Sweet 16 preview | Fern Creek-Hopkinsville

Sweet 16 preview | Fern Creek-Hopkinsville

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Sweet 16 preview | Fern Creek-Hopkinsville

Fern Creek guard Ahmad Price tries to put up a shot as Doss forward Terez Traynor jumps up for the block in the KHSAA 6th Region Boys Basketball Championship. 07 March 2017

Fern Creek guard Ahmad Price tries to put up a shot as Doss forward Terez Traynor jumps up for the block in the KHSAA 6th Region Boys Basketball Championship. 07 March 2017

GAME 5: FERN CREEK VS. HOPKINSVILLE, NOON THURSDAY

FERN CREEK

* Coach: James Schooler.

* Record: 33-2.

* Nickname: Tigers.

* Location: Louisville.

* Region: Sixth.

* Enrollment: 1,593.

* Litkenhous Rating: 102.9 (No. 5 in state).

* Sweet 16 trips: First.

* Last trip to State: None.

* What to look for: In its 88th season of basketball – its first was during the 1929-30 campaign – Fern Creek finally has reached the Sweet 16. The Tigers have done it behind a strong core of juniors – led by guards Anthony Wales and Ahmad Price – and got a boost in the preseason with the addition of senior Chance Moore, a 6-foot-6 transfer from Eastern. Fern Creek has displayed the ability to win with different styles during its current 19-game winning streak, beating Jeffersontown 94-79 in an up-and-down track meet in the 24th District final and taking a 49-45 slugfest over Doss in the Sixth Region final. The Tigers’ last loss came to Hopkinsville, 78-58, on Jan. 7, so a rematch with Hopkinsville in the first round of the Sweet 16 should provide plenty of motivation. Fern Creek is tournament-tested, finishing fifth with a 3-1 record in the King of the Bluegrass and winning titles in South Oldham’s Mitchell Irvin Classic and the Louisville Invitational Tournament.

* Key players: Moore is the Tigers’ top scorer and was named The Courier-Journal’s Sixth Region Player of the Year in a vote of coaches. As point guard, Wales makes the team go. A Samford University commit, Wales is the Tigers’ top 3-point shooter at 41.5 percent (54 of 130).

* Coach-speak: “I guess it’s the equivalent of getting the bid for the NCAA Tournament,” Schooler said of the team’s first Sweet 16 trip. “It’s been very exciting. We’re dancing in March. And with it being the first time ever, we get to reap the benefits of that opportunity.”

STARTERS

5-Anthony Wales

6-0, Jr., 14.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg

10-Ahmad Price

6-2, Jr., 11.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg

23-Tony Rogers

6-3, Jr., 9.0 ppg, 3.9 rpg

22-Chance Moore

6-6, Sr., 16.0 ppg, 4.9 rpg

12-Daiquan Jones

6-6, Sr., 5.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg

KEY RESERVES

15-Clint Wickliffe

6-4, Jr., 8.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg

4-A.J. Thomas

6-0, Jr., 3.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg

21-Kyree Hawkins

6-0, Sr., 2.9 ppg, 2.4 rpg

ALSO: Boys Sweet 16 by the numbers

MORE: Here’s the bracket for the Boys Sweet 16

MORE: Who’s Sweet 16 favorite? Coaches make picks

HOPKINSVILLE

* Coach: Tim Haworth.

* Record: 28-6.

* Nickname: Tigers.

* Location: Hopkinsville.

* Region: Second.

* Enrollment: 1,103.

* Litkenhous Rating: 95.0 (No. 9 in state).

* Sweet 16 trips: Ninth (12-7).

* Last trip to State: 2015 (lost to Owensboro 71-50 in quarterfinals).

* What to look for: After four straight trips to the Sweet 16 from 2012-15, the Tigers missed out last year when they lost to rival Christian County in the Second Region final. Hopkinsville went 3-1 against Christian County this season, including a 74-57 victory in last week’s regional final. “After not getting there last year, it’s rewarding to get back,” Haworth said. The coach said this Hopkinsville team is different than previous ones because it doesn’t press as much and attempts more 3-pointers (22.9 per game). “We’ll press at times, but we really try to get after you in the half-court,” Haworth said. “This team has made 150 more 3-pointers than any team I’ve ever had. We have a lot better shooters and scorers. We can play games in the 50s and 60, or we can also run.”

* Key player: Junior guard Jalen Johnson leads the Tigers at 17.7 points per game and hits 38.2 percent (60 of 157) from 3-point range. He has a scholarship offer from Samford University. “He’s a shooter, and he can handle the ball really well,” Haworth said. “He likes to get to the rim … and he’s tough and create for himself.”

* Coach-speak: “I know how good (Fern Creek coach James) Schooler is, and I know how hard Fern Creek plays,” said Haworth, whose team beat Fern Creek 78-58 on Jan. 7 at Muhlenberg County. “That was just one game when they didn’t play well and we did play well. I think you throw it out the window. We’re both really good. I think it will be a war, and we’ll have to play well to win.”

STARTERS

2-Stephen “Shorty” Cager

5-8, Jr., 15.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg

10-Jalen Johnson

6-2, Jr., 17.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg

20-C.J. Henangan

6-4, Sr., 10.5 ppg, 6.8 rpg

12-James Nicholas

6-4, So., 6.5 ppg, 4.3 ppg

32-Tefrell Toliver

6-4, So., 4.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg

KEY RESERVES

3-Brandon Govan

5-11, Sr., 7.0 ppg, 1.1 rpg

5-Josiah Patton

5-11, Sr., 6.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg

-Jason Frakes

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