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BluegrassPreps.com 4th Region Boys Basketball Preview


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There was hardly any doubt that Bowling Green would win the region title last year.  An already serious edge in experience was boosted by a disrupted offseason for the region, and Bowling Green was among the only teams unfazed by it.  They went 13-0 in region play en route to their sixth region title in ten seasons – the 20th in a row won by a 14th District representative.  All but one of those have been won by Bowling Green or Warren Central, including the last 13.  However, neither of them will be the favorite to take the crown this year.  The front-runner title will belong to another team, albeit STILL one from the 14th District.

Preseason 4th Region Rankings

1. Greenwood – Last season laid the foundation for the Gators, as they made a postseason run all the way to the region finals, their first appearance in the title game in 13 years.  They gave Bowling Green a strong push in the finals, falling 57-49, the only single digit result for Bowling Green in region play during the season.  Only two seniors depart from that team, and a senior laden class this year will look to push the Gators to their first Sweet 16 since 2008.  All-region first team selection Cade Stinnett will lead the way, coming off a 2021 campaign that saw him average 20.7 PPG.  Running alongside him is Aaron Brown, one of the breakout players a season ago.  Brown averaged 14.2 PPG in postseason play, playing strong in the post.  Greenwood has been a team that has been far less deliberate in pace and attack under coach Will McCoy, attacking the rim and mid-range.  If they have one weakness, it may be from perimeter play, where they will feel the absence of Marc Grant.  The Gators will also have to find some way to knock off rival Bowling Green, who has defeated them in 22 of their last 23 meetings, and eight straight in the postseason. 

2. Warren Central – Perhaps no team felt the ire of a truncated offseason prior to 2021 more than Warren Central. The Dragons returned almost no one from their 2020 region champion team, and the lack of experience showed early and often, and their cancellations were many – they played only 15 games.  That’s not as much a problem anymore, as only one of their three seniors lost saw much playing time, but the team is actually still remarkably young, with only two seniors this year.  Still, these are seasons that Warren Central is clearly primed to compete in, with talent coming out of their ears.  Seven of their top eight scorers return, led by Chappelle Whitney (11.7 PPG), a second team all-region selection a season ago.  Senior Jaiden Lawrence has had a strong AAU season and also averaged double digits a year ago.  The team has been hitting the weight room with a vengeance and are tall and long – hallmarks of the best teams for Central.  They may be hindered still by a lack of postseason experience – you never know how it hits you until you’re playing in those intense games.  They’ll fiercely battle with Greenwood for the top seed in the district – the loser of that battle will likely see Bowling Green in a district elimination game.

3. Bowling Green – This may be a bit high for the defending region champions, but with the pedigree of the Purples, it is hard to pick against them.  That pedigree is a 190-22 record in region play since 12/18/2009, including an 83-2 record against teams from the 13th, 15th, and 16th districts. Remove Barren County from that group, and they’re 69-0 against the rest of the region.  Tough to knock the Purples down very far when they just simply NEVER lose to the other teams.  Of course, it’s also easy to pick the Purples when they return Turner Buttry, the best player in the region, an EKU signee, and a first team all-region selection a year ago.  The senior averaged 14.9 PPG a season ago and was 45/88 from three, good enough for 51.1% from range.  There are a great many players that don’t hit that well from anywhere, let alone three.  He is the only returning player from the top eight scorers on the team a season ago, so he will be asked to do even more.  With only four players in the senior and junior class, it will be up to the young players to step up and keep alive the Purple legacy.  Freshman Deuce Bailey, coming off a solid debut campaign on the gridiron, is one to keep an eye on.

4. Barren County – The 2021 Trojans were one of the great disappointments of the region season, though it was hardly their fault.  One of the few teams that were expected to push Bowling Green, it was in large part due to the presence of Aden Nyekan, considered to be the best outside the senior class.  He lived up to that title, averaging over 23 points through his first three games, but was felled by a torn ACL in the fourth game.  He’s back, leading a large senior class, looking to break the 14th's hold on the region, and getting the Trojans back to state for the first time in 23 years.  Senior and third team all-region selection Mason Griggs filled the gap in his absence, leading the Trojans with 15.5 PPG and hitting over 53% of his field goal attempts.  They also have the advantage of head coach Warren Cunningham, who returns for his 14th year at the helm.  The Trojans open with five straight games on the road, and will test their mettle right away, meeting Warren Central in the season opener.

5. Clinton County – The Bulldogs have seen their road end at the hands of a 14th District team in six of eight seasons, and four straight.  It was a particularly cruel fate last year when they were upset in the 16th District finals and then fed to a dominant Bowling Green team.  They lose two of their top three scorers, but those are the only two departures from a 20-5 team.  Nick Delk returns, averaging 15.3 PPG a season ago to lead the Bulldogs in scoring, earning him a third team all-region selection.  He’ll lead a squad of five seniors that will continue the Clinton County tradition of low numbers in their rotations – typically 7-8 players – but known for their strong defensive efforts, holding opponents to just 53.2 PPG a season ago.  Clinton County is also seeking to defend their All “A” Classic region title, entering as the favorites to bring that home once again.

