Yesterday served as a statewide coming out party for Dunbar junior Taveion Hollingsworth. The electric guard torched the Mercer County Titans for 32 points in an opening-round thriller at the 99th annual Whitaker Bank Boy’s Sweet 16 that ended in Dunbar’s favor 58-55.
Neither Dunbar nor Mercer County ever lead by more than five points the entire game and the second half was a roller coaster ride for those in attendance at Rupp Arena. Though Dunbar led for majority of the closing stretch, Mercer County had chances to win the game, but four turnovers on the Titans’ final six possessions doomed any chance of them moving on to the quarterfinals.
The other story of the day came from Newport Central Catholic’s defensive masterpiece against Trinity.
NCC’s Ben Weyer dominated the paint on both ends of the court, and along with his teammates held Trinity to just 21 points over the final 25 minutes of the game.
March 16th First Round Scores
Murray 62, Buckhorn 35
Newport Central Catholic 48, Louisville Trinity 33
P.L. Dunbar 58, Mercer County 55
Bowling Green 75, Elliott County 59
March 17th First Round Preview
Lawrence County vs. Doss
The high scoring Lawrence County Bulldogs (29-4) are making their first-ever trip to Rupp Arena this week and might be the strongest contender from the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. Lawrence County played all of their high profile out of region opponents close, though they did go down in defeat each time.
Guards Timmy Dalton (19 PPG) and Robert Dalton (18 PPG) form a lethal backcourt combination. The Daltons are each solid rebounders and combine to average 14 boards a game. Austin Chaffins is the Bulldog’s long range bomber, he shoots 44 percent from deep, and averages a healthy 15 points-per-game.
For the second year in a row, the Doss Dragons (27-5) will represent Region 6 in the Sweet 16. The Dragons have already played two teams in the tournament field this season, Taylor County (a 67-55 win) and Bowling Green (60-57 loss).
Kenyi Bryant (16 PPG) and Kelshawn Knight-Goff (13 PPG) form a solid inside duo that will test the guard heavy Lawrence County lineup.
Christian County vs. South Laurel
Christian County (29-2) ended rival Hopkinsville’s four year reign as kings of the 2nd Region. The Colonels have yet to drop a game to an in-state foe all season long and only Hoptown provided them with any challenge.
Super sophomore Detorrion Ware leads the team in scoring at 18 points-per-game and also averages seven rebounds. Tyrik Edwards steadies the backcourt with senior leadership and chips in 16 points a game.
Tradition-rich South Laurel returns to the Sweet 16 after a prolonged absence and won the 13th Region by an average of over 20 points a game.
The Cardinals are a young team and only suit up three seniors. Forwards Jared Grubb (15 PPG) and Caleb Taylor (15 PPG, 11 RPG) give South Laurel a potent 1-2 punch in the paint.
Mason County vs. Taylor County
The sweetness of Mason County’s (23-10) first trip down US-68 to Rupp Arena since 2010 was tainted yesterday when news broke that star point guard Pig Williams, the Royals’ leading scorer and emotional, leader is no longer a part of the team due to a violation of team rules. Williams was the hero of the team’s sensational string of comeback wins in the 10th Region Tournament.
Conner Sweeney (14 PPG) and Isiah Garrison (13 PPG) will need to step up if the Royals are to advance today.
Taylor County (24-8) started the season as state’s top ranked team but struggled against a top heavy early season schedule. The Cardinals righted the ship in region play and now make their second straight appearance in the Sweet 16.
Quentin Goodin (23 PPG) gets majority of the headlines for Taylor County, but his backcourt running mate, David Sloan is a tremendous player in his own right. Sloan averages 20 points a game and compliments Goodin’s ability to drive with pinpoint long range shooting.
South Oldham vs. Owensboro Catholic
South Oldham (28-5) have finally emerged from the shadow of rival Oldham County by capturing three of the last four 8th Region titles. Now, the Dragons hope to take the next step by finally capturing their first ever win at Rupp Arena.
The Dragons are known for their deadly three-point shooting and parity on offense. Four South Oldham players: Trenton Bouvet, Jacob Bray, Joe Griffin and Grant Williams all score in double figures.
The Owensboro Catholic Aces (22-9) are making the first trip to Rupp Arena in school history. Underclassmen Luke Hayen leads the Ace attack with 16 points a game and also averages a healthy five rebounds per contest.