Lest anyone think that Fern Creek and Butler have separated themselves from the rest of the Sixth Region, in the last week of the regular season Fern Creek needed overtime to beat the Doss Dragons and Butler lost to the Jeffersontown Chargers. So I guess we will let things sort themselves out on the court in the post season, which starts in the Sixth Region tomorrow with games in the 21st, 22nd, and 23rd district. It looks like there will be some interesting games this week in the district tournaments. I hope every high school basketball fan can get out and see some of the action this week.
FINAL TEAM RANKINGS
1. Fern Creek Tigers (23-6)
The Tigers won both of the games they played this week but they needed overtime to beat Doss 76-72. With this week’s two wins (the other was a 69-39 win over Valley), Fern Creek has won 10 in a row and 16 of its last 17. It also sports a 12-0 record against fellow Sixth Region members. Even with the Tigers needing overtime to beat the Doss Dragons this week, it would be hard not to view Fern Creek as the favorite to win the Sixth Region title this year. And while this is not the time to be looking ahead to next year, it is interesting to note that all of the Tigers’ significant contributors are underclassmen. Fern Creek takes on Whitefield Academy to open play in the 24th district tournament on Wednesday.
2. Butler Bears (17-9)
Butler has had an outstanding season but ended the season 3-3 in its last 6 games. Of course, the 3 losses were all to good teams – Madisonville-North Hopkins, Fern Creek, and Jeffersontown. In addition, leading scorer Trey Minter, recently named the Sixth Region Player of the Year and finalist for Mr. Basketball, has been slowed by a groin injury during that stretch. After missing a couple games entirely, Minter returned in the second half of Butler’s regular season-ending 64-54 loss to J’Town, but his status going forward is one of the keys to the Bears’ post season success, which starts for Butler with a match up against Doss in the 22nd district tournament on Tuesday.
3. Jeffersontown Chargers (18-7)
J’Town had quite the interesting week. Brandon Rayzor-Moore had 24 points against Fairdale, but the Chargers fell to the Bulldogs 75-70. Whatever disappointment the Chargers felt from that game was quickly wiped away when J’Town finished the regular season with an impressive 64-54 win over the Butler Bears. So what does that mean for the post season, which starts for the Chargers with a 24th district tournament semi-final game against Bullitt East? I think it means that J’Town could beat a lot of teams, but also that it could lose to a lot of teams. So we’ll see.
4. Pleasure Ridge Park Panthers (18-9)
The Panthers went 3-0 in the final week of the season, beating Manual (63-60), Beth Haven (103-70), and Pekin (IN) Eastern (87-42). Led by senior point guard James Taylor, PRP is a talented bunch that can beat teams like Ballard (96-87, on January 3). It could be an exciting post season for the Panthers, who start the post season on Wednesday when they will take on either Valley or Beth Haven.
5. DeSales Colts (16-10)
The Colts beat Iroquois (60-56) and Christian Academy (68-58) in this last week of the regular season but then dropped its last game of the regular season to North Oldham by a narrow 59-57 margin. Junior Sekou Kalle is averaging a double-double (15.9 ppg, 10.9 rpg) on the season and will lead DeSales into the post season, where the Colts will face the winner of the Iroquois-Western contest in the 22nd district tournament.
6. Doss Dragons (17-11)
The Dragons played well but dropped both of the games they played in the regular season’s final week. After falling to Eastern 63-49, Doss took the top-ranked Fern Creek Tigers into overtime before losing 76-72. That results suggests that the Dragons can compete with anyone in the Sixth Region, and I think that is the case. On the other hand, the prior week’s loss to Western suggests there are a number of teams that can beat the Dragons, and I think that also is the case. Doss has a challenging first round game in the 22nd district tournament when they take on the Butler Bears.
7. Bullitt East Chargers (13-15)
After losing to Fern Creek 51-48 on January 10, Bullitt East stood 3-13. I don’t know what Coach Jason Couch did during the following week in which Bullitt East did not play because they did not qualify for the LIT, but whatever it was, it worked. The Chargers have gone 10-2 since then, and the two losses were to Jeffersontown 71-51 on February 4 and a respectable 71-64 loss to Elizabethtown during the regular season’s last week. Bullitt East has a shot at revenge against J’Town when the Chargers take on the Chargers in a 24th district semi-final match up.
8. North Bullitt Eagles (22-8)
North Bullitt has had a tremendous season. It has won its last 5 games, including games this week against Fairdale (95-93, in overtime), Meade County (73-59), and Brown (91-51). The Eagles’ 22 wins are more than double last year’s 9 wins and is only one away from the Eagles’ 23 wins in the 2015-16 season, the most wins in school history. It is easy to see why his fellow Sixth Region coaches voted Coach Alex Young the Sixth Region Coach of the Year. North Bullitt will face the winner of the Moore-Evangel Christian match up in a 23rd district semi-final game.
