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Bluegrasspreps.com 3rd Region Tournament Preview

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Heading into the regional tournament, Muhlenberg remains the team to beat but the Red Devils are coming on strong.  While the Mustangs have won 13 straight games, there is no one in the region playing better than Owensboro.  Unfortunately, these two teams drew the same side of the bracket, likely setting up a semi-final showdown on Friday night.  The top half of the bracket is wide open.  Any of the 4 teams could make a run to the region title game.  There are some questions if Gray Weaver can return for Owensboro Catholic if they survive Meade County on Monday.  That could add even more intrigue if he is able to return for the Aces.

1. Muhlenberg County Mustangs (16-1) – (Sr) Nash Divine (17.8), (Sr) Cole Vincent (11.8)

2. Owensboro Red Devils (11-5) – (Soph) Kenyatta Carbon (19.4), (Sr) Amari Robinson Wales (17.7)

3. Owensboro Catholic Aces (16-9) – (Jr) Ji Webb (14.7 / 7rpg), (Questionable – Sr) Gray Weaver (12.3)

4. Grayson County Cougars (13-8) – (Jr) Keegan Sharp (14.8), (Soph) River Blanton (12.8), (Jr) Chandler McCrady (12.3)

5. Ohio County Eagles (12-10) – (Sr) Q Jennings (14), Josh Manning (11.5)

6. Meade County Greenwave (9-10) – (Sr) Casey Turner (14.2), (Sr) Cannon Decker (11.6)

7. Hancock County Hornets (8-11) – (Jr) Devyn Powers (13.8), (Soph) Kaleb Keown (12.3), (Jr) Evan Ferry (11.1), (Jr) Ryan Ogle (10.8)

8. Butler County Bears (5-9) – (Jr) Soloman Fleener (13.8 / 7.8 rpg), (Jr) Jagger Henderson (11.2)


First Round Draw

Owensboro Catholic vs Meade County – these two closed the regular season against each other and Meade won 50-34.  The Aces were without Ji Webb, Brian Griffith and Gray Weaver, but that should be a confidence builder for the Waves.  Tim Riley is 14-3 in 3rd Region elimination games and 5-0 in regional openers since joining the region 6 seasons ago.  Turner and Webb should be a great in game matchup but this one will come down to which teams guards play better.  PREDICTION: Owensboro Catholic

Ohio County vs Grayson County – this is another first round toss up game.  These two played in the season opener, seeing Ohio County win big.  Elijah Decker has returned from injury for the Eagles but is still trying to get in game shape.  Josh Manning and Keegan Sharp are two of the best 3 point shooters in the region and this one could come down to which team shoots it better beyond the arc. Grayson County has proved to be very well rounded lately, putting 3 guys in double figures through the season.  PREDICTION: Grayson County

Butler County vs Owensboro – The Devils and Bears opened the season against each other.  Owensboro put together a big 2nd half to get the big 29 point win.  Owensboro has came together as a team in the last couple weeks, playing suffocating defense and forcing over 25 turnovers a game in most of their wins.  Butler will have to take good care of the basketball and shoot it very well to have any shot in this one.  PREDICTION: Owensboro

Hancock County vs Muhlenberg County – The Mustangs roll into this game on a 13 game win streak, while Hancock closed the season well, having won 4 of 5 before falling to Meade in the 11th district championship.  These two did not play in the regular season.  Hancock does have a balanced attack that could find a way to compete here.  Muhlenberg gets great production from their bench and that should be a great weapon in this tournament format.  PREDICTION: Muhlenberg County

3rd Region Championship Prediction: Owensboro over Grayson County

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Semifinals Tonight - 5pm - Owensboro Catholic vs Ohio County - Hard to bet against Coach Tim Riley in postseason play.  The Aces have lost Brian Griffith (23ppg) and Gray Weaver (13ppg) for the season but kept on ticking with a win over Meade County in the opening round.  Their role players had great games to propel them to the win.  It will be interesting to see if guys like Luke Scales, Parker Gray and Tutt Carrico can continue to raise their game.  For Ohio County, they defeated Grayson with tough defense and a total team effort led by Q Jennings.  Jennings has become one of the most dynamic players in the region and can get to the rim almost at will.  Now that he has added a deadly 3 point shot to his arsenal, he is almost unstoppable for any 1 defender with the ball in his hands.  Coach Tony Hopper will have Ohio County playing high level defense tonight.  Keep your eye on Elijah Decker and Josh Manning for the Eagles.  If they have big time games tonight, it could be enough to get Ohio County to the title game.

7:45 - Muhlenberg County vs Owensboro - this is the match up of the season.  Muhlenberg beat Owensboro at their place in the middle of the season but the Devils were just out of quarantine and missing Kenyatta Carbon.  Carbon may be playing the best basketball of anyone else inside the region right now.  Owensboro looks unstoppable with the amount of pressure they put on the basketball.  They force a ton of turnovers and even used missed shots to get back quickly in transition.  It seems like everyone on the team is playing at their highest level right now.  Watching them play defense feels like they have 8 guys on the floor and it will be interesting to see how Muhlenberg handles the pressure.  The Mustangs struggled to an opening round win over Hancock but probably had one eye on this one.  They have the fire power to get the job done with Nash Divine, Trey Lovell and Cole Vincent.  They also have great depth, which should help them against the relentless pressure of Owensboro.  If Muhlenberg can pass the ball well and knock down shots, this game will be one for the ages.  If they let Owensboro speed them up and control the pace, its going to be a rough night for the Mustangs.

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