4th Region Final Rankings and Postseason Preview (2-22-20)

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    Final Rankings and Postseason Preview

    1) Warren Central (22-6)
    High Rank - 1, Low Rank - 2, Average Rank - 1

    The season experienced a bit of a lull at its midpoint, but ultimately two-time defending region champion Warren Central ended up where it began – at the top of our rankings and as the region favorites. The Dragons raced out of the gates with a 3-0 start, knocking off preseason 3rd Region favorites Owensboro and showing off the three-point attack that would come to define their offense. Then came the lull, beginning with their worst loss of the year, falling 49-48 at home to Glasgow on a buzzer beater. Central would ultimately stumble through an 8-6 stretch against tough opponents, bottoming out in two blowout losses to John Hardin and Bowling Green. But the latter loss remains their last to date. Central has reeled off 11 consecutive wins, their longest streak in six years, and were the outright regular season district champions for the first time since that same 2013/14 season. The Dragons put up a lot of points, averaging 68.79 PPG – their highest season total since the 2012/13 season. The crux of that approach is a steady stream of three-point attempts. The Dragons average 24 attempts per game, accounting for roughly 45% of all their shots. Both Tay Smith and Kobe Brents rank in the top 25 in the state for three point makes per game at 2.9 and 2.8 respectively. Six different Dragons have made 17 or more three pointers on the season. When it’s not a three going up, it is usually region player of the year Dre Boyd doing the scoring – his 161 makes inside the perimeter are the most on the team by 93. His 18.4 PPG average is among the highest in the region, and he almost single handedly brought the Dragons back in their win over Bowling Green in late January, scoring 20 in the third quarter alone. Geovonni Floyd also does his damage inside, and is in the top 10 in the state for field goal percentage among qualified players. The Dragons are talented, veteran, and deep – and playing their best ball of the year. They are definitely vulnerable when they are unable to make their three-point shots, going 7/40 in their losses to John Hardin and Bowling Green, and one of the key parts of their lull was a sudden lack of defense. In four of their six losses, Central allowed over 70 points. Still, the Dragons have the profile of a frontrunner. They open the district with the winner of South Warren and Warren East. The tournament is at South Warren, and the host is expected to be their opponent, which may prove a little tricky. But ultimately, our prediction is that Central wins the region for the third straight year, and ends Bowling Green’s six year stint as district champions.

    2) Bowling Green (22-7)
    High Rank - 1, Low Rank - 3, Average Rank - 2

    Unlike Central, which bookended a rough patch with strong play, the Purples were the exact opposite. Their 15 game winning streak from mid-December to late-January was their longest since their state title campaign in 2017, but the bookends combined for just a 7-7 record. That includes a rare losing streak entering the postseason. The Purples lost their final two games of the regular season for the first time in 16 years. The loss to Ballard was understandable, but the home loss to Hopkinsville was definitely a head scratcher. Despite that, Bowling Green is a solid #2 and near co-favorite for the region crown. Averaging nearly 65 PPG, the Purples feature a mold that you could practically find in any of the last 13 years. They play aggressive defense, frequently with full-court pressure, and use their transition game to fuel their offensive attack, looking to get to the rim. Bowling Green attempts a three on only 28.18% of their field goals, choosing instead to go inside, where they hit nearly 52% of their shots. First-team all-region selection Isaiah Mason (a top selection for the second straight year) leads the way, averaging 16.2 PPG. Still just a junior, Mason has a strong mid-range game, and with his length he is tough to match up with properly. His 9.3 rebounds per game leads the team and rates him in the top 40 for the state. Junior Cobi Huddleston is a stronger defensive presence than offensive, but in a region without a lot of big men in the post, he has been known to bully his way to the basket when given the chance. When Bowling Green does shoot outside, sophomore Turner Buttry (11.8 PPG) has proven deadly accurate. A third-team all-region selection, Buttry is shooting 52.6% from three. Third-leading scorer Conner Cooper (10.8 PPG) compliments well from outside as well, knocking down a 42.4% clip. Perpetually young in the last few years, the Purples still don’t have a strong veteran presence, with only reserve Dorian Morrison seeing significant time. With the loss of Jordan Dingle to preseason surgery, Bowling Green typically is only going about 8 deep, so if a team can get into their depth by drawing some fouls, it can cause more problems than years past. Bowling Green lost only a pair of region games, but one was to their district semifinal opponent, Greenwood. That was way back in December, on the road, and their 42 points in that game represented a season low. They proved much more resilient in two home matchups with the Gators (one in a Christmas tourney), scoring 58 and 71 in winning both games. The Purples were just 1/16 from three in their loss, falling behind early and never recovering. A strong start will be crucial for BG, but they are rarely lulled into that many attempts from the perimeter, and if they attack the rim, another trip to the region tournament should be in the offing. They have made six consecutive region finals, and as mentioned each year (until it doesn’t happen), they have not failed to make the finals of a region tournament they advanced to since 2004 – 12 straight appearances. The 2012/13 season when they lost to Warren Central in the district semifinals is the only season they didn’t make the region finals in the last 12 seasons. Our prediction is that they keep that streak alive, reaching the finals, but falling to Central for the third straight year.

