LIT tips off Monday; grades for all 20 teams

LIT tips off Monday; grades for all 20 teams

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LIT tips off Monday; grades for all 20 teams

Fern Creek’s Tony Rogers (23) goes in for a dunk past the defense of South Oldham’s Devin Young (1) during the second half of the Mitchell Irvin Tournament, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016 in Crestwood KY.

Fern Creek’s Tony Rogers (23) goes in for a dunk past the defense of South Oldham’s Devin Young (1) during the second half of the Mitchell Irvin Tournament, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016 in Crestwood KY.

The 70th annual boys basketball Republic Bank Louisville Invitational Tournament will tip off Monday at Valley High School.

The field includes 20 teams from the Sixth and Seventh regions, with Fern Creek, Trinity, Doss and Ballard holding the top four seeds.

Those four are favored to reach Saturday morning’s semifinals, with Fern Creek and Trinity expected to reach Saturday’s 8 p.m. championship game.

Fern Creek and Trinity already have met twice this season, with the Tigers winning 65-61 on Dec. 10 and the Shamrocks turning the tables with a 66-63 victory on Dec. 18 in the quarterfinals of the King of the Bluegrass Holiday Classic at Fairdale.

Here’s a brief look at the 20 teams in the LIT field, with midseason grades. LIT seeds and season records in parentheses:

Fern Creek (1, 14-2) – The Tigers had a seven-game winning streak snapped Saturday in a 78-58 loss to Hopkinsville. Chance Moore (17.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg) is enjoying a solid senior season after transferring from Eastern. Anthony Wales (14.4 ppg), a Samford University commit, is one of the area’s top junior guards. Grade: A.

Trinity (2, 15-1) – The Shamrocks have won 12 in a row and got senior point guard Jacob King back from a finger injury this week. Junior Jay Scrubb doesn’t start but leads the team in scoring (16.8 ppg). He posted 25 points in Friday’s 61-50 victory over St. Xavier and 25 points and six rebounds in Saturday’s 84-45 victory over Muhlenberg County. Grade: A.

Doss (3, 12-5) – The Dragons have won four in a row after a pair of victories last week over Sixth Region foes Valley and DeSales. Coach Tony Williams says senior guard Jaylon Hall (18.9 ppg) should be in the running for Mr. Basketball honors. Grade: B+.

Ballard (4, 10-3) – The Bruins dropped a 78-67 decision to Connersville (Indiana) on Saturday but got senior point guard Jamil Wilson (18.4 ppg) back from an ankle injury suffered during the King of the Bluegrass. He had missed five games. Senior Clivonte Patterson leads the Bruins in scoring (19.5 ppg) and rebounding (10.9 rpg). Grade: A-.

Bullitt East (5, 11-5) – First-year coach Jason Couch has the Chargers playing well after losing all five starters from last season. Jared Osborne (15.6 ppg), Luke Ezell (14.5 ppg) and Connor Green (13.0) lead the Chargers, who will face Pleasure Ridge Park on Tuesday. The Chargers beat the Panthers 66-62 on Dec. 13. Grade: B+.

Valley (6, 10-3) – First-year coach DeJuan Wheat was disappointed in his team’s effort in a 60-44 loss to Doss on Tuesday, but the Vikings bounced back to beat North Oldham 82-68 on Friday. Senior Eric George and junior Curt Lewis lead Valley. Grade: B+.

Waggener (7, 12-4) – The Wildcats have a six-game winning streak after Saturday’s 64-61 overtime victory over Oak Hill (Indiana). Senior guard Jacquess Hobbs (17.8 ppg) leads the Wildcats, and senior guard Ethan Taylor (10.1 ppg) is a threat from 3-point range (38.7 percent). Grade: B+.

Butler (8, 11-5) – The Bears have slowed a bit after an impressive 5-0 start that included victories over Bullitt East and Pleasure Ridge Park. Senior guard Marcus Montgomery (13.3 ppg) and junior guard Jaquay Wales (11.7 ppg) lead a balanced scoring attack. Grade: B.

