The draw for the Seventh Region boys basketball tournament usually means heartburn for coaches who have lost in their district finals, and St. Xavier High School’s Kevin Klein had an ominous feeling about Saturday.
Klein’s Tigers let a lead slip away in a 67-63 overtime loss to Male in Thursday’s 26th District final, meaning a first-round regional matchup with powerhouses Trinity or Ballard was a possibility.
St. X got Trinity during Saturday’s draw at Holy Cross.
“We had it won, (Male) broke loose and that’s the price you pay,” Klein said.
The Tigers (19-11) will get their third shot this season against the Shamrocks (28-3) – No. 3 in the state in the Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings – when the teams meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Trinity in the first round of the Seventh Region Tournament.
► MORE COVERAGE: Pairings for boys and girls regional basketball tournaments
The Shamrocks won the two previous meetings over a span of six days, 61-50 on Jan. 6 and 72-57 on Jan. 11 in the Louisville Invitational Tournament.
It’s a rematch of last year’s Seventh Region final, which the Shamrocks won 52-48 in overtime.
“They’re playing at a very high level right now, and their lineup has changed a little bit since the last time we played them in the LIT,” Klein said. “They shoot the ball so well, and they pass it and they defend. They pose a lot of challenges.”
Here’s a look at the draws for the Louisville-area regional tournaments:
Trinity and No. 6 Ballard (25-6) drew into the top half of the Seventh Region bracket, meaning they could meet in Thursday’s semifinals. The Shamrocks and Bruins are the only Top 20 teams in the Seventh Region.
Trinity junior Jay Scrubb was named the Courier-Journal’s Seventh Region Player of the Year on Friday and is averaging 16 points and four rebounds per game.
“Scrubb is a tough, tough matchup,” Klein said.
Ballard will host Central (13-15) at 7 p.m. Tuesday. It will mark the final game of a three-game suspension for Bruins coach Chris Renner after being ejected from a game in Indianapolis on Feb. 18. Ray Kline will continue to lead Ballard during Renner’s absence.
The bottom half of the bracket looks wide-open, with Christian Academy (22-10) and Waggener (19-11) sporting the best records and possibly set to meet in Thursday’s other semifinal.
No. 4 Fern Creek (30-2) is the heavy favorite to win its inaugural Sixth Region crown and will host DeSales (18-12) at 7 p.m. Tuesday. The teams did not meet during the regular season.
“Obviously, you want to get a favorable draw,” said Fern Creek coach James Schooler, whose team drew on the opposite of the bracket from Doss and Pleasure Ridge Park. “(DeSales coach Tom Crews) is a great coach, so I don’t know how favorable of a draw it is for us. At this point of the year, you have to knuckle down and go play. … But being away from Doss and PRP is definitely a bonus.”
The other three quarterfinals are rematches from the regular season, with Southern beating Valley 88-85 on Feb. 14, Doss defeating Jeffersontown 66-56 on Jan. 20 and Pleasure Ridge Park routing Moore 75-32 on Nov. 29.
The Eighth Region draw is set for Sunday.
All four of Monday’s Seventh Region quarterfinals will be rematches from the regular season, and none of them was particularly close.
Manual beat Christian Academy 76-51 on Jan. 17, Male routed Waggener 88-27 on Feb. 14, Eastern defeated Central 66-51 on Dec. 16 and Sacred Heart knocked off Assumption 67-43 on Jan. 15.
CAL coach Perry White noted his team did not have senior guard Emma Wesley (12.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg) during the previous meeting with Manual because of an injury.
“It should be a different ballgame,” White said. “I don’t think they’re going to overwhelm us this time. … The problem they pose for us is their size, and they’re a very good rebounding team. We’ve been suspect against bigger teams on the glass.”
If the favorites advance, Wednesday’s semifinals would match four of the top 15 teams in the state – No. 7 Manual vs. No. 3 Male and No. 15 Eastern vs. No. 6 Sacred Heart.
No. 1 Butler (29-2) will open defense of its Sixth Region title at 7 p.m. Monday against Moore (20-7). The teams did not meet during the regular season.
Butler rolled through the 22nd District Tournament by scores of 91-5 (vs. Iroquois) and 82-21 (vs. Doss) but could face tougher matchups in the regional against No. 12 Mercy in Wednesday’s semifinal and No. 13 Bullitt East in Saturday’s final.
“These girls have been through it,” Butler coach Larry Just said of a group seeking its third state title in four years. “That was a big key last year, and (we’re) hoping it makes a difference again this year. They know what to expect with the crowds and the noise and everything that comes with it.”
No. 2 Simon Kenton (24-6) leads the field for the Eighth Region Tournament and will meet host Oldham County (15-15) in Monday’s 6:30 p.m. opener.
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and email@example.com.