It is that time once again for KHSAA March Madness to see who goes to to the Sweet 16. The 5th Region has always been rich in tradition and have had many D1 players. Clem Haskins may be the face of the Region, but there are many more since my childhood that could plead their case. To be fair I will only name those that I remember playing. As a youngster Boogie Johnson from Campbellsville was one of my favorites. He was so graceful and it seemed that when he dunked the entire building was coming down. Lavel Webster from Larue County was also exciting. My Alma Mater Caverna High School put out some greats as well. From Clarence Glover to Mason Faulkner with so many in between.
This years tournament has some major players. Larue County (20-8) will face Nelson County (12-20) Coach Paul Childress is not a stranger to this tournament or the Sweet 16. He represented his Larue County Hawks as a sharp shooting point guard and as Coach of the Caverna Colonels in 2004. Childress has a dynamic duo in the paint with Ma.rk Goode and Warner Bryan. He has two sharp shooter that can turn it on at any given minute in his sons Chase & Carson Childress. However I think the unsung hero of this team is point guard Jeremiah Belton. Belton is a true PG who often gets over looked because he doesn’t produce block buster stats, but he is a true floor general.
Game 2 will feature maybe the best game in the tournament. Marion Co. 22-7 vs. Elizabethtown 24-3. First year Coach Maze Stallworth definately inherited some ballers. Sr. Jameson Epps “Walking Double Double” in my opinion is the most under rated player in the entire state. He is a monster and has a drive like no other. I remember my my niece played at Marion he would cry when they lost. His older sister was on that team and I never recalled him missing a game. Joking with his father Anthony over the weekend, I reminded him of this and he said that he ” still will” and went on to say that he was one of the most competitive kids he has. John Adams and Tyshay Epps are also a huge reason for the success of the Knights. Could this team bring back the glory days of Anthony Epps, Elton Scott, Mike Douglas and crew? They definately have the talent but one thing stand in their way and that’s James Haires Etown Panthers. Etown has been ranked in the top 15 for months and they deserve it. Haire is the only coach in the field who has won a state title and he did that in 2000. He also went in 2005. Haire has a fairly young team thats led by Jaquois Franklin and Camden Williams. Franklin according to some is the best young talent in the region. Coach Haire is a very experienced and will have a game plan to win the game. I think its gonna come down to outside shooting and I am not sure Marion has that. If it becomes a half court game then Epps will control the out come.
Game 3 Bardstown 23-8 vs. Hart Co. (14-15) First year Coach Justin Line will have his hands full. On Jan. 31 Bardstown defeated Hart 105-57. Hart has some weapons in Brayden Bell and Jordan Burden. Hart County has the ability to catch fire as they hit 19 three pointers against Caverna which broke a school record. Hart County won the region in 1989 then led by Mike Burd, Cornelius Faulkner, Anthony Young, Joe Young and there was a future Mr.Basketball on the squad. Tick Rogers was a Freshman and went on to be the 1992 Kentucky Mr. Basketball and play at the University of Louisville. Bardstown will be a tough opponent. Coach James “Boo” Brewer has been on the winning side of this tournament three times 2008,2011 and 2015. He always finds a way to win. Maybe one of the most under rated teams in the Region and the state the Tigers are not to be over looked. They are led by the Triple J’s…. JJ Traynor, Javaughn Smith and JaRel Montgomery. Traynor is a Mr. Basketball candidate and University of Louisville signee. Smith and Montgomery are for sure worth the conversation. They are both tremedous players and take a lot of pressure off Traynor. this team is special and very exciting to watch. If you are on the other team, you must watch closely because these guys have Top 10 potential dunks.
The last game will feature John Hardin (29-3) vs Campbellsville (15-14) Coach Jared McCurry is also familiar with winning this tournament He has done it for the past 2 years. John Hardin spent the biggest part of the season as the number 1 ranked team in the entire state before falling to Elizabethown in Mid January. They also lost to Henry Clay and later to Marion County. John is a dangerous team with experience. The other Mr. Basketball candidate from the 5th is Alex Matthews. Matthews is a very unique player. He can handle the rock, play the post and shoot the jumper. First year Coach Anthony Epps has had a decent year, but he has his hands full. Epps has one of the best minds in the game. He led his 93 Marion County Knights to a state championship and then went on to win one at the University of Kentucky. His game plan will be on point, I just don’t know if the Eagles have enough horses in the stable to run with John Hardin. Campbellsville will be led by Sr. Malachi Corley. Corley is probably the best over all talent in the region. He had a stellar career on the football field and will play on saturdays in the near future.
As stated before this will be an exciting tournament. I really cant say who is the favorite because there is such a minimal difference in 5 of the 8 teams. Be looking for future pieces on the Tradition of the 5th Region coming soon.
The tournament officially starts Wednesday March 4th, 2020 with a 6:00 EST. All games will be played at Taylor County High School.