Posted On: 03/5/19 8:25 AM

Yesterday, the final two regional championship games concluded, which set the state tournament field for the 2019 season. Again, if you’re not familiar with how the Kentucky High School state tournament work, here it is. Each of our 16 member regions field 8 teams for their regional tournament, from there the teams compete in bracket play until the region finals. The winner of the region finals earns one of the 16 spots at Rupp Arena, the host site for the Sweet Sixteen style tournament. Also, if you’re out of state reading this, Kentucky has no classes for basketball, so only one team out of 270 teams, will win a state champion in our state. Below is a preview of the state tournament and each of the sixteen teams represented.

Covington Catholic (27-7) v. Scott County (32-3) - March 7th, 1:30pm.

Covington Catholic Colonels (9th Region) winners of last years state championship, coincidentally this first round matchup are the two teams that were in the state championship last season, where Cov Cath won 73-55 over Scott County. This year I'm afraid to say will be a different story. This matchup being very controversial towards seeding the sweet 16, these two teams probably shouldn't be facing each other first round. Neverless, the Colonels return as defending state champions after annihilating Beechwood in the regional championship. Beechwood, being a team who defeated Cov Cath twice earlier in the season, hopes to carry over from that win. The Colonels are led by a duo of college potential, junior G Grant Disken and Bellarmine commit F Nick Thelenare trying to rewrite the history books. This duo both average just over 13 points per game and around 3-5 rebounds per game. Both of these teams are talented, but it's unfortunate that CCH has to face the best team in the state first round.

Scott County Cardinals (11th Region) the presumed favorites to win the state championship. Scott County at one point was undefeated this season, they traveled to Myrtle Beach where they played some ranked opponents nationally and lost their first game. Also senior F Michael Moreno went down with an injury that sidelined him for 8 weeks. The Cards continued to win without him and eventually lost their last game of the season and the district championship. Now with Moreno back, this team is once again....scary. He averages 15.1 ppg and leads their team in rebounding (8.6) per game as well, he is also a Mr. Basketball candidate for tonights award. But the line doesn't stop there, their plethora of players just crush opponents, almost every night there's a different high scorer. Seniors Bryce Long, Diablo Stewartand Glenn Covington make the Cardinals the best team in the state. If Scott County can get past Covington Catholic, it's pretty hard to bet against them in terms of favorites to win out.

Butler (25-7) v. Perry County Central (19-12) - March 7th, 12pm.

Butler Bears (6th Region) the Bears from Louisville won most of their 6th Region Tournament games convincingly. The only trouble they were given was by Bullitt East in the championship. With a 25-7 record, they won the prestigious Ashland Invitational back in December which propelled them into LIT play and the back end of their season. This somewhat young team brings a great duo of guards to the tournament, leading scorer/senior G Reese Tolley is averaging 13 ppg and junior G Trey Minter 10 ppg. Unfortunately for the winner of this game, you either have to face the best team in the state Scott County or defending state champions Covington Catholic. So the road most likely ends for the Bears in the elite eight.

Perry County Central Commodores (14th Region) the Commodores are making their second sweet sixteen appearance in three years. They faced off with Hazard FOUR times this season, winning every matchup. Keep in mind, Hazard finished their season 26-9, four of their nine losses came from the Commodores. Perry County Central didn't favor from this years state tournament draw, they will have three schools that stand in their way of a final four from traditional hot spots across the state (Louisville, Lexington, Northern Kentucky). They are led by 6'3 senior G Noah Back, who was the top guard on their 2017 State team as well. Back has scored 1,961 career points for the Commodores (5 years) which has to be atop their leaderboards. He will leave behind a legacy for his school and maybe will go out with a bang and surprise people at this years state tournament.

Lincoln County (23-12) v. Madisonville-North Hopkins (29-5) - March 7th, 6:30pm.

Lincoln County Patriots (12th Region) the Patriots weren't at the top of my favorites to win the 12th Region a couple of weeks ago. Danville and Wayne County were looking like sure favorites to come out on top, in the semifinals, Lincoln County beat Wayne County in 5 overtimes, which isn't even a KHSAA record for OT's. From then, they matched up with Danville for the 12th crown, winning convincingly by almost 20 points. This matchup is one of the ones I'm really looking forward to. I think it'll be a battle of the front-courts, the Patriots are led by 6'9 C Riley Bodner who is our #2 Center in the 2020 class behind no other than... his opponent, Madisonville's Ksuan Casey. Bodner, whose numbers are deceiving (6.9 ppg - 7.6 rpg) is still the driving force behind this Lincoln County squad. Senior G Blake Smith is the leading scorer on their team with 17 points per game, this team has very tough battle if they are to advance in this years state tournament.

Madisonville-North Hopkins Maroons (2nd Region) one of the teams you weren't expecting to see in this tournament, MNH disrupted University Heights story tale of a season beating them in the 2nd Region Tournament, beating Mr. Basketball Frontrunner KyKy Tandy. This team is special and in the right circumstances, can make a run for a title at Rupp Arena. The Maroons are home to one of the only/the best teams in the state with a premier Forward and Center combo. Junior F Kenny White and Junior C Ksuan Casey are our #2 F and #1 C in the 2020 class. Like mentioned above, this game will go far in determining the status of players in the 2020 class, since this matchup premiers three of the top players in it. But for the Maroons, I think their season will extend even after this sweet 16 game. Both of these players are very skilled and are high D1 prospects. Also, I think their success will extend to next year. Be on the lookout for MNH to return back to Rupp Arena next season.

Warren Central (20-11) v. Mayfield (25-7) - March 7th, 8pm.

Warren Central Dragons (4th Region) the Dragons are another surprise team to get a spot in this years sweet sixteen. With two nice wins over Glasgow and Logan County, their surprise win over Bowling Green clinched their spot at Rupp. Speaking that the Dragons went 1-2 with the Purples before that game, we were expecting BG to be in that spot. Coached by William Unseld, cousin of Basketball Hall of Fame/KY Legend Wes Unseld. Warren Central is led by one of the top junior guard duos in the state; Kobe Brents and D'Andre Boyd, who combine for 30 points per game and 12 rebounds per game. This team according to their roster is all made up of upperclassmen, this team can be a dark horse in this tournament if they can get past their powerhouse opponent in the far western part of the state.

Mayfield Cardinals (1st Region) one of the storied high school sports programs in the entire state, their dominance continues over into this season for basketball. Mayfield won the 1st Region "All A" back in January and haven't slowed down since. Their district championship game went into triple overtime with district rival Graves County, since then they swept the regional tournament winning impressively. The Cards are led by the Guthrie brothers, both senior G/W & Bethel commit Connor and Carson combine for 28.5 points per game and 14 rebounds per game. Both teams are almost statistically even, this game can turn out to be one of the best of the day. But this route won't be easy for either team, whoever wins this game has a tough lineup of future games. 

My Predictions

Scott County over Covington Catholic
Butler over Perry County Central
Madisonville-North Hopkins over Lincoln County
Mayfield over Warren Central

Scott County over Butler
Madisonville-North Hopkins over Mayfield

Scott County over Madisonville-North Hopkins