I'm a little biased, but the 8th Region's better teams face the 5th Region's better teams most years, and the 8th is pretty darn successful. Since the 2016 Sweet 16, the 8th Region is 6-6 in state tournament games....the 5th is 4-6 (and 3 of those wins came during Etown's run to last year's final game).
For that matter, I'm not sure but what the top six Region 8 teams - I chose Oldham County, South Oldham, Simon Kenton, Woodford County, and Collins - over the last 6 years haven't been better than Louisville's 6th Region as well....hmmm.
You got me thinking....I've always felt the 8th was largely overlooked....but is that right? You mentioned the Fifth .....so I looked up six of the Region 8 teams: Oldham County, Collins, Woodford County, South Oldham, Simon Kenton, and Spencer County.... my logic was that if I'm really trying to compare strength vs. strength - after all, the regions send their best to be measured against other regions' best - I should compare some of the top teams over the period I'm looking at. Six teams is approximately the top third of the region....
Over the last 6 seasons, those Eighth Region teams are a combined 48-12 against Region 5 competition. As the 8th often plays the 6th Region - and I think, fare well against the well-respected 6th Region, which appears in your second tier....I note that those 8th Region teams are 57-31 against Region 6 competition during that time.
13-2 vs. Region 5: 5-0 vs. North Hardin, 3-0 vs. Central Hardin, 1-0 vs. LaRue County, 2-0 vs. Taylor County, 1-1 vs. John Hardin, 1-1 vs. Bardstown
13-5 vs. Region 6: 4-1 vs. DeSales, 3-0 vs. North Bullitt, 2-0 vs. Butler, 1-1 vs. PRP, 1-0 vs. Bullitt Central, 1-0 vs. Jeffersontown, 1-0 vs. Moore, 0-1 vs. Valley, 0-2 vs. Doss
3-3 vs. Region 5: 2-0 vs. Marion County, 1-0 vs Adair County, 0-2 vs. Bardstown, and 0-1 vs. John Hardin
9-7 vs. Region 6: 4-0 vs. North Bullitt, 2-3 vs. Bullitt East, 2-3 vs. DeSales, 1-0 vs. Valley, 0-1 vs. Doss
6-3 vs. Region 5: 1-0 vs. Marion County, 3-3 vs. Central Hardin, 2-0 vs. LaRue County, 1-0 vs. Bardstown
16-8 vs. Region 6: 5-2 vs. North Bullitt, 5-1 vs. Iroquois, 1-2 vs. DeSales, 3-1 vs. Bullitt East, 1-0 vs. Valley, 1-0 vs. Southern, 0-1 vs. Butler, 0-1 vs. Jeffersontown
Simon Kenton - long way for a northern KY team like SK to travel to the Fifth and Sixth regions....not many meetings over six seasons.
1-0 vs. Region 5: 1-0 vs. Bardstown
1-3 vs. Region 6: 1-0 vs. Evangel, 0-1 vs. PRP, 0-1 vs. DeSales, 0-1 vs. Bullitt East
3-0 vs. Region 5: 1-0 vs. Central Hardin, 1-0 vs Bardstown, and 1-0 vs. TayIor County
1-1 vs. Region 6: 1-0 vs. PRP; 0-1 vs. Evangel
Spencer County - tucked into the farthest southern reaches of Region 8, Spencer plays a lot of games against Region 5 and Region 6 competition. And they have been very successful against both.
22-4 vs. Region 5: 5-0 vs. Nelson Co., 1-0 vs. LaRue County, 5-0 vs. Bethlehem, 1-1 vs Taylor County, 1-0 vs. Elizabethtown, 2-1 vs. Bardstown, 4-0 vs.Thomas Nelson, and 1-1 vs. North Hardin, 0-1 vs. Campbellsville, 2-0 vs. Washington County
17-7 vs. Region 6: 1-0 vs. DeSales, 3-0 vs. Jeffersontown, 2-0 vs. Iroquois, 5-1 vs. Bullitt Central, 1-1 vs. PRP, 2-4 vs. Bullitt East, 3-0 vs. North Bullitt, 0-1 vs. Western
Region 8 vs. Region 5 - So....if the top third of the 8th did so well against all of the Fifth Region, how did the top third of the Fifth fare against all of the 8th? I compared the Region 8 six to the following from Region 5: North Hardin, Central Hardin, Elizabethtown, John Hardin, Bardstown, and LaRue County. I personally would have picked Adair over North Hardin, but Adair only played one game against the 8th over the last six years, losing to Collins, and North Hardin was suggested in the post, above... Only JH has a winning record against 8th Region teams over the last six years. All told, the six are a combined 18-34 against 8th Region competition over the last six seasons.
