Game 5 preview: McCracken County vs. Wayne County

mfields@herald-leader.comMarch 18, 2014 

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Wayne County point guard Trey Blevins, a sophomore, averages 18.1 points a game.

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McCracken County

Region: 1st | Record: 24-8 | Enrollment: 1,872

Coach's résumé

Burlin Brower was head coach at Heath for five years before taking over at newly consolidated McCracken County. His top assistant, Andy Poore, was formerly head coach at Lone Oak.

Starters

No. Player Ht. Yr. Ppg.

3 Jared Burnett 6-0 Sr. 11.9

54 Bryce Rodgers 6-3 Sr. 7.7

10 Kam Chumbler 6-0 Sr. 12.5

22 Caleb Stonecipher 6-1 Jr. 11.2

20 Jason Armstrong 6-4 Jr. 5.2

Scouting report

It took a while to make a cohesive unit out of players from three different schools — Heath, Lone Oak and Reidland — and Brower was worried about the Mustangs last summer. They didn't share the ball and "couldn't play a lick of defense," he said. But the players eventually embraced the team concept. Combining their talent with an unselfish attitude was a winner. They play an up-and-down style, and shoot 43 percent from three-point range. Stonecipher (Heath) and Chumbler (Lone Oak) are the sharpest shooters. Bruner (Reidland) is a scorer. Rodgers (Heath) is tough on the boards. "We're pretty efficient, and do a good job of not forcing shots," Brower said. "And these are smart kids. They see past the petty individual stuff. They see the big picture, what they can accomplish as a team." Sixth man's a crowd

There's been some buzz about Covington Catholic's student cheering section, but Brower thinks McCracken County's student section is special, too. "They do a lot of cool stuff," he said. Brower recalled a game against Paducah Tilghman when the students wore T-shirts from their pre-consolidation schools, creating a colorful splash of purple (Lone Oak), black and gold (Heath) and red and black (Reidland). Right before tip-off, the students rolled a huge piece of paper above them to cover themselves. On the paper was printed "three schools united." Then they ripped the paper apart and revealed they were all wearing white Mustangs T-shirts.

Player to watch

It was no accident that Chumbler hit the shot that beat Marshall County 43-41 in overtime in the region finals. "We want the ball in his hands and we want him to take the big shots," Brower said. "He's the man. He's a solid-as-a-rock point guard." Chumbler is the grandson of Bill Chumbler, who coached Paducah Tilghman to a state runner-up finish to Lexington Catholic in 2002. "Kam's not as wired as Billy," Brower said with a laugh. "You never hear a word out of Kam."

Sweet history

This is McCracken County High School's first year. Heath last appeared in the Sweet Sixteen in 1933, and Reidland in 1940. Lone Oak's only tournament appearance came in 2005.

Wayne County

Region: 12th | Record: 31-1 | Enrollment: 950

Coach's résumé

Rodney Woods is 801-375 in 34 years, the last 28 at Wayne County, where he has 593 wins, nine region titles and a state runner-up finish. He also coached at Corbin and Powell Valley, Tenn. A high school star at Lone Jack (in Bell County), he played college ball at Tennessee.

Starters

No. Player Ht. Yr. Ppg.

20 Trey Blevins 6-0 So. 18.1

23 Corey Stearns 6-2 So. 17.6

14 Peyton Woods 6-3 Jr. 24.9

10 Jason Perkins 5-9 Sr. 7.9

25 Nick Gillespie 6-6 So. 2.9

Scouting report

Woods has been at Wayne County for almost three decades, "but in all that time I've never seen the kind of following like we've had this season," he said. The Cardinals have given their fans plenty to cheer, winning 31 of 32 games and playing a shoot-'em-up, high-scoring style. Peyton Woods, the coach's son, Blevins and Stearns are prolific offensive players. Perkins, Gillespie and sixth man Logan Gardner add to the team chemistry. Wayne County's strength is its shooting — 36.5 percent from three-point range, and 76 percent from the foul line. The Cards' best attribute? "They just don't like to lose," Woods said. "They're tough kids who just battle and battle to the end." An example: Wayne County trailed Knott Central by 16 points with five minutes left but rallied to win 81-77.

Bittersweet memories

It was 25 years ago this week that Wayne County lost to PRP 75-73 in the state finals. Jimmy John Owens and Julius Green were Wayne County's stars. Owens, who now lives in Hawaii, was in Pulaski County last week for his induction into the 12th Region Hall of Fame. Green was inducted a few years ago.

Player to watch

Trey Blevins' dad Shane played on the last Monticello team that made the Sweet Sixteen, in 1987. Like his dad, Trey is a fierce competitor. He's a terrific three-point shooter, but also attacks the rim with abandon. Woods said Blevins, a point guard, showed his true grit in the region last week. "The amazing thing was with the breakneck pace we play, the little rascal had only three turnovers the whole tournament, one each game," Woods said

Sweet history

Wayne County is in the state tournament for the second year in a row and 10th time overall. It was runner-up to Pleasure Ridge Park in 1989.

Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com.

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