scheduling this week, facing and losing to Ballard (a 83-67 loss) and Waggener (a 76-58 loss). Manual heads into the post-season having lost 8 of its last 9 games. Manual faces off against Shawnee in the semi-finals of the 25th district tournament on Wednesday.

 

11. Louisville Collegiate Titans (13-13)

 

The Titans came up just short of a winning record for the regular season, going 1-1 this week to finish the season at 13-13. The loss this week was in double overtime to the Carroll County Panthers by a score of 74-69. Chez Moore led the Titans in that one with 21 points and 12 rebounds. The win came against Beth Haven, a 78-61 victory. Collegiate is matched up with the Male Bulldogs in the opening round of the 26th district tournament.

12. Shawnee Golden Eagles (11-17)

 

Shawnee lost the three games it played this week, falling to Waggener (71-53), Western (59-52), and Eastern (67-47). The Golden Eagles ended the regular season on a 7-game losing streak. Shawnee plays Manual on Wednesday in a semi-final game in the 25th district tournament.

 

13. Kentucky Country Day Bearcats (14-14)

 

KCD went 2-1 this week to finish the regular season with a .500 record (14-14). The Bearcats lost to Sayre 66-61 to start the week, but then beat Portland Christian (86-64) and Fort Knox (76-40) to finish the regular season. Michael Collis has led the Bearcats in scoring this year at 13.9 ppg. KCD faces the Ballard Bruins in the opening round of the 28th district tournament.

14. St. Francis Wyverns (13-13)

 

St. Francis is playing well and had 2 convincing wins this week, 72-39 over Evangel Christian and 78-56 over Frederick Fraize. Senior Ahmad Moore, who is averaging 15.9 ppg for the season and will end up as one of the top 3 scorers in St. Francis boys basketball history, had 34 points in his last regular season game against Frederick Fraize. The Wyverns missed out on the opportunity to have a winning regular season record for only the second time in school history when a game against Eminence scheduled during this past week was cancelled. The Wyverns open up play in the 25th district tournament against Portland Christian on Monday.

 

15. Portland Christian Eagles (15-13)

 

Portland Christian lost to the Kentucky Country Day Bearcats 86-64 to end the regular season. The Eagles split the two games they played in the KCAC tournament, losing to Calvary Christian 78-55 but beating Evangel Christian 71-57. The Eagles’ winning season is their first since the 2012-13 season. Portland Christian plays St. Francis in the first round of the 25th district tournament on Monday.

 

16. Atherton Rebels (5-21)

 

I am proud of the Rebels. On February 4, Atherton sat at 2-19. Instead of folding it in at that point, the Rebels continued to work and ended up winning 3 out of their last 5 games. This week, after losing to Male 69-38, Atherton beat the Brown Bears 75-56. As the 4 seed, Atherton plays no. 1 seed Trinity in the opening round of the 27th district tournament.

 

17. Brown Bears (7-22)

 

The Bears broke their 6-game losing streak with an 82-61 win over Evangel Christian. Three Bears scored more than 20 in that one – Josiah Bibb (24), Jai’rus Bibb (21), and Kobi Hess (21). Brown lost its other two games this week, falling to Atherton (75-56) and North Bullitt (83-59). For the season, Jai’rus Bibb leads the Bears in scoring at 22.2 ppg. Brown plays the Male Bulldogs in the first round of the 26th district tournament.

 

18. Walden Wolverines (18-10)

 

Walden finished its season with an 81-67 victory over Heritage Academy, completing the most successful season in Walden basketball history. The 18 wins easily eclipsed the prior record of 14 wins in a season. The jump from 2 wins a year ago to 18 wins this season is impressive. And with a roster loaded with underclassmen, the Wolverines have good reason to look forward to next season.

 

PLAYER RANKINGS

 

1. David Johnson, senior, Trinity

 

Clearly the best player in the Seventh Region, likely the best player in the state. Led Trinity in scoring (15.8 ppg), rebounding (7.3 ppg), and assists. Going to the University of Louisville.

 

2. JJ Kalakon, senior, Waggener

 

Athletic team leader for the 26-3 Waggener Wildcats averaged 13.8 ppg and 6.3 rpg.

 

3. Walter Johnson, senior, Ballard

 

Transfer to Ballard from Aspire Academy led the Bruins in scoring at 16.9 ppg.

 

4. Tyren Moore, junior, Male

 

High scoring junior (18 ppg) carried the load for the Bulldogs until Howard Fleming returned to the lineup from injury.

 

5. Howard Fleming, junior, Male

 

Missed a substantial portion of the season following off-season shoulder surgery. A key part of Male’s success at the end of the season, averaging 12.3 ppg and 6.7 rpg.

