GAME TWO: 1:30 p.m. Wednesday
Taylor Co. vs. Hopkinsville
Region: 5th | Record: 28-4 | Enrollment: 851
Richard Gatewood Jr. was only 27 when in his first year as a head coach guided Moore to a 23-8 record in 2013. He's 54-11 in two seasons at Taylor County, and has the Cardinals in the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 1983.
No. Player Ht. Yr. Ppg.
3 Quentin Goodin 6-4 Jr. 21.3
10 David Sloan 5-11 So. 12.5
14 Brandon Berry 6-4 Sr. 16.0
23 Austin Webster 6-4 Sr. 6.0
24 Ezra Oliver 6-0 So. 5.9
Gatewood has no doubt why his Cards made it to Rupp: "Our tough schedule. If you've got horses, you've gotta test them early." Taylor County showed its pedigree with a runner-up finish in the King of the Bluegrass just before Christmas. The Cards, loaded with talent, play with what Gatewood calls an edge. "That kind of gets us a bad rap, but you've got to play that way if you're going to get to this point. Offense is fool's gold. But you can always control how hard to you play, how hard you guard, how hard you rebound." Taylor County, one of the highest scoring teams in the state, loves to push the tempo. Goodin, at the point, pushes the pace. He's the team's leading scorer, but the Cards don't need him to carry the load. Berry, a transfer from Ballard, is big, strong and physical. Sloan, the coach's adopted son, is a blossoming star. Webster is the guy who sets the tone on defense. "Offensively we're so gifted, but we can be special when we get down and guard," Gatewood said. "That's important because when you get to Rupp, it's about getting stops."
CLEM THE GEM
When Gatewood arrived at Taylor County, he reached out to Clem Haskins, the best player in school history and a living legend. He wanted Haskins to have an influence on the current Cardinals. Haskins has done that. Haskins, who's a regular at games, spoke to the players before the region finals and told them of all the accolades and achievements he had in his illustrious career, leading Taylor County to the region title in 1963 was the best. "It's special to have Clem Haskins with us," Gatewood said.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Goodin, rated the top junior in the state, could solidify his position as 2016's Mr. Basketball favorite with a strong showing this week. He has scholarship offers from Louisville, Florida, Michigan, Oklahoma State and WKU, among others. "He's a 6-4, 185-pound point guard, and when he gets going downhill, he's very tough to stop," Gatewood said. "He's matured so much from last year as far as being a floor general." Goodin is already Taylor County's all-time leading scorer with 2,190 points. He also has 621 rebounds, 552 assists and 275 steals. "He's the type of kid you see in the state once every five or 10 years," Gatewood said.
This is the first time since 1983 Taylor County has been in the state tournament, and its sixth appearance overall.
Region: 2nd | Record: 26-5 | Enrollment: 1,078
Tim Haworth, 138-23 in five seasons, has the Tigers in Rupp for the fourth year in a row. He played at Murray State and was an assistant there.
No. Player Ht. Yr. Ppg.
32 Jaqualis Matlock 6-5 Sr. 19.6
5 Jordan Gary 6-0 Sr. 11.2
2 LeDonald Gray 6-1 Sr. 12.3
10 Jalen Johnson 5-11 Fr. 9.6
20 C.J. Henagan 6-3 So. 3.8
Except for Matlock, whom Haworth calls "the staple of our program," the Tigers' starting lineup has a different look than last year. Gary and Gray, transfers from University Heights, provide plenty of offense. "Both are capable of getting 25 any night," Haworth said. Henagan missed the first two months of the season with a hip injury but he's come on strong as a shooter and defender since returning to the court. Then there is Johnson, who's emerged as a wise-beyond-his-years standout at point guard. "One of the best freshmen in the state," Haworth said. "A tremendous basketball player. He had 23 in the King of the Bluegrass against Chris Presbyterian, 24 in the district finals (against UHA) and 20 in the region against Caldwell County." Matlock is still the undisputed leader of the Tigers as he showed with 13 points, 15 rebounds, six blocks and three assists in the region finals against Webster County.
This is the 30th anniversary of Hopkinsville's state title. The 1985 champs were honored at the Tigers' game against Christian County on Jan. 17. Coach Daryl Hallmark and a lot of his players were in attendance. Haworth said "the best way ever" to pay tribute to them would be to win another state title this year.
PLAYER TO WATCH
This will be Matlock's fourth year in a row to start for the Tigers in the Sweet Sixteen. In six previous state tournament games, he's totaled 54 points, 60 rebounds and nine assists. "He's the staple of our program," Haworth said. "He just keeps getting better, in his maturity level, his offensive skills, and his defense." Matlock, who has a scholarship offer from Western Kentucky, is Hopkinsville's all-time leading scorer and rebounder, with more than 2,000 points and 1,000 boards.
This is Hoptown's fourth consecutive Sweet Sixteen, and eighth overall. It won the state title in 1985.