Game 6 preview: Knott County Central vs. Bowling Green

mfields@herald-leader.comMarch 18, 2014 

Boys 14th District Championship

Bowling Green junior guard Tucker Sine is averaging 12.1 points a game for the Purples.

JOSHUA LINDSEY/DAILY NEWS

Knott county Central

Region: 14th | Record: 25-6 | Enrollment: 613

Coach's résumé

B.B. King has a 103-28 record in four years as the Patriots' coach. He was previously an assistant at Knott Central and Letcher Central.

Starters

No. Player Ht. Yr. Ppg.

5 Camron Justice 6-2 Jr. 25.5

21 Simon Christon 6-2 Jr. 6.8

24 Evan Hall 6-5 Jr. 15.3

25 Chance Cornett 6-3 Jr. 8.1

11 Keegan Sammons 6-2 Sr. 4.9

Scouting report In Justice and Hall, Knott Central has one of the best inside-outside duos in the state. As they go, the Patriots go. Justice is capable of outrageous shooting performances. Last season he pumped in 62 points against Cincinnati Roger Bacon. "He's a gusty player who seems to play his best when the lights are bright," King said. When Hall is aggressive, he's a beast. "Sometimes he's too unselfish," King said. Christon is a tough rebounder. Cornett is capable of big scoring and rebounding games. "We're not the most talented bunch, but we play well together," King said. "And these kids just won't quit." They rallied to beat Cordia in the district, and Perry Central and Hazard in the region tournament. "I could see it in their eyes at halftime they weren't done," King said.

Deep-rooted tradition

When a basketball team from Knott County is in the Sweet Sixteen, tradition takes a bow. The county is home to Carr Creek, the ultimate Cinderella story in high school hoops. King appreciates his roots. He played in two state tournaments (1978, 1980) for Knott Central. He was an assistant coach when the Patriots made it to the Sweet Sixteen three years in a row (1991, '92, '93). And now he's coached Knott Central to three consecutive region titles. "This county is kind of like UK," King said. "There's a lot of pressure to win every game by 30 or 40 points. I've had teams win by 15 points, and the next morning I stop at the store and people say we played bad. But it's a good thing that people want you and expect you to win."

Player to watch

While Justice has been on statewide radar since he was an eighth-grader, Hall has developed into a Division I prospect over the last couple years. He's shooting 74 percent from the field and averaging nine rebounds. He's the perfect complement to Justice's perimeter game. King attributes Hall's improvement to hard work and maturity. "He's a good kid and pretty athletic with a lot of upside," King said. Sweet history

This is the Patriots' 11th state tournament and third in a row. They made it to the quarterfinals the last two years.

Bowling Green

Region: 4th | Record: 27-6 | Enrollment: 1,221

Coach's résumé

D.G. Sherrill is 207-80 in nine years at Bowling Green. He also led the Purples to the Sweet Sixteen in 2009 and 2012. He previously coached at Allen County-Scottsville, and has an overall record of 234-133 in 13 seasons. Starters

No. Player Ht. Yr. Ppg.

12 Nacarius Fant 5-10 Sr. 11.9

1 Blue Tisdale 6-1 Sr. 5.1

40 Joseph Ayers 6-7 Sr. 8.5

10 Tucker Sine 6-2 Jr. 12.1

20 Clay Stivers 6-5 Sr. 11.1 Scouting report

A lot of people were surprised Bowling Green overtook Warren Central in the race to Rupp, but Sherrill correctly handicapped his team's potential early on. "Even in the pre-season I felt we had the pieces to compete. We had people who could guard and people who could score," he said. Once football stars Fant and Tisdale got their basketball legs, the Purples rounded into form. Sherrill thought Ayers "was as good as anybody in the region the last month." Sine blossomed. Stivers was steady all along. Cheivy McCutcheon, Perry Ayers and Malik Carothers have helped off the bench. Everything clicked in the district and region. "We were the best we've been all year defensively," Sherrill said.

Winning attitude

Fant and Tisdale were stars on Bowling Green's three-time undefeated state championship football teams, so they know what performing in the spotlight is all about. "The big stage doesn't scare them," Sherrill said. "They believe they belong in any arena. It could be squash or doubles tennis, they have a confidence that they're going to get it done." Fant and Tisdale have Sweet Sixteen experience, having played for the Purples in the 2012 state tournament. Player to watch

The Purples' late-season surge was due in part to Sine's improvement. Sherrill thinks he's now one of the top juniors in the state. "The second half of the season he averaged about 16 points," he said. "He shot the three, put it on the floor, and he was good in our man-to-man defensive pressure. He's one of those kids who plays hard all the time." In Bowling Green's wins over favored Warren Central in the district and region finals, Sine had 22 and 20 points. "The better the teams we face, the better he plays," Sherrill said.

Sweet history

This is Bowling Green's 14th state tournament. Its best showing was in 1991, when it reached the semifinals before losing to eventual champ Fairdale.

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

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