Twenty-seven days from now, the 100th boys’ Sweet Sixteen champion will be crowned. There are 64 district tournament champions and 16 region champions to be decided before then, though, and the road begins Monday. Here’s a primer on playoff action involving teams outside of Lexington.
Tim Dalton: At this point the nation’s leading scorer (per MaxPreps) should need no introduction. The Mr. Basketball candidate has scored more than 1,000 points this season and 3,000 points in his career. Lawrence County dropped one district game — at Belfry in January — but should advance to its fourth straight 15th Region tournament.
Austin Crawford: He recently crossed the 3,000-point mark, one of only 37 boys in state history to accomplish that feat. The Bracken County senior is second in the 10th Region with an averaging of 25 points a game, behind only Scott star and Mr. Basketball candidate Jake Ohmer.
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Torell Carter: The Mr. Basketball candidate out of Letcher County Central is averaging 26.2 points per game. Letcher Central, which opened in 2005, won its third 53rd District title last season but has never reached the 14th Region finals.
Diablo Stewart: There’s probably not a cooler name in the state than the one of Franklin County’s starting point guard, a rising sophomore who’s averaging 17.6 points. The Flyers open against rival Western Hills, who they swept 2-0 in the regular season, in the 41st District tournament on Tuesday.
DeAndre “Pedro” Bradshaw: Russellville’s all-time leading rebounder averages 13.6 boards to go with his 22.1 points per game.His Panthers will likely wrestle Franklin-Simpson (and its own Mr. Basketball candidate, Tavin Lovan) for the 13th District championship.
Bowling Green: Making the bulk of your shots is a good way to have the kind of season the No. 4 Purples (27-2) have put together. Bowling Green has made 55 percent of its shots and 42.2 percent of its three-point attempts — both marks lead the state.
Paris: Few teams have had a better 2017 than the likely 40th District champs. The Greyhounds went 14-1 since the new year started, the only loss coming at Corbin, which spent time in the Cantrall Top 25 this season. Paris won its first All “A” Classic title in January as part of an 11-game win streak.
Pikeville: The Panthers, rated by Cantrall as the top team in the 15th Region and coached by former Mr. Basketball Elisha Justice, have already punched their second straight bid to the regional round after Piarist forfeited in the 59th District opener.
Madison Central: For the last 22 years, there’s not been a surer pick in the district round than the Indians to win the 44th. Madison Southern boasts a talented team that could give Central fits in the district finals, but the Indians — who’ve won nine of their last 11 — seem to have hit their stride.
Fern Creek: It’s hard for a two-loss team out of Louisville to fly under the radar, but the No. 2 Tigers seem underappreciated heading into the 24th District tournament. That may be due to the fact they’ve only played three games outside of the Louisville area — a win in Ohio, a loss against Hopkinsville at Muhlenberg County and a win at Taylor County — and don’t have a headline-grabbing “star.”
Games of note
Christian County vs. University Heights at Hopkinsville: These 8th District rivals split their head-to-head meetings this season. For the fifth time in the last six seasons, one will end the other’s season. They’re 2-2 in those postseason meetings dating to the 2011-12 campaign.
Danville at Boyle County: Boyle County ended Danville’s season the last three years in the second round of the 45th District tournament, but the Admirals ended a 10-game losing streak to the Rebels with a 61-56 victory at the start of the month. Danville seeks its first 12th Region trip since 2011.
West Jessamine at East Jessamine: The 46th District host Jaguars have dropped eight straight meetings with their county rival. West Jessamine picked up its best two wins of the year — a buzzer-beater victory over No. 5 Paul Laurence Dunbar and a 10-point decision at No. 25 Pulaski County — last week.
Clark County vs. Montgomery County at Paris: Before beating the Indians twice in January, Clark County had lost 11 straight to their 40th District rival. A win here would be the Cardinals’ first against Montgomery in the postseason since 2012.
Simon Kenton vs. Walton-Verona at Williamstown: Cantrall’s No. 3 and No. 4 teams in the 8th Region face off in the first round of the 32nd District tournament. Simon Kenton has taken 12 straight meetings dating back to 2011.
Boys’ state tournament
When: March 15-19
Where: Rupp Arena in Lexington
Championship game: 2 p.m. March 19