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Posted On: 02/25/18 11:02 PM
We are only 2 and a half weeks from the start of the KHSAA Sweet 16 at Rupp Arena. Half the schools in Kentucky have been eliminated from the postseason and by Thursday night, that number will dip to 64 teams remaining. The games get started on Tuesday night in the 6th and 7th regions before the rest of the state starts regional play on Wednesday night. We’re going to take a look at the 8 top players remaining in each region and take a shot at power ranking the remaining teams. The 1st region starts play on Wednesday night. All games take place at Murray State’s CFSB Center. Here’s a breakdown of the 1st region tournament and the top individual players still playing.
Elite 8 Players (in no order):
G Andreous Smith, Fulton City – The senior leader of the Pilots averages 19 points and 8 rebounds a game. In two earlier losses to Mayfield, Smith scored 15 and 16 points. In order for his team to beat the Cardinals, Smith may need to get 30 points or more.
G Connor Guthrie, Mayfield – Just a junior, Guthrie scored his 1,000th career point earlier this season. Connor leads Mayfield in scoring at nearly 17 points per game. He also shoots an impressive 40% from 3. For Mayfield to get to Rupp, Guthrie needs to out perform even his season numbers.
Wing Carson Guthrie, Mayfield – Mayfield’s second leading scorer and twin brother of Connor, the taller Guthrie actually leads his team in rebounding at 9.2 per game. Like his brother, Carson will need to play his best basketball of the season to help the Cardinals get through the gauntlet of the first region tournament.
F Nathan Stonecipher, McCracken County – Stonecipher is one of the top players in the first region and not many outside of the area have heard of the senior. The second leading scorer for McCracken at 14.5 points and is second on the team in rebounding at 7.8 per game.
F Brenden Young, Graves County – The senior big man may not be the leading scorer for Graves but his defense, rebounding and rim protection make him the most valuable member of the Eagles team. Young averages 10 points and 9 rebounds for the team that may be favored to win it all and cut down the nets at Murray.
F Aaron Reed, Marshall County – Averaging 9 points and 8 rebounds, Reed is the most balanced player on a balanced team for Marshall County. Marshall tends to win games with a slow pace and balanced offense. Reed is a key cog in that machine and could be a darkhorse to win the region.
F JJ Reed, Paducah Tilghman – The Player of the Year in the first region, Reed is the best player in the region in my opinion. Standing almost 6’6″ and very skilled, Reed is averaging 18 points and 5 rebounds on the season. For Tilghman to win the region, JJ needs to produce even more for the Tornadoes.
G Rodriguez Thomas, Paducah Tilghman – The junior point guard averages 12 points and 3 rebounds for Tilghman while shooting a remarkable 45% from 3 on the season. In order for his team to beat Marshall County and continue on the road to Rupp Arena, Rodriguez will need to play his best basketball over the next 3 games.
1. McCracken County – The Mustangs have the depth and balance to get back to Rupp for the first time since the school went in their inaugural season.
2. Graves County – As usual, Graves is playing it’s best basketball at the end of the season.They should be favored to advance to the championship game from the bottom of the bracket.
3. Mayfield – After narrowly losing to Graves in the district championship, Mayfield got the best draw they could have hoped for by taking on Fulton City.
4. Paducah Tilghman – The Blue Tornado fell to McCracken by 2 points in the district final but they have all the weapons to get to the final and win it.
5. Marshall County – Marshall is well coached and plays at a deliberate pace that causes the opponent to get frustrated. They could steal a game or two in the region.
6. Fulton County – The Pilots won the first district and were rewarded with a game against Mayfield, who has already beaten them by double digits twice.
7. Murray – What was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Murray has ended better than many expected but they are unlikely to play past Wednesday night.
8. Hickman County – Sitting at 11-20 on the year, they are massive underdogs against a Graves County team that is among the favorites to get to Rupp.