The boys’ 11th Region basketball tournament hasn’t produced a repeat winner since the 2009 season, when Lexington Catholic came out of the state’s most brutal field for the second time in as many years.
That could change in 2018: Scott County, last year’s 11th Region champ and the preseason No. 1 team in the state, has not lost to a Kentucky opponent this season and is 31-1 overall.
The Cardinals are currently ranked second statewide, are second in scoring at 79.2 points per game and are tops in scoring margin at 22.2 points a night. They’ll put their state-best 23-game win streak on the line against Madison Southern in the first round Wednesday at Eastern Kentucky University’s McBrayer Arena.
Michael Moreno, a 2019 Mr. Basketball challenger, leads Scott County in scoring (20.1) and rebounding (11.0). He has offers from Iowa, Eastern Kentucky University and Bradley.
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Charlotte signee Cooper Robb, this year’s Wah Wah Jones award winner, averages 14.1 points and shoots 40 percent from beyond the arc while junior Diablo Stewart, who transferred from Franklin County, averages 12.4 points and is even hotter from long range at 45.8 percent.
Scott County’s next closest challengers appear to be Lexington Christian Academy and Madison Central, two top-10 programs that it couldn’t meet until the finals. No. 5 LCA opens against Frankfort, whom it handled in the 11th Region All “A” Classic finals, and No. 3 Madison Central in the first round will play No. 13 Bryan Station, which defeated the Indians twice in the regular season.
Lexington Christian has won 18 of its last 19 games, and its only two losses in 2018 were to Lexington Catholic. The Eagles knocked off the Knights in the 43rd District semifinals before getting past Lafayette with ease in the 43rd District championship. The Eagles were this year’s All “A” Classic state champions but are seeking their first berth to the Sweet Sixteen. A trio of big men — seniors Carter Hendricksen (19.1, 9.0 rebounds) and Austin Hall (16.5, 7.6) and junior Kyle Rode (15.2, 7.3) lead LCA in scoring and rebounding.
Frankfort had not lost in 41st District play until Woodford County defeated the Panthers, 54-40, for the 41st District championship. Junior star John Tillman (16.9 ppg, 10.8 rpg) leads the Panthers, who have won six of their previous eight games. Frankfort has lost 14 straight games to LCA, its last win in the series coming in 2003.
Of Madison Central’s seven losses this season, six were to teams still playing in the postseason and all were to top-25 programs. Junior Isaiah Cozart has 415 career blocks, putting him 26 away from eclipsing the career record set by Paintsville’s J.R. VanHoose in 1998. Cozart leads the Indians in rebounding (9.7) but senior Dustin Geralds isn’t too far behind him at 9.2 per game. Geralds leads the team in scoring (16.3) while Cozart is second (13.0). Isaiah Minter (12.3 ppg) shoots 41.9 percent from three-point range for the Indians.
Bryan Station’s wins over Madison Central were 20 days apart — the Defenders won an impromptu meeting, 77-69, in the Berea Invitational Tournament semifinals before defeating the Indians at home, 68-62, in January — and helped vault the team into the spotlight. Since then Station has lost to Scott County three times, most recently in the 42nd District finals, by a combined score of 242-170. It’s also suffered double-digit losses to Lafayette (whom it beat earlier this season) and LCA in recent weeks.
Still, the Defenders have one of the state’s best seniors — Mr. Basketball finalist Eric “Boss” Boone, a triple-double threat who’s good for a double-double (20.0 ppg, 11.0 rpg) every night — and can point to multiple wins over top-20 teams (they defeated Henry Clay three times this season and won at Pulaski County in the penultimate week of the regular season) as evidence of their ability.
Lafayette is 4-4 over its last eight games, three of the losses coming against LCA and the other against Trinity, the Seventh Region favorite. The Generals, led by Eric Powell in scoring (13.5) and Cam King in three-point shooting (41.7 percent), are one of a handful of 11th Region teams that played Scott County within single digits this season. Lafayette lost 75-68 in the Toyota Classic in mid-January.
Woodford County, Lafayette’s first-round opponent, played the Cardinals closer than any other team in the region; it fell 60-56 at home on Feb. 8, a couple weeks after the Cardinals cruised to an 87-45 win in the Toyota Classic. The Yellow Jackets have won only six of their 17 games since the new year but bring a three-game win streak into the tournament after winning the 41st District title. Brandon Cromwell (17.1) and Nicholas Smith (16.0) are among the tournament’s leading scorers.
The Lafayette-Woodford winner will get the winner between Madison Southern and Scott County in the semifinals. Southern lost to Madison Central in the 44th District finals one season after ending the Indians’ 21-year streak of championships. The Eagles are 3-7 against 11th Region competition this season and are 4-12 since January. Shawn Short, a senior, leads Madison Southern in scoring (14.2) and rebounding (5.0).
Scott County has won 15 region titles, its first 10 coming as a member of the Eighth Region. Lafayette has won the region 12 times, its last coming in 2001, when it won the Sweet Sixteen.
Frankfort has the next most with six. The Panthers won one title in the Eighth Region and four in the Seventh Region. Their last title came as an 11th Region school in 1935.
Bryan Station has won five titles, its last one coming in 1989. Madison Central has four, its most recent leading to a state championship in 2013. Woodford County won its only region title in 1986.
Madison Southern has never won a region title.
Boys’ 11th Region Tournament
At Eastern Kentucky University
Wednesday: Lexington Christian (25-7) vs. Frankfort (16-13), 6:30; Madison Central (24-7) vs. Bryan Station (23-7), 8:15
Thursday: Scott County (31-1) vs. Madison Southern (12-19), 6:30; Woodford County (17-13) vs. Lafayette (20-9), 8:15
Saturday: Semifinals at 1:30 and 3:15 p.m.
Monday: Championship game at 7:30 p.m.