Christian County vs. Shelby Valley
6:30 p.m. Wednesday
Winner plays Game 4 winner at 1:30 Friday
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CHRISTIAN COUNTY COLONELS
Region: 2 | Record: 21-9 | Enrollment: 1,400
Kerry Stovall is 197-99 in 10 years with the Colonels and has helped them to the state tournament six times. He also coached at West Hopkins, Dawson Springs and Muhlenberg South.
Anthony Hickey5-11 Sr. 18.1 ppg
Marcoreyon Tandy6-0 Sr. 8.3 ppg
Donovan Kates6-5 Sr. 20.4 ppg
Nick Riley5-10 Sr. 7.2 ppg
Kenyon Wheeler6-3 Jr. 2.4 ppg
Christian County is not the same team it was in late January. After the Colonels lost to Clark County and Scott County in the Toyota Classic, Stovall revamped his offense and defense. "We lost eight (regular-season) games because of my ignorance," he said. Stovall scrapped the inside post, put his athletic players out on the floor and gave them freedom to create. Defensively, they press on misses and makes. Hickey, Kates and Tandy are the stickout starters, while Veontae Lewis (11.3 ppg, 4.5 rpg) might be the best sixth man in the state. Experience is the Colonels' trump card. Hickey, Kates, Tandy and Lewis are in the Sweet Sixteen for the third time.
Kerry Stovall calls Marcoreyon "Bubba" Tandy "the most decorated student-athlete we've ever had. He's played in seven region finals in football and basketball, two state championship games in football, and this is his third state tournament in basketball. That's phenomenal." Tandy signed to play football at UK.
Player to watch
Anthony Hickey isn't easy to spot on the court because he's usually a blur. "Any college coaches that have called about him, I say, 'I defy you to find a human being faster with the ball,'" Coach Kerry Stovall said. Hickey is averaging 18 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds and 4 steals. "His stock has really jumped in the last month," Stovall said, noting that Tennessee, Houston, TCU and Nebraska have shown interest. WKU and Murray State want him. Hickey also quarterbacked Christian County's football team to the state 5A finals.
The Colonels are in the state tournament for the fifth time in six years and the 17th time overall. They were runners-up in 1976 and '79. They have an overall record of 13-16.
SHELBY VALLEY WILDCATS
Region: 15 | Record: 13-17 | Enrollment: 668
Greg Newsome is in his first season as the Wildcats' coach, but he's been in the game most of his life. He played in the Sweet Sixteen for Virgie three straight years and later was assistant at Virgie under Bobby Osborne. Newsome was the middle-school coach to the stars (including Elisha Justice) of Shelby Valley's state title team.
Dalton Richardson5-10 8th 7.3 ppg
Logan Lucas5-9 Jr. 4.0 ppg
Trey Roberts6-1 Sr. 7.6 ppg
Brett Reynolds6-2 Sr. 5.9 ppg
Cody Belter6-10 Fr. 5.6 ppg
Nobody saw Shelby Valley returning to Rupp the year after winning the state title and graduating its top eight players and losing its coach (Jason Booher left for Holmes). "We got off to a bad start, but middle ways through the season good things started happening," Newsome said. Sixth man Rusty Roberts is tops in scoring with a 7.7 average. Point guard Richardson is an eighth-grader, and center Belter is a freshman. The Cats' first three-game winning streak this season came in the region tournament. "We just tell them to play as hard as you can and have fun," Newsome says of his team's matchup with Christian County in the first round: "It should be a mismatch, but we'll play with a lot of heart."
The graduated players who led Shelby Valley to the state title last March are celebrating this post-season run. Greg Newsome's son Tyler, a starter last year and now at Pikeville College, was on the bench for the region finals. Ashley Hatfield, now at Transylvania, was there, too. "Everyone else called me on the phone after it was over," Greg Newsome said. "Most of them will try to be there (Wednesday) when we play in the state tournament." New some also heard from Jason Booher, whose Holmes team lost in the first round of the 9th Region. "I told him I'd see him sitting in the stands at Rupp," Newsome said with a chuckle.
Player to watch
Keep an eye on long, tall Cody Belter. "If he gets some bulk on him and keeps improving, he could be one of the best players in the state," Greg Newsome said. Belter's offensive skills include a mid-range jump shot. He's scored in double figures in three of five post-season games. "Physically he's still a freshman, but he's not the same player he was early in the season," Newsome said.
This is Shelby Valley's sixth state tournament and fourth in the past five years. The Wildcats won the state title last March.