9. Holy Cross Cougars (16-11)
The Cougars fell to Western early in the final week of the regular season by a 86-72 margin but then ended the regular season with a 51-40 win over Bardstown Bethlehem. Senior Sam Bearden has had an outstanding season for the Cougars, averaging 18.4 ppg and 7.5 rpg according to the latest statistics on the KHSAA scoreboard. Bearden will lead the Cougars into battle against the Fairdale Bulldogs in a semi-final game in the 21st district tournament.
10. Fairdale Bulldogs (14-13)
Fairdale is an interesting story going into the 21st district tournament. Senior Hunter McCutcheon just recently was declared eligible and Stephen Moore has returned to the team. Both players can score in bunches; McCutcheon has hit for over 30 in a couple of games and Moore is averaging 18.5 ppg in the games in which he has played this season. Throw in Tyjuan Walter’s 14.1 ppg and you’ve got a team with multiple offensive options. I watched the Bulldogs suffer a heartbreaking overtime loss to Collegiate 69-66 when Fairdale led by 11 with just a little over a minute left in regulation. That night the Bulldogs looked like they were still trying to figure out how all the pieces should fit together. Fairdale regrouped to beat Bullitt Central 78-68 to end the regular season. Fairdale takes on Holy Cross in the 21st district tournament.
11. Western Warriors (15-13)
Western finished the regular season on a strong note, beating Holy Cross 86-72 and Moore 77-74 in the final week. Senior BAngelo Anderson, who was averaging 14.6 in the 10 games in which he had played going into the Holy Cross game, exploded for 41 points against Holy Cross. Western has guaranteed that it will have a winning record this season, which is always a nice accomplishment. The Warriors face Iroquois in the 22nd district tournament Monday night.
12. Iroquois Raiders (16-14)
The Raiders split the two games they played in the final week of the regular season, beating Atherton 72-63 but falling to Southern 70-64. Iroquois is guaranteed to have a winning season and its 16 wins is a big improvement from last season’s 7-win total. Quintel Walter has had a huge year for the Raiders, averaging 23.2 ppg. Iroquois takes on Western in the opening round match up of the 22nd district tournament.
13. Moore Mustangs (9-16)
Moore dropped both of the games it played this week, falling to St. X (74-58) and Western (77-74). The Mustangs’ 9-16 record may not be very impressive, but the Mustangs played a pretty tough schedule; their out-of-district opponents included teams like John Harden, Henry Clay, and Waggener. Moore opens play in the 23rd district tournament with a first round game against Evangel Christian.
14. Bullitt Central Cougars (9-20)
Bullitt Central lost to Oldham County 87-54 and Fairdale 78-68 in the regular season’s final week. The Cougars have taken a step back from last season’s 23-11 season, but the post season brings new opportunities for all teams, including the Cougars. The Cougars will hit the floor on Wednesday when they take on the Southern Trojans in a 23rd district tournament semi-final game.
15. Valley Vikings (6-20)
The Vikings went 1-3 in the regular season’s final week. The win was a 69-57 victory over Shawnee, while the three losses were all to good teams (Collegiate, Fern Creek and Seneca). The Vikings will have a good opportunity for some post season success when they take on the Beth Haven Bearcats in the first round of the 21st district tournament.
16. Southern Trojans (6-17)
Southern had a tremendous last week of the regular season. It included a loss to the Butler Bears, which was expected, by it was only by a respectable 78-62 margin. The Trojans followed that up with a solid 70-64 win over Iroquois. Southern will look to continue its good play when they face Bullitt Central in a 23rd district tournament semi-final game.
17. Whitefield Academy Wildcats (14-13)
Whitefield beat Portland Christian 76-56 but fell to Fort Knox 58-54 in the last week of the regular season. Trevor Nauert, a Whitefield Academy stalwart for a long time, is averaging 19.5 ppg in this, his senior year. The Wildcats have an opportunity to grab everyone’s attention when they take on the Fern Creek Tigers in the 24th district tournament on Wednesday.
18. Beth Haven Bearcats (10-16)
The Bearcats beat Fort Knox 60-52 in their final game of the regular season to claim their 10th win of the season. That’s a step forward for Beth Haven, who won 6 games in each of the last two seasons. The Bearcats face the Valley Vikings on Monday in the first round of the 24th district tournament.
19. Evangel Christian Eagles (3-19)
The Eagles went 0-4 this week to finish the season with 3 wins. Evangel Christian plays the Moore Mustangs in the first round of the 23rd district tournament on Monday.
