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Posted On: 03/5/18 8:30 AM
Thursday evening I headed about an hour down the interstate and down a 2 lane road to Eminence. Henry County is the home of the 8th region tournament every year and the 8th is one of the most wide open regions in Kentucky this season. I was treated to two close, competitive games and left the gym impressed with a 2021 player who is going to be highly ranked when we update the rankings again in a month or so.
1. Simon Kenton Freshman Kelly Niece is the real deal. The 2021 combo guard had a career high 37 points last night and was scoring at will on the Gallatin defense. Niece hit several 3s, got to the rim and showed an impressive mid-range game. Kelly also showed he is a willing communicator on defense who knows how to play help side defense. Niece still needs to improve his on ball defense a little but that will come as he ages. Very, very impressed with the freshman.
2. Gallatin outworks their opponents. This was my first time seeing Gallatin County all year. They won’t impress anyone in the layup line but they’re a solid group of kids who play very hard and fairly smart. When Simon Kenton turned on the pressure late, Gallatin had a couple of bad turnovers and almost let Kenton back in the game. But they calmed down, survived the pressure and gutted out a win.
3. Jackson Gibson was the best player on the floor against Collins. The Senior made every big shot and kept his team from coming unraveled when they looked like they were on the brink of a meltdown. The leader of the Colonels went 7-13 from the floor for 17 points. Gibson was 3-5 from 3 and all 3 were big shots at important times in the game. The 5’9 point guard was even second on the team with 5 rebounds. Gibson was the MVP for Oldham and will have to continue his high level play to get Oldham past Gallatin and into the finals.
4. Collins’ outside shooting failed them when they needed it most. There was a pivotal sequence late where the Titans made a push to retake the lead. They secured a rebound and pushed the break but a Jacob Feltner 3 went off the side of the backboard and the game was essentially over at that point. Collins suffered many scoring droughts of a minute or longer. Against a good team like Oldham County, you just cannot afford to have so many scoreless stretches. That’s ultimately what cost Collins the game.
5. Oldham should now be the favorite to win the 8th. Collins and Oldham were my two favorites to win the region when it started before the draw placed them against each other. Gallatin presents a formidable challenge for them on Monday. The winner of South Oldham/Anderson will be a sizable underdog against the Colonels. Oldham has a good coach and senior leadership that can not only get them to Rupp Arena, but possibly steal a game when they get there.