The 101st Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys’ Sweet Sixteen basketball tournament won’t tip off until March 14, but the postseason gets underway with district-tournament action beginning Monday night. Here’s what you need to know about the road to Rupp Arena.
Scott County (42nd District): This year’s preseason favorite to win it all has lived up to the hype. The Cardinals are unbeaten against in-state competition.
Trinity (27th): Mr. Basketball finalist Jay Scrubb leads the Shamrocks with 18 points and 7.2 rebounds per game; likely 2019 finalist David Johnson is second at 14.3 points and 5.7 rebounds.
Covington Catholic (35th): CJ Fredrick, a Mr. Basketball finalist who has signed with Iowa, in one game this season outscored the Colonels’ opponent by himself (30-25).
Madison Central (44th): Indians star Isaiah Cozart is just a junior but is 34 blocks away from passing the career record set by Paintsville’s J.R. VanHoose in 1998.
Cooper (33rd): Last year’s state runner-up has a Mr. Basketball candidate — Belmont signee Adam Kunkel — and has the state’s third-best scoring defense (48.7 points per game).
Walton-Verona (32nd): The Bearcats lost junior star Dieonte Miles to a shoulder injury in January but have used their state-best defense (47.7 ppg) to remain favorites in the 8th Region.
Ballard (28th): Chris Renner’s Bruins remain in the 7th Region hunt in parts thanks to a balanced offense — Marshon Ford leads the Bruins at 11.8 ppg but fifth-leading scorer Tyron Duncan averages 8.7.
Butler (22nd): This surprise 6th Region contender’s only losses were to Trinity and DeSales, a fellow district contender that went 6-7 after beating the Bulldogs.
Fern Creek (24th): Seniors Ahmad Price (16.8 points), Anthony Wales (15.8) and Clint Wickliffe (12.1) average double-digit scoring for the Tigers, who last year made their first boys’ Sweet Sixteen.
Lexington Christian (43rd): The Eagles (23-7) finished the season with back-to-back head-turners: a 24-point win at Bryan Station and a two-point win at Trinity decided in the final seconds on a jumper by Kyle Rode.
Clark County (40th): The Cardinals (26-4) had a 16-game win streak snapped at Henry Clay to close the regular season; the next day senior Will Philpot was named a Mr. Basketball finalist.
Campbell County (37th): Three of the Camels’ five losses came in their final nine games, but none of their losses this season were against 10th Region competition.
A look at Lexington
Two top-20 teams in the state are guaranteed to be eliminated from postseason contention by Wednesday.
Lexington Christian, the 43rd District tournament host, is paired with Lexington Catholic in the semifinals at 8 p.m. Tuesday. The Knights (18-9) swept both regular-season meetings but are without leading scorer and rebounder Zan Payne, who suffered a season-ending leg injury in the last meeting between the teams.
Henry Clay (18-11) and Bryan Station (22-6) will meet in the 42nd District semifinals at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Frederick Douglass. Station swept the regular-season series. The first game was a rout at but Henry Clay nearly pulled off an upset at Station in January.
Eric “Boss” Boone, a Mr. Basketball finalist, leads Station with 20 points and 11 rebounds per game; Marques Warrick averages 14.2 points for Henry Clay while Jalen Williams (13.4) and Keaston Brown (12.4) aren’t far behind.
Lafayette is the top-seeded team in the 43rd District tournament. Two seniors — Eric Powell (13.8 points) and Cam King (10.2) — average double-digit scoring along with sophomore Ray Surratt (10.7) for Lafayette, which went 3-3 over its last six games.
The Generals (19-8) will meet the winner between Paul Laurence Dunbar and Tates Creek, who play in Monday’s first-round game. Lafayette swept the regular-season meetings against those teams. Dunbar (11-14) had won five straight before ending the regular season with a loss at Scott County. The Commodores (5-24) are 1-15 in their last 16 games.
Frederick Douglass (13-16) in its inaugural season finished with the fourth seed in the 42nd District. The Broncos will play Sayre (13-16) at 8 p.m. Monday; that winner will advance to Wednesday’s 6 p.m. semifinal against top-seeded Scott County.