6. Russellville – The Panthers owe their position on this list to two very big and related developments.  The first was the so-called “do-over” year, which allowed for players to repeat the previous year, gaining an extra year of eligibility.  That allowed four of their five seniors from a season ago to return, including leading scorer Jaquis Todd, who averaged 15.3 PPG for the Panthers.  The second was the transfer of Anthony Woodard from Logan County, also repeating a senior season that saw him average 20.5 PPG for the Cougars while earning a second team all-region selection.  It’s a return home for Woodard, who starred for the Panthers as a freshman in the 2017/18 season.  The repeat players allow the Panthers to become one of the most veteran teams in the region with some talented scorers, and could prove to be a program changing development, helping them to regain their form.  This is the team to watch most closely outside the top 5.

7. South Warren – The first season for the Spartans under Jason Holland was a highly successful one.  They posted the best winning percentage in program history, least losses in a season, and second-most wins in a single season.  Unfortunately, they still were unable to get to the region tournament for the first time, scoring the least points in a single game in the history of the program in a 52-18 loss to Bowling Green in the district semifinals.  Three of the top four scorers return for South, but it was their defense that made their name last year, allowing just over 47 PPG. Only two opponents reached even 60 points, and the Spartans would be well served by that strategy again.  Caden Veltkamp will be the primary player to watch, as soon as he finishes up on the gridiron, which will likely go into December.  The Spartans do also get a big boost from nationally ranked PG Ty Price, who has transferred over for his freshman year.  Despite the ranking, it will be an uphill battle once again to reach the region tournament – grabbing their first victory over Bowling Green (0-27) would be good start.

8. Franklin-Simpson – While not benefiting as much as Russellville from the do-over year, the Wildcats did return a pretty big piece thanks to the rule.  First team all-region selection Andreyas Miller averaged 22.3 PPG a season ago, shooting 52.7% from the field to easily lead the team in scoring.  That was a critical return for a team that lost four other seniors from  last season’s 4th Region quarter-finalists, made even more so since future star Demarcus Hogan left for prep school.  The Wildcats will have a chance to move up quickly, as they visit Clinton County the first week of the season and host South Warren the following week.

9. Glasgow – The Scotties lost only a single senior from a year ago, and return virtually every major contributor.  Eight seniors fill the lineup for the Scotties, who will hope that the veteran bump will allow them to improve on a 9-15 record that saw them lose their final five games.  Sam Bowling was a second team all-region selection last year, averaging 19.9 PPG, with Jackson Poland (13.8 PPG), Brennan Short (10.5 PPG) and Ashton Cerwinske (10.5 PPG) also returning with double digit averages.  Glasgow is likely to book their first trip to the region tournament since 2019.

10. Metcalfe County – The Hornets round out the top ten, looking to defend their 16th District title – the first for the program in 20 years.  Peyton Dial was a second team all-region selection a year ago, leading Metcalfe County with 14.6 PPG.  Wyatt Blythe was second on the team with 13.9 PPG in his sophomore season, and in all, three of the top four scorers return for the Hornets.  Senior Dathan Jolly is another “do-over” player, bolstering the veteran presence for the team. 

11. Allen County-Scottsville – New head coach Casey Napier inherits a team with six seniors, but without their top five scorers from last season.

12. Warren East – Another new head coach, Kyle Benge takes over for Brandon Combs, and seeks to bring the Raiders their first victory in district play since 2018, and first region tourney berth since 1997.

13. Russell County – The Lakers lost one of the best returning players in the region – Jay Milburn – to transfer.

14. Todd County Central – The Rebels didn’t have a single senior on their team a year ago – they’ve got seven this time.

15. Cumberland County  - The Panthers return Ty Seay, who averaged 20.9 PPG and earned a second team all-region selection a year ago.

16. Monroe County – Clayton Biggerstaff (10.2 PPG) and John Harlin (10.1 PPG) return to lead a Falcon team looking to improve on a 3-20 record in 2021.

17. Logan County – The Cougars are facing an uphill battle, with no returning player averaging even 4 PPG last year.

 

Top Players in the 4th Region

1. Turner Buttry, G, Sr. (Bowling Green) – The EKU signee will have to carry a much greater load for the Purples this year.

2. Anthony Woodard, F, Sr. (Russellville) – The repeat senior is probably the most purely talented player in the region.

3. Aden Nyekan, F, Sr. (Barren County) – Nyekan will look to put the ACL injury behind him, and finish the outstanding season he started in 2021.

4. Cade Stinnett, G, Sr. (Greenwood) – The best player on the best team in the region, Stinnett can do it all.

5. Andreyas Miller, G, Sr. (Franklin-Simpson) – Miller shot 52.7% from the field while attempting 15 shots a game last year.

6. Jaiden Lawrence, G, Sr. (Warren Central) – Lawrence has had a strong offseason, and should lead Central back to region.

7. Aaron Brown, F, Sr. (Greenwood) – Brown was one of the biggest surprises of 2021, and pairs well with Stinnett for 1-2 punch.

8. Sam Bowling, F, Sr. (Glasgow) – Bowling is not just a post player – he was 21/41 from three last year.

9. Nick Delk, F, Sr. (Clinton County) – Delk made just under 60% of all his shots last year.

10. Chapelle Whitney, F, Jr. (Warren Central) – The more consistent offseason should do wonders for the emerging post player.

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