    3) Logan County (25-3)
    High Rank - 3, Low Rank - 7, Average Rank - 4

    With apologies to Warren Cunningham, who won the KABC COY award for the region, John Tinsley’s job with this Cougar team demanded that recognition, and it was a shame he didn’t get it. Logan County started the year 4-3, but reeled off 21 wins in a row entering the postseason, good enough for the second longest streak in school history. The streak they’re chasing, a 24 game win streak that ran the final 22 games of their state title season in 1983-84 into the start of the next year, is in real jeopardy. The Cougars are overwhelming favorites in District 13, going 6-0 in district play and winning all but one of their matchups by double digits. Their 70.32 PPG leads the region, as does their 17.39 PPG average margin of victory. They went 15-0 in region play, the only unbeaten team in region play – no one else even had as few as one loss. The only game in which they did not score at least 65 points during their winning streak was a 50-49 win over Barren County on January 28th, where they were missing 1st Team all-region selection Anthony Woodard. The Cougars score, they play defense, they win. They are very balanced, with three players averaging between 13.2 and 14.0 PPG, and three others averaging between 8.6 and 9.5 PPG. Jay Hardison leads the team with 14.0 PPG and his 3.7 three pointers per game is #4 in the entire state. He leads the team in three-point percentage (44.8%) despite attempting 125 more than any other player on the team. And he wasn’t even one of the all-region selections. Aforementioned Anthony Woodard comes in at 13.6 PPG. The combo guard-forward is most definitely the most talented player on the team, and the most likely to see the ball in a crunch-time situation. Second-team selection Jose Nazario, a transfer from Puerto Rico, may prove to have been the missing link for the Cougars in their pursuit of a region title. The guard is third on the team with 13.2 PPG, and gave the team yet another strong scoring option, making just under 58% of all attempts. Nazario also leads the team with 8 rebounds per game. Scoring inside, scoring outside, and strong scoring depth – that’s very much a region contender. Their run to the region semifinals last year may prove critical to get them the experience in the tournament atmosphere they need. It also helps that they have easily the clearest path to the region tournament of any team in the region, facing a Russellville squad they beat by 35 and 28 this year. If there is any knock on the Cougars at all, it is that we haven’t seen what they can do against Warren Central or Bowling Green, as neither were on their schedule this year. Logan County fell against both last season, and have lost 14 in a row against the Dragons and 9 in a row against the Purples. Logan County did take down the other three District 14 teams – all at home – culminating with a 75-66 win over Greenwood on February 11th. Even without facing the favorites, it is clear to see that this team is for real, and probably the only team outside the 14th District that I’d feel comfortable in saying I can really see them cutting down the nets. It would help the Cougars greatly if they saw only one District 14 opponent (or hey, NONE), or if they had to face both, if they didn’t have to do it back to back. Given the right circumstances, the Cougars can make a run to the title or at least a runner-up appearance, but our prediction is that they will bow out in the region semifinals against one of the two teams above.

