Sweet 16 preview | Scott County-Pulaski County

Sweet 16 preview | Scott County-Pulaski County

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Sweet 16 preview | Scott County-Pulaski County

Scott County coach Billy Hicks urges on his team vs. Ballard. December 2, 2013

Scott County coach Billy Hicks urges on his team vs. Ballard. December 2, 2013

GAME 4: SCOTT COUNTY VS. PULASKI COUNTY, 8 P.M. WEDNESDAY

SCOTT COUNTY

* Coach: Billy Hicks.

* Record: 30-5.

* Nickname: Cardinals.

* Location: Georgetown.

* Region: 11th.

* Enrollment: 2,470.

* Litkenhous Rating: 109.3 (No. 1 in state).

* Sweet 16 trips: 15th (27-12).

* Last trip to State: 2014 (lost to Covington Catholic 59-51 in overtime in final).

* What to look for: With three sophomores and junior in the starting lineup, fans might consider the Cardinals inexperienced. But Hicks doesn’t look at it that way. “We are young, but we have a ton of experience,” Hicks said. “These kids really came along at the right time. They’re a good bunch of ballplayers, and there wasn’t a whole of good in front of them. So they got to play early.” It’s a typical Scott County team that averages a lot of points (76.5 per game) and traps and pressures on defense. And with the 6-foot-6 Michael Moreno and 6-4 Cooper Watts, the Cardinals have two guys who can block shots. “Used to if we got beat we didn’t really have an inside presence,” Hicks said. “What’s made us a lot better defensively down the stretch is our ability to block shots.”

* Key player: The 6-6, 220-pound Moreno led the Cardinals in scoring and rebounding as a freshman and is doing so again this season, having emerged as one of the state’s top sophomores. “Even though he’s a big kid he’s one of our best ball handlers and one of our best passers … and he’s one of our best 3-point shooters,” Hicks said. “He’s just 16, and it’s scary how much bigger he might get down the road.” Moreno has a scholarship offer from Bradley and reportedly is drawing interest from Indiana, Louisville, Tennessee, Purdue, Butler and several others.

* Coach-speak: “I guess people think, ‘Well, they’re too young to (win a state title),” Hicks said. “But there’s a difference between youth and inexperience … and we have a ton of experience. We’re not overwhelmingly athletic as some of our past teams, but we’re very good ballplayers. This team is right there with some of the other teams we’ve brought.”

STARTERS

10-Cooper Robb

6-2, Jr., 14.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg

2-Bryce Long

6-1, So., 11.7 ppg, 2.8 rpg

33-Lorenzo Williams

6-0, So., 5.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg

24-Michael Moreno

6-6, So., 22.2 ppg, 10.1 rpg

44-Cooper Watts

6-4, Sr., 5.1 ppg, 6.8 rpg

KEY RESERVES

1-Cam Fluker

5-8, So., 5.1 ppg, 1.7 rpg

5-Dakoda Allen

6-2, Sr., 4.2 ppg, 1.6 rpg

15-Josh Davis

6-1, Jr., 3.4 ppg, 0.9 rpg

14-Glenn Covington

6-1, So., 3.2 ppg, 2.0 rpg

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PULASKI COUNTY

* Coach: John Fraley.

* Record: 27-7.

* Nickname: Maroons.

* Location: Somerset.

* Region: 12th.

* Enrollment: 1,213.

* Litkenhous Rating: 88.2.

* Sweet 16 trips: Fifth (6-3).

* Last trip to State: 1992 (lost to Lexington Catholic 88-84 in quarterfinals).

* What to look for: Fraley is in his first season as the Maroons’ coach but is part of a family legacy at the school. His father, Dave, was the head coach when the school won its only state title in 1986 and currently is the head coach at Powell County. John’s older brother, Shannon, hit the game-winning shot in the 1986 final and now is an assistant coach with the team. Shannon’s son, Colton, is the Maroons’ freshman point guard. The Maroons are the No. 1-scoring team in the Sweet 16 (78.5 ppg) and also allow the most points (68.2 ppg). “For whatever reason we were struggling defensively, but it’s finally clicked the last five games,” said John Fraley, whose team is allowing just 57.6 points per game over that stretch. “I knew we were athletic and that skill-wise we were good enough to get here. But I didn’t know if we could defend like we have in the last five games.”

* Key player: Steven Fitzgerald, a member of the varsity team at rival Pulaski Southwestern since he was a seventh-grader, transferred to Pulaski County prior to this season and leads the Maroons in scoring and rebounding. He’s shooting 56.3 percent from the field overall and 44.4 percent (52 of 117) from 3-point range. “He’s a real strong kid who doesn’t look like a high school kid for the most part, especially as a junior,” John Fraley said. “He’s really taken the time to work on his body. … He’s a kid who can shoot the 3 and get to the rim against about anybody.” He reportedly has scholarship offers from North Carolina State, Old Dominion, Middle Tennessee State, Southeast Missouri State, Eastern Kentucky, Virginia Commonwealth, Samford and Tennessee Tech.

* Coach-speak: “It’s an honor to get to play the guy (Billy Hicks) with the most wins in KHSAA history,” Fraley said. “It will be a challenge, and we will embrace it like we have everything else this year. We’ve had a monkey on our back with injuries, and it wasn’t until mid-January that we got our entire roster. We’ll just do what we do and see where we’re at.”

STARTERS

10-Colton Fraley

5-6, Fr., 5.9 ppg, 1.6 rpg

14-Landon Powell

5-9, Sr., 17.3 ppg, 2.2 rpg

1-Steven Fitzgerald

6-4, Jr., 25.1 ppg, 8.9 rpg

21-Hagan Elmore

6-0, Jr., 6.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg

15-Treyvon Sylvester

6-5, Sr., 15.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg

KEY RESERVES

2-Danny Butt

6-3, Jr., 9.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg

24-Jacob Combs

5-8, So., 2.5 ppg, 0.7 rpg

-Jason Frakes

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