GAME SEVEN: 6:30 P.M. Thursday
BOWLING GREEN VS. ELLIOTT CO.
Region: 4th | Record: 28-5 | Enrollment: 1,220
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D.G. Sherrill is 237-86 in 10 years at Bowling Green. He also led the Purples to the Sweet Sixteen in 2009, 2012 and 2014. He previously coached at Allen County-Scottsville, and has an overall record of 264-139 in 13 seasons.
No. Player Ht. Yr. Ppg.
14 Malik Carothers 6-0 Sr. 7.6
10 Tucker Sine 6-2 Sr. 13.9
25 Perry Ayres 6-2 Jr. 5.6
11 Dane Drobocky 6-3 Jr. 2.7
21 Terry Taylor 6-4 So. 12.0
Bowling Green needed a one-point overtime victory to get past Barren County in the region semifinals and a two-point win over Warren Central in the finals for a return trip to the Sweet Sixteen — the school's third in the past four seasons. The Purples lost four seniors from last year's starting lineup and leaned heavily on Sine and Carothers — the sixth man last season — to get them through the early stages of this campaign. The mixture of youth and experience is now meshing nicely. Sherrill said his squad tries to play "as fast as we can," so look for them to push the basketball this week. "We also run a lot of motion stuff, so we try to spread the floor offensively and take advantage of our athleticism," he said.
One of the local radio guys dubbed the trio of Taylor, Kyran Jones and Deangelo Wilson the "super sophomores" early in the postseason, and the name stuck. Taylor averaged a double-double for the Purples during the region tournament, Jones started several games earlier this season and Sherrill said Wilson is probably the team's most athletic guard. "They're a huge part of why we're making the trip to Lexington this week," he said. "They've been really good for us all year long. ... So far, no stage has been too big for them."
PLAYER TO WATCH
Sine is the only returning starter from last season's team, and he's leading the Purples with 14.2 points per game. He's easily the team's best long-range threat (52 threes on the season) and is among the state's best free-throw shooters at 85 percent. "He's our catalyst offensively," Sherrill said. "He's the engine that makes us go. ... He's the guy that a lot of our young guys lean on for experience. He's kind of the coach on the floor."
This is Bowling Green's 15th state tournament. The Purples matched their best showing last season, when they reached the semifinals before losing to eventual champ Covington Catholic.
Region: 16th | Record: 22-7 | Enrollment: 307
Greg Adkins is 100-69 in six years at Elliott County. He was an assistant coach for the Lions in each of their three previous Sweet Sixteen appearances.
No. Player Ht. Yr. Ppg.
24 Reece Griffith 5-6 Jr. 5.4
23 Landon Griffith 5-6 Jr. 8.7
3 Chase Porter 6-1 So. 12.6
32 Hunter Holbrook 6-3 Sr. 12.9
40 Collin Howell 6-5 Jr. 8.3
This bunch of Lions were in elementary school during Elliott County's three-year run to the state tournament in 2007-09. "In a sense, they were part of it," Adkins said. The Lions go seven deep, with senior guard Jonathan Sloas and eighth-grade guard Korbin Spencer providing the spark off the bench. Adkins called Sloas the best defensive player in the 16th Region, while Spencer is aggressive on the offensive end. Elliott County had to overcome two double-digit deficits to get to the 16th Region final, then held off a furious rally by Morgan County to win the title. "Our kids showed a lot of mental toughness and a lot of resolve," Adkins said. "They've just showed a lot of poise and a lot of confidence in each other."
The Kentucky Wildcats won't be playing in Rupp Arena this week, but there will still be a pair of talented twins on the court. Junior guards Landon and Reece Griffith are key players for the Lions, who rode Ethan and Evan Faulkner to three straight Sweet Sixteen appearances a few years ago. That's not Elliott County's only twin connection — Adkins also has twin children of his own. "I don't know," he said. "It must be something in the water."
PLAYER TO WATCH
Adkins described this season's squad as "incredibly balanced," with top scoring and rebounding honors alternating on a game-by-game basis. Holbrook is the only senior in the starting lineup, and his ability to play effectively wherever the Lions need him make him an important piece. Look for Elliott County to use him in the post or on the perimeter, depending on the situation. "He's been our senior leader all season," Adkins said. "He's solid on both sides of the basketball. He can score inside, he can score stepping out. He's a very versatile kid."
This is Elliott County's fourth state tournament. The Lions lost to eventual champion Holmes in 2009.