BluegrassPreps.com 9th Region - Sweet 16® Review and Season Wrap Up
The ever so revered, and exciting Sweet 16 wrapped up Saturday night at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky as we crowned out of the 10th Region, the much deserved, undefeated against Kentucky competiton, 37-1 George Rogers Clark Cardinals, the 2022 Kentucky Boy Sweet 16 Champs!
I don't know about anyone else, but this year's Boys Sweet 16 was one of the more exciting ones with so many incredible games coming down to the wire, and with so many incredible high calibre players culminating with the 1 point victory in the Finals 43-42 over 4th Region's Warren Central Dragons.
Our Covington Catholic Colonels from the 9th Region did not dissapoint, making it to the highly sought after Saturday Semi-finals only to lose by 3 to the eventual runner-ups, The Warren Central Dragon 61-58.
The Colonels began their Sweet 16 journey in the First Round on Thursday night in a highly anticipated rematch between them, and the Ashland Blazer Tomcats who earlier in the season got past the Colonels in Ashland 71-60. This time around the Colonels prevailed 76-65 behind the ever reliable spectacular steady play of junior guard Evan Ipsaro with 26 points, and junior forward Chadlers Starks having the best game of his career with a double/double of 21/12.
Next up for the Colonels in the Friday night Quarterfinals was the Lyon County Lions from Region 2 who suit up the likes of sophomore sharpshooter Travis Perry who is literally, and realistically chasing the Kentucky Boys all time leading scoring record presently held by King Kelly Coleman from Wayland ('53-'56) with 4337 career points. Perry has over 3100 career points with roughly 1150 points to go to break the record in 6 years that was set by Coleman in 4 without the 3 point line.
The fiery highly spirited Lions were not just a one trick pony though, and gave the Colonels all they wanted in a squeaker where the Colonels just barely came out on top 59-57. In this game the Colonels relied heavily on the 3 point shooting prowess of junior guard Kascyl McGillis who went 5-11, and sophomore guard Brady Hussey who went 3-5. The Colonels were served a big scare in this game when Evan Ipsaro went down with a turned ankle that looked to be more serious on impact than it turned out to be, but there was a point there where many wondered if Evan would be able to complete the game, or how it might effect him going forward if the Colonels were able to advance. That they did, putting them in the position to face the ever poised and talented Warren Central Dragons, champs of the 4th Region. Perry netted 21 points, six less than his average.
One big question entering this game for the Colonels was how Isparo would be, and could he with his sore ankle, manage through this, and potentially the championship game later Saturday evening? Well if there were any doubters, he surely silenced them by scoring 30 points, also going 9-9 from the line to give him a spectacular, and perfect 21-21 from the line during the entire tournament. The Colonels lead most of the game, however the Dragons, who in the two previous tournament games came from behind, first with a 16-0 runs against Male in the their win, and a 14-0 run against Murray in their win, did it again ,and fought back topping out the Colonels by game's end 61-58, effectly ending their season with a record of (30-5) and dashing their hopes of making it to the Saturday night championship game.
In the tournament Evan Ispsaro averaged 21.2 ppg, also connecting on 21-21 from the line. Rylee averaged 10.3 ppg in the tournament, and Starks with 9.3 ppg, Hussey with 8.6 ppg, McGillis 7.6 ppg, and with senior James Wilson rounding things out for the Colonels by averaging 6.3 ppg during the tournament with a sensational high contributive first round game against Ashland netting 15 points in their win.
I've been searching fruitlessly for the Sweet 16 All-Tourney Team, but undoubtedly Evan Ipsaro in on it, and very possibly Chadler Starks. Hopefully soon I will locate the list so that I can get and give a more accurate account.
Congratulations to the Covington Catholic Colonels on your highly successful season, and though you came up a little short, every hoops fan in the Commonwealth of Kentucky knew going into the Sweet 16 that you were a major threat, and that the CovCath name is synonymous with excellence. You made a nice showing, and made the 9th Region proud, and have nothing at all to hang your head about.
Looking Back at the 2021/2022 9th Region Season:
While it was no surprise to anyone that the Covington Catholic Colonels, who topped the 9th Region rankings from start to finish, would be the team to represent the 9th in this year's Sweet 16, we still had an incredibly entertaining season for a variety of reasons.
In no particular order, we saw junior Jacob Meyer of Holy Cross top the state in scoring with nearly a 40 ppg average.
We saw the upstarts, the Lloyd Juggernauts (22-8) throw their hat in the ring with one of their best seasons in recent memory hinting at great things to come.
Though many teams fought all season long and hard to be the Number 2 team in the region, the senior strong Dixie Heights Colonels legitimately made it to the 9th Region Tournament Finals with a nice season record of 22-7.
The defening state champs the Highlands Bluebirds, though coming up short, and being taken down twice by the Lloyd Juggernauts, still had a pretty nice and memorable season with a recored of 22-9.
The Cooper Jaguars strongly competed all season long, and became the only team in the 9th to give the almighty Covington Catholic Colonels a close game in the quarterfinals of the 9th Region tournament, tied with them entering the 4th period of that game, and giving the Colonels a bit of a scare that no one believed that anyone in the 9th could.