1. Jaden Rogers, junior, Fern Creek
Point guard and leading scorer (17.1 ppg) for the top-ranked Fern Creek Tigers. Leads the KHSAA in free throw shooting at 87%.
2. Sekou Kalle, junior, DeSales
Big man averaging a double-double – 15.9 ppg and 10.9 rpg. Shoots 64% from the field.
3. Zek Montgomery, junior, Fern Creek
Productive wing player for the Tigers. Averaging 14.8 ppg.
4. Trey Minter, senior, Butler
KABC Sixth Region Player of the Year averaging 15 ppg. Groin injury slowed him down late in the season.
5. Logan Steinmacher, senior, North Bullitt
Leading scorer for the Eagles at 20.4 ppg. KABC Player of the Year runner-up.
6. Darius Washington, junior, Fern Creek
Inside presence for the Tigers averaging 8.6 ppg and 6.6 rpg.
7. Jadon Lamb, senior, Butler
Averaging 13.8 ppg for the Bears. Shooting 53.4% from the field.
8. Zak Perdew, senior, Bullitt East
Solid senior year for the Chargers’ leading scorer, averaging 18.7 ppg.
9. Quintel Walter, senior, Iroquois
Leading scorer in the Sixth Region at 23.2 ppg.
10. Sam Bearden, senior, Holy Cross
Completing outstanding career for the Cougars by averaging 18.4 ppg and 7.5 rpg in his senior season.
SPECIAL RECOGNITION: Only recently becoming eligible and playing in only 7 seven games, Fairdale senior Hunter McCutcheon is averaging over 25 ppg. Certainly someone to watch in the post season.
DISTRICT TOURNAMENT PREVIEWS
It has been a good year in the Sixth Region, with lots of competitive games. I expect that trend to continue when district play starts this week. Each district has at least one game I think will be close. It may be that all the higher-ranked teams will advance to the Sixth Region tournament, but the road there will not be easy for some.
Valley and Beth Haven face off Monday night in the first round of the 21st district tournament. The Vikings and Bearcats played on December 6, with Valley prevailing 91-52. I expect Valley to prevail once again.
Pleasure Ridge Park awaits the winner of that game. The Panthers had their way against both teams this season, so look for PRP to advance to the district final and a spot in the Sixth Region tournament.
Holy Cross and Fairdale face off in the other semi-final game. Holy Cross beat Fairdale 67-60 when these teams played on December 13, but the recent addition of Hunter McCutcheon to Fairdale’s roster makes the Bulldogs a new team. I think this one is a toss-up.
Monday’s opening game of the 22nd district tournament pits the Iroquois Raiders against the Western Warriors. When these teams met on January 24, Iroquois came out on top by a 82-72 margin. That would suggest that Iroquois will advance from that game, but Western has played pretty well at times, such as when it beat Doss 70-65. This should be a good game.
The winner of that Iroquois-Western match up will face DeSales in the semi-finals. DeSales is the no. 1 seed by virtue of its 4-0 district record that includes a 55-51 win over Butler on January 7. DeSales beat both Iroquois and Western in the regular season, but the win over Iroquois just last week was by only a 4-point margin (60-56). Still, I have liked DeSales all year and believe the Colts will advance to the district finals and therefore also the Sixth Region tournament.
Butler plays Doss in the other semi-final. Doss has had a good season and is playing well, losing by just 4 in overtime to Fern Creek this past week, but Butler is the better team, I think. Look for the Bears to advance.
The 23rd district tournament opens up Monday night with the Moore Mustangs taking on the Evangel Christian Eagles. Those teams did not play in the regular season, but Moore is likely to advance out of that game.
The winner of that game will take on the no. 1 seed North Bullitt Eagles on Wednesday. North Bullitt beat Moore 65-58 on December 10, a result that suggests this game might be a good one. I think North Bullitt is likely to prevail, but I will be following this one.
The other Wednesday night semi-final pits the Bullitt Central Cougars against the Southern Trojans. The regular season game between these teams resulted in a 64-54 Bullitt Central win. This is another game that I think might be a good one. Should be a good Wednesday night at Moore.
The region’s only 4-team district, the 24th district tournament kicks off on Wednesday with two semi-final games. The first game pits the region’s top-ranked Fern Creek Tigers playing the Whitefield Academy Wildcats. Fern Creek won 89-62 when these teams played on December 16. I expect a similar result this upcoming week.
The second game has Jeffersontown playing Bullitt East. The J’Town Chargers beat the Bullitt East Chargers 71-51 when they played on February 4. I feel pretty good about predicting a Chargers victory in this one.