 

6. Richard Ninamou, senior, Seneca

 

High energy player who led the Redhawks in scoring (17.1 ppg) and rebounding (9.5 rpg).

 

7. Stan Turnier, senior, Trinity

 

Solid shooter and defender for the Shamrocks, averaging 12.7 ppg. Will be a preferred walk-on at the University of Georgia.

 

8. Chez Moore, junior, Collegiate

 

Athletic post player got a lot done for the Titans, averaging 15.2 ppg and 8.3 rpg.

9. Carl Parker, senior, Seneca

 

Big man returned to the Redhawks’ line-up this season to average 14.7 ppg and 9.3 rpg.

 

10. Sebian Dillard, junior, St. Xavier

 

Took advantage of increased playing time, leading the Tigers in scoring at 17.2 ppg.

 

HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order)

 

Jai’rus Bibb, senior, Brown

Noah Courtney, junior, Male

Quincy Dye, senior, Portland Christian

Timothy Gordon, senior, Seneca

Jamil Hardaway, senior, Trinity

Jocobi Hendricks, senior, Waggener

Ahmad Moore, senior, St. Francis

Eli Roberts, junior, Manual

Jacob Robinson, senior, Eastern

Josh Watkins, senior, Central

 

MANAGER OF THE YEAR

 

Ballard manager Sam Ajagbe has become a media sensation for his hard work and determined approach to his duties. Ajagbe moved to the United States from Nigeria at the age of 6 when his family won a visa lottery. His dream is to work in the NBA someday, but he hopes his next step will be to attend the University of Kentucky and be a basketball manager for the Wildcats. The UK basketball program would benefit from Sam’s involvement. I really hope that happens for this outstanding young man.

 

DISTRICT TOURNAMENT PREVIEWS

 

Since the Sixth and Seventh Regions were realigned prior to the 2011-12 season, the district tournaments have largely been uneventful. The top teams in the Seventh Region are evenly distributed among the four districts, which usually results in very few surprises as to who advances to the regional tournament. While that looks to be the case again this week, there is a semi-final match-up in the 27th district that may be the best district tournament match-up in the state.

25th DISTRICT

 

The only 5-team district in the Seventh Region, the 25th district tournament opens with the St. Francis Wyverns facing the Portland Christian Eagles. These teams played on January 15, with St. Francis prevailing 74-58. The winner of that game will take on the Central Yellowjackets, who easily beat both St. Francis and Central in the regular season.

 

The other semi-final has the Manual Crimsons playing Shawnee. While the Crimsons are not as strong this year as in the past several seasons, they beat Shawnee by 9 on January 11. While Manual has lost 8 of their last 9 games, most of those losses have been to quality teams. Shawnee comes in on a 7-game losing streak, though again those losses have been to quality teams.

 

Look for Central and Manual to advance to the Seventh Region tournament, as they have every year since 2011-12 season.

 

26th DISTRICT

 

Male plays Brown in what would seem to be a one-sided match-up. The Bulldogs beat the Bears 94-55 on February 5.

 

St. X plays Collegiate in the other semi-final game. St. X won the regular season game between these two teams 85-56 on January 29. While Collegiate beat St. X when they were both in the 25th district in the 2010-11 season, I don’t see that happening again.

 

So, once again, it should be Male and St. X advancing to the Seventh Region tournament from the 26th district.

 

27th DISTRICT

 

With three of the Seventh Region’s top teams, the 27th district is one of the strongest districts in the State.

 

Trinity plays Atherton in one of the semi-final match-ups. Trinity should not have much of a problem with the Rebels.

 

The other semi-final, however, pits the Waggener Wildcats against the Seneca Redhawks. This should be a good one. Waggener comes in at 26-3, while Seneca finished the regular season at 19-10. These teams played each other on February 1, with Waggener winning 67-56. But Seneca is a team that advanced to the championship game of the LIT (beating Ballard 61-59 along the way), and finished the regular season with a 69-62 win over Male. Seneca won this match-up in the opening round of the district tournament last season, which I am sure Waggener has not forgotten. I suspect Waggener will exact its revenge this year.

 

I expect Trinity and Waggener to advance to the Seventh Region tournament.

 

28th DISTRICT

 

The Ballard Bruins are matched up with the Kentucky Country Day Bearcats in the first round. While the Bruins are coming into the post-season perhaps not as strong as in most years, Ballard beat KCD 94-68 on January 29. I look for the Bruins to advance again.

 

The other semi-final has Eastern playing CAL. CAL beat Eastern 50-41 on January 24, but Eastern has been playing better since then. This one has a good chance of being a close one, which could go either way; based on its recent performance, I give the nod in this one to Eastern.

 

So, as is usually the case, I anticipate Ballard and Eastern advancing to the Seventh Region tournament from the 28th district.

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