    4) Barren County (21-8)
    High Rank - 4 Low Rank - 7, Average Rank - 5

    Now, even though I’d have given the COY to John Tinsley, actual winner Warren Cunningham has done a splendid job with this Trojan team. A preseason dark horse, the Trojans started just 7-6, but closed with 14 wins in their final 16 games. One of those two losses was a one-point road loss at Logan County. They turned a five-point loss to Glasgow just prior to that run into a 17-point victory against the wounded Scotties at the end of the month, riding momentum to a 5-1 record in the 15th District and ultimately, the top seed in the district tournament. Barren County averages a healthy 65 PPG, and has not lost the entire season when they hit that mark. The team is led by first-team all-region selection Aden Nyekan. Last year we tabbed Nyekan as the future star for the team – the sophomore has arrived. Nyekan carries a 16.7 PPG average, leading the team with 7 rebounds per game as well. Nyekan has a strong inside presence, making almost 54% of his shots. Joining him in inside attack is senior Will Bandy, adding 13.5 PPG and 6.3 rebounds per game as well. Bandy is not afraid to step outside and shoot from the perimeter as well, leading the team by percentage with 44.9% accuracy from three. Jacob Shaw is the biggest volume shooter from three for the Trojans, leading the team with 48 makes and 39.3% accuracy. Like Bowling Green, their focus is much more on getting to the rim with more of a post focused attack. Barren County boasts one of the region’s top scoring defenses, holding opponents to just 53 PPG. The Trojans are looking to return to the region tournament for the first time since 2017, and will open with Monroe County. Barren County knocked off the Falcons in both meetings this season, winning by 10 at home in December before gutting out a 47-45 victory on the road on January 20th. That game was won on an Aden Nyekan buzzer beater layup. Barren County has really come on since that matchup, but it is a reminder that though they are the top seed, they are not an unimpeachable favorite. We expect them to win their, take the district, and bow out in the region semifinals on their return to the region tournament.

    5) Greenwood (17-13)
    High Rank - 2, Low Rank - 8, Average Rank - 3

    There are many years that Greenwood can be said to be up and down, but this season, they were almost inexplicable at times. The Gator starting lineup may well be the most talented in the entire region. Three of their starters were named to the all-region team. And yet….. they are just 17-13. They announced their presence with an 85-70 win over Glasgow in the second game of the season, and then promptly lost to a Russell County team that is frankly, not supposed to be in their league. They followed that with a loss to Allen County-Scottsville, and then reeled off four straight wins, including a road win over Clinton County and knocking off Bowling Green for the first time in seven years. And then they lost to Franklin-Simpson. All of that was in the first nine games – a microcosm of their entire year. Like many recent years, Greenwood seems destined to be the team you most believe could win the region tournament outside the favorites – if only they could get out of their own district tournament. Cade Stinnett, yet another super soph in the region – leads the team with 15.3 PPG. An athletic guard and second-team all-region selection, Stinnett leads the team in field goal percentage, making 50.3% of his attempts. He has been easily the most consistent scorer for the team. Some of that is due to the focus paid to Ben Carroll. The big man has been the team-leader, and is second on the team with 12.6 PPG. Also a second-team all-region selection, Carroll leads the team in rebounding, and they are at their best when the offense flows through him. That doesn’t always mean he is taking the shot, but Carroll is a talented distributor, a consistent outside threat (39.4%), as well as one of the best ball-handlers. That being said, the team might never be more dangerous than when Noah Stansbury is on fire. A third-team all-region selection, Stansbury is what you expect out of a coach’s son. He’s a good shooter (75/196 from three), a fantastic free throw shooter (85.3%), and plays with high basketball IQ. It’s not an accident that in their victory over Bowling Green that he came out on fire, burying the Purples with four threes and dropping in 24 points. He dropped 26 in their second meeting on 8/10 shooting from three, making fully half of the shots Greenwood made in a game they struggled. If he can get hot from three, anything can happen. Of course, the Gators allow 60 PPG as well – very uncharacteristic of the team over the year. It’s not likely at all they can beat Bowling Green allowing that many. They’ll open the postseason with the Purples, a team they’ve beaten just twice in the last 11 years, and both of those were at home. It’s our prediction that they are unable to get the job done in the postseason away from home, falling in the district semifinals. But if they can find their way past that game, there’s a great chance Greenwood could make their way to the region finals. Or lose in the first round of region. Seriously, it’s all possible with Greenwood.

