GAME 4: PAUL DUNBAR VS. MERCER COUNTY, 8 P.M. WEDNESDAY
Coach: Scott Chalk.
Litkenhous Rating: 102.1 (No. 1 in state).
Sweet 16 trips: Fourth (6-3).
Last trip to State: 1997 (lost to Paintsville 87-67 in first round).
What to look for: Jordan Lewis, Taveion Hollingsworth and Darius Williams make up what may be the state’s best backcourt, which is a main reason the Bulldogs have established themselves as the state’s No. 1 team in the Litkenhous Ratings. Williams was named the Co-11th Region Player of the Year by Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches, Hollingsworth is the team’s top scorer and Lewis is the top defender. “There’s no doubt if you don’t have good guards in high school that it’s hard to do a whole lot,” Chalk said. “We don’t worry about getting pressed at all.” The Bulldogs don’t get a lot of scoring off their bench, so the starters must stay out of foul trouble.
Key player: Hollingsworth has emerged as one of the state’s top juniors and has scholarship offers from Eastern Kentucky, Morehead State, Winthrop and others. Xavier and Indiana also are showing interest, Chalk said. “From the first day I had him as a freshman, I knew he’d be one of the best players to ever play here,” Chalk said. “Everything comes very easy for him. He can score every possible way you could do it.”
Coach-speak: “Coming into the season we didn’t know how good defensively we’d be,” Chalk said. “We felt like we could outscore everybody if we needed to because we can put up a lot of points. But we’ve really progressed defensively as the season has progressed.”
0-Jordan Lewis, 6-0, Sr., 11.6 ppg, 5.5 rpg
11-Taveion Hollingsworth, 6-2, Jr., 20.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg
23-Darius Williams, 6-4, Sr., 16.7 ppg, 5.4 rpg
13-Justin Kelley, 6-3, Sr., 4.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg
4-Dontell Brown, 6-5, Jr., 6.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg
14-Vincent Clark, 5-9, Sr., 2.9 ppg, 1.3 rpg
20-Jordan Brown, 5-9, Sr., 1.4 ppg, 1.2 rpg
Coach: Josh Cook.
Litkenhous Rating: 99.8 (No. 3 in state).
Sweet 16 trips: Second (0-1).
Last trip to State: 2000 (lost to Scott County 95-47 in first round).
What to look for: The Titans started the season 24-0 before suffering their only loss of the season – 77-59 at Lafayette on Feb. 6. Mercer County’s top six scorers all stand between 6-3 and 6-4, and each is capable of scoring in double-figures. Malik Dow has played the last two seasons at Mercer County after playing as a freshman and sophomore at Ballard. He averages a double-double as the Titans’ sixth man. “We take pride in our sixth man being better than yours,” Cook said. “It just helps him to come in that way.”
Key players: Trevon Faulkner is the team’s top scorer and is strong from 3-point range. “But his best part is when he’s in attack mode to the rim,” Cook said. Will Hager is the senior point guard who is “the facilitator,” Cook said. “He knows when to get his teammates involved and when to get buckets for himself. He controls the tempo of the game.” Hager has signed with Colorado School of Mines, an NCAA Division II school in Golden, Colorado.
Coach-speak: “We’re willing to feed the hot hand and play an unselfish style,” Cook said. “We have kids who can all score in a lot of different ways – outside, drive, post. If you want to watch unselfish kids who play the right way, tell them to watch our team. We take pride in that.”
13-Will Hager, 6-4, Sr., 14.4 ppg, 5.5 rpg
12-Trevon Faulkner, 6-4, So., 18.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg
21-Alijah Mink, 6-3, Sr., 6.4 ppg, 2.7 rpg
24-Dylan James, 6-4, Jr., 15.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg
34-Drew Davis, 6-3, Sr., 3.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg
5-Malik Dow, 6-4, Sr., 11.4 ppg, 10.1 rpg
1-Conner Souder, 6-0, Sr., 2.2 ppg, 0.8 rpg