The Ball Report

Mountain Teams Ready for the National City/KHSAA Boys Sweet 16

By: Gary Ball
By: Gary Ball

The National City/KHSAA Boys Sweet 16 Tournament is loaded with Eastern Kentucky teams that can really play basketball. For the first time in a very long time a team from Eastern Kentucky could realistically take home the big trophy on Saturday night at Rupp Arena.

The National City/KHSAA Boys Sweet 16 Tournament is loaded with Eastern Kentucky teams that can really play basketball. For the first time in a very long time a team from Eastern Kentucky could realistically take home the big trophy on Saturday night at Rupp Arena.

Regions 13 through 16 are all well represented by good teams this week at Rupp. The Thirteenth is represented by the Corbin Redhounds. Corbin is 29-3 under Tony Pietrowski a standout at his alma mater. Corbin made a statement by not only winning the region but by walloping perennial power South Laurel by 32 points in the final game. Corbin is led by Josh Crawford who played in the state tournament as an eighth grader. Corbin has a tough first round game with Eastern from Louisville.

The Fourteenth Region winner is Hazard. The Bulldogs are well coached by Al Holland and have state Tournament experience from 2008 to carry them this year. Point guard Josh Whitaker leads the balanced attack for the Bulldogs. Hazard plays West Jessamine in the opening game of the Sweet 16 at noon on March 18th. West is also a strong team and has one of the best point guards you haven’t heard of in Jarrod Polson.

The Fifteenth Region has Shelby Valley to brag about. They are one of the popular pre- tournament picks at 30-4. Jason Booher has Elisha Justice to run the show and he is a great one. Shelby Valley already won the “All A” with an upset of Elliott County. The Associated Press already named Coach Booher as Coach of the year. Shelby Valley has defending state champion Mason County to face in the opening round on Thursday night.

The final mountain team that every one is talking about is the Sixteenth Region winner, Elliott County. The Lions coached by Rick Mays is 30-2, and may be the best team to come out of the mountains since the late 80’s when Clay County rolled into Rupp led by Richie Farmer. The Faulkner twins, Ethan and Evan are the glue for the team. Another force is Jonathon Ferguson who may be the best long range shooter to ever come out of the mountains. Elliott plays a really good Anderson County team led by all everything C.J. Penny.

Watch game highlights from the Sweet 16 Saturday at 11:30 a.m. on the Scholastic Ball Report on WKYT Channel 27. Watch the Sweet Sixteen Finals on Saturday night at 8:00p.m. on CW-KYT.

(Insight Channel 5)
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