It has been five years since an area boys team last won the 12th Region, and it’s likely to be at least one more year before it happens again.
This is another season in which none of the eight teams in the Advocate’s coverage area — roughly half of the teams in the region — seem to be in position to make the run to Rupp Arena over the next two weeks.
But for the second straight year, only two local teams will have winning records when the postseason begins Monday. And for the second straight year, the teams that seem most likely to win the region are elsewhere.
I’ll pick Pulaski County, a team with a solid core of three seniors — Taylor Gover, Tyler Goins and Kody Johnson — who are four-year starters and who now have one last chance to made the state tournament.
As for the area teams, Boyle might once again have the best shot to go deep into the regional bracket. The Rebels are still winning with defense, which tend to mean much more in the postseason than the regular season.
The downside is that this year’s Boyle team isn’t as experienced as last year, when six seniors led the way.
Mercer County leads the area in wins and has the offensive capability to light up the scoreboard, but the Titans have had trouble keeping the best teams they’ve played from doing the same thing to them.
Pulaski has established itself as the favorite with three wins over Southwestern, but Southwestern is still in the mix. And watch out for a still young but very dangerous Wayne County team that has beaten both of those teams as well as West Jessamine.
Players to Watch
Brett Jones, Boyle County — The Rebels’ senior point guard has been here before, and his combination of experience makes him the most likely area player to put up big numbers in any given postseason game.
Mercer County seniors — Balance has been an asset for the Titans, but consistent play from point guard John Ingram, shooting guard Blake Pennington and forward Jordan Duncan could carry them a long way.
Luke Hill, Lincoln County — The Patriots need steady play from their senior forward and most experienced player if they hope to make some noise.
Alex Beckerson, Burgin — Any hopes the Bulldogs have of an upset win like with Beckerson, who shoots 61 percent from the field and averages just a few rebounds short of a double-double in scoring and rebounding.
Other Team to Watch
Lincoln County — The Patriots are a young team that will bear watching over the next couple of years, but for now they’re still mistake-prone and low on quality wins, and they face a difficult elimination game against Danville.
45th — Boyle County; 46th — West Jessamine; 47th — Pulaski County.
Best First-Round Matchup
East Jessamine vs. Mercer County, 46th District — Both teams held serve at home in their regular-season meetings, meaning the pressure will be on Mercer to pull off a road win — the tournament is at East Jessamine — to reach the regional.