The Taylor County Cardinals (5th Region) face off with Hopkinsville (2nd region) in the first round of the Boy’s Sweet 16 Wednesday at 1:30 pm ET and here’s a preview to what will be a must see first round matchup.
Coach Richard Gatewood who got his first job in 2008 at Moore at the age of 27 took the helm over at Taylor County and inherited talent (Quentin Goodin) that is in rare air when you speak about top Blue Blood colleges beating down the door for a commitment. Goodin is the school’s all time leading scorer eclipsing the 2,000 point mark this year.
Quentin alongside sophomore guard David Sloan is the best back court in the state, if not then in the top echelon of guards. The Cardinals pass the eye test as well as production test.
Brandon Berry fills the forward position and may be the most underrated player in the tournament. All 3 average double figures with Goodin (21.3) leading the way.
Not only do the Cardinals have a great offense but Berry’s knack on defense and leadership has helped Taylor County’s full court press be a task For opponents. The sound of sneakers will fill ears as Taylor County turns up defensive pressure.
The Cardinals (28-4) had a schedule filled with tough opponents. Going undefeated in district and regional play and beating defending 5th region champs and also undefeated in region play Bardstown wasn’t as easy as the Cards made it look. Definitely the scheduling of coach Gatewood could be key to postseason success.
Clem Haskins, former Campbellsville University and Minnesota coach is one of the best players and coach from central Kentucky. Gatewood wanted Haskins to speak to the team prior to the 5th region Tournament.
Haskins, who’s a regular at games, gave that speech prior Taylor County to the regional finals and assured them that they too could achieve the accolades he collected while playing in the same town. It definitely hit a nerve by distilling confidence in the Cardinal’s minds that led to the first regional final since 1983.
Taylor County’s Starting Lineup
3 Quentin Goodin 6-4 Jr 21.3
10 David Sloan 5-11 So. 12.5
14 Brandon Berry 6-4 Sr. 16.0
23 Austin Webster 6-4 Sr. 6.0
24 Ezra Oliver 6-0 So. 5.9
As for Region 2 champs Hopkinsville (26-5) and former Murray State player and assistant coach Tim Haworth aren’t rookies to success and not newbies to the Sweet 16 making their 4th straight appearance in Haworth’s 5 year tenure. This may be a key to the beginning of the game and could be an advantage to Hoptown. Don’t be surprised if Taylor County takes an early TO to gather composure.
Hoptown has ballers to go around too. Alongside Matlock, transfers from (University Heights) Jordan Gary and LeDonald Gray are gifted players that are the teeth of the program. Then there is Johnson, a freshman who is one of the top PG’s in the state. It will be exciting to watch him and David Sloan go head to head.
Haworth has 4 players who can pour in 20 points on any given night and proven it throughout the year.
Honestly, this matchup could as well be the title game. Many have the Cardinals in the top 3 favorites to win the title.
k 6-5 Sr. 19.6
5 Jordan Gary 6-0 Sr. 11.2
2 LeDonald Gray 6-1 Sr. 12.3
10 Jalen Johnson 5-11 Fr. 9.6
20 C.J. Henagan 6-3 So. 3.8
All I can say is sit back and enjoy the show these two teams will display tomorrow afternoon. A Wednesday matinée that’s definitely worth catching.