Eastern (9, 9-6) – The Eagles had won seven in a row before a 65-61 loss to Greenup County on Saturday. Eastern attempts a lot of 3-pointers (16.3 per game) and is led by senior forward Caleb Williams (14.3 ppg, 6.9 rpg) and senior guard Javen Rushin (12.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg). Grade: B-.

Male (10, 7-7) – Second-year coach Willie Feldhaus is rebuilding after losing eight seniors from last season to graduation. Senior forward Hogan Brownley (16.6 ppg, 10.0 rpg) is averaging a double-double, and sophomore guard Hunter McCutcheon (14.7 ppg) is shooting 48.8 percent (39 of 80) from 3-point range. Grade: C.

DeSales (11, 10-5) – The Colts had emerged as a buzz team in the Sixth Region but dropped games to St. Xavier (61-56) and Doss (68-45) last week. Seniors Jaxon Burgess and Austin Black give DeSales a high-scoring backcourt. Grade: B-.

Pleasure Ridge Park (12, 9-6) – Hampered by injuries, the Panthers have endured a roller-coaster season, with win streaks of five and three games and a pair of three-game losing streaks. Trey Hill (14.8 ppg) is one of the state’s top junior guards. Grade: B-.

Christian Academy (13, 13-3) – The Centurions have built an impressive record against an average schedule. Senior guard Parker Jones is one of the area’s top scorers at 21.4 points per game and also leads the team in rebounding (9.5 rpg). Grade: B.

Central (14, 7-6) – The Yellowjackets own victories over Pleasure Ridge Park and Eastern but also have lost to St. Xavier and DeSales. Senior guard Devin Firman leads the team in scoring (15.2 ppg), but coach Doug Bibby is looking for consistency from others. Grade: C.

St. Xavier (15, 9-5) – Junior post player Pierce Kiesler (16.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg) leads a Tigers team that has a size advantage over most opponents but has not shot well from the outside this season. Grade: B-.

Fairdale (16, 6-8) – Juniors Glenn Queen (14.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg) and Craig Ash (12.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg) lead the Bulldogs, who own a 76-68 victory over Eastern on Dec. 13. Grade: C.

Western (17, 6-8) – The Warriors have lost four in a row after falling to Seneca 53-42 on Friday. Senior forward O’Neal Swint, a transfer from Central, is Western’s top scorer (11.7 ppg) and rebounder (6.1 rpg). Grade: C.

Moore (18, 11-4) – After going 10-18 last season, the Mustangs have turned things around and enter their first LIT since 2013 with a six-game winning streak. Senior Ramon Collins (13.5 ppg) and juniors Antwan Hurt (12.8 ppg) and Malik Anderson (12.7 ppg) are the top scorers. Grade: B.

Jeffersontown (19, 7-7) – The Chargers dropped a 78-65 decision to Waggener on Friday. Senior guards Delvonte McCloud and Dakota White lead the team. Grade: C.

Manual (20, 3-11) – It’s been a tough season for a Crimsons team that lost five of its top six scorers from last season. Junior forward Noah Hawkins (10.6 ppg) is the top scorer. Grade: D.

Here is the LIT schedule. All times p.m. unless otherwise noted:

* Monday: Jeffersontown (19) vs. Central (14), 3:30; Manual (20) vs. Christian Academy (13), 5; Moore (18) vs. St. Xavier (13), 6:30; Western (17) vs. Fairdale (16), 8:15.

* Tuesday: Male (10) vs. Waggener (7), 3:30; Eastern (9) vs. Butler (8), 5; DeSales (11) vs. Valley (6), 6:30; Pleasure Ridge Park (12) vs. Bullitt East (5), 8:15.

* Wednesday: Jeffersontown-Central winner vs. Doss (3), 3:30; Western-Fairdale winner vs. Fern Creek (1), 5; Manual-Christian Academy winner vs. Ballard (4), 6:30; Moore-St. Xavier winner vs. Trinity (2), 8:15.

* Friday: Quarterfinals at 4, 5:30, 7 and 8:45.

* Saturday: Semifinals at 10 and 11:30 a.m.; final at 8.

Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and jfrakes@courier-journal.com.

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