1-8 vs. Region 8: 0-5 vs. Oldham County, 0-2 vs. North Oldham, 1-1 vs. Spencer County
6-10 vs. Region 8: 1-0 vs. Gallatin County, 1-1 vs Shelby County, 3-3 vs. South Oldham, 1-0 vs. Carroll County, 0-2 vs. Anderson County, 0-3 vs. Oldham County, 0-1 vs. Woodford County
0-2 vs Region 8: 0-1 vs. Spencer County, 0-1 vs. North Oldham (Last year, Elizabethtown was scheduled to play Oldham County....too bad COVID cancelled the game....both teams won their regions and Etown went all the way to the state finals....would have been a GREAT game)
7-8 vs. Region 8: 2-2 vs. North Oldham, 1-1 vs. Oldham County, 2-0 vs. Collins, 1-0 vs. Shelby County, 1-2 vs. Spencer County, 0-1 vs South Oldham, 0-1 vs. Simon Kenton, 0-1 vs. Woodford County
0-4 vs. Region 8: 0-2 vs South Oldham, 0-1 vs. Oldham County, 0-1 vs Spencer County
4-2 vs Region 8: 1-1 vs Oldham County, 1-0 vs. Grant County, 1-0 vs. Shelby County, 1-0 vs Collins, 0-1 vs. North Oldham
CONCLUSION: Best vs. the Best, I have to conclude that, over the last six seasons, the 8th Region should be ranked a tier above the Fifth. Even if you compare just the games played between the top 6 of both regions, the 8th has a significant 26-10 advantage.
What about the Sixth? The conventional wisdom would rank the Sixth Region ahead of the 8th in any overall comparison. The Sixth is, indeed, a talented region and full of competitive basketball. But, what would a similar comparison show? I chose the following teams to compare from the Sixth: Fern Creek, PRP, Bullitt East, Jeffersontown, DeSales, and Doss. Left out some teams that have had some pretty good seasons in the last six years, such as Butler and Western. (but then again, I left out North Oldham, Walton-Verona, and Gallatin County out of the Region 8 mix, so....)
The Sixth Region compares favorably against the 8th....five of the six teams reviewed have winning records against the 8th, and overall, the six teams are 35-26 against 8th Region foes.
9-7 vs. 8th Region: 3-2 vs. Collins, 4-2 vs. Spencer County, 1-3 vs. South Oldham, 1-0 vs. Simon Kenton
4-3 vs. 8th Region: 1-0 vs. Simon Kenton, 1-0 vs. North Oldham, 1-1 vs Oldham County, 1-1 vs. Spencer County, 0-1 vs. Woodford County
3-0 vs. 8th Region: 1-0 vs. South Oldham, 1-0 vs. Simon Kenton, 1-0 vs. North Oldham
Jeffersontown - the one team among the six 6th Region teams reviewed with a losing record
3-5 vs. 8th Region: 1-0 vs. Shelby County, 1-1 vs. North Oldham, 1-0 vs. South Oldham, 0-1 vs. Oldham County, 0-3 vs. Spencer County
DeSales - a "frequent flyer" vs. 8th Region schools
12-11 vs. 8th Region: 1-0 vs. Simon Kenton, 3-2 vs Collins, 3-0 vs. Shelby County, 2-1 vs. South Oldham, 2-3 vs North Oldham, 1-4 vs Oldham County, 0-1 vs Spencer County
4-0 vs 8th Region: 2-0 vs Oldham County, 1-0 vs Walton-Verona, and 1-0 vs Collins
Conclusion: Comparing the best vs the best is somewhat of a wash when comparing the top third of the 8th Region over the last 6 years vs the top third of the 6th Region over the last 6 years. Both groups of six have been successful against the other region. (The Region 8 teams were a combined 57-31 against the entirety of the Sixth.....the Region 6 teams were a combined 35-26 against the entirety of the 8th Region...) Comparing the records of the top six of each region against ONLY the top six of the other region over the last six years results in a near dead-heat; the Sixth Region holds a slight 26-23 advantage there.
Final Thoughts: Based on the last six years, I would have the 8th Region in a tier above the Fifth Region, and in the same tier as the 6th Region
(that was actually very fun - and interesting....)