Game 4 preview: Campbell County vs. Johnson Central

mfields@herald-leader.comMarch 18, 2014 

Shane Hall, now a senior, has led Johnson Central to three straight Sweet Sixteens.

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Campbell County

Region: 10th | Record: 21-8 | Enrollment: 1,535

Coach's résumé

Aric Russell is in his fourth season at Campbell County, his alma mater. He was previously at Newport for nine years, including a trip to the Sweet Sixteen in 2010. He coached girls for three years. His overall record is 260-192.

Starters

No. Player Ht. Yr. Ppg.

30 Corey Holbrook 6-1 Sr. 16.2

3 Blake Losey 5-11 Jr. 8.9

14 Matt Wilson 6-5 So. 12.8

15 Deondre Jackson 6-0 Jr. 18.7

10 Trent McGovney 5-11 So. 4.3 Scouting report

Campbell County pulled off the biggest upset in the round of region finals by beating Montgomery County, which lost only twice in the regular season. "I guess it was a surprise somewhat, but after we saw them play we felt like we could beat them," Russell said. The Camels' strength is their ability to adjust and play pretty much any style. "We play tough man-to-man and get up and down," Russell said. "But we try to adapt, too, depending on our opponent. It's worked well for us." McGovney runs the point. Jackson can score from the perimeter or off the dribble. Holbrook and Losey are three-point threats. Wilson has developed into an inside force. "We try to go inside-out, mix it up offensively and mix it up defensively," Russell said. Camels pride

Russell and Jerry Gross, his top assistant, played for Campbell County in the late 1980s, but they never got to the Sweet Sixteen. They lost to Jack Jennings-led Holmes in the 9th Region finals in 1988. But the Camels got over the hump this time. "It's really special for Jerry and me to be taking our alma mater to state," Russell said. "We're both pretty excited."

Player to watch

Wilson, who broke into the starting lineup midway through his freshman season, has developed into a solid post player. He came close to a triple-double (12 points, 14 rebounds, eight blocks) in the region finals. The 6-5 Wilson also plays football. He was a back-up quarterback last fall.

Sweet history

This is the Camels' fourth Sweet Sixteen, and first since 2001. They've never won a game in the state tournament.

Johnson Central

Region: 15th | Record: 25-6 | Enrollment: 1,096

Coach's résumé

Tommy McKenzie has the Golden Eagles in the state tournament for the third year in a row. His overall record is 141-76. He played on Johnson Central's 2000 Sweet Sixteen team and was an assistant on the 2006 state tournament team.

Starters

No. Player Ht. Yr. Ppg.

3 Braxton Blair 5-11 Jr. 9.1

24 Shane Hall 6-9 Sr. 17.5

11 Slade McPeek 5-11 Sr. 9.4

21 Kyle Gullett 6-6 Jr. 15.3

1 Dalton Adkins 5-9 Jr. 6.0

Scouting report

In the Sweet Sixteen for the third year in a row, the Golden Eagles should feel right at home in Rupp Arena. "Two years ago we were like deer in the headlights," McKenzie said. "Last year we were better but had to play the Miami Heat (No. 1 Ballard) in the first round.We should be more relaxed this time." Hall is Johnson Central's star and a tough matchup for anybody. But if teams gang up on him with junk defenses or sagging zones, his supporting cast can make them pay. Gullett has evolved into a big scorer, and McPeek has also picked it up offensively. "We still play through Shane, but teams have to respect our other guys now," McKenzie said. The Golden Eagles' style is up-tempo, looking for transition baskets. "That's when we're at our best," McKenzie said. Mountain pride

Johnson Central's third consecutive 15th Region title puts the Golden Eagles in select company. They're the seventh school to three-peat. The last two to do it were Shelby Valley (2009-11) and Paintsville (1996-98). "Both of those schools won state championships," McKenzie said. "We're hoping to add to that."

Player to watch

Hall, who has signed with Marshall, has elevated his game. McKenzie said he's more assertive in the post and has improved his mid-range jumper. Hall was nagged by injuries last season but left a lasting impression with his performance against Ballard in the Sweet Sixteen. He had 28 points (four dunks) and eight rebounds. "Shane's confidence was really soaring after that, and he's continued to build on it," McKenzie said. He had 38 points and 19 rebounds against PRP in the King of the Bluegrass tournament. "It seems like he plays his best on the biggest stages," McKenzie said. Hall's career numbers: 1,726 points, 1,128 rebounds, 465 blocked shots and 216 dunks.

Sweet history

This is the Golden Eagles' eighth Sweet Sixteen. The only time they got past the first round was in 2000 with a win over Hopkins Central.

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

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