Region: 9th Record: 31-2 Enrollment: 823
Jason Booher has a 75-20 record in three years at Holmes. Before that he was at Shelby Valley for six years, going 159-37, including four region titles and the 2010 state championship. He also coached at Henry County and Belfry. Booher played in the state tournament for North Hardin in 1990 and '91.
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Player Height Class Points
James Bolden 5-11 So. 17.7
Chris Englemon 6-2 Sr. 12.0
Quan Palmer 5-10 Sr. 11.8
B.J. Coston 6-1 Sr. 9.2
Quinton Chames 6-4 Jr. 8.1
Holmes came close to being undefeated. The Bulldogs' only losses were in double overtime to Newport Central Catholic, and to Covington Catholic on a half-court shot. Booher said the Bulldogs aren't bound to one style. "We've won games slowing it down, and we've won games running. Whatever gives us the best chance." Chames has been a key contributor of late with his size and athleticism. "When we started practice on Oct. 15, he couldn't catch the ball. He's the most improved player I've ever had over the course of a season," Booher said.
Booher said it's "amazing" how much state tournament experience his assistants Mike Listerman, Tony Perkins and John Wimzie have. Listerman led Covington Catholic to two region titles, and guided the Colonels to the Sweet Sixteen semifinals in 2004. Perkins made it to the Sweet Sixteen 10 times as an assistant at North Hardin. Wimzie was on Holmes' 1978 state runner-up team, and was an assistant when the Bulldogs won the title in 2009 and were runners-up in 2008.
Player to watch
When Booher was at Shelby Valley, he had a point guard who wore No. 3, led the Wildcats to a state title and was named Mr. Basketball. That was Elisha Justice. At Holmes, Booher's sophomore point guard "Beetle" Bolden wears No. 3 and has some of the same star qualities as Justice. Bolden is more athletic than Justice and is a better all-around scorer. But Booher is trying to get Bolden to grow into the kind of leader Justice was. "Elisha knew how to win ball games by controlling things on the defensive end as well as the offensive end," Booher said.
Holmes is in the state tournament for the 13th time. It won the title in 2009 and was runner-up in 2008, 1990 and 1978.
Pleasure Ridge Park
Region: 6th Record: 25-7 Enrollment: 1,865
Dale Mabrey has 814 wins (third most in state history) in 32 years at PRP. He led the Panthers to the state title in 1989. He has 22 Sweet Sixteen victories, second only to Billy Hicks' 23.
Player Height Class Points
LaMontray Harris 6-7 Jr. 13.6
Antonio McDaniels 5-10 Jr. 10.3
Robert Sawyer 6-6 Sr. 6.4
Taywan Taylor 6-1 Sr. 14.4
Richard Clemons 5-11 Sr. 2.3
PRP traditionally has been a quick, swarming, pressing team. But the Panthers have used different styles this season. "It's been a journey, to say the least, finding what works for us," Mabrey said. In the region semifinals against favored Bullitt East, they backed into a suffocating half-court defense that earned them a 40-33 victory. "Down the stretch this season, we've been pretty hard to score on," Mabrey said. Mabrey said the insertion of Clemons into the starting lineup a few weeks ago gave the team a much-needed lift. "He's that guy who'll sacrifice for the other players. He's not concerned with his own stats; he's only concerned with winning."
Mabrey never went more than five years between region titles until his teams came up short from 2007 to 2012. The Panthers finally broke through this year. "It's been a long seven years since we've been to Rupp," Mabrey said. "Losing the last two years in the finals destroyed our soul. We coaches questioned ourselves and everything we were doing. But we kept knocking on the door. We're so happy for the kids. We're going to step back and let them enjoy it. This is all about them."
Player to watch
Last fall Taylor helped PRP to its greatest football season. The Panthers went 14-0 before falling to Trinity in the Class 6A finals. "Taywan is an athlete deluxe," Mabrey said. "He's hard for people to handle because he's so strong and crafty. He's a good one."
PRP is making its 13th Sweet Sixteen appearance. The Panthers won the title in 1989 and were runners-up in 1986 and '95.
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Mike Fields: You never know at the state tournament
Sweet Sixteen tournament bracket
Pre-season team, player ratings
Game 1 (Noon, Wed.): Wayne Co. vs. Madison Central
Game 2 (1:30 pm, Wed.): Holmes vs. PRP
Game 3 (6:30 pm, Wed.): Graves Co. vs. Ohio Co.
Game 4 (8 pm, Wed.): Hopkinsville vs. South Oldham
Game 5 (Noon, Thu.): Warren Central vs. Montgomery Co.
Game 6 (1:30 pm, Thu.): Fleming Co. vs. John Hardin
Game 7 (6:30 pm, Thu.): Johnson Central vs. Ballard
Game 8 (8 pm, Thu.): Knott Co. Central vs. Clay Co.
Region players and coaches of the year
Past boys' Sweet Sixteen champions