Marshall Co. vs. Scott Co.
Region: 1st Record: 32-2 Enrollment: 1,435
Gus Gillespie (194-58) is the Marshals' all-time winningest coach. He previously coached five years in Illinois and has an overall record of 308-89.
Player Height Class Points
Cole Nelson 6-1 Sr. 13.4
Chase Clark 6-2 Jr. 14.0
Chase York 6-0 Sr. 10.9
Austin Rentfrow6-5 So. 9.2
Chase Buchanan 6-1 Sr. 3.7
Gillespie says "there's nothing special" about his team. The Marshals don't have much size. They're not that athletic. All they do is win — 32 times this season. "We just try to be a sound and solid team. We play unselfish basketball, do a good job finding the open man and scoring off assists. We've won a lot of games with our defense." There's no one scorer to focus on. Clark, Nelson and York are consistent scorers, but a bunch of guys share the load, including reserves Peter Northcutt, Tanner Jessup and Logan Taylor. Rentfrow was thrown into the mix early and has improved steadily to give the Marshals an inside presence.
Player to watch
Nelson is in his third season as Marshall County's point guard. "He's got a lot of experience and has done an outstanding job taking care of the ball," Gillespie said. Nelson can do other things, too, as he showed in last year's Sweet Sixteen when he had 20 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals in a quarterfinal loss to Bullitt East. Nelson has helped the Marshals to 82 victories over the last three seasons.
a tale of two states
Gillespie played high school ball at Lawrenceville, Ill., where Jay Shidler was a hot-shot guard before going on to play at Kentucky. "His scoring record was in no danger from me," Gillespie said. Gillespie coached high school hoops for five years in Illinois when it had two-class basketball. He left for Marshall County, and has his team in the one-for-all Kentucky state tournament for the second year in a row. "A single class makes it very special, with one team crowned a true state champion," he said.
Marshall County is in the state tournament for the second year in a row and sixth time overall. It reached the semifinals twice and lost to the eventual state champ both times — to Pleasure Ridge Park in 1989 and Breckinridge County in 1995.
Region: 11th Record: 31-4 Enrollment: 2,235
Billy Hicks, the winningest active coach in the state with 812 victories, has guided Scott County to nine state tournaments in 18 years. He also coached Corbin to one Sweet Sixteen.
Player Height Class Points
Tamron Manning 6-4 Sr. 15.5
Isaiah Ivey 6-2 Sr. 16.4
Quin Richardson 6-0 Jr. 8.2
Josh Harris 6-4 Sr. 7.9
Trent Gilbert 6-2 So. 14.6
The Cardinals have won 24 of their last 25 games and were at their best down the home stretch. Defense is the Cards' calling card. They play hard and smart in harassing opponents into 40 percent shooting and 20 turnovers a game. Manning, who signed with Marshall, is the firebrand on both ends of the floor. He leads the team in rebounding (6.7), steals (2.8) and getting to the free-throw line (155 of 219). He's second in scoring and assists (2.5). Ivey, a Gardner-Webb signee, is a clutch scorer. Gilbert, one of the best three-point shooters in the state, is hitting 47 percent (102 of 218) from long range.
Dreams come true
Hicks failed to get a team to the Sweet Sixteen in his first 14 years of coaching, and critics said his fast-paced style of play was the reason. "But I never stopped believing in my system," he said. In 1991, Hicks took Corbin to Rupp Arena. Since leaving the Redhounds for Scott County 18 years ago, Hicks has led the Cards to the Sweet Sixteen nine times. "Growing up in a little ol' community in Harlan County, the state tournament was a far-off dream, so I'll never take it for granted," Hicks said.
Player to watch
He rarely leads the Cards in points or publicity, but Richardson is never overlooked by Hicks. "People don't realize Quin is one of the best point guards we've ever had here. He doesn't turn the ball over, he's a heck of a passer, he's a strong defender, and he can score." Richardson averages 3 assists, hits 41 percent of his three-pointers and 81 percent of his free throws. "Prototypical point guard," Hicks said.
This is Scott County's 13th Sweet Sixteen, and its ninth under Hicks, who guided the Cardinals to titles in 1998 and 2007, and a runner-up finish in 1999.