Game 1 preview: South Oldham vs. Hopkinsville

mfields@herald-leader.comMarch 18, 2014 

South Oldham

Region: 8th | Record: 22-4 | Enrollment: 1,219

Coach's résumé

Steven Simpson is 260-152 in 14 seasons with the Dragons and has led them to back-to-back region titles.

Starters

No. Player Ht. Yr. Ppg.

20 Drew Greenwood 6-0 Sr. 10.2

4 Michael Griffin 6-0 Sr. 12.3

12 Kyle Young 6-0 Sr. 18.4

1 Jonathan Blair 5-10 Sr. 7.1

23 Drew Bullock 6-1 Sr. 6.9

Scouting report

The Rupp Arena court will serve as a launching pad for South Oldham's three-point attack. The Dragons fired up about 600 threes this season. "Everybody always has the green light," Simpson said. "If they miss, I'm not taking them out because I don't want them looking over their shoulder. I want them to keep shooting." South Oldham hit 14 threes in a close first-round region win over Owen County. Young is the only starter back from last year's Sweet Sixteen team. Blair, Greenwood and Griffin saw spot duty as juniors but are now main contributors. "This group watched how hard those guys worked last year, so they knew what it took to get this far," Simpson said. South Oldham likes to run and press, but Simpson knows that style may not work against a team as talented and athletic as Hopkinsville. They met in the first round of the Sweet Sixteen last year and Hoptown won 74-52.

Family ties

South Oldham Principal Jeff Griffin was a basketball star back in the day. He led Oldham County to the 1985 Sweet Sixteen. He later coached South Oldham before getting into administration. His son Michael is a senior starter for the Dragons. He coached Michael and several other South Oldham players when they were in grade school. "I still talk to him and pick his brain," Simpson said. "He knows these kids and this community. He's been a real asset."

Player to watch

Bullock didn't play much last year because of an injury, and he began this year on the bench. But when starter Drew Horsey was injured, Bullock stepped in and has developed into a steady contributor capable of a big game. He had one against Owen County last week, hitting seven threes. "He's really come on the second half of the season," Simpson said.

Sweet history

The Dragons made the state tournament for the first time last year, and now they're back.

Hopkinsville

Region: 2nd | Record: 30-2 | Enrollment: 1,078 Coach's résumé

Tim Haworth is 111-17 (87 percent winning percentage) in four seasons with the Tigers. He played at Murray State and was an assistant there under Mick Cronin, who's now at Cincinnati.

Starters

No. Player Ht. Yr. Ppg.

32 Jaqualis Matlock 6-5 Jr. 17.2

3 Tra Edwards 6-3 Sr. 16.3

5 Quan Poindexter 6-6 Sr. 11.3

12 Nik Hatcher 5-10 Jr. 4.3

15 Demarius Henry 5-11 Sr. 11.6 Scouting report

Hoptown has won at least 30 games three years in a row, and is 27-0 against Kentucky competition this season. The Tigers are talented, athletic, deep and experienced. They play an up-tempo style, with Edwards, a three-year starter at point guard, running the show. Matlock, who's been touted as a star since he was a freshman, leads the team in scoring and rebounding (8.6 rpg). Poindexter, a transfer from Christian County, bolsters Hoptown's offense, defense and rebounding. Haworth said he considers senior reserve Demarius Cager (8.9 ppg), "one of the top five guards in the state. He relishes the sixth-man role." This has been a relatively low-stress winter for the Tigers. "It's been the least-drama season I've ever had as coach," Haworth said. "Everything's gone right. We've got great team chemistry. Teams usually have problems, but ours have been few."

Daddy's girl

During last year's Sweet Sixteen, Haworth was on alert because his wife, Leah, was due to give birth at any time. Fortunately, their daughter Madelyn didn't arrive until the day he returned home to Hopkinsville. Last week Madelyn celebrated her first birthday on the day the Tigers won the region. "She was adorable," Haworth said. "We took pictures of her with the team celebrating the region championship."

Player to watch

Matlock, who started as a freshman, seems to have been around as long as reruns of the TV show with the same name (starring Andy Griffith). Jaqualis averaged 12.3 points as a freshman, 14.2 as a sophomore and he's at 17.2 this season. Haworth said Matlock has become "a better ball-handler and shooter," and matured. "Now when things aren't going well for him (offensively), it's not going to affect him where he stops rebounding or defending." Matlock and Edwards both have scholarship offers from Murray State and Southern Miss.

Sweet history

Hopkinsville won the state title in 1985. This is their seventh Sweet Sixteen, and third in a row.

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

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