    6) Clinton County (21-7)
    High Rank - 6, Low Rank - 12, Average Rank - 8

    The final team in these rankings with 20+ wins, Clinton County’s journey was much like that of Barren County. They had a bit of a rocky start, entering the new year with a 9-5 record, but closed strong with 12 wins in their final 14 games. The early part of the year can perhaps be chalked up to the lack of Jackson Harlan, the prolific scorer who graduated after taking POY honors last season. In his absence, the Bulldogs have been winning almost exclusively on the back of defense. Their 55 PPG average is well below that of their 20-win peers, but they lead the region in scoring defense, allowing only 49.42 PPG. They have won 15 of their 21 games scoring less than 60 points, a bit of an oddity in the modern game. It’s incredibly impressive, but it also makes them vulnerable. That allowed them to take losses such as a 46-45 result against Franklin-Simpson in December, and an almost unthinkable 52-50 loss to Metcalfe County in the region’s All “A” Classic in January. That loss was their only one to a district opponent, though it did not count in the official district standings. They wrapped up the top seed in the district before that game was even played. Chase Stines leads the team with 15.7 PPG, the only Bulldog averaging in double digits. He also leads the team with 5 rebounds per game. In a bit of an oddity, they will end up playing Metcalfe County in the 1/4 game, matching them against the only team that beat them in the district – a win that ultimately was Metcalfe County’s only win in the district. The Hornets have not looked great lately, making it rather unlikely that the upset will be pulled twice. Our prediction is that Clinton County wins their district, but exits in the region semifinals – unless they happen to face one of the above teams in the first round. Which, Clinton County has a habit of finding poor region draws.

    7) Glasgow (14-13)
    High Rank - 3, Low Rank - 9, Average Rank - 7

    Finally, the sad story of Glasgow. Their high hopes for the season took an almost immediate detour when Tucker Kirkpatrick suffered a knee injury in their season opener against Monroe County. It was a harbinger of things to come. Kirkpatrick was just the first of several Scotties to deal with ailments over the season, as starters Bowen Haney and Jaden Franklin have also missed time – Franklin missed nearly a month. Everyone is back now, though Kirkpatrick is clearly limited. This all led to a 1-3 start for Glasgow that snowballed until they were 10-13, falling at home to Allen County-Scottsville to fall to #2 in the district standings. They have rebounded with four straight wins and finally as healthy as they could hope to be, but their development and flow has been completely shot. They are the most likely of any team to come from completely off the radar to make a run due to their talent, but they may never get the chance, having to open at Allen County-Scottsville in the district tournament. The team did place two on the all-region squad, with Jaden Franklin making the second team while Nick Sorrell got his second straight nod on the first-team. Sorrell averaged 19.1 PPG this year, trying to single-handedly lift the team as everyone around him got hurt. It was Sorrell who hit the game winner in their road win over Warren Central, the shining moment of the season to this point. The Scotties have the talent to do something, but it’s hard to see it coming together now. Our prediction is a district runner-up finish to Barren County, and a region quarterfinal exit.

    8) Franklin-Simpson (13-14)
    High Rank - 7, Low Rank - 11, Average Rank - 9

    The Wildcats have felt like they were “this close” at times this season. Franklin has had some top-notch wins, knocking off Clinton County, Greenwood, Owensboro, and South Warren. They’ve not really had a terrible loss since falling to Monroe County in the season opener, but the games they’ve lost, they’ve often been completely obliterated. That includes a three game home stretch that saw them lose to Logan County, Barren County, and Bowling Green by 14, 27, and 27. Franklin features a full-court pressure attack that can get them back into games, as it did in a double digit comeback at Clinton County back in a 46-45 win in December. The Wildcats don’t shoot particularly well, making just 42.7% of all shots and just over 29% from the perimeter. DeMarco Chatman was a third-team all-region selection, averaging 12.4 PPG and leading the team in rebounds with 6.4 per game. Kyjuan Stutzman leads the team with 14.7 PPG, owing to his volume from three. Franklin has only had one real winning streak, winning four in a row to open January. They are 4-3 in their last seven games, but other than that win streak, have won two in a row only one other time. They should have little trouble with Todd County Central in their district opener, winning their first two matchups by 13 and 24, but they should finish as runner-up to Logan County and exit in the first round of region.