The Landen Hamilton lead Conner Cougars had a nice successful consistantly strong season ending with a record of 20-10.
While they had lost 10 seniors to graduation last season, by season's end the St. Henry Crusaders had shown lots of improvement with many of their underclassmen getting some much needed varsity experierence, and becoming legitimately competitive.
All in all 7 of the 8 teams that made it to the 9th Region Tournament had a 20+ game winning season. Not bad at all as many of those wins came to teams of other regions, showing that the 9th Region is very strong, and only gaining more respect around the state as a premier region.
I'm surely missing many more memorable moments of the 2021/2022 season, and before I close out this chapter of a fine season, I'd like to congratulate all of the seniors on your excellent careers, and wish all of you good luck in your future endeavors. Some of you will be playing at the next level, and I invite anyone in the know to post in this thread where our great 9th Region players will be playing in their college careers. Off the top of my head, CovCath's Mitchell Rylee is headed to Miami of Ohio, and Garrett Vogelpohl will be playing Divistion III ball at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, the historical home of famed legend golfer Arnold Palmer. I couldn't find any reference to another St. Vincent College, so i'm assumming that I'm referring to the correct one. If there are anymore that you guys know about, please post them in this thread.
Looking Forward to the 2022/2023 9th Region Season:
As many of you know, this season the 9th Region was loaded with a slew of sensational underclassmen, and many star junior players, so the future is looking bright for the 9th.
Covington Catholic for example graduates only 1 player from their starting 5 in Mitchell Rylee, so they're still going to be quite strong with the likes of Evan Ipsaro, Chadler Starks, Kascyl McGillis, and now sophomore Brady Hussey along with a supporting cast of undoubtable upstarts that the Colonels are presently grooming to be future Colonels stars. Look for the Colonels to start next season at the top of the rankings, and probably remain there again for the entire season.
While Dixie Heights will lose a lot of seniors to graduation, they'll still have the excellent services of now sophomore starter Hudson Blank who had a nice season, and shows lots of promise. I truthfully don't know who else Dixie has coming through the pipeline, but word on the street is that now freshman Griffin Derry is going to be a good one.
We know that now junior forward big boy Caleb Brooks for the Cooper Jags will be a force next season, and I'm eager to see who else Cooper has coming up considering they graduate a big portion of their starting 5.
Conner looks like they will still be very strong for right now Landen Hamilton, Ayden Lohr, Daniel Campbell, and Dalton Kramer are all presently juniors, so I really expect a decent 2022/2023 season from the Cougars.
Highlands again should be strong starting with sharpshooter Will Herald who is presently a junior, along with other players who got a lot of varsity experience this season such as now sophomore Brody Benke, now sophomore Cameron Giesler, now junior Seth Ryan, and now sophomore Nathan Vinson.
Look for the Lloyd Juggernauts to have a strong 2022/2023 season as they'll have their star player junior Jeramiah Israel coming back, along with now freshman big boy, and coach's son C.J. Walker who is still growing, and now freshman guard Isiah Sebastian who got some good minutes this season along with valued experience.
Holy Cross will again be lead by now juniors Jacob Meyer, Javier Ward, and big boy Sam Gibson. The experience, power, and excellence of these 3 players should translate to an excellent season for the Indians along with some surprise upstarts that I have yet to be informed about.
I expect to see St. Henry build on the experiecne that they gained this season with the likes of now juniors Jack Grayson, Matthew Resing, Rhet Ravenscraft, Braden Fedders, Ethan Kaiser, and now sophomore Carson Shea.
Newport Central Catholic will be graduating sharpshooter Joel Isle, but his now sophomore brother Jase should continue to build on his already excellent high school basketball career, and since they're only graduating 3 seniors, they've a slew of underclassmen who gained valuable experience this season. How strong they will be next season is to be seen.
Beechwood will bring back now junior team leader Cameron Boyd, and the excellent guard duties by now 8th grader phenom Cash Harney. Look for now junior Trevor Logue, and now freshman Kelly Mattox to bring with them next season the valuable vasity experiecne they gained this season.
Having a young and talented team, everyone is eager to see what becomes of the Newport Wildcats. Right now they have two 8th graders turning heads in big boy James Turner, and Taylen Kinney. Something is brewing in Newport, and the next few years for them could get very interesting.
Boone County will have now sophomore Jashaun Pouncy who should will undoubtely be in the Top 10 players discussion as he's a very special player, and guys like now sophomore Thomas William, and now junior Will Raleigh should build on their varsity experience.
Not too sure about Ryle, but players like now junior Chris Walker should build on their varsity experience, and word on the street is that now 8th grader Anthony Coppola is going to be a real good one for the Raiders.
The Holmes Bulldogs will be losing a lot in the 5th year seniors Calloway brothers, Quantez and Tayquan, and it's still to be seen what they'll look like next season, but it has all the makings of being a rebuilding season for the Bulldogs.
So as our 2021/2022 season comes to an end, we can reflect, and rejoice on what was a very good year in the 9th Region with no shortage of excitement, and I completely expect next season to offer us no less excitement than it gave us this season, and maybe even more.