GAME 6: SOUTH LAUREL VS. CHRISTIAN COUNTY, 1:30 P.M. THURSDAY
Coach: Jeff Davis.
Litkenhous Rating: 92.8 (No. 13 in state).
Sweet 16 trips: Seventh (7-5).
Last trip to State: 2008 (lost to Hazard 50-47 in first round).
What to look for: The Cardinals went 15-11 and were eliminated in the district tournament last season. They returned several players from that squad plus added Andrew Griffith, who transferred from Williamsburg after helping the Yellow Jackets to the 13th Region title last season. “Last year was kind of like a rebuilding year that really took off,” Davis said. It’s carried over to this season. South Laurel outscored its opponents by 16 points per game during the regular season and have increased that to 24 ppg in the postseason. With their inside-outside attack the Cardinals rank in the top five in the state in scoring defense and field-goal percentage and in the top 15 in rebounding.
Key player: Caleb Taylor, the 13th Region Player of the Year. The 6-8, 253-pound senior center averages 14.7 points and 11.1 rebounds per game and shoots an incredible, and state-best, 76.2 percent from the field. “He’s a special player,” Davis said. “He’s got great hands, great feet, he’s sneaky athletic and an overall great kid.”
Coach-speak: “Christian County’s really, really good,” Davis said. “For a team to go through their schedule and not to lose to anybody from Kentucky, is very impressive. Basically we’re going to have to take care of the basketball, keep them out of the paint and stop their transition.”
0-Andrew Griffith, 6-4, Sr., 10.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg
10-Ryan Anders, 6-4, So., 7.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg
25-Jared Grubb, 6-1, Jr., 15.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg
30-JJ Ramey, 6-2, Fr., 6.7 ppg, 1.9 rpg
44-Caleb Taylor, 6-8, Sr., 14.5 ppg, 10.9 rpg
2-Blake Phelps, 6-1, Jr., 3 ppg, 1.5 rpg
13-Braden Miller, 5-10, Sr., 2.9 ppg, 1.8 rpg
32-Zach Feltner, 6-2, Jr., 2.1 ppg, 1.7 rpg
Coach: Frankie Smith.
Litkenhous Rating: 95.2 (No. 6 in state).
Sweet 16 trips: 18th (17-16).
Last trip to State: 2011 (beat Rowan County 65-63 in double overtime in state final).
What to look for: The Colonels are making their first Sweet 16 appearance since winning the state title in 2011 after ending Hopkinsville’s four-year reign in the Second Region. Christian County, which is 24-0 against Kentucky competition this season, comes in riding an 18-game winning streak. “The key to success have been believing in our defense, valuing the ball on offense, playing unselfishly and believing in our system. The players have adapted well to the new system,” said Smith, who has engineered a big improvement (the Colonels were 14-11 last season) in his first year.
Key player: Tyrik Edwards. The 5-foot-8 senior point guard averages 16.3 ppg and 4.1 rpg while shooting 60.4 percent from the field and 73.1 percent from the free throw line. The Second Region Player of the Year engineers an offense that averages a Sweet 16-best 77.1 points per game.
Coach-speak: “South Laurel is very good,” Smith said. “They are a well-balanced team that can score on the inside and from the perimeter. They play a variety of defenses so you must be able to make adjustments throughout the game. They have balanced scoring and they are very good in transition and in the halfcourt.”
2-Jaylen Sebree, 6-6, Jr., 12.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg
3-Tyrik Edwards, 5-7, Sr., 16.3 ppg, 4.1 rpg
4-Roland Butler, 6-1, Sr., 6.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg
11-Tiavey Mason, 5-6, Jr., 9.5 ppg, 2.2 rpg
33-Detorrion Ware, 6-5, So., 17.9 ppg, 7 rpg
1-Brion Killebrew, 5-8, So., 2.7 ppg, 0.5 rpg
10-JaQuon Long, 5-9, So., 2.9 ppg, 2.1 rpg
31-Darrius Radford, 6-2, Sr., 2.8 ppg, 2 rpg
35-Cory Trice, 6-1, So., 3 ppg, 2 rpg