Bowling Green vs. Oldham Co.
Region: 4th Record: 29-6 Enrollment: 1,068
D.G. Sherrill, in his seventh season (162-61) at Bowling Green, also took the Purples to the Sweet Sixteen in 2009. He also coached at Allen County-Scottsville, and has an overall record of 189-114 in 11 seasons.
Player Height Class Points
Scooter Hollis 5-10 Sr. 9.2
Jalen Hunter 6-4 Sr. 8.3
Dareon Simmons 5-10 Sr. 11.7
Nacarius Fant 5-10 So. 14.8
Clay Sowell 5-7 Sr. 4.1
Bowling Green didn't win the region with McDonald's All-American Chane Behanan the previous two years, but it got the job done this season with a mix of senior leaders and talented young guys. Fant, Hollis and Hunter, who helped the Purples to the 5A state football title last fall, made a quick transition to hoops. Fant, whose motor is always revved, was MVP of the region tournament. He sets the pace. "The faster the game the better," Sherrill said. Hollis is the glue guy. Simmons, a reserve last year, has stepped into a major role this season. Hunter is another senior leader and the top rebounder (7.9 rpg). Joseph Ayers, a 6-8 sophomore, provides size off the bench.
There's no tug-of-war between Bowling Green coaches trying to pull athletes to play one sport. "We feel sharing kids in different sports is best for everybody," Sherrill said. "It allows the kids to experience success in different arenas. They get used to playing in pressure situations, so the bright lights and the big stage doesn't bother them."
Player to watch
Hollis quarterbacked Bowling Green to its football title last fall, and he's played the same role in leading the Purples to Rupp Arena. "Just like in football, he's our quarterback," Sherrill said. "He shows great poise when things get tight. He's a calming influence on the court, and a leader in the locker room. He's just concerned with the bottom line of winning." Hollis, who has a 4.0 GPA and a 30 on the ACT, will play Ivy League football at Columbia.
This is Bowling Green's 13th appearance in the state tournament. The Purples reached the semifinals in 1991 but lost to eventual champ Fairdale.
Region: 8th Record: 29-5 Enrollment: 1,370
Jason Holland, in his third season (66-27) at Oldham County, has the Colonels in the Sweet Sixteen for the second year in a row. He previously coached at Henry County and Wildwood, Fla.
Player Height Class Points
Tyler Wesley 6-6 Sr. 11.2
Kerry Smith 6-1 Sr. 8.9
Sam Gruber 5-10 Jr. 10.9
Parker Simpson 5-11 Sr. 6.6
Jacob Kopp 6-2 Jr. 7.6
There's no secret to Oldham County's success. "Defensively, we're very good," Holland said. The Colonels are tops in the state in scoring defense, allowing just 45 points a game. On offense, they share the ball, using motion and dribble-drive to get open looks. It's worked in helping Oldham County win its last 16 games — the longest streak in the state. Smith and Wesley started on last year's Sweet Sixteen team, so they've got that experience. Simpson, Gruber and Kopp have developed consistency. Garrett Masters, Alante Flores and Tyler Mason give a boost off the bench.
A tournament in Carbondale, Ill., last summer came down to a final four of Hopkinsville, Marshall County, Oldham County and Warren Central. All but Warren Central are in the Sweet Sixteen. Holland remembers his team's battle with Hopkinsville that went six overtimes before the Tigers won. Marshall County then beat Hoptown in the finals. "So I'm telling you right now, Marshall County is dangerous," Holland said.
Player to watch
Holland considers Wesley the best player in the 8th Region and one of the best seniors in the state. "He'll make somebody a great '3' in college because he can dribble, shoot, pass and play defense," Holland said. Wesley had 19 points, 15 rebounds and 11 blocks in the region finals. He's averaging 11 points, 9 rebounds and 6 blocks. Bellarmine, Centre and Transylvania are after him hard. Bradley, EKU and WKU are showing interest. Wesley has a 3.6 GPA and got a 28 on the ACT.
This is Oldham County's 15th state tournament, and sixth since 2001. The Colonels reached the semifinals twice, but lost to eventual champ Seneca in 1963 and Hopkinsville in 1985.