High School Basketball

Sweet Sixteen preview: John Hardin vs. Johnson Central

Game 8

John Hardin vs. Johnson Central

John Hardin

Region: 5th Record: 22-8 Enrollment: 1,149

Coach's résumé

Mark Wells is in his fourth year (78-33) as coach after serving as an assistant for 11 years, including 2006 when the Bulldogs made the Sweet Sixteen.

Starters

Player Height Class Points

Daveon Greene 6-2 Jr. 16.1

Brandon Price 5-7 Jr. 18.9

Jeremy Harness 5-10 Sr. 10.9

Keon Williams 6-4 So. 8.2

Ervin Montgomery 6-3 Sr. 3.3

Scouting report

The Bulldogs are on a 10-game winning streak thanks to solid defense and improved shooting. "We're peaking at the right time," Coach Mark Wells said. Price, a hustling point guard, is the catalyst. He tied Anthony Epps' region-finals record with 37 points against Bardstown, and added 7 assists. "He's fun to watch. He plays extremely hard. He wills us to win," Wells said. Greene, a solid 240-pounder, is a force in the middle (9.5 rpg). Harness uses his athleticism to advantage on both ends of the court.

Cleats to sneakers

When John Hardin lost five of its first nine games, it wasn't a surprise. The Bulldogs had four players in their rotation — Jeremy Harness, Lonnie Gaskins, Patrick Crowe and Eli Mitchell — who missed the pre-season because they were playing football. Wells said it wasn't until February that their metamorphosis from football players to basketball players was complete.

Player to watch

Jeremy Harness had more than 2,100 yards and 28 TDs rushing and receiving last fall in helping John Hardin go 13-0 before it fell to Bowling Green in the state football semifinals. Harness, who signed with Murray State, brings his winning attitude to basketball. "He's confident in his athletic ability," Coach Mark Wells said. "He's a very good on-the-ball defender, he's able to fly around and get steals and he's a good three-point shooter."

Sweet history

John Hardin's only previous Sweet Sixteen was in 2006 when it lost to South Laurel in the first round.

Johnson Central

Region: 15th Record: 25-10 Enrollment: 1,040

Coach's résumé

Tommy McKenzie is in his fifth year (91-58) as coach. He played on the 2000 Golden Eagles' state tournament team, and was an assistant on the 2006 Sweet Sixteen team.

Starters

Player Height Class Points

Shane Hall 6-8 So. 17.0

Braxton Blair 5-11 Fr. 8.3

Dalton Adkins 5-9 Fr. 7.3

Slade McPeek 5-11 So. 5.6

Nick McKenzie 6-3 So. 2.7

Scouting report

The Golden Eagles are young, but they've already embraced the team concept. "One of the big keys to winning the region was the kids didn't care who scored or got the glory," Coach Tommy McKenzie said. "They've all accepted their roles." Hall is the high-profile star, but he's got a solid supporting cast. Blair runs the point and sparks the team's up-tempo style. Adkins and McPeek generate offense from their defense. McKenzie, the coach's first cousin, is also a hard-nosed defender. Chad Collins and Truman Salyer lend help off the bench.

Voice of experience

Tommy McKenzie uses Johnson Central's past to motivate his team. He's played them an audiotape of the Eagles' 1984 region title game, and showed them video of the 2000 and 2006 Sweet Sixteen teams. McKenzie was a key player on the 2000 team. He hit two free throws with :04 left to give Johnson Central a 66-64 win over Hopkins Central in Rupp Arena. "The kids think I'm tooting my own horn, but as a coach, you've gotta draw on your own experiences."

Player to watch

Shane Hall's play last summer earned him notice from Division I schools, and the 6-8 sophomore's stock continued to rise this season. He's averaging 17 points and 11 points while battling late-season injuries (hip and foot). "From last year to this year, he's come leaps and bounds," McKenzie said. While he plays mostly inside, Hall is more than capable on the perimeter, or even leading the fast break. "What surprises a lot of people is how well he handles it for a big guy."

Sweet history

The Golden Eagles are in the state tournament for the sixth time, and for the first time since 2006.

  Comments