    9) South Warren (15-14)
    High Rank - 5, Low Rank - 9, Average Rank - 6

    I’ve frequently described South Warren as a dangerous team – and they are very much in the same way that Greenwood can be. But they are every bit as inconsistent as the Gators. The only thing consistent about the Spartan program is their .500 play. The team enters the postseason at 15-14, needing just a win over Warren East in the 4/5 district game to grab their second winning season in the last seven years. But this is a team that hasn’t entered the postseason with less than 14 losses since their opening season 9 years ago. They haven’t won more than 16 games in a season since then either. Six of the previous eight seasons for South Warren have seen them within two games of .500 in either direction, and the other two were way on the losing side. It’s hard to explain, because this program has real talent. Jace Carver averages 15 PPG, and shoots 39.2% from three. When he gets hot, as he did in a furious near-comeback over Bowling Green, they can be a real load to handle. Caleb Mitchell-Franklin (13.2 PPG) has really impressed me each time I’ve seen South Warren in person. The team has strong guard play, always has one of two guys with size, but never seems to put it all together. This year is no different, as the team has lost 8 of their last 12 coming into the postseason. Big plus for the squad – they host the district tournament. They open with Warren East, and will easily win that game, but then will face a surging Warren Central squad. South led at the end of the first quarter and at halftime of their home matchup with Central, ultimately falling by five. If they can get into a rhythm, they can absolutely pull the upset. But for a team that has never won a district semifinal, you really can’t predict that happening until you see it the first time – especially not against the region favorites.

    10) Allen County-Scottsville (14-14)
    High Rank - 7, Low Rank - 11, Average Rank - 10

    The Patriots suffered some big graduation losses from last year’s surprise success team, and while they’ve flashed at moments, has mostly been a middle of the pack team for the region. Third-team all-region selection Mason Shirley has been a consistently good player for the Patriots, leading them with 15.7 PPG. But the junior hasn’t quite taken the leap forward that was expected after a strong sophomore campaign, likely owing to increased attention. He is joined in double digit scoring by Jax Cooper (12.4 PPG) and Owen Stamper (10.4 PPG). But the team will go as Shirley goes. Against Glasgow, he scored a then-career high 35 points to steal a road victory in overtime, pulling the Scotties into a district tournament matchup with them. Three days later, he dropped 39 on Metcalfe County in a double overtime victory. He had just five in a 34-point loss to Warren Central five days later. Shirley will likely need to be superhuman again for the Patriots to beat Glasgow. I just don’t think it happens.

    11) Russell County (13-16)
    High Rank - 9, Low Rank - 14, Average Rank - 11

    Russell County saw an improved season after last year saw them miss the region tournament for the first time, but the Lakers remain far off the radar for contenders. Scott Hamm (14.4 PPG) and Briley Hadley (11.9 PPG) lead an offensive attack that averages 56 PPG. They’ll host a Cumberland County team that they split the regular season with, with each team winning their road matchup. This game will be at tournament host Russell County, which despite the unusual road team trend in their regular season series, bodes well for the Lakers. It seems unlikely they would lose twice at home to the Panthers, so the prediction is for Russell County to get back to region. But that’s all they’ll do.

    12) Monroe County (10-17)
    High Rank - 10, Low Rank - 13, Average Rank - 13

    The Falcons have their work cut out for them against Barren County, though they did play the Trojans to a 47-45 decision when they last met in January. The Falcons have closed out the regular season with just three wins in their final 12 games, and have fallen in three straight. Grayson Rich leads the team with 16.2 PPG, with Kale Hagan chipping in 11.1 PPG. The Falcons have frequently had trouble generating offense, with only one game in their last seven topping 70 points. Six of their ten wins this year came at home – our prediction is that they cannot pull the upset of Barren County away from the friendly confines.

    13) Metcalfe County (15-14)
    High Rank - 9, Low Rank - 13, Average Rank - 12

    The last month of the season derailed what was looking like a really great story for the Hornets. It’s still a good story, but one goal I was personally hoping for them – their first winning season in nine years – appears to be a longshot with Clinton County looming. The Hornets have fallen to this position with just two wins in their last nine games, turning 13-7 into 15-14. This will still be remembered as a year that Metcalfe County upset Clinton County and captured the 4th Region All “A” title, winning a game in the state tournament as well, even if the other goals don’t fall into place. Junior guard Boston Devore worked his way into a second-team all-region selection, posting 18.6 PPG to lead the squad. Peyton Dial (14.7 PPG) also averages in double figures. Metcalfe County features a three-point heavy attack, averaging almost 21 attempts per game, so if they get hot, they can be giant slayers. But it looks like they’ll bow out against Clinton County in the district semifinals.

    14) Warren East (6-20)
    High Rank - 11, Low Rank - 17, Average Rank - 14

    Warren East is seeking their first region tournament appearance in 23 years, but it’s all but an impossibility. The Raiders have stumbled to their worst record in almost a decade, going winless in district play and reaching 20 losses for the first time since 2010/11. Kaleb Matlock (10.5 PPG) and Isaiah Andrews (10.0 PPG) are the only players averaging in double figures for East. They fell by 22 and 26 to their first opponent South Warren, allowing 83 when they played South Warren on the road, which is where they’ll be in this one. With 19 straight district losses, there is no realistic way to believe they’ll win two straight now.

    15) Cumberland County (6-20)
    High Rank - 15, Low Rank - 17, Average Rank – T-15

    Dawson Smith leads a Cumberland County squad that averages 58.2 PPG, with Smith chipping in 16.9 per game. He averages a double-double, with his 10.1 rebounds per game coming in as tops in the region. The Panthers went 4-13 in region play, but 3-3 in their district. That included a surprising sweep of Metcalfe County, and a split with district tournament opponent Russell County. Their win was a 59-52 result at Russell County, who also hosts them in the district tourney. While that all sounds good, it seems unlikely the Panthers would be able to do that twice, and they enter at 2-8 since that win over Russell County on January 10th. Their road ends here.

    16) Todd County Central (6-21)
    High Rank - 15, Low Rank - 17, Average Rank - 17

    The Rebels just couldn’t get much going this year, winning their first two games but then losing 14 in a row afterwards. They did manage to knock off Russellville twice, getting two district wins, with the last an 80-78 win in double overtime. They fared worse against district tournament opponent Franklin-Simpson, dropping those games by 13 and 24. They’ll lose again here to close their season.

    17) Russellville (6-20)
    High Rank - 14, Low Rank - 17, Average Rank – T-15

    The Panthers won their first three games of the season, but have not won two in a row since, and enter the postseason on a nine game losing streak. Russellville went 0-6 in district play, and 0-10 in region play. Jaquis Todd has been a bright spot, averaging 16.3 PPG, but there is no scenario where Russellville upsets first round opponent Logan County, even at home. The Cougars started Russellville’s losing streak with an 82-54 result on January 31st. This will likely be more of the same.

    Top Players in the 4th Region

    1. Dre Boyd, G, Sr. (Warren Central) – Voted the POY by both the 4th Region coaches and the KABC. Boyd is physical on both offense and defense, and is deadly when he gets inside.

    2. Isaiah Mason, G, Jr. (Bowling Green) – Mason is as steady as they come, leading the Purples in scoring and rebounding.

    3. Nick Sorrell, G, Sr. (Glasgow) – Finished as one of the best scorers in the region despite a revolving door in his supporting cast this season. Sorrell is a player whose desire to win is always apparent.

    4. Ben Carroll, F, Sr. (Greenwood) – Carroll may not have the flashy scoring average, but he possesses all the intangibles while providing the ability to do anything you want on offense and defense.

    5. Aden Nyekan, F, So. (Barren County) – This is your future POY in the region. Nyekan is just a joy to watch play basketball.

    6. Turner Buttry, G, So. (Bowling Green) – A deadly marksman from three and an incredible distributor, Buttry may actually be the key to Bowling Green’s success.

    7. Anthony Woodard, F, Jr. (Logan County) – Woodard is just so smooth on the court, and an incredible athlete.

    8. Tay Smith, G, Sr. (Warren Central) – One of the top three-point shooters in the state, Smith has an incredibly quick trigger from the perimeter, and his length is great for defense and rebounding.

    9. Jose Nazario, G, Sr. (Logan County) – Nazario’s addition to Logan County pushed them from good to great.

    10. Cade Stinnett, G, So. (Greenwood) – Another talented sophomore, Stinnett will be Greenwood’s go-to guy the next two seasons.
    Last edited by DragonFire; Feb 24, 20 at 10:45 AM.

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